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.
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).
And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host;
Verse 2. - The officers. LXX., γραμματεις (see Joshua 1:10). This is evidently the history of the fulfilment of the command there given by Joshua. There he orders the officers to pass through the host; here the command is fulfilled. There is no reasonable doubt that the spies had returned before the order recorded in Joshua 1:10 had been given. Many commentators have raised objections to the order of the narrative in this and in the following chapter; and commentators like Houbigant, Masius (who says, "Narrationis ordo admodum perturbatus"), and Bishop Horsley, have suggested a different order of the verses. But Delitzsch has observed that the narrative is drawn up in a threefold order. First, the commencement of the crossing is detailed, from vers. 7-17 of this chapter; then (Joshua 4:1-14), its further progress; lastly (Joshua 4:15-24), its conclusion. And in each separate paragraph we have
(1) God's command to Joshua;
(2) Joshua's command to the people; and
(3) their fulfilment of his command.
Thus the Divine command, the human leadership, and the measures taken in obedience to that leadership are kept in close connection throughout. We need not suppose (he adds) that each separate act was enjoined at the moment when the necessity for the injunction arrived. Nor, we may add, is it necessary to suppose that every intimation given by God to Joshua is necessarily recorded in chronological order (see note on Joshua 2:1.) We are only to understand by the order followed by the sacred historian, that he desires to impress fully upon his readers how entirely every step taken by Joshua was taken at the express command of God. The idea of Paulus, Eichhorn, Ewald, Knobel, and others, that this account is compiled from two or more different documents, would not only require us to suppose great clumsiness in the compiler, if their view of his work be true, but is wholly unnecessary. The text involves no contradictions; only an amount of repetition, which is an essential feature of all the early Hebrew historical narratives, as is evident to the most casual observer, and is a proof, not of compilation, but of the antiquity of the document, and the simplicity and absence of art of the writer. Ewald has remarked that it is characteristic of the Hebrew historians to mention the termination of the event as soon as possible, and then to fill in their outline by the narration of intermediate circumstances (see chs. 1, 3, 6, 7. of the Book of Joshua). As a specimen of the way in which contradictions are manufactured, we may take Knobel's assertion that the two statements that the people came to Jordan, and that there was a space of 2,000 cubits between them and the priests, are irreconcilable. As though it were not possible that the 2,000 cubits were to be measured along the river, and that the priests were ordered to walk along the bank until it was signified to them that they had arrived at the place of crossing. For we are plainly told that this distance was to be preserved that the people might "know the way which they must go" (ver. 4).
And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.
Verse 3. - And they commanded the people, saying. These words are interesting as showing that all was orderly in the Israel-irish camp. Everything was carried on according to the strictest rules of military discipline. The removal of the ark was to be the signal for the advance of the whole host. The ark of the covenant. We may with advantage compare the religious use of the ark here and in ch. 6, with its superstitious use in 1 Samuel 4:3, 4. We do not read that when the Israelites were defeated at Ai, Joshua took the ark with him in a march to repair the disaster. Such a misuse of the symbol of God's Presence was only possible in days when faith had grown cold. When the Israelites had need of supernatural guidance, when they were placed in circumstances where no use of their own unaided powers could guide them, then they must repair to the ark of God. There they must seek counsel, this they must set before them to guide their ways. But to regard it as a charm which could possibly atone for their want of faith and their lack of obedience, was to profane it. Such temptations as these Jesus Christ resisted in the wilderness; such temptations Christians must resist now. We have no right to seek for supernatural aids where natural ones will suffice us - no right to invoke the special intervention of God till we have exhausted all the means He has placed at our disposal. Above all, we have no right to expect Him to save us from the consequences of our own sin and disobedience except on His own condition, that we shall truly repent. We may further remark that the Pillar of the Cloud and the fire, like the manna, had ceased, and even the ark of the covenant only preceded the Israelites on special occasions. The priests the Levites. This phrase has given rise to some discussion. Some editions of the LXX., as well as some Hebrew MSS., read, "the priests and the Levites." The Chaldee and Syriac versions have the same reading. The Vulgate - more correctly, as it would seem - renders "sacerdotes stirpis Levitiae," i.e., "the priests who are of the tribe of Levi" (see Joshua 8:33, Numbers 4:18, and Deuteronomy 31:9). Keil's explanation that this expression must be taken in opposition to non-Levitical and, therefore, unlawful priests, seems hardly satisfactory. It is not till much later - in fact, till the time of Jeroboam - that we hear of unlawful priests. It is more probable that it is intended to emphasise the position of Levi as the sacerdotal tribe, the one tribe which had no share in the operations of the war. So Rabbi Solomon Jarchi explains it, citing the B'reshith Babbah, which states that the phrase is found in forty-five places in the Bible, with the meaning that the priests are of the tribe of Levi.
