Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 3:8

You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.'"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Scofield Reference Index - Miracles;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Jordan, the River;   Rivers;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Earthquake;   Joshua the son of nun;   Miracles;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Pentateuch;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Jericho;   Joshua;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Jordan ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Jordan;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Ark;   Journeyings of israel from egypt to canaan;   Lachish;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ark of the Covenant;   Brink;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Ye shall stand still in Jordan - The priests proceeded first with the ark, and entered into the bed of the river the course of which was immediately arrested, the waters collecting above the place where the priests stood, while the stream fell off towards the Dead Sea; so that the whole channel below where the priests were standing became dry. The whole camp, therefore, passed over below where the priests were standing, keeping at the distance of two thousand cubits from the ark; this they would readily do, as the whole bed of the river was dry for many miles below the place where the priests entered.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 3:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-3.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the Lord,.... Who were subject to Joshua, the chief governor of the nation, and general of the army, as well as the common people; and whose commands they were to obey, and especially when they appeared to be from the Lord:

saying, when ye come to the brink of the water of Jordan; not of the bank of it, but of the water, which had now overflowed its bank; that is, the brink or extremity of it, which was nearest to them, and to which they first came; though it is a notion of some Jewish commentatorsF20Kimchi, Abarbinel. , and which some Christian interpretersF21Masius, Drusius. have given into, and both of considerable note, that this was the further extremity, or the brink on the other side of the river; but, according to this notion, they must pass the river to the other side before the waters were divided, which is not credible; and must return again into the midst of the river, which is not probable; and besides, it is expressly said, that as soon as their feet dipped in the brim, or extremity of the water, the waters parted, which must be the first brim or extremity they came at, Joshua 3:15,

ye shall stand still in Jordan; after the waters were parted; upon their coming to, and touching, the brink of them, they proceeded, and went into the middle of the river, where they were ordered to stop and stand still.

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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.
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 3:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still c in Jordan.

(c) Even in the channel where the stream had run, (Joshua 3:17)
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 3:8". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/joshua-3.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.

The brink — Heb. to the extremity, so far as the river then spread itself, which was now more than ordinary, Joshua 3:15.

In Jordan — Within the waters of Jordan, in the first entrance into the river; Where they stood for a season, 'till the river was divided, and then they went into the midst of it, and there abode 'till all the people were passed over.

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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 3:8". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-3.html. 1765.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

JORDAN’S BRINK

‘The brink of the water of Jordan.’

Joshua 3:8

To the minds of many Jordan stands as a type of death, and Canaan of heaven. This may be poetical, but it is not very sensible. At death the believer enters into rest, and his works follow him; but when the Children of Israel crossed Jordan their work was before them.

I. What does the Jordan represent to us?—Of what is the Jordan a figure? It stands for an apparent obstacle. It seemed as though Israel could not cross those flooded waters. Quite stopped. Beyond the Jordan lay their duty and their work. But between rolled the waters. Now, if you think about it, you will find that between us and every kind of duty there has always been a barrier. As, for example, when we knew we ought to tell the truth, it has always been difficult to do so. Punishment, shame, loss, or some other ‘Jordan’ has usually barred the way. When we have been urged to try for some prize, or post in life, we have always clearly seen the difficulty. Such hard work we never could do. That has been our ‘Jordan.’ When people ought to have sacrificed themselves to save others (from fire, or from water, or to nurse them through a fever, etc.) you may be sure they have always seen the danger and trouble, and have shrunk from it. That has been their ‘Jordan.’ A wide ‘Jordan’ flows between us all and the Spiritual Life. What Canaan was to Israel the Spiritual Life is to us. God bids us enter the Kingdom of God upon earth, His Spiritual Church, and conquer ourselves and the world for Him, just as He bid Israel cross over into Canaan and subdue it and its wicked inhabitants for Him. But we must first cross the ‘Jordan.’ What a wide stream it looks! How difficult! How impossible! That ‘Jordan’ is made up of all kinds of worldly advantages, all kinds of personal pleasures, all kinds of unwelcome self-denials. Besides which there are the opposition and sometimes ridicule of worldly friends. (This is more especially felt in India, or Persia, or China, etc., where the convert has to suffer the loss of all things. But it is also experienced here, at home.)

That Jordan must be crossed. The ‘young ruler’ dared not cross it. Nicodemus at first dared not cross it. Those Jews who loved the ‘praise of men more than the praise of God,’ dared not cross it. St. Mark, when he left St. Paul, frightened at the dangers of the missionary journey through Asia, once shrank from crossing it. But Paul himself crossed it; all the Apostles crossed it. (‘Left all and followed Jesus.’) Everybody who has been a true disciple has crossed it. One cannot do God’s work without crossing the Jordan. The faithful servant of God must go forward and cross over to live the life and do the work which God has for him to do.

II. How may we cross over Jordan?—Not by any unaided effort of our own. The host of Israel could never have crossed the flood in the face of a determined enemy. Have you ever made good resolutions? Have they been strong enough to carry you over all difficulties? You know how often they have failed. And if they have failed in ordinary matters, how much more in moments of great temptation? Jeremiah (ch. Joshua 12:5) asks, ‘How wilt thou do in the swellings of Jordan?’ If thou canst not cross the ordinary river, how wilt thou cross in time of flood? There is sure to come a time for all of us when we are dreadfully tempted. How shall we cross Jordan then?

Let us see how Israel crossed. First went the Ark of the Covenant. And God’s covenant is our assurance of help, too. What is that covenant? ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ As soon as the bearers of the Covenant actually touched the waters, the flood shrank back and a passage was made. And as soon as we resolutely apply the Covenant of the Promise to any difficulty of any kind that difficulty is conquered.

