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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 3

Pett's Commentary on the BiblePett's Commentary


Commentary On The Book of Joshua Chapters 1-4.

Israel prepare to enter the land of Canaan, and experience the miraculous power of YHWH in opening up the River Jordan so that they can pass over. Meanwhile two military scouts have reconnoitred Jericho, being saved from capture by a prostitute innkeeper Rahab who is promised that when Jericho is taken she and all her close family will be spared. The crossing of the Jordan is safely accomplished and twelve stones set up as a memorial of the event.

Chapter 3. The Momentous Crossing of the Jordan.

Joshua removed from Shittim to the River Jordan, where they stayed a short while, after which the people were directed to move once they saw the Ark being borne by the priests, and the distance that they should keep from it because it was holy. They were ordered to sanctify themselves against the next day, when wonders would be wrought, and then the priests would be ordered to take up the Ark and go in front of the people. Joshua was encouraged by YHWH, and instructed to command the priests, when they came to the Jordan, to stand still in it. So he declared to all the people that, as a token that God would drive the Canaanites from before them, as soon as the feet of the priests bearing the ark should tread in the waters of Jordan, the waters would be parted, and make way for them to pass through. And this was what actually happened so that all the Israelites passed over on dry ground.

Verse 1

Chapter 3. The Momentous Crossing of the Jordan.

Joshua removed from Shittim to the River Jordan, where they stayed a short while, after which the people were directed to move once they saw the Ark being borne by the priests, and the distance that they should keep from it because it was holy. They were ordered to sanctify themselves against the next day, when wonders would be wrought, and then the priests would be ordered to take up the Ark and go in front of the people. Joshua was encouraged by YHWH, and instructed to command the priests, when they came to the Jordan, to stand still in it. So he declared to all the people that, as a token that God would drive the Canaanites from before them, as soon as the feet of the priests bearing the ark should tread in the waters of Jordan, the waters would be parted, and make way for them to pass through. And this was what actually happened so that all the Israelites passed over on dry ground.

Joshua 3:1

And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and they removed from Shittim and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and stayed there temporarily before they passed over.’

The following morning Joshua gave orders and they struck camp and moved to the edge of the Jordan, where they set up a temporary encampment. The excitement must have been intense. The big moment for which they had waited so long had arrived.

“Joshua rose up early in the morning.” Compare Joshua 6:12; Joshua 7:16; Joshua 8:10. He wanted to make full use of the day. While the people did have lampstands which gave off dim light, daytime was the time for doing things, and people therefore tended to rise at dawn and go to bed ‘early’, especially when something important was going on.

Verses 2-3

And so it was that after three days, the officers went through the midst of the camp and commanded the people, saying, “When you see the Ark of the covenant of Yahweh your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then you shall remove from your place, and go after it.” ’

They stayed encamped by the Jordan ‘for three days’, that is for a few days, (the constant mention of ‘three days’ was not in order to tie in the accounts but simply because ‘three days’ was a standard way of saying a short period of time of less than a week, anything from one and a half days to five or six days). This was while they were making final preparations for the next move. But they had no idea how they were going to get across the river. They were leaving that to Joshua and his advisers, and to YHWH. They simply did as they were told.

The command was that when they saw the Ark starting out, borne by the Levitical priests, they were to follow at a distance. There seems little doubt that the Ark was seen as sometimes leading into battle (see the Battle Song in Numbers 10:35; also see Numbers 14:44; 1 Samuel 4:3), thus the following of the Ark was an indication of the warfare ahead. It had now replaced the pillar of cloud. Now that they were entering the land the pillar of cloud would be no more. The way was no longer uncertain. YHWH would from now on lead them on His throne (the mercy seat on the Ark was His throne) as King over them and Lord of Battle. The pillar of cloud had signified guidance and protection. The Ark symbolised covenant certainty, war, kingship and victory. However, having said that, however, the Ark had also led the people in the wilderness (Numbers 10:33). Even then they had been marching forward into the unknown to battle (Numbers 10:35).

“The Ark of the covenant of YHWH your God.” Here the full stress is laid on the significance of the Ark. It was the Ark which contained within it the covenant made between YHWH their God and themselves. It was the guarantee of His promises. They would go forward as His people. Thus would He go forward with them over Jordan and into battle as YHWH their God.

