Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 3:15

and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest),
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Jordan;   Miracles;   Water;   Scofield Reference Index - Israel;   Miracles;   Thompson Chain Reference - Ark;   Jordan;   Miracles;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Jordan, the River;   Miracles Wrought through Servants of God;   Rivers;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Jordan;   Miracle;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ark;   Earthquake;   Palestine;   Priest;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ark;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Jordan;   Levites;   Rahab (1);   Holman Bible Dictionary - Harvest;   Jordan River;   Water;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Jericho;   Jordan;   Joshua;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Joram;   Sea of Galilee;   Sirach;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Jordan ;   Miracles;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Ark;   Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Jordan;   Journeyings of israel from egypt to canaan;   Lachish;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Jor'dan;   Tabernacle;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Bethabara;   Jordan;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Bank;   Brim;   Brink;   Ford;   Harvest;   Joshua (2);   Palestine;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ark of the Covenant;   Jordan, the;   Miracle;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for November 14;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

And the feet of the priests - were dipped in the brim of the water - Thus we find that every thing occurred exactly in the way in which Joshua had foretold it. This must have greatly increased his credit among the people.

For Jordan overfloweth all his banks, etc. - It has often been remarked that there was no need of a miracle in crossing Jordan, as it is but an inconsiderable stream, easily fordable, being but about twenty yards in breadth. But the circumstance marked here by the sacred historian proves that there was a time in the year, viz., in the harvest, that this said river overflowed its banks; and this is confirmed by another place in Scripture, 1 Chronicles 12:15. As the miracle reported here took place about the beginning of April, a time in which rivers in general are less than in winter, it may be asked how there could be such an increase of waters at this time? The simple fact is, that the Jordan, as we have already seen, has its origin at the foot of Mount Lebanon, which mountain is always covered with snow during the winter months; in those months therefore the river is low: but when the summer's sun has melted these snows, there is consequently a prodigious increase of waters, so that the old channel is not capable of containing them; this accounts for the statement in the text that the Jordan overfloweth his banks all the time of harvest; and this was the time which God chose they should pass over it, that a miraculous interposition might be necessary, and that by the miracle they should be convinced of his omnipotence, who was not only their guide, but had promised to put them in possession of this good land.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 3:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Jordan overfloweth all his banks - Rather “is full up to all his banks,” i. e. “brim-full.” This remark strikingly illustrates the suddenness and completeness, not less than the greatness, of the marvel. The Jordan River flows at the bottom of a deep valley, which descends to the water‘s edge on either side in two, occasionally in three, terraces. Within the lowest of these the stream, ordinarily less than 100 feet wide in this lower part of its course, is confined. The margin is overgrown with a jungle of tamarisks and willows, which in the spring is reached by the rising waters (compare the figure in Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44); and the river, occasionally at least, fills the ravine which forms its proper bed to the brim. Its highest rise takes place about the time when Joshua had to cross it. By the middle of April the river cannot be forded; and, if passed at all, can only be so by swimming. This, however, was a hazardous feat (compare 1 Chronicles 12:15); and though no doubt performed by the two spies, was utterly out of the power of the mixed multitude that followed Joshua. The mere fact that the whole vast host crossed the stream of Jordan at this season, is no small proof of the miracle here recorded. No human agency then known and available could have transported them speedily and safely from bank to bank.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 3:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-3.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan,.... Not to the bank, which was overflowed, but to the extremity of the water overflowing:

and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water; which was doubtless the first they came to, and not the brim or extremity of it on the other side:

for Jordan overfloweth all its banks all the time of harvest; that is, of barley harvest, as appears from the time of year; for it was in the first month, the month Nisan, or Abib, which answers to part of March, and April, it used to overflow, 1 Chronicles 12:15; and it was now the tenth day of that month, Joshua 4:19; on the sixteenth of which, at the time of the passover, the sheaf of the firstfruits of barley harvest was offered up, Leviticus 23:10; the inundation continued all the time of harvest; and so AristeasF23Hist. de 72. Interpret. p. 41. testifies, that"the river being filled, it overflows as the Nile in the time of harvest, and waters much of the country:'it overflows its banks both on the one side and on the other, the eastern and western shores. This overflow is supposed to be occasioned either by the latter rains, which fell about this time; or rather by the snow on Mount Lebanon melting at this time of the year, when the sun has great strength in those parts, and which poured down in great quantities into this river, that took its rise from thence. JosephusF24Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 22. speaks of Mount Lebanon and of the fountains of Jordan together; and says they have their rise from the mountain; and of the snow of Lebanon see Jeremiah 18:14. This river continued to overflow at this season in the times of David, 1 Chronicles 12:15; and in the times of Aristeas, who lived in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, as before observed; and some late travellersF25Egmont and Heyman's Travels, vol. 1. p. 335, 336. observe,"it generally happens in the month Nisan; that is, from the middle of March to the middle of April, the time of the first harvest;'but Mr. MaundrellF26Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 81, 82. , who was upon the spot in 1697, and at the proper time of its overflowing, perceived nothing of it. He says,"there is a small descent, which you may fitly call the, first and outermost bank of Jordan, as far as which it may be supposed the river does, or at least did anciently, overflow; but at present (whether it was because the river has by its rapidity of current worn its channel deeper than it was formerly, or whether because its waters are diverted some other way) it seems to have forgot its ancient greatness; for we could discern no sign or probability of such overflowings when we were there, which was the thirtieth of March, being the proper time for these inundations; nay, so far was the river from overflowing, that it ran at least two yards below the brink of the channel.'However, at this time of the passage of the children of Israel through it, it was overflowing; which made the miracle the greater.

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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.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 3:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his f banks all the time of harvest,)

(f) Because the river was accustomed at this time to be full, the miracle is so much greater.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 3:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/joshua-3.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)

All the time of harvest — This is meant not of wheat-harvest, but of the barley-harvest, as is manifest from their keeping the passover at their first entrance, Joshua 5:10, which was kept on the fourteenth day of the first month, when they were to bring a sheaf of their first-fruits, which were of barley. So that this harvest in those hot countries fell very early in the spring, when rivers used to swell most; partly because of the rains which have fallen all the winter, partly because of the snows which melt and come into the rivers. And this time God chose that the miracle might be more glorious, more amazing and terrible to the Canaanites; and that the Israelites might be entertained at their first entrance with plentiful and comfortable provisions.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 3:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-3.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 3:15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)

Ver. 15. For Jordan overfloweth his banks.] Ordinarily every year; either ex fiuminis natura, (a) by the nature of this river, {see 1 Chronicles 12:15} as it is also of the Nile, (b) or else by the melting of the snow from the mountains: the like whereunto befalleth Tigris and Euphrates.

At the time of harvest.] Barley harvest. Compare Leviticus 23:10. So that the Israelites were brought into the land at the best time. And "herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth." [John 4:37]

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 3:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-3.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 15. (Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest)— The Jordan overflows at the time of barley harvest, (1 Chronicles 12:15.) at the beginning of the summer, contrary to other rivers, which are never higher than in winter, those rivers in Europe excepted, whose source being in high mountains, covered for a long time with snow, they are never more swelled than in summer. The melting of the snows on Lebanon, at the foot of which are the springs of the Jordan, causes this increase of its waters. It does not, however, always happen at the beginning of the summer. Maundrell, who was upon the banks of the river on the 30th of March 1697, found it no way swelled; but, as he says, perhaps the force of its current, which is very rapid, may have rendered the channel deeper; or the Jordan may now diffuse its streams into some other place than that where this accurate and learned traveller crossed it. See Travels, p. 82. Doubdan, who was there in 1652, about the latter end of April, saw its waters disturbed, and ready to overflow. We can neither contest the fact, therefore, nor elude the consequence of it; viz. that the miracle of the passage through this river dry-shod was so much the greater, as it happened not at a time when its waters were low, and in a narrow channel, but, on the contrary, when, swelled by the melting of the snows, they rose above its banks. Besides, what Maundrell observes of the great rapidity and width of the Jordan, is confirmed by various credible travellers. Its channel is no less than sixty feet wide in the narrowest parts. It is not surprizing, therefore, that the Scripture, and profane authors, speak of it always as of a great river; and though it should be much smaller now than anciently, this is nothing to be wondered at, when we consider how many other changes have happened upon the surface of the globe. We cannot conclude this note without remarking, that what we before said respecting the Jordan, on Genesis 13:11 needs a supplement. The celebrated Reland derives its name from Jadar, which signifies to descend, to flow, and he gives it but one source, namely, the lake Phiala; asserting this to be the opinion of Josephus, Antiq. lib. iii. c. 18. lib. viii. c. 3. though the matter is much disputed; and Mr. Roque, in his Travels to Syria and mount Lebanon, seems to have solidly confuted that opinion, shewing that Josephus commonly speaks of the origin of the Jordan under the name of Fountains, in the plural number; Antiq. lib. v. c. 1, 2. lib. xv. c. 13. and lib. xviii. c. 3. to which he adds the testimony of several modern travellers respecting the two sources of the Jordan. The Arabs, at this time, call the river Arden and Ordonnon; and the Persians Herdum. In the geographical account of Nubia, it goes by the name of Zaccar, which, in Arabic, signifies full and swelled; epithets which perfectly agree with this river.

