Joshua 3:1
And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.
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THE PASSAGE OF JORDAN (Joshua 3:1 to Joshua 4:18, inclusive).

Joshua 3:1-6, preliminaries; 3:7- 4:14, the passage of the people and Joshua 4:15-18, the passage of the ark itself.

(1) They removed from Shittim.—See Note on Joshua 2:1. Shittim may be called the last stage of the Exodus of Israel, “their journeyings according to their goings out” (Numbers 33:2). The march from Shittim to Jordan is their first march under Joshua—the first stage of their Eisodus or coming in.

Joshua 3:1. Joshua rose early in the morning — Not after the return of the spies, as may seem at first view, but after the three days mentioned Joshua 1:11, when orders were given to the army to make all necessary provision for invading the enemies’ country. They came to Jordan — and lodged there — That night, that they might go over in the day-time, that the miracle might be more evident and unquestionable, and might strike the greater terror into their enemies.

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."The acacia groves" (Exodus 25:5 note) of Shittim on both sides of Jordan line the upper terraces of the valley (compare 2 Kings 6:4). They would be in this part at some six miles distance from the river itself. CHAPTER 3

Jos 3:1-6. Joshua Comes to Jordan.

1. Joshua rose early in the morning—On the day following that on which the spies had returned with their encouraging report. The camp was broken up in "Shittim" (the acacia groves), and removed to the eastern bank of the Jordan. The duration of their stay is indicated (Jos 3:2), being, according to Hebrew reckoning, only one entire day, including the evening of arrival and the morning of the passage; and such a time would be absolutely necessary for so motley an assemblage of men, women, and children, with all their gear and cattle to make ready for going into an enemy's country.Joshua comes with the Israelites to Jordan, Joshua 3:1. The officers instruct the people and priests for the passage, Joshua 3:2-6. 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, Joshua 3:7-13. The people pass over, the priests standing all the time in the midst of Jordan, Joshua 3:14-17.

In the morning; not after the return of the spies, as may seem at first view; but after the three days, as it follows, Joshua 3:2.

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.

And Joshua rose early in the morning,.... The morning after the spies had returned and made their report; which, as Kimchi rightly observes, was the ninth of Nisan; for on the morrow, which was the tenth, the people passed over Jordan, see Joshua 3:5. Moses, according to the Jewish writers, died on the seventh of Adar or February; the thirty days of his mourning ended the seventh of Nisan or March; two days before they were ended the spies were sent, who returned on the eighth day of the month; and the morning following Joshua rose early, which shows his readiness and alacrity to proceed in the expedition he was directed and encouraged to:

and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan; from Shittim in the plains of Moab, to the river Jordan:

he and all the children of Israel; he as their general, and they an army of six hundred thousand fighting men under him, besides women and children, and others that came along with them:

and lodged there before they passed over; lay there encamped a night before they passed over the river Jordan.

And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to {a} Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.

(a) Which according to the Hebrews was in March, about 40 days after Moses' death.

Ch. Joshua 3:1-13. The Preparation for the Passage of Jordan

1. they removed from Shittim] They descended from the upper terraces of the valley of Jordan, from “the Grove of Acacias,” to the level of the river.

to Jordan] Speaking strictly, Jordan has a threefold bank:—

(a)  The lowest, at the edge of the river, which in spring is frequently inundated, owing to the melting of the snow on Hermon;

(b)  The middle bank, which is covered with a rich vegetation;

(c)  An upper bank, which overhangs the river.

Verse 1. - And Joshua rose up early in the morning, i.e., after the return of the spies, and most likely (see Joshua 1:10, 11) on the morning on which the announcement was made to the children of Israel that they were to cross the Jordan. "This newes is brought but overnight, Joshua is on his way by morning, and prevents the sunne for haste. Delays, whether in the business of God or our owne, are hatefull and prejudiciall. Many a one loses the land of promise by lingering; if we neglect God's time, it is just with Him to crosse us in ours" (Bp. Hall). And they removed from Shittim. Literally, from the acacias (see note on Joshua 2:1). To do this completely, and to be quite ready for the crossing, would, as Rosenmuller thinks, require the greater part of three days. But it adds that "they lodged (לִין) there before they passed over." But this need be no difficulty. The great mass of the people could easily leave the acacia meadows on the higher ground, and encamp on the brink of the Jordan, while the remaining two days might be spent in making the necessary arrangements for the crossing. For we must remember (as Keil observes) that, not only a body of armed men, but their women and children, and all their possessions, had to be led safely across. "Though they were not told how they should pass the river, yet they went forward in faith, having been told (Joshua 1:11), that they should pass it" (Matthew Henry). Joshua 3:1"Arrangements for the Passage through the Jordan. - When they reached the Jordan, the Israelites rested till they passed over. לוּן, to pass the night; then in a wider sense to tarry, Proverbs 15:31; here it means to rest. According to Joshua 3:2, they stayed there three days. "At the end (after the expiration) of three days" cannot refer to the three days mentioned in Joshua 1:11, if only because of the omission of the article, apart from the reasons given in the note upon Joshua 1:11, which preclude the supposition that the two are identical. The reasons why the Israelites stayed three days by the side of the Jordan, after leaving Shittim, are not given, but they are not difficult to guess; for, in the first place, before it could be possible to pass into an enemy's country, not only with an army, but with all the people, including wives, children, and all their possessions, and especially when the river had first of all to be crossed, it must have been necessary to make many preparations, which would easily occupy two or three days. Besides this, the Jordan at that time was so high as to overflow its banks, so that it was impossible to cross the fords, and they were obliged to wait till this obstruction was removed. But as soon as Joshua was assured that the Lord would make a way for His people, he issued the following instructions through the proper officers to all the people in the camp: "When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and (see) the Levitical priests bear it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it: 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 yesterday and the day before." On the expression "the Levitical priests," see at Deuteronomy 31:25, as compared with Joshua 3:9 and Joshua 17:9. בּינו, both here and in Joshua 8:11, should probably be pointed בּינו (vid., Ewald, 266, a.). This command referred simply to the march from the last resting-place by the Jordan into the river itself, and not to the passage through the river, during which the priests remained standing with the ark in the bed of the river until the people had all passed through (Joshua 3:8 and Joshua 3:17).

(Note: Knobel maintains that this statement, according to which the Israelites were more than 2000 cubits from the place of crossing, is not in harmony with Joshua 3:1, where they are said to have been by the Jordan already; but he can only show this supposed discrepancy in the text by so pressing the expression, they "came to Jordan," as to make it mean that the whole nation was encamped so close to the edge of the river, that at the very first step the people took their feet would touch the water.)

The people were to keep about 2000 cubits away from the ark. This was not done, however, to prevent their going wrong in the unknown way, and so missing the ford, for that was impossible under the circumstances; but the ark was carried in front of the people, not so much to show the road as to make a road by dividing the waters of the Jordan, and the people were to keep at a distance from it, that they might not lose sight of the ark, but keep their eyes fixed upon it, and know the road by looking at the ark of the covenant by which the road had been made, i.e., might know and observe how the Lord, through the medium of the ark, was leading them to Canaan by a way which they had never traversed before, i.e., by a miraculous way.

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