Note on the Ark of the Covenant of YHWH.

Gold overlaid wooden receptacles and portable shrines are known from the ancient Near East in pre-Mosaic times, although not as containing treaty records. Among certain Arabic tribes even today are objects similar to some extent with the Ark, which still survive. In time of war they accompanied the tribe into battle and guided them in their wanderings. They stood near the tent of the chief and often contained sacred stones. They were seen as containing some mystic, numinous, indefinable power and to be connected with the gods. The idea may well go back into the mists of time and would explain why the significance of the Ark, superstitiously speaking, was recognised by enemies (1 Samuel 4:7).

In the case of Israel the idea was taken over for a twofold purpose, firstly to represent the portable throne of YHWH as ever present with them, and secondly in order to contain within it the tables of testimony, the covenant between YHWH and His people, which we call the ten commandments, but which was in fact a covenant based on the fact that He had delivered them out of Egypt and out of slavery. This ties in with the major descriptions used such as ‘the Ark of YHWH’ and ‘the Ark of the covenant or testimony’. The whole idea was that YHWH was their invisible King and Overlord, in treaty relationship with His people. They were His people, united with Him in that covenant. The sacred chest had been taken over and given a totally new significance.

Here in Joshua it has a multiplicity of titles, ‘the Ark’ (Joshua 3:15; Joshua 4:10; Joshua 6:4; Joshua 6:9; Joshua 8:33), ‘the Ark of the covenant’ (Joshua 3:3; Joshua 3:6 twice; Joshua 3:8; Joshua 3:14; Joshua 4:9; Joshua 6:6), ‘the Ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth’ (Joshua 3:11), ‘the Ark of YHWH, the Lord of all the earth’ (Joshua 3:13), ‘the Ark of the covenant of YHWH’ (Joshua 3:17; Joshua 4:7; Joshua 4:18; Joshua 6:8; Joshua 8:33), ‘the Ark of YHWH your God’ (Joshua 4:5); ‘the Ark of YHWH’ (Joshua 4:11; Joshua 6:6-7; Joshua 6:11-13 (twice); Joshua 7:6), ‘the Ark of the Testimony’ (Joshua 4:16).

Elsewhere the most common usages are ‘the Ark of the covenant of YHWH’, ‘the Ark of YHWH’ and ‘the Ark of God’.

The addition of ‘the Lord of all the earth’ specifically has in mind the parting of the Jordan (Joshua 3:11; Joshua 3:13). ‘The Ark of YHWH’ in Joshua has mostly, but not exclusively, in mind going into battle (Joshua 6:6-13 - six times; Joshua 4:11 also relates to going into battle, see Joshua 3:13, compare 1 Samuel 4:6). But not in Joshua 3:13, where it is conjoined with ‘the Lord of all the earth’, Joshua 4:5 where it is conjoined with ‘of God’ and Joshua 7:6 where ‘of the covenant’ would be unsuitable because the covenant had been broken. It is clear that its basic name was ‘the Ark’ and that genitival phrases could be added to amplify it, but none seen as required technically or with an exclusive meaning. They were thus appended for a particular reason in each case, even if not necessarily always discernible to us.

The phrase ‘the Ark of the covenant’ by itself, without a further genitive added, is unique to Joshua. This demonstrates the great emphasis on the covenant as such by Joshua. After Joshua this description is never used without a genitival addition such as ‘of YHWH’. This unique phrase is only used seven times (always in the book of Joshua), yet appears in sections which are allocated to different authors in the Documentary theory. This demonstrates the weakness of that theory and substantiates the unity of the book. It must be regarded as very unlikely that two or more authors or redactors would have each used this unique phrase only in the Book of Joshua when it is used nowhere else. It indicates one author.

The LXX overwhelmingly has a tendency to change most references to ‘the Ark of the covenant of the Lord’ which is the regular phrase for the Ark throughout the Old Testament, from Numbers onwards, when connected with the covenant. But it twice leaves ‘the Ark of the covenant’ (Joshua 3:8; Joshua 4:10) which confirms its unique use by Joshua. It never has ‘the Ark of the Lord’, sometimes changing it to ‘in the presence of’ or ‘before’ the Lord (Joshua 4:5; Joshua 6:7; Joshua 7:6). Its testimony is therefore not reliable as to the original text.

