Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 3:13

It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord , the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Scofield Reference Index - Israel;   Miracles;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Jordan, the River;   Miracles Wrought through Servants of God;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Miracle;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ark;   Earthquake;   Joshua the son of nun;   Miracles;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Lord;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Jericho;   Joshua;   Zarethan;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Jordan ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Ark;   Journeyings of israel from egypt to canaan;   Lachish;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Tabernacle;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Heap;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ark of the Covenant;   Miracle;  

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord,.... Which they were bid to take up and carry, Joshua 3:6,

the Lord of all the earth; this shows that not the ark, but the Lord, is called "the Lord of all the earth"; see Gill on Joshua 3:11,

shall rest in the waters of Jordan; the meaning is, as soon as their feet should touch them, or they should set their feet in them, when they came to the brink of them:

that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; from above the place where the priests came, and the children of Israel after passed over:

and they shall stand upon an heap; or one heap; stop and rise up high, as if piled up one upon another, and stand unmoved. This had been made known to Joshua by divine revelation, and is what he hints at, Joshua 3:5; and now plainly speaks out, and foretells before it came to pass; and which must serve to magnify Joshua, as in Joshua 3:7; and give him great credit and honour among the people.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 3:13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-3.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.

The ark of the Lord — That so it may appear this is the Lord's doing, and that in pursuance of his covenant made with Israel.

Of all the earth — The Lord of all this globe of earth and water, who therefore can dispose of this river and the adjoining land as he pleaseth.

Cut off — The waters which now are united now shall be divided, and part shall flow down the channel towards the dead sea, and the other part that is nearer the spring of the river, and flows down from it, shall stand still.

An heap — Being as it were congealed, as the Red-Sea was, Exodus 15:8, and so kept from overflowing the country.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 3:13". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-3.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 3:13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, [that] the waters of Jordan shall be cut off [from] the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.

Ver. 13. That the waters of Jordan shall be cut off.] A wonderful work of God, and much admired by the psalmist; [Psalms 114:3; Psalms 114:5] as was that - and worthily if it were true - by the philosopher, when from the hill Etna there ran down a torrent of fire that consumed all the houses thereabout; in the midst of those fearful flames, God’s special care of the godly, saith he, shined most brightly: ο γαρ πυρος ποταμος εξεχισθη, for the river of fire was divided, and a kind of lane made for those who ventured to rescue their aged parents, and pluck them out of the jaws of death. (a)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 3:13". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-3.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 13. The waters of Jordan shall be cut off, &c.— "The moment that the priests, bearing the ark, shall set foot in the waters of Jordan, that river shall open a wide passage over against the place where they enter on your right, towards the head or springs of the flood: the course of the waters being suspended, they shall accumulate, and form, as it were, a wall, not a drop being suffered to run down; while, on your left, they shall flow on to the Dead Sea, and thus leave dry a considerable extent of the river's channel."

"With respect to the rivers, (says Dr. Shaw, in his Travels,) the Jordan is not only the most considerable in the Holy Land, but, next to the Nile, is by far the largest I have seen either in the Levant or Barbary. I could not, however, compute it to be more than thirty yards broad; but this is made up by its depth, which even at the brink I found to be nine feet. If then we take this, during the whole year, for the mean depth of the stream, which runs about two miles an hour, the Jordan will daily discharge into the Dead Sea about 6,090,000 tuns of water. Such a quantity of water daily received without increasing the limits of that sea or lake, has made some conjecture, that it is absorbed by the burning sands; and others, that it is carried off through subterraneous cavities; or that it has a communication with the Serbonic Lake. But if the Dead Sea is, according to the general computation, 72 miles long, and 18 broad, by allowing, according to Mr. Halley's observation, 6914 tons of vapour for every square mile, there will be daily drawn up in clouds to refresh the earth with rain or dew 8,960,000 tons, which is near one third more than is brought into it by this river."

"As to the bitumen for which this lake has been always remarkable, I was told, that it is raised at certain times from the bottom in large hemispheres, which, on their touching the surface, and being acted on by the external air, burst with great smoke and noise, and disperse themselves in a thousand pieces. This, however, only happens near the shore; for in greater depths the eruptions are supposed to discover themselves only in the columns of smoke that are sometimes observed to arise from the lake. This bitumen is probably accompanied, on its rising, with sulphur; as both are found promiscuously on the shore. The latter exactly resembles common native sulphur; and the former is brittle, yielding, upon friction, or being set on fire, a fetid smell; it is also as black as jet, and exactly of the same shining appearance."

REFLECTIONS.—God, being now about to bring his people into the land of promise under their new general, is pleased,

1. To put a mark of distinguished honour upon him, by speaking to him from the mercy-seat, before the ark was removed; assuring him publicly of his presence with him at the banks of Jordan, as distinguishably as it had been with Moses at the Red Sea; and the priests themselves are to be under his direction, and receive their orders from him. Note; (1.) Those who honour God, he will honour. (2.) It was at Bethabara, the place where Joshua passed, that Jesus was baptized, and entered upon his ministry of bringing God's Israel to their rest in glory. (3.) It is the duty of magistrates to stir up ministers to their work, as it should be their delight to be ready to execute every plan proposed for the good of immortal souls.