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 heretofore.
Verse 4. - There shall be a space between you and it. Perhaps in order that they might keep it in view. This agrees best with the remainder of the verse, "that ye may know the way by which ye must go." Keil remarks that, had the Israelites pressed close on the heels of the priests who bore the ark, this would have defeated the very object with which the ark was carried before the people, namely, to point them out the way that they should go. But Cornelius Lapide among the earlier commentators and Knobel among the moderns hold that it was the sacredness of the ark which rendered it necessary that there should be a space of more than half a mile between it and the Israelites. Jarchi says the space was "in honour of God." We may learn hence that irreverent familiarity with sacred things is not the best way to obtain guidance in the way in which God would have us walk. "What awfull respects doth God require to be given unto the testimony of His presence? Uzzah paid deare for touching it; the men of Bethshemesh for looking into it. It is a dangerous thing to bee too bold with the ordinances of God" (Bp. Hall). "Neither was it onely for reverence that the arke must be wayted on afarre, but for convenience" (Ibid.). "The work of ministers is to hold forth the word of life, and to take care of the administration of those ordinances which are the tokens of God's presence and the instruments of His power and grace, and herein they must go before the people of God in their way to heaven" (Matthew Henry in loc.). (Cf. Numbers 4:19, 20; 1 Samuel 6:19; 2 Samuel 6:6, 7; also Exodus 19:21.) The original here is more emphatic than the translation. "Only there shall be a distance (LXX. μακρὰν ἔστω) between you and it." Ye have not passed this way heretofore. Literally, ye have not crossed since yesterday, the third day. Paulus would translate this "lately," and thus get rid of the miracle, regarding it as an intimation that they were crossing at one of the fords. But they had not crossed the Jordan at all before. Consequently the translation lately is inadmissible. And even if they had been crossing Jordan by one of the fords, there is, as we have seen, a wide difference between crossing at the ford in ordinary times and crossing it when Jordan had overflowed its banks. This is a fair sample of the criticism which seeks to explain away miracles, as well as finds discrepancies where there are none.
And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the LORD will do wonders among you.
Verse 5. - Sanctify yourselves. The Hithpahel, which is used here, is frequently used of ceremonial purification, as in Exodus 19:22; 1 Chronicles 15:12, 14; 2 Chronicles 5:11; and especially 2 Samuel 11:4. It is also connected with purification, but ironically, in Isaiah 66:17. Tomorrow. These words were uttered while all was in preparation. We learn from ver. 7, though it is not expressly stated, that the actual crossing took place the next day. We ought, probably, to place this verse in a parenthesis, and to translate "Joshua had said," because the sanctification (see Exodus 19:10, 14) involved some definite period. Knobel, however, assumes, as usual, that there is at least a faulty arrangement here. Wonders, or rather, miracles, from פָלָא to separate, distinguish. They were, therefore, acts distinguished from the ordinary course of God's providence. We may observe that, while among the Canaanites all was terror and confusion, m the camp of Joshua all was confidence and faith. "Either successe or discomfiture begins ever at the heart. A man's inward disposition doth more than presage the event. If Satan see us once faint, he gives himselfe the day. There is no way to safety, but that our hearts be the last that shall yield" (Bp. Hall).
And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.
Verse 6. - And Joshua spake. We return now to the ordinary course of the narrative. To the priests. This was because the occasion was an extraordinary one. On ordinary occasions this was the duty of the Kohathites (Numbers 4:15). And went before the people. The people were to "follow the priests as far as they carried the ark, but no further; so we must follow our ministers only as they follow Christ" (Matthew Henry).
CHAPTER 3:7-17. THE PASSAGE OF THE JORDAN -
And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.
Verse 7. - This day will I begin to magnify thee. "Neque enim ante mysterium baptismi exal-tatur Jesus, sed exaltatio ejus, et exaltatio in conspectu pepuli, inde sunlit exordium" (Orig., Hem. 4 on Joshua. Cf. Matthew 3:17; Luke 3:22).
And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.
Verse 8. - And thou shalt command the priests. We have not here the whole command. That is to be found in ver. 13. To the brink עַד־קְצֵה. Literally, to the end, i.e., the end or brink of the waters at the eastern side. There they halted, and as long as the ark remained there, the waters of Jordan ceased to flow.
And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the LORD your God.
And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.
