Joshua 3:5: Instructions for Crossing Jordan, Part 3

Verse 5:[1]  And Joshua said unto the people, (Ex. 19:10, 14, 15; Lev. 20:7; Num. 11:18; Josh. 7:13; 1 Sam. 16:5; Joel 2:16) Sanctify yourselves:  for to morrow the LORD will do wonders among you.

[He said]  I translate it, he had said (Masius).

Joshua said, or rather had said, to wit, the day before their passage; for it follows, tomorrow.

[Be sanctified (thus the Syriac), הִתְקַדָּשׁוּ]  [They render it variously:]  Be prepared, or, prepare yourselves (Arabic, Pagnine, Munster, Tostatus in Serarius).  Let nothing impede you from crossing Jordan (Munster).  Prepare yourselves, that is, for the crossing (the Chaldean in Masius).  Gather up your vessels (Kimchi in Munster).  [This satisfies neither Serarius nor Masius.]  1.  This is refuted by the reason for the preparation, which is subjoined, namely, the greatness of the thing to be done, but not the crossing (Masius).  2.  This was a daily preparation in the desert:  They, having been commanded three days previously, were not now in need of that command.  They had already come from Shittim and gathered their vessels; and, since they were expecting to cross the next day, they did not much unpack those things (Serarius).  Others translate it, Sanctify yourselves (Montanus, Munster, Junius and Tremellius, similarly the Syriac).  Be purified (Septuagint).  Consecrate yourselves (Tigurinus).  Atone for yourselves (Masius).  Externally, by the washing of garments, and sleeping apart from their wives, Exodus 19:10, 15.  Internally, by a firm faith and certain hope, etc. (Tirinus and Menochius out of Lapide, similarly Masius, Bonfrerius, Serarius).  The law speaks only of the purification of the body; but it is understood, since the soul is much superior to the body, that this is much more to be kept in their their souls (Masius).  It was necessary that the souls of all be informed and stirred up beforehand, so that they might be most intent to perceive the machination of God, and then to preserve what they had perceived in eternal memory; and so that they might touched with greater reverence toward God, while they were reflecting upon His immense power.  For, the more intense the admiration is, the greater and longer lasting the vestiges of the events it impresses upon our souls (Masius).

Sanctify yourselves, both in soul and body, that you may be meet to receive such a favour, and with more attention and reverence observe and ponder this great work, and fix it in your hearts and memories.  See on Exodus 19:10; Leviticus 20:7.

[1] Hebrew:  וַיֹּ֧אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֛עַ אֶל־הָעָ֖ם הִתְקַדָּ֑שׁוּ כִּ֣י מָחָ֗ר יַעֲשֶׂ֧ה יְהוָ֛ה בְּקִרְבְּכֶ֖ם נִפְלָאֽוֹת׃

Joshua 3:4: Instructions for Crossing Jordan, Part 2

Verse 4:[1]  (Ex. 19:12) Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure:  come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go:  for ye have not passed this way heretofore (Heb. since yesterday, and the third day[2]).

[And let there be a space (thus Jonathan), רָחוֹק[3]A distant (Montanus, Junius and Tremellius), supply, space (Junius and Tremellius, Drusius).  An interval (Septuagint, Masius), namely, long (Septuagint); a distance (Syriac).

[Between you and the ark, וּבֵינָו]  The Hebrew note that it is written with a vocalization that is of the plural number, and they translate it, and between those; and hence they gather that there were two Arks, the Ark of God, and the urn in which Joseph’s bones were[4] (Masius, Drusius).  But, 1.  It is impiety to this box with the Ark of God (Masius).  2.  Let it be בֵּינָו, nevertheless the suffix was not plural, as it is evident from examples (Drusius, Bonfrerius):  עָלָיו is concerning him (Drusius); and בָּנָיו is his son; and אַחֲרָיו is after him (Bonfrerius).