(End of note.)

“The priests, the Levites.” This phrase was used in Deuteronomy signifying the Levitical priests (Deuteronomy 17:9; Deuteronomy 17:18; Deuteronomy 18:1; Deuteronomy 24:8; Deuteronomy 27:9). This indicates that all priests were Levites, but not that all Levites were priests. Deuteronomy 18:0 clearly distinguishes between priests (Joshua 3:3-5) and Levites (Joshua 3:6-8). The writer of Joshua clearly knew, probably by heart, the basic content of Deuteronomy, which itself was based on the covenant treaty form current around 12th century BC, demonstrating that its basic content at least is of an early date. Normally the Kohathites bore the Ark once it had been covered by the priests with the veil (Numbers 3:31; Numbers 4:5 compare Deuteronomy 10:8) but not when it was leading into battle uncovered (1 Samuel 4:4 - they would not take the veil into battle) or on special occasions such as when it was brought in to the Most Holy Place of the temple where the Levites could not enter (1 Kings 8:6 compare Deuteronomy 31:9).

Verse 4

Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure, come not near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not crossed over this way up to now.”

This suggests that the Ark was uncovered, which was why it was being borne by the priests (see Numbers 4:0). Compare the similar sized gap around Levitical cities (Numbers 35:5). Note that the gap was between the Ark and the people. It would not have been empty for it would contain all the priests going ahead, followed by the Levites, marching ahead of the people. This was similar to the Tabernacle where the priests could enter the Holy Place, and the Levites the outer court, forbidden to the people.

The gap would have been maintained while crossing the Jordan with the people crossing on both sides, either one or two thousand cubits away from the Ark depending on whether we interpret the two thousand cubits as the total gap (one thousand on each side), or as two thousand in both sides. In the case of the Levitical cities the former appears to be the case.

The priests, and even possibly the Levites, formed a protective wall around the Ark. The standard cubit was about Joshua 17:5 inches (just over half a metre). The purpose of the Ark going ahead was to show them the route to take over the Jordan. ‘Passed this way’ or ‘crossed over this way’ is a verb largely used in this narrative of crossing the Jordan (Joshua 2:23; Joshua 3:1; Joshua 3:6; Joshua 3:11; Joshua 3:14; Joshua 3:16-17). The point here is that they had never experienced YHWH’s unique power in the way that it would be revealed here as they crossed over into a land they had never seen.

In view of the fact that this gap is not mentioned in the Law, and is not mentioned elsewhere, we are justified in seeing it as a unique requirement only for this occasion. The reason for it would seem to be because of the unique revelation of His power to be given here. He wanted them to be aware that He was there, invisibly but certainly, thus rendering the area around the Ark ‘holy’. This was also one reason why they had to sanctify themselves before the event. He was about to reveal Himself as Lord of all the earth by His power expressed in the stopping of the Jordan. During this manifestation of power, this ‘doing of wonders’, this personal revelation of His presence, none must be near, except for the priests and the Levites. God wanted His people to remember this occasion vividly and to be aware that He had been there in numinous power.

Verse 5

And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow YHWH will do wonders among you.” ’

The uniqueness of the occasion is again stressed here. They were about to see the wonders of YHWH. They must therefore be ‘sanctified’ in preparation for it. This would include washing their clothes thoroughly and abstaining from sexual contact (Exodus 19:10; Exodus 19:15; Genesis 35:2).

“Tomorrow YHWH will do wonders among you.” This was the reason for the special requirements. They were to behold the wondrous working of YHWH that previously they had only heard about. YHWH was about to come near and manifest Himself. Compare Exodus 4:13 where Moses also spoke of seeing the deliverance of YHWH. So they were to be sanctified ‘lest YHWH break forth on them’ (Exodus 19:22).

