Joshua 3:11, 12: The Sign of the Dividing of Jordan, Part 5

Verse 11:[1]  Behold, the ark of the covenant of (Josh. 3:13; Mic. 4:13; Zech. 4:14; 6:5) the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.

[Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord, etc. (thus the Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Aquila and Symmachus in Masius)]  [Masius otherwise:]  By apposition, the ark of the covenant, the Lord, etc.[2]  For the Zaqeph accent (֔)[3] on the word הַבְּרִ֔ית/covenant causes the course of the reading to pause (Masius).  The Ark is called God, because it was representing God (Drusius).  Although the accents ought not to be of such weight with us (which the Jews confess to have been formerly nothing), that they might refute the good opinions of the ancients (Masius).  Others thus:  the Ark of the covenant, the Ark of the Lord, etc. (Junius and Tremellius, Kimchi in Maisus).  Or thus it is able to be translated, the Ark of the covenant, which is the covenant of the Lord, etc. (Masius).

[It shall go before, עֹבֵר]  It shall cross over, the present in the place of the future; that is, It shall show you the way (Vatablus).

The ark…passeth over before you into Jordan:  Into part of the river.


Verse 12:[4]  Now therefore (Josh. 4:2) take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.

[Prepare twelve men]  Who, having been prepared, might await my command (Munster), that is, to remove twelve stones.  See Joshua 4:2 (Bonfrerius, Lyra, Menochius).  Others:  so that they might accompany ther priests:  thus Cajetan and Magalianus, plausibly (Menochius).

Take you twelve men, for the work described, Joshua 4:2, 3.

[1] Hebrew:  הִנֵּה֙ אֲר֣וֹן הַבְּרִ֔ית אֲד֖וֹן כָּל־הָאָ֑רֶץ עֹבֵ֥ר לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם בַּיַּרְדֵּֽן׃

[2] Hebrew:  אֲר֣וֹן הַבְּרִ֔ית אֲד֖וֹן כָּל־הָאָ֑רֶץ.

[3] The Zaqeph is among the stronger disjunctive accents.

[4] Hebrew:  וְעַתָּ֗ה קְח֤וּ לָכֶם֙ שְׁנֵ֣י עָשָׂ֣ר אִ֔ישׁ מִשִּׁבְטֵ֖י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אִישׁ־אֶחָ֥ד אִישׁ־אֶחָ֖ד לַשָּֽׁבֶט׃

2 thoughts on “Joshua 3:11, 12: The Sign of the Dividing of Jordan, Part 5

  1. Thomas Boston, “Christ’s Demanding Admission into the Sinner’s Heart”: “The holy sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s supper…are really sacred symbols of the divine presence as truly as ever the ark was. Some divines say, the ark was called Jehovah, Numbers 16:35. But that is certainly too much. It is God himself whose name alone is Jehovah. The greatest honour put upon it in the scripture seems to be in these words of Joshua 3:11, ‘Behold, said he, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.’ But as to the sacrament of the supper, it is nothing short, whatever it be more. This, said our Lord, ‘is my body broken for you.’ And ‘this cup is the new testament in my blood.'”

  2. Matthew Henry: “The people having been directed before to follow the ark are here told that it should pass before them into Jordan, Joshua 3:11. Observe, (1.) The ark of the covenant must be their guide. During the reign of Moses, the cloud was their guide, but now, in Joshua’s reign, the ark; both were visible signs of God’s presence and presidency, but divine grace under the Mosaic dispensation was wrapt up as in a cloud and covered with a veil, while by Christ, our Joshua, it is revealed in the ark of the covenant unveiled. (2.) It is called the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth. ‘He that is your God (Joshua 3:9), in covenant with you, is the Lord of all the earth, has both right and power to command, control, use, and dispose of all nations and of all creatures. He is the Lord of all the earth, therefore he needs not you, nor can he be benefited by you; therefore it is your honour and happiness to have him in covenant with you: if he be yours, all the creatures are at your service, and when he pleases shall be employed for you.’ When we are praising and worshipping God as Israel’s God, and ours through Christ, we must remember that he is the Lord of the whole earth, and reverence him and trust in him accordingly. Some observe an accent in the original, which they think directs us to translate it somewhat more emphatically, Behold the ark of the covenant, even the ark of the Lord, or even of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth. (3.) They are told that the ark should pass before them into Jordan. God would not appoint them to go any where but where he himself would go before them and go with them; and they might safely venture, even into Jordan itself, if the ark of the covenant led them. While we make God’s precepts our rule, his promises our stay, and his providence our guide, we need not dread the greatest difficulties we may meet with in the way of duty. That promise is sure to all the seed (Isaiah 43:2), When thou passes through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee.”

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