And it came to pass, when the priests that bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the middle of Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up to the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned to their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Joshua 4:18. The waters of Jordan returned — They had stood on a heap while the ark was in the river, but came tumbling down when it was removed, which showed to a demonstration that it was to God’s presence with them, and to this only, that they owed this miraculous mercy. “Some have observed here, by way of allusion,” says Henry, “that when the ark, and the priests that bear it,” (the word and ordinance of God and his ministers,) “are removed from any place, the flood-gates are drawn up, the defence is departed, and an inundation of judgments is to be expected. Those that are unchurched will soon be undone: the glory is departed if the ark be taken.”Joshua 4:11; but the writer, in observance of his general plan (compare introductory remarks to Joshua 3), re-introduces it here as the leading feature in the concluding section of his account, and (as before) with mention of God's special direction about it. The statement that on the removal of the ark the waters of Jordan at once returned to their former level Joshua 4:18, heightens the impression which is especially inculcated throughout - that the whole transaction was extraordinary and miraculous. The details and incidents of the passage are no doubt open to manifold discussion: but all such discussion will be futile unless it proceed throughout on the admission that we have here before us the record of a distinctly supernatural interposition: compare the introduction to the Book of Joshua. The waters came down from their heaps, and returned with all convenient speed into their proper channel, according to their natural and usual course.
and the soles of the priests' feet were lift up upon the dry land; and set upon it, on the bank of Jordan, and shores of the land of Canaan:
that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place; those that came from above, and had stood on an heap, gradually came down into the channel, and those below that were cut off returned:
and flowed over all his banks, as they did before; and usually did at this time of the year, see Joshua 3:15; so that there was no decrease or loss of the waters by their failing, and being cut off.And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)18. the waters of Jordan returned] Thus the history of the crossing is related in sections: (a) first briefly, Joshua 3:14-17; (b) then more completely, Joshua 4:1-11; (c) some supplementary notices, Joshua 4:12-17; (d) finally, the conclusion, concerning the return of the water, till Jordan “flowed over all his banks,” as it did before.Verse 18. - When the priests ... were come up. There is a difference of reading here. The Masorites read as our version. The Hebrew text implies that the waters began to flow from the very moment that the priests' feet left the channel of the Jordan. Were lifted up. The original is more vivid, and marks the authentic sources from which this history is derived. Were plucked up, i.e., out of the soft adhesive mud in the channel of the river. The construction of the original is a constructio praegnans. They dragged their feet out of the mud, and planted them on dry ground. Joshua 1:16-17), and in what manner they did so. The words וגו ויּעברוּ do not imply that these 40,000 men crossed over behind the priests with the ark, which would not only be at variance with the fact so expressly stated, that the ark of the covenant was the medium of the miraculous division of the water, but also with the distant statement in Joshua 4:18, that when the priests, with the ark, set their feet upon the dry land, the waters filled the river again as they had done before. The imperfect with vav consec. here expresses simply the order of thought, and not of time. "Arboth Jericho," the steppes of Jericho, were that portion of the Arabah or Ghor which formed the environs of Jericho, and which widens here into a low-lying plain of about three and a half or four hours' journey in breadth, on account of the western mountains receding considerably to the south of the opening of the Wady Kelt (Rob. Pal. ii. pp. 263ff.). - In Joshua 4:14 the writer mentions still further the fact that the Lord fulfilled His promise (in Joshua 3:7), and by means of this miracle so effectually confirmed the authority of Joshua in the eyes of Israel, that the people feared him all the days of his life as they had feared Moses. "This was not the chief end of the miracle, that Joshua increased in power and authority; but since it was a matter of great importance, so far as the public interests were concerned, that the government of Joshua should be established, it is very properly mentioned, as an addition to the benefits that were otherwise conferred, that he was invested as it were with sacred insignia, which produced such a felling of veneration among the people, that no one dared to treat him with disrespect" (Calvin).
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