The similarity between this and the crossing of the Sea of Reeds was to be recognised. They had left Egypt by passing though the waters, they would enter Canaan by passing through the waters. It was a new beginning, a new birth, brought about by the miraculous power of YHWH. In a sense it was the adoption of the new generation of Israel. We must not read cleansing into this passing through the waters for that idea is not prominent in the Old Testament. They spoke rather of the power and manifestation of YHWH - Psalms 114:3; Psalms 114:5; Psalms 114:7. In the Old Testament water spoke of new life and deliverance (Isaiah 44:3-5; Isaiah 32:15). You could always tell where there was water, because there there was fruitfulness and life. (Washing with water in the ritual was always preparatory to cleansing, not a vehicle of cleansing in itself unless it was sprinkled with the ashes of a heifer and thus became ‘cleansed water’).

This revealing of wonders was deliberate on the part of YHWH. At this time of the year (April) the Jordan overflowed its banks. At any other time the fords could have been used to cross it, but not at this time. The Israelites were to cross the Jordan when the river was at its widest and deepest, and was flowing its swiftest. They were not, of course, aware of this. They were not familiar with the Jordan. As the snow on Mount Hermon melts and the rainy season ends, the Jordan rises at this season to a depth of 10-12 feet (3-4 metres) and floods to a width of 300-360 feet ( 100 metres) at this point, unlike the slow moving, turgid river of the dry season.

But in this crossing of the Jordan there was a divine necessity. It could not wait. It was to be the springboard to which they would look back and remember that YHWH was with them. Whenever they doubted they would remember the crossing of the Jordan, and how YHWH had therefore put the land at their disposal. And it was to be the complete validation before the people that Joshua was the new Moses (verse 7).

Verse 6

And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the Ark of the covenant and cross over before the people,” and they took up the Ark of the covenant, and went before the people.”

The stress here is on the fact that they moved forwards as the people of the covenant, in obedience. When they go into battle it will be following ‘the Ark of Yahweh’, but here it is with ‘the Ark of the Covenant’. Note the emphasis on obedience. ‘Take up ----- they took up.’ The swollen river lay before them but they did what they were bid.

Verse 7

And YHWH said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to magnify you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” ’

God now revealed to Joshua His purpose, that the people might realise that the God Who had revealed His power on Egypt was equally with Joshua. He knew how important it was at this critical stage that the people had an unrivalled leader in whom they could trust.

“That they may know that as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” As the waters divided and they walked across on dry land, and remembered how their fathers had done it so long ago, they would be aware that here was another Moses who enjoyed the full backing of YHWH, and through whom YHWH would reveal His power.

Throughout the narrative we will be told that YHWH spoke to Joshua, but no hint is given as to how this took place, whether by commands within his mind impressed on him, or by a spoken voice. That it was YHWH Who spoke comes out in what results from obedience to His commands.

Verse 8

And you shall command the priests that bear the Ark of the covenant, saying, “When you come to the brink of the waters of Jordan, you shall stand still in Jordan.” ’

The priests were to be commanded to go forward with the Ark of the Covenant and when they came to the brink of the waters they were to enter and stand still with their feet in the waters (Joshua 3:13). And while they stood there YHWH would cause the waters to cease flowing.

Verse 9

And Joshua said to the children of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of YHWH your God.” ’

Possibly ‘here’ meant before the Tabernacle, as he spoke in God’s name. He wanted them to be aware that his words were from YHWH Himself. He was YHWH’s mouthpiece.

Verse 10

And Joshua said, “By this you will know that the living God is among you, and will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.” ’

His emphasis was that they might be aware as a result of what happened that their God was a living God, One Who was there, One Who acted, One Who did wonders. And as they saw what He did there they would realise that this was proof that He would indeed without fail drive out from before them the inhabitants of Canaan.

This idea of ‘the living God’ comes from Deuteronomy 5:26. There it was linked to God’s revelation of Himself on Sinai. No one knew better than Moses that He was ‘the living God’. He had met Him at the burning bush, experienced His wonders in Egypt, been guided by Him at the Sea of Reeds, and spoken with Him on Mount Sinai. Now Joshua wanted them to know that the God of Sinai was to be seen as among them again, as ‘the living God’, the God Who would reveal Himself in action on their behalf..