[Of two thousand cubits, כְּאַלְפַּ֥יִם אַמָּ֖ה בַּמִּדָּ֑ה]  Verbatim:  as of two thousand of the cubit in measure (Montanus, similarly the Syriac, Jonathan); nearly two thousand of cubits (Arabic); about two thousand cubits (Masius, Drusius), so that the כ/as might be ἀληθινὸν, agreeable to the truth of the matter (Drusius).  Five stadia (Lapide).  He was unwilling that they be further from it, because of the approaching Sabbath, on which they would be obliged to come to the Ark for the sake of supplication.  It was recorded that the Ark, which was in the midst of the camps, was distant from the outer camps by such a space.  And hence the Sabbath Day’s journey was two thousand cubits (Drusius).  Since there was a special obligation to go from the camps to the Ark on the Sabbath Day, hence the wise took the argument for thus defining a Sabbath Day’s journey.  Compare Numbers 2:2.  Among labors are great journeys, which it was evident enough were not permitted on the Sabbath, Matthew 24:20.  Ovid:[5]  …compel unwilling feet to run.  Do not wish for rain, neither allow foreign Sabbaths to delay thee.[6]  To forbid all going out had been hard:  and it was evident from this law that this was not the sense of the law concerning the Sabbath.  See Acts 1:12 (Grotius).  Note that the ב/in in בַּמִּדָּה is in the place of כ/as; in measure, that is, according to measure (Piscator).  Question:  Why did He will that they be distant from the Ark by such a space?  Responses:  1.  On account of reverence for the Ark (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Masius, Tirinus, Vatablus); for it follows, Beware that ye approach not:[7]  of which words the Scripture is wont to make use, when it requires reverence, as in Exodus 3:5; 19:12, 21, 24 (Bonfrerius).  2.  So that He might show the way from a distance to those following (Bonfrerius).  3.  So that all might have the leisure to contemplate with admiration the drying of the waters (Bonfrerius, Lapide, similarly Masius).  4.  At such a distance the breadth of the overflowing river was evident (Masius).  This does not satisfy Lapide, for the Geographers assert that the Jordan was only thirty cubits wide (Lapide).

Two thousand cubits make a thousand yards, and at which distance from it the Israelites seem to have been encamped in the wilderness.  And because they generally went from their tents to the ark to worship God, especially on the sabbath days, hence it hath been conceived that a sabbath day’s journey reached only to two thousand cubits.  But that may be doubted; for those who encamped nearest the ark were at that distance from it, and came so far; but the most were farther from it, and their sabbath day’s journey was considerably longer.  Come not near unto it; partly from the reverent respect they should bear to the ark; and partly for the following reason.

[And to know by which way]  Hebrew:  that ye might know that way by which ye are going to go[8] (Masius).  These words are dependent upon the final words of verse 3 (Piscator).  So that all might be able to see clearly the way now revealed by the Ark, and to continue in succession (Masius).  [Vatablus otherwise:]  The way, understanding, by which ye could go for supplication before the Ark on the Sabbath; so that to you the way might be open, and not obstructed with tents.  For, if they had come closer, the way would not have been open, but occupied, so that it could not be discerned easily (Vatablus).

That ye may know the way by which ye must go; that the ark marching so far before you into the river, and standing still there till you pass over, may give you the greater assurance of your safe passage.

[Heretofore ye have not travelled by it,בַּדֶּרֶךְ ]  In the way (Montanus); by this way (Syriac, Drusius).

[מִתְּמ֥וֹל שִׁלְשֽׁוֹם]  Yesterday and the day before (Masius, Drusius, Montanus, Septuagint), that is, before this (Drusius), previously, or recently (Masius).  Thus Homer’s Iliad 2, χθιζά τε καὶ πρώϊζα, yesterday and the day before, concerning a period of many years (Drusius).  That is, ye have not walked previously through departures of this sort, or, by this way (Vatablus).  Not by this way, namely, through the river.  For they had indeed passed through a sea, but not through a river, namely, those that had been younger than twenty years of age, etc. (Drusius out of Masius).

