Joshua 3:8: The Sign of the Dividing of Jordan, Part 2

Verse 8:[1]  And thou shalt command (Josh. 3:3) the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, (Josh. 3:17) ye shall stand still in Jordan.

[When ye will have entered part of the water, עַד־קְצֵה֙ וגו״]  To the extreme, or extremity, of the waters (Jonathan, Junius and Tremellius, Munster, Pagnine, Masius, Malvenda, Drusius, Vatablus).  Question:  What then was the part of Jordan in which they were obliged to stand?  Response 1:  The bank on the other side (Masius, Vatablus, Drusius).  When ye will have arrived at the bank on the other side of Jordan, in Jordan, that is, in the dried bed of Jordan, stand until the people will have crossed over to the bank on the other side (Vatablus, Masius).  The basis of the opinion of Masius is unique, that the space of two thousand cubits was to be maintained.  But, although in general this was thus prescribed, yet now it is limited, so that it might not be done in Jordan, but after its crossing.  And even Masius is bound to acknowledge this (Serarius).  Response 2:  The bank on the near side (Serarius, Lapide, Bonfrerius).  It is proven.  1.  What is here prescribed is related as done in verse 15.  But there it is said, when the feet of the priests had touched the extremity of the waters, the Jordan soon divided itself.  But it would be absurd to say that, the priests previously crossed over Jordan with the riverbed full, before it was divided (Bonfrerius out of Serarius).  2.  It was necessary that the priests stand on the bank on the near side, and wait until by degrees the upper waters be suspended, and lower waters flow away, and the bed be dried.  Thus what they were seeing done step-by-step was planted more deeply in their souls.  3.  In the last verse of the chapter, the priests are said to have stood in the midst of Jordan while the people crossed over.  Therefore, if the opinion of Masius be correct, the priest would have been obliged to have passed over by swimming unto the other bank, and a little afterwards to have returned into the midst of the bed with the waters divided.  But Masius translates בְּתוֹךְ, in the midst of, in the final verse as within Jordan.  But they were not within Jordan, standing on the bank on the other side (Bonfrerius).  With Serarius I take it as the bank on the near side; but in this way, that the priests are commanded to stand, not on it, but in the midst of Jordan, as it is expressly asserted in the last verse of this chapter, and in Joshua 4:10.  קָצֶה/Katse/extremity here is the division of Jordan, that is, where Jordan, already divided, is ended, and with its extremity already divided on both sides is bounded:  Enter this divided part, etc.  For it is fitting that the Ark stand in that place where the greatest danger was (Lapide out of Serarius).  There were two stations of the Ark-bearing priests:  one on the bank on the near side, and at the first touch of the water, which was the cause of the division and drying up of the river; the other in the midst of the bed (Bonfrerius out of Serarius).

To the brink, Hebrew, to the extremity; so far as the river then spread itself, which was now more than ordinary, Joshua 3:15.  In Jordan; within the waters of Jordan, in the first entrance into the river; where they stood for a season, till the river was divided, and then they went into the midst of it, as it is implied, Joshua 3:17, and there abode till all the people were passed over, as it follows in the history.

[1] Hebrew:  וְאַתָּ֗ה תְּצַוֶּה֙ אֶת־הַכֹּ֣הֲנִ֔ים נֹשְׂאֵ֥י אֲרֽוֹן־הַבְּרִ֖ית לֵאמֹ֑ר כְּבֹאֲכֶ֗ם עַד־קְצֵה֙ מֵ֣י הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן בַּיַּרְדֵּ֖ן תַּעֲמֹֽדוּ׃

1 thought on “Joshua 3:8: The Sign of the Dividing of Jordan, Part 2

  1. Matthew Henry: “God speaks to Joshua to put honour upon him…that by him he gave orders to the priests themselves, though they were his immediate attendants (Joshua 3:8): Thou shalt command the priests, that is, ‘Thou shalt make known to them the divine command in this matter, and take care that they observe it, to stand still at the brink of Jordan while the waters part, that it may appear to be at the presence of the Lord, of the mighty God of Jacob, that Jordan is driven back,’ Psalm 114:5,7. God could have divided the river without the priests, but they could not without him. The priests must herein set a good example to the people, and teach them to do their utmost in the service of God, and trust him for help in time of need.”

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