The seven Canaanite peoples are as mentioned in Deuteronomy 7:1 but not in the same order. They are not simply a repetition of Deuteronomy. ‘Seven’ nations, the number of divine perfection, signifies all the peoples in Canaan. See also Joshua 24:11. The terms Canaanites and Amorites were both terms regularly used to describe the general population of the country and the terms were often interchangeable. However there was sometimes some distinction in that often the Canaanites was the term for those occupying the coastlands and the Jordan valley while the Amorites could be seen as dwelling in the hill country east and west of Jordan. And as here they could also be distinguished from other inhabitants of the land.

The Hittites were settlers who had come from the Hittite Empire further north and had settled in Canaan. The Hivites may have been the equivalent of the Horites (see on Genesis 36:0). Their principal location was in the Lebanese hills (Judges 3:3) and the Hermon range (Joshua 11:3; 2 Samuel 24:7), but there were some in Edom in the time of Esau (Genesis 36:0), in Shechem (Genesis 34:0) and in Gibeon (Joshua 9:7). The Perizzites were hill dwellers (Joshua 11:3; Judges 1:4 on) and possibly country peasantry, their name being taken from ‘peraza’ = hamlet. This is supported by the fact that they were not named as Canaan’s sons in Genesis 10:15 on. The Girgashites were mentioned in Genesis 10:16 as descendants of Canaan, see also Genesis 15:21 and Nehemiah 9:8. They were attested at Ugarit in terms of the names ‘grgs’ and ‘ben-grgs’. The Jebusites were the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the hills round about (Numbers 13:29; Joshua 11:3; Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16). Thus the population was very mixed and open to invasion and infiltration.

Verse 11

Behold, the Ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth, passes over before you into Jordan.”

Joshua now added to ‘the Ark of the covenant’ the phrase ‘the Lord of all the earth’. He was probably remembering the words of Abraham ‘the Judge of all the earth’ (Genesis 18:25) and Melchizedek’s words to Abraham, ‘God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth (Genesis 14:19) and applying the idea to the present situation. Here He would be revealed as Lord of all the earth, not Judge (although the ideas merged in ancient times). It was as Lord of all the earth, and thus its controller, that He would be able to control the waters of the Jordan. The same phrase occurs in Joshua 3:13, and nowhere else in Joshua, demonstrating its particular applicability to that ‘wonder’.

Comparison can be made with the Baal epic from Ugarit where it was said of Baal, ‘Baal the mighty is alive, the Prince, Lord of the earth, exists.’ If the Canaanites could think of Baal as ‘Lord of the earth’ how much more could Israel see YHWH as such. The difference was that Baal had died and come back to life in the round of the seasons while YHWH ever lives, as the Living God, but it does evidence that the title ‘Lord of the earth’ was contemporary with, and even prior to, Moses and Joshua.

Verse 12

Now therefore you, take twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, for every tribe a man.”

Joshua 4:2 where the reason for choosing the men out is explained. This continues verse 11 as one sentence. Joshua is not said at this stage to have explained why the men were to be chosen out but we do not need to doubt that he said enough in order to enable the selection of the right people. The deliberate omission of the information is in order to heighten the interest of the listener. They are kept hanging on, asking themselves, ‘why were the twelve men chosen? What would they have to do?’ When the answer comes in Joshua 4:2 it will therefore have the greater impact. For as Joshua 4:0 demonstrates these twelve stones were an important sign for Israel, both for the present and the future. But they were already being made aware that it was something to do with the crossing of the Jordan. He wanted them to have plenty of time in advance so that they could select suitable men, men of the highest quality, for some important task not yet made clear. Joshua was a wise leader. He knew that such choices must not be rushed. He wanted the decision made early so that there would be no delay once the time came. Thus when the task did have to be done (Joshua 4:2-3) the choices would already have been decided on and there would be no hesitation. This was a wise precaution and demonstrated that Joshua was a wise leader of men, not just a spiritual robot. Levi would not be represented (see Numbers 13:4-15). They had no inheritance in the land except as YHWH’s men.

Verse 13

And it shall be that, when the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of YHWH, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off, even the waters that come down from above. And they shall stand in one heap.”

As Joshua 3:8 told us they were to advance on the Jordan and stand still with their feet in the water. Now they were told why. It was because as they stood there the waters would be cut off and would cease coming down the river bed, and would stand in one heap. This may well have occurred because a downfall of sand and rock had blocked the river at exactly the right time, heaping the waters up. Such downfalls of sand and rock are known to have achieved this situation from time to time with the Jordan, and it has often been observed. One such occurred while Garstang was there. The main miracle here was the timing.