Verse 10. - That the living God. Rather, perhaps, that a living God, i.e., that you have not with you some idol of wood or stone, or some deified hero, long since passed out of your reach, but a living, working, ever present God, who shows by His acts that your faith in Him is not vain. The phrase is a very common one as applied to God in the Old Testament. In the New, Christ is frequently referred to as the source of life. Is among you. The original is stronger, in the midst of you. The Canaanites. The descendants of Canaan, the son of Ham (Genesis 9:18). The word which signifies "low" is by some supposed to signify the same as lowlanders, because the Canaanites inhabited the less mountainous portions of Palestine, by the sea (Numbers 13:29; Joshua 5:1), and by the side of Jordan (Numbers 13:29). According to Ewald, their territory extended along the west bank of the Jordan as far as the Mediterranean Sea. Canaan has also been held to signify bowed down, depressed (see Genesis 9:25). But St. Augustine, in his exposition of the Epistle to the Romans (sec. 13), says that the country folk of the neighbourhood of Carthage, a Phoenician colony, as the name Punic implies, called themselves Canani, which they would hardly have done were the name a badge of servitude. Whether we are to attach much importance to this statement or not, it is certainly a remarkable coincidence. The story told by Procopius ('DeBello Vandalico, 2:10; see also Suidas, s.v. χάνααν) of two pillars of white stone near Tangier, with the inscription in Phoenician, "We are those who fled from the face of the robber Joshua, the son of Nun," is obviously not to be depended upon. Even if the inscription existed it was not likely to be of ancient date And as Kenrick remarks ('Phoenicia,' p. 67), those who erected the pillars were not likely
(1) to represent themselves as fugitives, and
(2) to speak of Joshua as the "son of Nun."
He further remarks that, while the oldest genuine Phoenician inscription is not more than four hundred years before Christ, this, if genuine, must have been erected nearly a thousand years earlier still; and he further observes on the impossibility of its having been deciphered by the scholars of Justinian's day. The stow, no doubt, had its origin in the Rabbinical tradition, mentioned by Jarchi in his Commentary, as well as by Kimchi, that Joshua grote three letters to the Canaanites before invading Palestine: the first inviting them to make peace; the second, on their refusal, proclaiming war; the third, to those who feared the wrath of Jehovah, warning them to depart to Africa - advice which, Jarchi adds, was actually taken by a great many. Concerning these seven nations more will be found in the Introduction (see also Genesis 10:15-18; Genesis 15:19-21; Exodus 3:8, 17, dec.). That a Hebrew signification is found for Phoenician words need not surprise us. The descendants of Ham, when "dwelling in the tents of Shem," might have formed for themselves a similar language. But that the Aramaic, which was spoken throughout Syria and Palestine, was closely similar to the Hebrew, we have overwhelming evidence. Not only is there clear proof that Abraham and the Canaanites spoke the same language, not only are all the ancient names of places and persons of Hebrew origin, but even the Carthaginian language is pronounced by Jerome, a competent judge, to be cognate to the Hebrew (see Havernick, Introduction, see. 21). The Hittites. The Hittites (Hebrew, Chittim) were out of all proportion the principal tribe in Palestine at this time, as we have already seen (Joshua 1:4). They were the descendants of Heth or Chet (Genesis 10:15), who dwelt in the neighbourhood of Hebron in the days of Abraham (Genesis 23:19; Genesis 25:9). At that time they do not appear to have attained the importance which they afterwards reached (Genesis 12:6; Genesis 13:7; Genesis 34:30), though this is perhaps not altogether a safe inference (cf. Judges 1:4, 5). For the mention of the Canaanites in Genesis 12:6 without the Perizzite might lead to a similar inference with regard to the relative importance of these two tribes, whereas in the other two passages they appear on a level. Be this as it may, we find the Hittites occupying a prominent position in Canaan at this time, not only in the Book of Joshua, but on the Egyptian monuments, "Before the exodus the Kheta had become the terrible rivals of Egypt, and had mingled their genealogy with that of the renowned Pharaohs of the nineteeth dynasty" (Tomkins's 'Studies on the Times of Abraham,' p. 89). It is worthy of remark, however, that on the Egyptian monuments their leaders are spoken of as chieftains (see note on ch. 9:3, and 'Records of the Past,' 2:67-78). In later times they had attained to regal government (1 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 7:6; 2 Chronicles 1:17). It is, however, possible that the proud monarch of Egypt would not admit the petty kings of the Hittites to an equality with himself (see also note on Joshua 1:4). Moses connects the Chittim (Numbers 24:24; Isaiah 23:1; Ezekiel 27:6), or the inhabitants of Cyprus, with the Hittites. Since these words