See commentary on Joshua 3:14

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 3:15". 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

Which is also noted 1 Chronicles 12:15 /APC Sirach 24:26, and by Aristoeas in the History of the LXX. Interpreters. This is meant not of the wheat harvest, but of the barley harvest, (which was before it, Ruth 1:22 2 Samuel 21:9) as is manifest from their keeping of the passover at their first entrance, Joshua 5:10, which feast was kept on the fourteenth day of their first month, when they were to bring a sheaf of their first-fruits, Leviticus 23:10 Deuteronomy 16:9,10, which were of barley, as Josephus affirms, and is evident from the thing itself. So that this harvest in those hot countries fell very early in the spring, when rivers used to swell most, partly because of the rains which have fallen all the winter, and partly because of the snows, which then melt into water and come into the rivers; for which reasons the same overflowing of water which is here ascribed to Jordan, is by other authors ascribed to Euphrates, and Tigris, and the Rhine, and Maine, &c. And this time God chose for this work, partly that the miracle might be more glorious in itself, more obliging to the Israelites, and more amazing and terrible to the Canaanites; and partly that the Israelites might be entertained at their first entrance with more plentiful and comfortable provisions.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 3:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-3.html. 1685.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 3:15. The feet of the priests were dipped in the brim of the water — The stream stopped immediately, as if a sluice had been let down to dam it up; so that the waters above swelled, stood on a heap, and ran back, and yet, it seems, did not spread themselves over the adjacent lands. When they passed through the Red sea, the waters were a wall on either hand; here only on the right hand. Thus the God of nature, when he pleaseth, can change the course of nature, and alter any of its properties; can “turn waters into rocks, and rocks into waters,” to serve his own purposes. What can he not do? What will he not do for the perfecting of the salvation of his people? Hear the psalmist celebrate this work of wonder, in most beautiful and striking language: “When Israel went out of Egypt — Judah was his sanctuary. The sea saw it and fled: Jordan was driven back. What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?” Well might he add, “Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of Jehovah, who turneth the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters.” Jordan overfloweth all the time of harvest — This is meant, not of wheat-harvest, but of the barley-harvest, as is manifest from their keeping the passover at their first entrance, (Joshua 5:10,) which was kept on the fourteenth day of the first month, when they were to bring a sheaf of their first-fruits, which were of barley. So that this harvest, in those hot countries, fell very early in the spring, when rivers used to swell most; partly because of the rains which had fallen all the winter, partly because of the snows which melted and came into the rivers. And this time God chose that the miracle might be more glorious, more amazing and terrible to the Canaanites; and that the Israelites might be entertained at their first entrance with plentiful and comfortable provisions.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 3:15". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-3.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Water. Thus they manifested the strength of their faith. (Calmet) --- Immediately the obedient waters divided, and the gravel or sand was left dry, ver. 17. (Haydock) --- Channel. The barley harvest was ready about the 30th of April, Leviticus xxiii. 10. On other occasions this overflowing of the Jordan is noticed, 1 Paralipomenon xii. 15., and Ecclesiasticus xxiv. 36. Doubdan says that when he visited these parts, at the same season of the year, the Jordan was quite full, on account of the melted snow, and ready to leave its banks. It was about a stone throw across, and very rapid. See chap. i. 2. The rains which fall in spring, serve to increase the inundation, (Deuteronomy xi. 14,) as well as the snow which melts at that time on Libanus, though a great part resists the violent heats. Mirum dictu, says Tacitus v., tantos inter ardores opacum fidumque nivibus. (Jeremias xviii. 14., and xlix. 19.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 3:15". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

for. Note the parenthesis.