Difficulties vanish when they are bravely faced by those who are made ‘very courageous’ through their trust in Jesus Christ. Jeremiah (ch. Jos 49:19) describes an enemy as ‘like a lion from the swellings of Jordan.’ Have you ever met such a ‘lion’? Rushing out to increase a doubt or a hesitation, and suggesting all kinds of danger? ‘Christian,’ in the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” met two such lions. But when he came close to them they were chained. Our ‘Jordan,’ then, is our special difficulty in the way of doing right and following Christ. But where the Ark of the Covenant goes, there we may safely follow.

—Canon Dawson.

Illustrations

(1) ‘I like to think that for this new crossing there were new commands. You know the meaning of the imperative mood? This chapter is a chapter of imperatives. It is like a camp in the Transvaal, this chapter—we are wakened by bugle calls and ringing orders. Remove! Go! Sanctify yourselves! Take up! Pass over! These were clear words of command beside the river. And it was these fresh orders for the fresh experience that put new heart into the host of Israel. It is one secret of success in life to get new orders in the changing road. It is one blessing of living near to God that we get to hear His voice above the river. Speak out! blessed Commander, let me hear Thee! My life is a new thing, far more original than any poem, and all the experience of all the race will fail me. I need a new command upon the bank, if I am to serve and suffer as I ought.’

(2) ‘To get such a mighty host, with cattle, furniture, etc., across the river at the ordinary ford would have been the work of days, perhaps weeks, and a watchful enemy could easily have made it impossible. It seems, however, that the Canaanites felt so secure, because Jordan was in flood, that they did not make any attempt to resist the passage. That which made a seeming impossibility really became the agent of a glorious success when it was overruled by God. “That which is impossible with men is possible with God.” Duly note what extreme care was shown to convince the people that the waters were arrested by God for their sakes. Such an intervention the Canaanites never could have dreamed of.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Joshua 3:8". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/joshua-3.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 3:8 And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.

Ver. 8. Ye shall stand still in Jordan.] "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord which he will show you today," as Exodus 14:13. Believe and prosper: consent and obey, and ye shall eat the good things of the land.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 3:8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-3.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 8. When ye are come to the brink, &c.— The Hebrew is, so soon as ye are come to the extremity of the water: by which we are certainly to understand the eastern limit of the river, whose waters were now out beyond the banks; just as if Joshua had said to the priests, "Without waiting till you are entered into the common bed of Jordan, as soon as your feet are wetted with its waters, stop, and there rest, till you see what the divine power will effect." Some able interpreters understand here, by the extremity of the water, the western bank of the river; supposing, that the priests had order to cross the river immediately, without stopping till they came to the other side of the land: while others conjecture, that the priests remained upon the eastern bank of the Jordan till all the people were gone over. We prefer, however, the opinion of those, who say, that the priests, having first wetted their feet in the waters of the Jordan, stopped there some time, till, one part of the waters having run off, they advanced into the middle of the channel, and did not go from thence till the whole people had passed over. This explanation seems to be the most simple, and the best adapted to the words of this verse, compared with those of ver. 15.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 3:8". 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

To the brink, Heb. to the extremity; so far as the river then spread itself, which was now more than ordinary, Joshua 3:5.

In Jordan; within the waters of Jordan, in the first entrance into the river; where they stood for a season, till the river was divided, and then they went into the midst of it, as it is implied, Joshua 3:17, and there abode till all the people were passed over, as it follows in the history.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 3:8". 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 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.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 3:8". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-3.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

8.The brink of the water — Hebrews end of the water, that is, the eastern margin of the river. It is evident from Joshua’s address to the people, which immediately follows, that all the Lord’s words to Joshua are not reported here. The abbreviation is to prevent repetition. The main point is to show that the whole order of the crossing was arranged by the Lord and not by Joshua.

Stand still in Jordan — As a solemn and impressive indication to the passing host that the miracle is wrought by Jehovah, whose chosen ministers are the priests, and the symbol of whose presence is the ark.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 3:8". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-3.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 3:8. The brink of Jordan — Hebrew, to the extremity, so far as the river then spread itself, which was now more than ordinary, Joshua 3:15. Ye shall stand still in Jordan — Within the waters of Jordan, in the first entrance into the river; where they stood for a season, till the river was divided, and then they went into the midst of it, and there abode till all the people were passed over.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 3:8". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-3.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

It. Hebrew, "when you shall have come to the brink (or extremity) of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan," (Haydock) which some explain by saying that they were to stop on the eastern bank, as soon as they had wet their feet, (Serarius) while others say they crossed quite over, and stood at the other side. (Masius) --- But it is more probable, that as soon as they had touched the waters, the priests halted till the bed of the river was presently dried up, and then they placed themselves in the middle of it, close to the raging billows, which, rising up like mountains, were stopped in their career, (Haydock) and forced to retire backwards to their source, ver. 15, 17, and chap. iv. 9. (Bonfrere; Cornelius a Lapide) --- Some translate, "into the division," instead of part, or extremity. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 3:8". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-3.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan. No JFB commentary on this verse.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 3:8". "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 thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.
command
3; 1 Chronicles 15:11,12; 2 Chronicles 17:8,9; 29:4-11,15,27,30; 30:12; 31:9,10; 2 Chronicles 35:2-6; Nehemiah 12:24-28; 13:22,28
ye shall stand
17; Exodus 14:13; Lamentations 3:26
Reciprocal: Joshua 4:11 - that the ark

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 3:8". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-3.html.