[1] Hebrew: אַ֣ךְ׀ רָח֣וֹק יִהְיֶ֗ה בֵּֽינֵיכֶם֙ וּבֵינ֔וֹ כְּאַלְפַּ֥יִם אַמָּ֖ה בַּמִּדָּ֑ה אַֽל־תִּקְרְב֣וּ אֵלָ֗יו לְמַ֤עַן אֲשֶׁר־תֵּֽדְעוּ֙ אֶת־הַדֶּ֙רֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תֵּֽלְכוּ־בָ֔הּ כִּ֣י לֹ֧א עֲבַרְתֶּ֛ם בַּדֶּ֖רֶךְ מִתְּמ֥וֹל שִׁלְשֽׁוֹם׃

[2] Hebrew:  מִתְּמ֥וֹל שִׁלְשֽׁוֹם.

[3] רָחוֹק signifies far or distant.  Sometimes it is used as a noun, distance.

[4] See Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32.

[5] Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC-17 AD) was a Roman poet.

[6] Remedia Amoris 218-220.

[7] These words are added to the end of this verse in the Vulgate.

[8] Hebrew:  לְמַ֤עַן אֲשֶׁר־תֵּֽדְעוּ֙ אֶת־הַדֶּ֙רֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תֵּֽלְכוּ־בָ֔הּ.

Joshua 3:2, 3: Instructions for Crossing Jordan, Part 1

Verse 2:[1]  And it came to pass (Josh. 1:10, 11) after three days, that the officers went through the host…

[With which[2] unfolded]  Not completely finished, but near to the end (Bonfrerius, Lapide).  Hebrew:  from the end of three days,[3] namely, from the command to prepare for the journey (Junius, Munster, Vatablus, Malvenda).  [Concerning which see more on Joshua 1:11.]

After three days; either, 1.  At the end of the three days mentioned Joshua 1:11, or upon the last of them, as this phrase is used.  See on Deuteronomy 15:1.[4]  Or, 2.  After those days were expired.  See on Joshua 1:11.  The officers went through the host the second time to give them more particular directions, as they had given them a general notice, Joshua 1:10, 11.


Verse 3:[5]  And they commanded the people, saying, (see Num. 10:33) When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, (Deut. 31:9, 25) and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.

They commanded the people, in Joshua’s name, and by his authority.

[When ye see]  Some maintain that here the order is disturbed.  Thus Masius and Cajetan (Bonfrerius).  I think that what things are narrated from verse 7 to verse 14 happened earlier than the promulgation of that edict in verses 3 and 4 (Masius).  Others deny that the order is disturbed (Bonfrerius).  If one should contend that the manner of crossing was not yet revealed to them, but that with their faith in God they encouraged themselves, I will not disagree, but will vehemently praise the constancy of faith in them (Masius).  Perhaps Joshua had informed them concerning the manner of crossing, but not concerning the individual circumstances (Bonfrerius).

[The ark…of God]  In the Ark God willed always to be at hand, 1.  Because He desired to appear as the keeper of the covenant written by Himself.  2.  So that He might separate and turn His people from communion with the nations.  3.  So that God’s people might not be divided among themselves by diverse rites of worshipping God.  4.  So that this might be a type of Christ, in whom was the fullness of the Godhead, Colossians 2:9 (Masius).

[And the priests of Levitical stock, וְהַכֹּֽהֲנִים֙ הַלְוִיִּ֔ם]  The Priests the Levites (Montanus, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Masius).  By apposition (Bonfrerius, Masius).  Thus the priests are called forty-five times, as they note in Genesis Magna (Masius).  Others:  the Priests and the Levites (thus the Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic).  The Kohathites ought to bear the Ark, Numbers 4:15.[6]  Nevertheless, if they desired, the priests were able to carry it (to him it was permitted to touch it until it was covered [Bonfrerius]); and sometimes they did carry it on weighty and miraculous occasions, three or four times, that is, here; Joshua 6:1; 1 Chronicles 15; 2 Samuel 15:29 (Menochius out of Lapide, Bonfrerius, Masius).  The note an ellipsis here, when ye shall see the priests, supply, setting out (Junius, Malvenda).  Which is to be repeated out of the following member (Glassius’ “Grammar” 724).

