Joshua 3:3
Parallel Verses
New International Version
giving orders to the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.

New Living Translation
giving these instructions to the people: "When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, move out from your positions and follow them.

English Standard Version
and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it.

New American Standard Bible
and they commanded the people, saying, "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.

King James Bible
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.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
and commanded the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God carried by the Levitical priests, you must break camp and follow it.

International Standard Version
giving orders to the people. They said, "When you see the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then get up, leave where you are, and follow it.

NET Bible
and commanded the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, you must leave here and walk behind it.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
They told the people, "As soon as you see the ark of the promise of the LORD your God and the Levitical priests who carry it, break camp and follow them.

Jubilee Bible 2000
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.

King James 2000 Bible
And they commanded the people, saying, When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then you shall set out from your place, and go after it.

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

American Standard Version
and they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of Jehovah your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And began to proclaim: When you shall see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests of the race of Levi carrying it, rise you up also, and follow them as they go before:

Darby Bible Translation
and they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of Jehovah your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then remove from your place, and go after it;

English Revised Version
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.

Webster's Bible Translation
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.

World English Bible
and they commanded the people, saying, "When you see the ark of the covenant of Yahweh your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then you shall move from your place, and follow it.

Young's Literal Translation
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;
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

3:1-6 The Israelites came to Jordan in faith, having been told that they should pass it. In the way of duty, let us proceed as far as we can, and depend on the Lord. Joshua led them. Particular notice is taken of his early rising, as afterwards upon other occasions, which shows how little he sought his own ease. Those who would bring great things to pass, must rise early. Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty. All in public stations should always attend to the duty of their place. The people were to follow the ark. Thus must we walk after the rule of the word, and the direction of the Spirit, in everything; so shall peace be upon us as upon the Israel of God; but we must follow our ministers only as they follow Christ. All their way through the wilderness was an untrodden path, but most so this through Jordan. While we are here, we must expect and prepare to pass ways that we have not passed before; but in the path of duty we may proceed with boldness and cheerfulness. Whether we are called to suffer poverty, pain, labour, persecution, reproach, or death, we are following the Author and Finisher of our faith; nor can we set our feet in any dangerous or difficult spot, through our whole journey, but faith will there see the prints of the Redeemer's feet, who trod that very path to glory above, and bids us follow him, that where he is, we may be also. They were to sanctify themselves. Would we experience the effects of God's love and power, we must put away sin, and be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 3. - And they commanded the people, saying. These words are interesting as showing that all was orderly in the Israel-irish camp. Everything was carried on according to the strictest rules of military discipline. The removal of the ark was to be the signal for the advance of the whole host. The ark of the covenant. We may with advantage compare the religious use of the ark here and in ch. 6, with its superstitious use in 1 Samuel 4:3, 4. We do not read that when the Israelites were defeated at Ai, Joshua took the ark with him in a march to repair the disaster. Such a misuse of the symbol of God's Presence was only possible in days when faith had grown cold. When the Israelites had need of supernatural guidance, when they were placed in circumstances where no use of their own unaided powers could guide them, then they must repair to the ark of God. There they must seek counsel, this they must set before them to guide their ways. But to regard it as a charm which could possibly atone for their want of faith and their lack of obedience, was to profane it. Such temptations as these Jesus Christ resisted in the wilderness; such temptations Christians must resist now. We have no right to seek for supernatural aids where natural ones will suffice us - no right to invoke the special intervention of God till we have exhausted all the means He has placed at our disposal. Above all, we have no right to expect Him to save us from the consequences of our own sin and disobedience except on His own condition, that we shall truly repent. We may further remark that the Pillar of the Cloud and the fire, like the manna, had ceased, and even the ark of the covenant only preceded the Israelites on special occasions. The priests the Levites. This phrase has given rise to some discussion. Some editions of the LXX., as well as some Hebrew MSS., read, "the priests and the Levites." The Chaldee and Syriac versions have the same reading. The Vulgate - more correctly, as it would seem - renders "sacerdotes stirpis Levitiae," i.e., "the priests who are of the tribe of Levi" (see Joshua 8:33, Numbers 4:18, and Deuteronomy 31:9). Keil's explanation that this expression must be taken in opposition to non-Levitical and, therefore, unlawful priests, seems hardly satisfactory. It is not till much later - in fact, till the time of Jeroboam - that we hear of unlawful priests. It is more probable that it is intended to emphasise the position of Levi as the sacerdotal tribe, the one tribe which had no share in the operations of the war. So Rabbi Solomon Jarchi explains it, citing the B'reshith Babbah, which states that the phrase is found in forty-five places in the Bible, with the meaning that the priests are of the tribe of Levi.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And they commanded the people,.... In the name of Joshua, by whom they were sent:

saying, when ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it: the Targum reads, the priests and Levites; so the Septuagint: it was the business of the Levites, particularly the Kohathites, to bear the ark in journeying, but here the priests, who also were Levites, were to carry it: it is remarked in the Talmud (p), that there are three places in which the priests are said to bear the ark; here, and when they surrounded Jericho, Joshua 6:6; and when it was returned to its place in the times of David, 2 Samuel 15:29; and Kimchi and Abarbinel observe a fourth, when it was brought into Solomon's temple, 1 Kings 8:6,

then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it; their usual signal for marching was the cloud, when that was taken up, Numbers 9:17, &c. but now the ark, the clouds of glory having removed at the death of Moses, and were seen no more, as Abarbinel and other Jewish writers observe; and therefore it was proper the Israelites should be made acquainted with this signal; for, as Jarchi says, this journey was different from all the journeys (though that of the three days journey from Sinai must be excepted, Numbers 10:33), for all the time Moses was in being, the pillar of cloud marched first and showed them the way, and the ark moved after two of the standards (Judah and Reuben), and now the ark went first: the cloud was a figure of the dark and cloudy dispensation of the law, particularly the ceremonial law, the shadow of good things to come, and which continued only during the former state, and discontinued to be of any use when the Mosaic dispensation ceased, and when Joshua or Jesus was come: the ark was a type of Christ, the forerunner for us entered, and whom we are to follow whithersoever he goes or directs to, in the exercise of grace and performance of duty; and the ark being carried now by different persons, may denote that Christ was held forth in a weaker manner under the legal dispensation, and by his apostles and ministers under the Gospel dispensation in a clearer and stronger manner, and who are to be followed no further or longer than as they bear the ark or direct to Christ.

(p) T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 33. 2.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

3, 4. When ye see the ark …, and the priests the Levites bearing it—The usual position of the ark, when at rest, was in the center of the camp; and, during a march, in the middle of the procession. On this occasion it was to occupy the van, and be borne, not by the Kohathite Levites, but the priests, as on all solemn and extraordinary occasions (compare Nu 4:15; Jos 6:6; 1Ki 8:3-6).

then ye shall … go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it—These instructions refer exclusively to the advance into the river. The distance which the people were to keep in the rear of the ark was nearly a mile. Had they crowded too near the ark, the view would have been intercepted, and this intervening space, therefore, was ordered, that the chest containing the sacred symbols might be distinctly visible to all parts of the camp, and be recognized as their guide in the untrodden way.

Joshua 3:3 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Crossing of the Jordan
2At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp; 3and they commanded the people, saying, "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. 4"However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before."…
Cross References
Deuteronomy 31:9
So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the Levitical priests, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.

Joshua 3:4
Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it."

1 Samuel 6:15
The Levites took down the ark of the LORD, together with the chest containing the gold objects, and placed them on the large rock. On that day the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices to the LORD.

2 Samuel 6:13
When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf.

1 Kings 8:3
When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark,

Jeremiah 33:18
nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.'"
Treasury of Scripture

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

When ye see

Joshua 3:11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the LORD of all the earth passes …

Numbers 10:33 And they departed from the mount of the LORD three days' journey…

the priests

Joshua 3:6,8,14-17 And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, …

Joshua 4:10 For the priests which bore the ark stood in the middle of Jordan…

Joshua 6:6 And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said to them, Take …

Numbers 4:15 And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, …

Deuteronomy 31:9,25 And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it to the priests the sons …

2 Samuel 6:3,13 And they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of …

1 Chronicles 15:11 And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the …

1 Chronicles 15:12 And said to them, You are the chief of the fathers of the Levites: …

ye shall remove

Exodus 13:21,22 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead …

Matthew 8:19 And a certain scribe came, and said to him, Master, I will follow …

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, …

Revelation 14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. …

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