And Joshua said to the children of Israel, Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Joshua 3:9-10. Come hither — To the ark or tabernacle, the place of public assemblies. Hear the words of the Lord your God — Who is now about to give a proof that he is both the Lord, the omnipotent Governor of heaven and earth, and all creatures, and your God, in covenant with you, having a tender care and affection for you. Ye shall know — By experience and sensible evidence. The living God — Not a dull, dead, senseless idol, such as the gods of the nations are; but a God of life, and power, and activity, to watch over you and work for you. Among you — Is present with you to strengthen and help you.Joshua 1:5, and Joshua 4:14.) Other reasons are given in Joshua 3:10; Joshua 5:1.
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.Come hither, to the ark or tabernacle, the place of public assemblies, and hear the words of the Lord your God; who is now about to give a proof that he is both the Lord, the omnipotent Governor of heaven and earth, and all creatures; and your God, in covenant with you, having a tender care and true affection for you. And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the LORD your God.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)9. And Joshua said] Joshua 3:9-13 contain the substance of an address to a solemn assembly of the people, in which a fuller explanation is given of what has been stated generally in Joshua 3:7-8.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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