were written an able article appeared in The Times of Jan. 23rd, 1880, on the Hittite Empire. Carchemish, on the Euphrates, and Kadesh, or the Holy City, on the Orontes, appear to have been the chief centres of the Hittite power. They were "powerful enough to threaten Assyria on the one hand and Egypt on the other, and to carry the arts and culture of the Euphrates to the Euxine and AEgean seas." Professor F. W. Newman, finding no mention of their existence in profane histories, came to the usual conclusion of his school, that where the Bible mentioned persons or nations and profane history did not, it was quite clear that such persons or nations never existed. The cases of Sargon and the Hittites may perhaps induce critics of this school to be a little less hasty henceforth in dismissing the statements of Scripture. The site of ancient Carchemish has lately been discovered on the western bank of the Euphrates. The Hivites, or rather Hivrites. The name of this tribe is not found in the first enumeration of the nations of Canaan (Genesis 15:19-21), but we find the name in the list of Canaan's descendants in Genesis 10:17 and 1 Chronicles 1:15. Shechem, the prince of the city of that name, was a Hivite (Genesis 34:2), though some copies of the LXX. read Horite for Hivite without authority. The Hivites then (Genesis 34:10-21) seem, as afterwards in the case of the Gibeonites, to have been a peaceful, commercial race. The character of the Shechemites afterwards seems to have been unwarlike. At least they were neither very spirited nor successful in their military enterprises, as the narrative in Judges 9. shows. The voluptuous beauty of the place, testified to by so many modern travellers, such as Robinson, Vandevelde, etc., falls in well with the character of the inhabitants. A colony of Hivites seem to have dwelt in the north, in the highlands beneath Mount Hermon, a country to which the name of Mizpeh, or watchtower, seems to have been given, no doubt from its elevation. This must not, however, be confounded with Mizpeh in the land of Benjamin (see Joshua 11:3). In 2 Samuel 24:7 they appear to have been found in the neighbourhood of Tyre, though this is by no means clear. The derivation of the word is uncertain. Ewald would explain it "midlander;" Gesenius explains it by "village," from הָוָה to live, breathe. That חַוָּה signifies a town or village we may learn from Numbers 32:41, Deuteronomy 3:14, Joshua 13:30, Judges 10:4, I Kings 4:13. The mention of their city so early as the time of Jacob, the description given of their character in that narrative, and the characteristic astuteness of the Gibeonites as well as their unwarlike conduct, would lead to the conclusion that they dwelt in settled habitations, not nomadic encampments, and that they gained their living chiefly by commerce. We ought not to quit the subject without the remark that all we learn from Scripture concerning the Hivites is remarkably consistent, and bears testimony to the scrupulous accuracy of the writers. The Perizzites. The word Perizzite signifies countryman, as distinguished from the dwellers in houses. Thus the word signifies "unwalled," or "open," in Deuteronomy 3:5, 1 Samuel 6:18, and in the Keri of Esther 9:19. Perhaps the reason of the omission of their name in Genesis 10. and 1 Chronicles 1. may justify the supposition that they were of no particular tribe, but were a collection of men from every tribe engaged in agricultural pursuits. Redslob (see art. in 'Dictionary of the Bible ') suggests that the Hawoth (Joshua 13:30) were pastoral, the Perazoth agricultural villages. This is to a certain extent borne out by the fact that Hawoth signifies "living places," and Perazoth" places spread out," as well as by the fact that the trans-Jordanic tribes were specially pastoral in their habits. Passages such as 2 Samuel 5:20; 2 Samuel 6:8; 1 Chronicles 14:11; Isaiah 28:21 are cited as illustrative of this word, but erroneously, for in the Hebrew the letter is Tzade, and not Zain, as here. Ritter regards the word as analogous to Pharisee, from pharash, to separate, and regards them as nomad tribes. But the authority of Ewald and Gesenius must outweigh his. The Girgashites. They are not mentioned in Scripture, save in Joshua 24:11, Genesis 15:21, Deuteronomy 7:1. They were therefore no doubt a small tribe, in. habiting, it has been supposed, the country of Gergesa or Gerasa (as some editions read in Matthew 8:28) upon the lake of Genne-sareth. But this was on the other side of Jordan. If therefore there be any connection between Gergesa or Gerasa and the Girgashites, there must have been a small settlement of them on the eastern side of the lake of Gennesareth. The Amorites. These were the most powerful of the Canaanitish peoples (see Amos 2:9). They not only inhabited the mountains (Numbers 13:29; Joshua 11:3), but crossed the Jordan and wrested the country from Arnon to Jabbok out of the hands of the Moabites (Numbers 21:13, 24, 26), and dwelt there until dispossessed by Moses. In Genesis 14:9 we find them west of Jordan, near Engedi, on the shores of the Dead Sea. Thence crossing Jordan they seem to have