“The Ark of YHWH, the Lord of all the earth.” A slightly different phrase than in Joshua 3:11. There the covenant of YHWH with His people was pre-eminent, here it was YHWH as the God of battle Who was in mind, as Joshua 6:8 onwards demonstrate. Both are intertwined in the whole account. Notice again ‘the Lord of all the earth’. No one else could stop the waters of the Jordan. They were going across in covenant with YHWH, and they were going across to do battle, and the Lord of all the earth was with them.

Verses 14-16

Joshua 3:14-16 a

‘And so it was that when the people removed from their tents to pass over Jordan, the priests bearing the Ark of the covenant being before the people, and when those who bore the ark were come to Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the Ark were dipped in the brink of the water, for Jordan overflows all its banks all the time of harvest, that the waters which came down from above stood. They rose up in one heap a great way off at Adam, the city which is beside Zarethan, and those that went down towards the sea of the Arabah, even the Salt Sea, were wholly cut off .’

This long and complicated sentence describes what happened. The people struck camp, the priests then bore the Ark before the people, they arrived at the Jordan, their feet entered the water, and then it happened. The waters ceased a great way off so that where the river had been swollen and raging it became an empty river bed before their very eyes.

“The people removed from their tents to pass over Jordan.” They took down their tents and packed their possessions for the last time in Beyond Jordan. For they knew that somehow, although they did not know how, they were going to cross over. Then they marched two thousand cubits behind the Ark, led by the priests who carried the Ark, the Ark which witnessed to their covenant with YHWH, and by all the priests and Levites.

And the priests who bore the Ark marched steadfastly up to the swollen, fast moving waters of the Jordan and stepped into the waters at their edge.

Then ‘the waters which came down from above stood. They rose up in one heap a great way off at Adam, the city which is beside Zarethan.’ Compare Exodus 15:8 whose language is reflected here. Adam was just over twenty eight kilometres (seventeen miles) north of Jericho, near Zarethan in the Jordan valley (Zarethan was probably on the west side of the Jordan), where there is a ford over the river. The river may have been blocked as a result of an earth tremor causing the collapse of high banks of the river and of cliffs by the Jordan. This would make a dam against which the waters would rise up in a heap. It would leave a twenty eight kilometre (seventeen mile) gap for the Israelites to make use of. Similar events are well documented as having occurred at times through history in, for example in 1267, 1909 and 1927. But this was at God’s timing.

“And those that went down towards the sea of the Arabah, even the Salt Sea, were wholly cut off.” Once the waters stopped flowing from above, the waters below would subside, and eventually disappear into the Dead Sea leaving a further stretch of dry land for any number to cross. ‘The Sea of the Arabah’ would appear to be the ancient name of the sea, which was later called ‘The Salt Sea’. The name ‘The Dead Sea’ is post-Old Testament.

Notice how quietly the miracle is described. There is no fanfare. It is just assumed that the disappearance of the waters occurred because the priests bearing the Ark entered the waters (contrast Exodus 14:21), although later it will be made clear that it was YHWH Who did it (Joshua 4:23).

Verse 17

And the priests who bore the Ark of the covenant of YHWH stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all Israel passed over on dry ground, until all the nation were passed clean over Jordan.’

The priests then marched with the Ark into the middle of the Jordan and stood there on dry ground (ground on which there was no standing water) while all the people crossed over and safely reached the other side of the Jordan, having no doubts because they were confident that YHWH Himself was holding back the waters. They had arrived in Canaan!

“Passed clean over Jordan.” Literally ‘were finished to pass over’, thus had finished passing over.

For the meaning of ‘dry’ compare Genesis 8:13-14 where in Joshua 3:13 the ground was no longer covered in water and in Joshua 3:14 it had dried out. The noun here relates to the first.

“The ark of the covenant of YHWH.” The longer appellation stressed that it not only at this time reminded them of their covenant with YHWH, but also that that covenant was with YHWH, the God Who does wonders.

Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 3". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pet/joshua-3.html. 2013.
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