2. Joshua communicates to the people God's design of dividing the waters of Jordan, and, from such a miraculous instance of God's favour to them, infers the certain victory which they should gain over all their enemies. He, who went before them down into Jordan, would go up before them utterly to expel the nations of Canaan; and when they had seen with their eyes the waters dried up, they might no more doubt their possessing the land whither they were thus led. Note; The wondrous preservations and the repeated mercies that every believer is daily receiving from God, should be improved as a comfortable ground of confidence in futurity. He who leads us through the dangers of to-day will preserve us amid the trials of to-morrow; and as we have found him our support in life, we shall also find him our strength and comfort in death.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 3:13". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/joshua-3.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

As soon as the soles of the feet of the priests shall rest in the waters of Jordan; that so it may appear that this is the Lord’s doing, and that in pursuance and for the accomplishment of his covenant made with Israel.

The Lord of all the earth; the Lord of all this terrestial globe made of earth and water, who therefore can dispose of this river and the adjoining land as he pleaseth.

The waters which now are united shall be divided, and part shall flow down the channel towards the Dead Sea, and the other part, that is nearer the spring or rise of the river, and flows down from it, shall stand still. They shall stand upon an heap, being as it were congealed, as the Red Sea was, Exodus 15:8, and so kept from overflowing all the country.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 3:13". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-3.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 3:13". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-3.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

13.The Lord — Hebrews, Jehovah.

The Lord of all the earth — The efficient cause of the miracle.

Shall rest in the waters — The Jordan had two, and in some places three, banks. See cut and note Matthew 3:6. At its flood it over-flowed the first and second banks, and covered the whole space between the terraces formed by the second and third banks. The waters on each side would be comparatively shallow. Here the priests were to stand or rest in the shoal water on the eastern bank until the waves receded, and the river’s channel was made bare; then they advanced into the midst of the channel of the Jordan, and there stood until all the people had crossed. Joshua 3:17.

The waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down — Grammatically, waters that come down is in apposition with waters of Jordan, and the word from, supplied in our English version, is incorrect and misleading. It is better to omit from, and substitute namely, and render, The waters of Jordan shall be cut off, namely, the waters that come down from above.

And they shall stand upon a heap — Or, stand up, one mass. The word for heap is best understood by referring to its use in the description of the division of the Red Sea in Exodus 15:8, and in Psalms 78:13. By comparing these passages with Exodus 14:22, where it is said, “The waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left,” we arrive at the conclusion that the phenomenon presented by the word heap was that of an upright mass of water held back by Omnipotence. {We take the meaning to be that just above the crossing the waters were “congealed,” or solidified, as if dammed up by an invisible perpendicular wall across the channel, causing the waters above to overflow all the banks. Below the miraculous dam the channel ran dry to the Dead Sea.} Compare note on Joshua 3:16. No natural agent was employed in the working of this miracle. In the division of the Red Sea the Lord caused a strong east wind to blow all night, when Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. Exodus 14:21. But in the passage of the Jordan “there was neither wind nor tide, to the agency of which the effect could be attributed; and if the river way actually passed, at a high stage of its waters, without boats or bridges, the evidence of the miracle was irresistible — the current must have been suspended by supernatural power.” In the most degenerate periods of Jewish history this great miracle was never once questioned. So far as we know even the skeptical and materialistic Sadducees, who sifted the traditions of the elders with a destructiveness rivaling the German rationalists, never assailed this manifest token of supernatural power in their nation’s induction into the Land of Promise.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 3:13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-3.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Heap. Hebrew, "the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off: the waters that come down from above, even they shall stand as upon a heap," like mountains of ice. The Vulgate informs us what became of the waters (Haydock) below this division. Where it took place we do not find recorded, so that we cannot know exactly how large a space would be left dry. Calmet allows, "near six leagues," ver. 4, and 16. But here, supposing that the Jordan was divided over-against Jericho, he says, that "the waters running off into the Dead Sea, would, in all probability, leave not less than two or three thousand paces of the channel dry." Interruptus aquis fluxit prior amnis in æquor;

Ad molem stetit unda fluens. -----Lucan, Phar. ii.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 3:13". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

the LORD. Hebrew. Jehovah. App-4.

cut off. Three times here, for Israel; 2 Kings 2:8, for Elijah; and 2 Kings 2:14, for Elisha.

an heap one heap. Compare Psalms 114:3.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 3:13". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-3.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(13) The soles of the feet of the priests.—Observe that the priests, the ark-bearers, did not stand in the middle of the bed of the river, but at the edge of the flood. They had no need to advance further. As soon as their feet “rested” in the overflow, “Jordan was driven back.” The waters descending from the north as it were recoiled and shrank away, and stood up in “one heap.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Joshua 3:13". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/joshua-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.
the soles
15,16; Exodus 14:19-22
of the Lord
stand upon
16; Exodus 15:8; Psalms 33:7; 78:13; 114:3-5; Habakkuk 3:15
Reciprocal: Exodus 14:21 - the Lord;  Deuteronomy 11:31 - GeneralJoshua 3:5 - the Lord;  Joshua 4:3 - the priests feet;  Joshua 4:7 - the waters;  Joshua 4:10 - stood in the midst;  Joshua 4:18 - the soles;  2 Chronicles 6:41 - the ark;  Psalm 18:15 - channels;  Psalm 74:15 - flood;  Isaiah 43:16 - maketh;  Nahum 1:4 - and drieth;  Zechariah 4:14 - the Lord;  Matthew 2:13 - until

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 3:13". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-3.html.