Joshua 3

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1 And Joshua riseth early in the morning, and they journey from Shittim, and come in unto the Jordan, he and all the sons of Israel, and they lodge there before they pass over.

2 And it cometh to pass, at the end of three days, that the authorities pass over into the midst of the camp,

3 and command the people, saying, `When ye see the ark of the covenant of Jehovah your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then ye journey from your place, and have gone after it;

4 only, a distance is between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure; ye do not come near unto it, so that ye know the way in which ye go, for ye have not passed over in the way heretofore.'

5 And Joshua saith unto the people, `Sanctify yourselves, for to-morrow doth Jehovah do in your midst wonders.'

6 And Joshua speaketh unto the priests, saying, `Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people;' and they take up the ark of the covenant, and go before the people.

7 And Jehovah saith unto Joshua, `This day I begin to make thee great in the eyes of all Israel, so that they know that as I was with Moses I am with thee;

8 and thou, thou dost command the priests bearing the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye come unto the extremity of the waters of the Jordan -- in the Jordan ye stand.'

9 And Joshua saith unto the sons of Israel, `Come nigh hither, and hear the words of Jehovah your God;

10 and Joshua saith, `By this ye know that the living God [is] in your midst, and He doth certainly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Hivite, and the Perizzite, and the Girgashite, and the Amorite, and the Jebusite:

11 lo, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into Jordan;

12 and now, take for you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, one man -- one man for a tribe;

13 and it hath been, at the resting of the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of Jehovah, Lord of all the earth, in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan are cut off -- the waters which are coming down from above -- and they stand -- one heap.'

14 And it cometh to pass, in the journeying of the people from their tents to pass over the Jordan, and of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people,

15 and at those bearing the ark coming in unto the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark have been dipped in the extremity of the waters (and the Jordan is full over all its banks all the days of harvest) --

16 that the waters stand; those coming down from above have risen -- one heap, very far above Adam the city, which [is] at the side of Zaretan; and those going down by the sea of the plain, the Salt sea, have been completely cut off; and the people have passed through over-against Jericho;

17 and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of Jehovah stand on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan -- established, and all Israel are passing over on dry ground till that all the nation hath completed to pass 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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