Joshua 3:12
Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.
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(12) Take you twelve men.—These were selected beforehand and kept in readiness, that there might be no delay in the work which they had to do (Joshua 4:3).

Joshua 3:12-13. Twelve men — For the work described, Joshua 4:2-3. The ark of the Lord — That so it may appear this is the Lord’s doing, and that in pursuance of his covenant made with Israel. Of all the earth — The Lord of all this globe of earth and water, who therefore can dispose of this river and the adjoining lands as he pleaseth. Cut off — The waters which now are united shall be divided, and part shall flow down the channel toward the Dead sea, and the other part, that is near the spring of the river, and flows down from it, shall stand still. They shall stand upon a heap — Being as it were congealed, as the Red sea was, (Exodus 15:8,) and so kept from overflowing the country. God could by a sudden and miraculous frost have congealed the surface, so that they might all have gone over upon the ice; but that being a thing, it seems, sometimes done even in that country, by the ordinary power of nature, (Job 38:30,) it would not have been such an honour to Israel’s God, nor such a terror to Israel’s enemies. It must therefore be done in such a way as had no precedent, but in the dividing of the Red sea. And that miracle is here repeated to show that God has the same power to finish that he had to begin the salvation of his people, for he is the Omega as well as the Alpha; and that the word of the Lord, (as the Chaldee reads it, Joshua 3:7,) the essential word, was with Joshua as truly as he was with Moses.3:7-13 The waters of Jordan shall be cut off. This must be done in such a way as never was done, but in the dividing of the Red sea. That miracle is here repeated; God has the same power to finish the salvation of his people, as to begin it; the WORD of the Lord was as truly with Joshua as with Moses. God's appearances for his people ought to encourage faith and hope. God's work is perfect, he will keep his people. Jordan's flood cannot keep out Israel, Canaan's force cannot turn them out again.The living God - Compare the marginal reference. The gods of the pagan are "dead idols." On the names of the seven nations, see Genesis 10:16, etc., note. Jos 3:9-13. Joshua Encourages the People.

9-13. Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord—It seems that the Israelites had no intimation how they were to cross the river till shortly before the event. The premonitory address of Joshua, taken in connection with the miraculous result exactly as he had described it, would tend to increase and confirm their faith in the God of their fathers as not a dull, senseless, inanimate thing like the idols of the nations, but a Being of life, power, and activity to defend them and work for them.

Take you twelve men, for the work described, Joshua 4:2,3. Now therefore take ye twelve men,.... For what end and purpose is not mentioned. Abarbinel is of opinion, that they were chosen and appointed, that every man might pitch upon and take a place for his tribe to encamp in, when they came on the other side Jordan: whether this was Joshua's view or no is not certain; however, the use he made of these, thus provided by divine direction, is related Joshua 4:2,

and these were to be taken out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man; Levi not reckoned, having no part in the land; and so we find that tribe left out in other accounts, when there was a choice of twelve men out of each of the tribes, Numbers 13:4.

Now therefore take you {e} twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.

(e) Who would set up twelve stones in remembrance of the benefit.

Verse 12. - Take you twelve men. Joshua commands the election of twelve men previous to the passage of the Jordan, and in pursuance of the command he had already (Joshua 4:2; cf. note on ver. 2) received from God. The reason for which they were to be chosen was probably not communicated to the Israelites till after the passage had taken place. Masius thinks that it would make the narrative clearer, "si proximum is versiculum sequeretur." But see note on Joshua 4:1. Joshua then issued instructions (a) to the people to sanctify themselves, because on the morrow the Lord would do wonders among them; and (b) to the priests, to carry the ark of the covenant in front of the people. The issuing of these commands with the prediction of the miracle presupposes that the Lord had already made known His will to Joshua, and serves to confirm our conclusions as to the arrangement of the materials. The sanctification of the people did not consist in the washing of their clothes, which is mentioned in Exodus 19:10, Exodus 19:14, in connection with the act of sanctification, for there was no time for this; nor did it consist in merely changing their clothes, which might be a substitute for washing, according to Genesis 35:2, or in abstinence from connubial intercourse (Exodus 19:15), for this was only the outward side of sanctification. It consisted in spiritual purification also, i.e., in turning the heart to God, in faith and trust in His promise, and in willing obedience to His commandments, that they should lay to heart in a proper way the miracle of grace which the Lord was about to work in the midst of them and on their behalf on the following day. "Wonders:" those miraculous displays of the omnipotence of God for the realization of His covenant of grace, which He had already promised in connection with the conquest of Canaan (Exodus 34:10). In Joshua 3:6, where the command to the priests is given, the fulfilment of the command is also mentioned, and the course of events anticipated in consequence.
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