The priests the Levites, who were not only Levites, but priests also.  For although the Levites were to carry the ark, Numbers 4, yet the priests might perform that office, and did so upon some solemn occasions, as here, and Joshua 6:6.

[And follow]  The Ark was now going before, while hitherto two banners had gone before it[7] (Drusius).  For now the pillar of cloud vanished, as the following verse indicates (Bonfrerius, Masius).

Go after it towards Jordan, to go over it in such manner as I am about to describe.  Till this time the ark went in the middle of the cloudy pillar, probably being now vanished, now it goes in the front.

[1] Hebrew:  וַיְהִ֕י מִקְצֵ֖ה שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֑ים וַיַּעַבְר֥וּ הַשֹּׁטְרִ֖ים בְּקֶ֥רֶב הַֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃

[2] That is, the three days.

[3] Hebrew:  מִקְצֵ֖ה שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֑ים.

[4] Deuteronomy 15:1:  “At the end of every seven years (מִקֵּ֥ץ שֶֽׁבַע־שָׁנִ֖ים) thou shalt make a release.”

[5] Hebrew: וַיְצַוּוּ֮ אֶת־הָעָ֣ם לֵאמֹר֒ כִּרְאֽוֹתְכֶ֗ם אֵ֣ת אֲר֤וֹן בְּרִית־יְהוָה֙ אֱלֹ֣הֵיכֶ֔ם וְהַכֹּֽהֲנִים֙ הַלְוִיִּ֔ם נֹשְׂאִ֖ים אֹת֑וֹ וְאַתֶּ֗ם תִּסְעוּ֙ מִמְּק֣וֹמְכֶ֔ם וַהֲלַכְתֶּ֖ם אַחֲרָֽיו׃

[6] Numbers 4 presents the duties of the three great Levitical families in moving the Tabernacle.

[7] See Numbers 2 for the ordering of Israel in their desert-march.

Joshua 3:1: Israel’s Journey to Jordan

Verse 1:[1]  And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed (Josh. 2:1) from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.

[Arising by night, וַיַּשְׁכֵּם—בַּבֹּקֶר ]  He arose early early, that is, at the top of the morning (Drusius), at daybreak (Masius).  And, because this expression is on record as written concerning Patriarchs and Prophets, hence the Hebrews gather that the same is to be done by all other mortals, and that each ought to shake off his own torpor, especially those that have the management of public affairs.  Joshua arose, so that he might leave to his own no excuse for idleness (Masius).

In the morning; not after the return of the spies, as may seem at first view; but after the three days, as it follows, verse 2.

[They stayed there three days; that is, in Shittim[2] and on the bank of Jordan (Menochius), וַיָּלִנוּ[3]And they spent the night (Junius and Tremellius, Malvenda, Masius, Drusius).  Weary from the journey, they rested for one night (Drusius).  The crossing was put off until daylight, 1.  so that the miracle might be clearly observed and tested:  2.  so that the people might have the night to appease the Divine Being (Rabbi Levi in Masius).  A nocturnal crossing, as if secret, and hidden for fear of the enemy, would have unsettled the courage of many (Masius).

Lodged there that night, that they might go over in the day time; partly that the miracle might be more evident and unquestionable; and partly to strike the greater terror into their enemies.

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּשְׁכֵּם֩ יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ בַּבֹּ֜קֶר וַיִּסְע֣וּ מֵֽהַשִּׁטִּ֗ים וַיָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ עַד־הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן ה֖וּא וְכָל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיָּלִ֥נוּ שָׁ֖ם טֶ֥רֶם יַעֲבֹֽרוּ׃

[2] Shittim is almost seven miles east of the Jordan, over against Jericho.

[3] לוּן signifies to lodge, or to pass the night.

Joshua 3 Outline

Joshua comes with the Israelites to Jordan, 1.  The officers instruct the people and priests for the passage, 2-6.  God encourages Joshua, and he encourageth the people, giving therefore a sign the dividing the waters of Jordan till the ark and people should pass over, 7-13.  The people pass over, the priests standing all the time in the midst of Jordan, 14-17.