Joshua 3

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1 And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to the Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.

2 And it came to pass at the end of three days, that the officers went through the camp;

3 and they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of Jehovah your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then remove from your place, and go after it;

4 yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Ye shall not come near it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go; for ye have not passed this way heretofore.

5 And Joshua said to the people, Hallow yourselves; for to-morrow Jehovah will do wonders in your midst.

6 And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and go over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.

7 And Jehovah said to Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that as I was with Moses, so will I be with thee.

8 And thou shalt command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, stand still in the Jordan.

9 And Joshua said to the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of Jehovah your God.

10 And Joshua said, Hereby shall ye know that the living ùGod is in your midst, and [that] he will without fail dispossess from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.

11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going over before you into the Jordan.

12 And now take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe.

13 And it shall come to pass, when the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of Jehovah, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan, the waters flowing down from above, shall be cut off, and shall stand up in a heap.

14 And it came to pass when the people removed from their tents, to pass over the Jordan, that the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were before the people;

15 and when they that bore the ark were come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (and the Jordan is full over all its banks throughout the days of harvest),

16 the waters which flowed down from above stood [and] rose up in a heap, very far, by Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan; and those that flowed down towards the sea of the plain, the salt sea, were completely cut off. And the people went over opposite to Jericho.

17 And the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of Jehovah stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan. And all Israel went over on dry ground, until all the nation had completely gone over the Jordan.


Exploring the Meaning of Joshua 3      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Joshua 3: The Israelites cross the river Jordan

In this chapter, the Israelites cross the river Jordan by means of a miracle: the waters of the river get held back to create dry ground to walk on. This miracle happens a number of times in the Old Testament beginning with the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus. And, as we will see, it means things for us too.

All the people of Israel move to the edge of the river Jordan and camp (see Arcana Caelestia 6537). Then a number of commands are given: to move only when they see the priests carrying the ark move first; to keep well away from the ark; to consecrate themselves; to choose twelve men, one from each tribe. The priests are told to carry the ark ahead of the people and to step into the waters of the river.

These detailed instructions are important for us, in the work of regeneration. At the end of verse Joshua 3:4 it says something very telling, that “you have not passed this way before.” In truth, we haven’t; the work of regeneration is new to us and takes us into things we haven’t yet experienced. Seeing the ark going ahead pictures our own need to keep the commands and truths of the Lord in our vision and goals.

Keeping well away from the ark is also important because we must not mix together our view of what we do, with the Lord’s view of what we must do – the ark contains the ten commandments and must always be seen (Arcana Caelestia 6724).

The text says, “Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go.” (Joshua 3:4) The people are also told to consecrate themselves, to make themselves holy. This would have included washing, which stands for cleansing our mind and actions of anything which goes against God.

The last command the people are given is to choose twelve men, one from each tribe. This will become important in the next chapter when twelve memorial stones are taken out of the river Jordan.

The priests carrying the ark are told to step in and get wet. For us this means that our dedication to God and our highest intentions (the ‘priest’ in us) must come into touch with the flowing water of the river Jordan (the first spiritual truths, first because the Jordan is a boundary).

When the priests do this, the waters immediately stop far upstream, making dry ground for everybody to safely cross while the priests stand still (see Arcana Caelestia 1664[7]). When our dedication to God dovetails with God’s truths for our life and become united, we have the heavenly ideal and we will now go forward. (Doctrine of Life 55[3]).

In verses 9 to 13 Joshua reminds the people of what it is they are now doing. They are crossing into Canaan, “and the living God is among you and he will without fail drive out the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites”, who, for us, stand for the wrongs, weaknesses, delusions, tricks and deceits of our human nature such as it is before we belong to God. “Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan.”

This chapter is our first action and resolve at the start of our regeneration or new birth. It will take us from here to there, never to go back. It is a transition from one side of our life to the other (Arcana Caelestia 7779[3]). And all Israel crossed over on dry ground. Each of us is ‘all Israel’ because there are many parts to us; we love, think, believe, value, act, do useful things, share, work and play, and all these and many others will be part of our spiritual life that lies ahead.

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