Joshua 3

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

2 And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host;

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

4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near to 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, Sanctify yourselves: for to-morrow the LORD will do wonders among you.

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

7 And the LORD 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 I will be with thee.

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

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

10 And Joshua said, By this ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out 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 passeth over before you into Jordan.

12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.

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 in a heap.

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

15 And as they that bore the ark had come to Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bore the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all its banks all the time of harvest,)

16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan; and those that came down towards the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.

17 And the priests that bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people had passed quite over 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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