For the priests which bore the ark stood in the middle of Jordan, until everything was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hurried and passed over.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)According to all that Moses commanded Joshua.—It would seem that the passage of Jordan had been made the subject of some directions by Moses, though nothing is written concerning the manner of it in the Pentateuch. It is noticeable that if Israel had gone into the land when Moses brought them to the frontier at Kadesh-barnea, in the second year of the Exodus, they would have had no occasion to pass the Jordan at all. When the route was changed we cannot say, unless the compassing of the land of Edom (Numbers 21), when they left Kadesh the second time, because they were not permitted to cross that territory, marks the decision. If so, the fact suggests some interesting reflections.Joshua 4:10-11. The priests stood in the midst of Jordan till every thing was finished — The constancy of the priests, on this occasion, bears very honourable testimony to their faith and patience; for it must have taken up a considerable time, a whole day, at least, for the passage of six hundred thousand fighting men, besides the numerous people that accompanied them, with their baggage and provisions, and for the performing the other things here mentioned. The people hasted and passed over — Some understand this of the twelve men that carried the stones; but it seems rather to be meant of the body of the people; for though mention was made of their passing over, (Joshua 4:1,) it is here repeated for the sake of this circumstance to be added, that they passed in haste. This, it is probable, they did, either because Joshua, by the officers, ordered them to make haste, that they might complete their passage before the night came on, or because the sight of the waters suspended on their right, struck them with terror, through the weakness of their faith. For, in so great a multitude of men, women, and children, it is not credible that all hearts were animated with the same confidence. Perhaps, also, some made haste that they might not either tempt God, by desiring a continuance of the miracle longer than was necessary, or try the patience of the priests too much by any unnecessary delay. It is most likely, however, that fear had the principal influence in causing them to hasten their march. The priests, on the contrary, who bore the ark, continued dauntless at their post, till at last, there remaining no one on the eastern shore, nor in the bed of the river, there was no further reason for their continuing in the midst of it, and therefore they were commanded by Joshua, who himself received an order from God to that purpose, (Joshua 4:16-17,) to come up out of Jordan. Then, and not before, they crossed quite over; in the presence of the people — That is, in the sight of all Israel, who, no doubt, beheld with admiration, from the western bank of the river, both them and the ark which they carried over, and which had been the means of their safe passage. The place where the Israelites crossed has since been called Bethabara, which signifies the house of passage. It is mentioned John 1:28.Joshua 4:3; the other by Joshua on the spot where the priests' feet rested while they bore up the ark during the passage of the people. This spot was near, or perhaps on, the eastern brink (compare Joshua 3:8). These stones would therefore mark the spot at which the people crossed, as the others marked the place in which they lodged the night after the crossing; nor, as the stones would only be reached by the water in flood time, and then by the utmost edge of it, is there any reason why they could not both be seen, and continue in their place as the writer asserts they did up to the time when he wrote.
10. the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan—This position was well calculated to animate the people, who probably crossed below the ark, as well as to facilitate Joshua's execution of the minutest instructions respecting the passage (Nu 27:21-23). The unfaltering confidence of the priests contrasts strikingly with the conduct of the people, who "hasted and passed over." Their faith, like that of many of God's people, was, through the weakness of nature, blended with fears. But perhaps their "haste" may be viewed in a more favorable light, as indicating the alacrity of their obedience, or it might have been enjoined in order that the the whole multitude might pass in one day.To speak unto the people, i.e. to command the people to do. According to all that Moses commanded Joshua; which he did not particularly, but in the general, because he commanded Joshua to observe and do all that God had commanded him by Moses, and all that he should command him any other way. Hasted and passed over, i.e. passed over with haste; which is noted as an argument of their fear, or weakness of their faith; as, on the contrary, the priests are commended that they stood firm, and fixed, and settled in their minds, as well as in the posture of their bodies.
until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua; that is, until all the people had passed over Jordan, as the Lord had ordered Joshua, to encourage them unto, and go over with them, Joshua 1:2; and which Moses, by divine direction, had given Joshua in charge to do, Deuteronomy 31:7; Kimchi interprets this of the setting up of the stones in Jordan, and the removal of the other to Gilgal, of which Moses said nothing to Joshua; and though it may be true of the former, that the priests stood in Jordan till that was done, which is not certain, yet not of the latter; for it is plain, and it is most reasonable to conclude, that the priests were come up from the midst of Jordan before Israel marched to Gilgal, or even began their march, see Joshua 4:18; and much less is this to be understood of the stones at Ebal, as others, and so referred to Deuteronomy 27:2; which was not done until after Ai was taken, Joshua 8:24. And it is not reasonable to imagine that the priests should continue in Jordan to that time; Abarbinel thinks it refers to the words in Joshua 1:3; which had been spoken by the Lord to Joshua, and had been expressed by Moses, Deuteronomy 11:24; and which he supposes were now repeated by Joshua, and the priests continued in their station until he had made an end of rehearsing them; the last clause relating to Moses is left out in the Septuagint version:
and the people hasted and passed over; not stood in fear of the waters of the river returning upon them; rather through an eager desire of setting their feet on the land of Canaan, and it may be to relieve the priests from their station as soon as might be.For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until everything was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)10. the priests which bare the ark stood] Their patient attitude, standing still and motionless, was eminently calculated to impart courage to the people.Verse 10. - For. Rather, and. This verse does not give a reason for the last. The priests which bare the ark stood. This must have been a majestic sight. While the people "hasted" to cross, either that they might effect the passage during the day, or, more probably, Because they crossed in fear and trembling, partly in spite of, and partly because of, the miraculous interposition on their behalf, the priests bearing the ark of God, the visible symbol of His presence, stood solemnly still at the brink of the river, nor did they stir until every one of that mighty host had passed over. Then, when all had safely crossed, the ark of God was borne across the bed of the river, and as soon as the soles of the priests touched the highest point that the waters had reached on the other side, they returned to their place, and all was as it had been before. Well might the Israelites erect a double memorial of a scene so wonderful as this! All that Moses commanded Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:23). And the people hasted and passed over. "Unde et ego arbitror, quia nobis quoque venientibus ad baptismum salutarem, et suscipientibus sacramenta Verbi Dei, non otiose, nec segnitur res gerenda est, sed festinandum est, et perurgendum" (Orig., Hom. 5.).
(Note: The piska in the middle of Joshua 4:1 is an old pre-Masoretic mark, which the Masorites have left, indicating a space in the midst of the verse, and showing that it was the commencement of a :parashah.)
Joshua issued to the twelve men who had been appointed by the twelve tribes the command given to him by God: "Go before the ark of Jehovah into the midst of Jordan, and take every man a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites," or, as it is expressed in the fuller explanation in the divine command in Joshua 4:3, "from the standing-place of the priests, the setting up of twelve stones (הכין is an infinitive used as a substantive, or else it should be pointed as a substantive), and carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place of encampment where ye shall pass the night."
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