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Joshua 3-5

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

Joshua Chapter 3

The Israelites' crossing of The Jordan River was done with military precision - and with a miracle. To make plain Who it was that was both leading them and guaranteeing their victory, The Lord's Levites, carrying The Lord's Ark Of The Covenant (see also Raiders Of The Lost Ark), led the crossing into the river, about 1,000 meters far ahead of the main battle force. There was no risk to them or the Ark from the grand display; if attacked, the Levites would have had plenty of air cover to protect them (see also "Strong Is He Who Has Come Down").

River The orders:

"Early in the morning Joshua rose and set out from Shittim, with all the people of Israel; and they came to the Jordan, and lodged there before they passed over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, "When you see the ark of the covenant of The Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it, that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, a distance of about two thousand cubits; do not come near it." (Joshua 3:1-4 RSV)

The crossing:

"So, when the people set out from their tents, to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water, the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest, the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap far off, at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan, and those flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, The Salt Sea, were wholly cut off; and the people passed over opposite Jericho." (Joshua 3:14-16 RSV)

Joshua Chapter 4

The crossing was immediately memorialized in stone (notice that it was The Lord who was in command i.e. "The Lord said to Joshua").

Ark of the Covenant

"When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, The Lord said to Joshua, "Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, 'Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests' feet stood, and carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.'"

Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe; and Joshua said to them, "Pass on before the ark of The Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you, when your children ask in time to come, 'What do those stones mean to you?' Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of The Lord; when it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial for ever." (Joshua 4:1-7 RSV)

With the Levites and the Ark still in the middle of the river, the army of Israel then went ashore on the opposite side, along with 40,000 men of the eastern tribes (see Eastern Tribal Lands) with them. Israel had come home.

"For the priests who bore the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan, until everything was finished that The Lord commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people passed over in haste; and when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of The Lord and the priests passed over before the people. The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had bidden them; about forty thousand ready armed for war passed over before The Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho." (Joshua 4:10-13 RSV)

Joshua Chapter 5

The Canaanite people of the land immediately realized that the Israelites could not be stopped.

Swordsman

"When all the kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites that were by the sea, heard that The Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the people of Israel until they had crossed over, their heart melted, and there was no longer any spirit in them, because of the people of Israel." (Joshua 5:1 RSV)

The Israelites did not however advance into their homeland immediately.

"At that time The Lord said to Joshua, "Make flint knives and circumcise the people of Israel again the second time." So Joshua made flint knives, and circumcised the people of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the men of war, had died on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt. Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people that were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised. For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the nation, the men of war that came forth out of Egypt, perished, because they did not hearken to the voice of The Lord; to them The Lord swore that he would not let them see the land which The Lord had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey [see A Journey Without A Destination]. So it was their children, whom he raised up in their stead, that Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way. When the circumcising of all the nation was done, they remained in their places in the camp till they were healed." (Joshua 5:2-8 RSV)

The Israelites had left Egypt at Passover (see Christ's Passover); they celebrated Passover upon their entry into their physical promised land (hence also the manner in which Rahab was told to keep herself alive in Jericho - see the notes for Joshua 2). The manna that had fed them for forty years ended.

"While the people of Israel were encamped in Gilgal they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening in the plains of Jericho. And on the morrow after the passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased on the morrow, when they ate of the produce of the land; and the people of Israel had manna no more, but ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year." (Joshua 5:10-12 RSV)

Jericho was about to be taken by the Israelites, but once again it was made plain that it was The Lord who was in command. The angel that Joshua encountered was the "commander of the army of The Lord."

"When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man stood before him with his drawn sword in his hand; and Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us, or for our adversaries?" And he said, "No; but as commander of the army of The Lord I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and worshiped, and said to him, "What does my lord bid his servant?" And the commander of The Lord's army said to Joshua, "Put off your shoes from your feet; for the place where you stand is holy." And Joshua did so." (Joshua 5:13-15 RSV)

Fact Finder: What was the symbolism of manna to Jesus Christ?
See Christ, The Bread of Life


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