overfloweth. So to the present day.

banks. Hebrew found only four times in O.T.; here, Joshua 4:18. 1 Chronicles 12:15. Isaiah 8:7. All but the last, of the Jordan.

harvest = barley harvest. Compare note on Joshua 2:6.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 3:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)

No JFB commentary on this verse.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 3:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-3.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)
the feet
13; Isaiah 26:6
Jordan overfloweth
The ordinary current of the Jordan, near where the Israelites crossed, is said by Maundrell, to be about twenty yards across, deeper than a man's height, and so rapid, that there is no swimming against it. It has, however, two banks; the first, or inner one, is that of the river in its natural state, and the second, or outer one, about a furlong distant, is that of its overflowings, which it does when the summer's sun has melted the snow on mount Lebanon and Hermon, in the months of March and April. And this was the time which God chose that the Israelites should pass over it; that a miraculous interposition might be necessary; and that, by the miracle, they might be convinced of his omnipotence.
4:18; 1 Chronicles 12:15; Jeremiah 12:5; 49:19
all the time
5:10-12; Leviticus 23:10-16; Deuteronomy 16:1-9
Reciprocal: Joshua 3:5 - the Lord;  2 Samuel 15:24 - bearing;  1 Kings 8:3 - the priests took up;  2 Kings 5:12 - better;  Job 40:23 - Jordan;  Psalm 77:16 - GeneralIsaiah 43:2 - passest;  Habakkuk 3:10 - the overflowing;  Zechariah 10:11 - smite

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 3:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-3.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

15.And as they that bare the ark, etc The valor of the priests in proceeding boldly beyond the bed into the water itself, was deserving of no mean praise, since they might have been afraid of being instantly drowned. For what could they expect on putting in their feet, but immediately to find a deep pool in which they would be engulfed? In not being afraid on reaching the stream, and in continuing to move firmly forward to the appointed place, they gave a specimen of rare alacrity, founded on confidence.

To the general danger was added the special one, that the Jordan had then overflowed its banks, as it is wont to do at the commencement of every summer. As the plain was covered, it was impossible to observe the line of the banks or the ford, and the slime spread far and wide, increased their fear and anxiety. (44) God was pleased that his people, and especially the priests, should contend with these obstacles, in order that the victory of their faith and constancy might be more illustrious. At the same time, the difficulty thus presented tended to magnify the glory of the miracle when the waters, which had overflowed their banks, retired at the divine command, and were gathered together into a solid heap. First, Joshua explains the nature of the miracle for the purpose of removing doubt, and preventing profane men from denying the divine interposition by a subtle searching for other causes. It is not, indeed, impossible that the flowing of the water might have been restrained for a short time, and that some portion of the channel might thus have appeared dry, or that the course might have changed and taken some other direction. But it was certainly neither a natural nor fortuitous event, when the waters stood gathered up into a heap. It is therefore said that the waters which previously flowed from the higher ground, seeking in their descent a continuous outlet, stood still.

There cannot be a doubt that this wonderful sight must have been received with feelings of fear, leading the Israelites more distinctly to acknowledge that they were saved in the midst of death. For what was that collected heap but a grave in which the whole multitude would have been buried, had the waters resumed their naturally liquid state? (45) Had they walked upon the waters their faith might have served them as a kind of bridge. But now, while mountains of water hung over their heads, it is just as if they had found an open and level path beneath them. The locality is marked out as situated between two cities, (46) that the remembrance of it might never be lost; and, in like manner, God ordered stones to be set up as a perpetual memorial, that this distinguished mercy might be celebrated by posterity in all ages.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 3:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-3.html. 1840-57.