spread eastward. They are found in the Shephelah, on the borders of Dan (Judges 1:34), and even in the mountain district near Ajalon. But (ver. 35) they seem to have been driven out of Judah, and to have occupied a small portion of the Arabah south of the Dead Sea (cf. Joshua 15:3). Ewald, as well as Gesenius, regards the word Amorite as signifying highlander, and he quotes Isaiah 17:9, where Amir signifies the highest part of anything, as of a tree. So the Syriac Amori signifies a hero, and the Arabic Emir signifies a ruler. With this we may compare the term Ameer of Afghanistan, no doubt derived from a similar root. See also Isaiah 17:6, and the Hithpahel of אמר in Psalm 94:4, with the meaning to exalt one's self. Shechem, though a Hivite settlement, is spoken of by Jacob (Genesis 48:22) as an Amorite city, and in Joshua 10:6 the sovereigns of Jerusalem and the neighbour cities are spoken of as Amorite monarchs. This would suggest that the words applied to the inhabitants were to a great extent convertible terms, just as we apply the term Celt, Gael, Highlander indiscriminately to the inhabitants of the north of Scotland, Dutchman and Hollander to the inhabitants of Holland, and as Scotus and Erigena were both applied to Irishmen up to the 10th century. The Jebusites were in possession of the central highlands around Jerusalem, their stronghold. They retained possession of this until David dislodged them (2 Samuel 5:6-8. See note on Joshua 10:1).
Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.
Verse 11. - The Lord of all the earth. As He was about to prove Himself to be by the mighty miracles He wrought to establish the Israelites in their land and thus fulfil His promise. The Israelites needed to be reminded of this to support them during the crossing of the Jordan. The translation of the LXX., though rejected by the Masorites, who separate the words "covenant" and "Lord," is admissible here, "the covenant of the Lord of all the earth." If we follow the Masoretic punctuation, we must supply the word "ark" again, and translate "the ark of the covenant, the ark of the Lord of the whole earth."
Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.
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.
And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.
Verse 13. - The Lord, the Lord of all the earth. The original is, Jehovah, the Lord of all the earth. That the waters of Jordan shall be cut off. The construction here seems to have perplexed the LXX., Vulgate, and English translators. The former have given the sense, but have changed the construction. The second have supposed יִכָּרֵתוּן to mean fail, and to refer to the waters below the place of crossing. The third have interpolated the word "from." The words "the waters descending from above" are in apposition to, and explanatory of, the words "the waters" above. If for "from" in our version we substitute "namely," we shall express the meaning of the original. The Masorites point thus, dividing the verb from what follows by Zakeph Katon. A heap (cf. Psalm 38:7). The original is picturesque, "and they shall stand, one heap."
And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;
Verse 14. - Removed from their tents. The word used for "removed" in this chapter is the same as is used of Abraham's removing. It is appropriate to the nature of the removal, for it signifies originally to pull up stakes or tent-pins, and has reference, there. fore, to the removal of a people who dwelt in tents.
And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)
Verse 15. - Brim. The water's edge is meant here, as in ver. 8, where the same word is translated brink (see note on ver. 17, and on Joshua 4:19). Jordan overfloweth all his banks. Some commentators translate here, filleth all his banks (ἐπληροῦτο, LXX.). But this rendering is contrary
(1) to the Hebrew, and
(2) contrary to fact.
The literal rendering here is, "filleth out (or upon) all its banks." In ch. 4:18 we read that Jordan goeth over all its banks And that the Jordan is not merely full, but full to overflowing, at the harvest season, is proved by the statements of many travellers. Take, for instance, Canon Tristram ('Land of Israel,' p. 223), who describes his visit to the Jordan as occurring just after it had been overflowing its banks, and the lower level of the valley as filled with "a deep slimy ooze." He adds that, by measure merit, the river was found to have been fourteen feet above the level at which he found it, and it was then quite full. Bartlett ('From Egypt to Palestine,' p. 451) remarks, "We were fortunate enough to see it in the state in which it is described in Joshua, 'overflowing all its banks' - that is, the whole line of its banks. The turbid stream rushed along like a mill race, and though it had fallen from its greatest height, the proper banks of the channel were invisible, and indicated only by lines of oleanders and other shrubs and trees." This was on the 22nd of March. This overflowing is caused by the melting of the snows of Hermon, which then rush down, fill Lake Huleh and its marshes, as well as Gennesareth, and cause the "swelling of Jordan" (Jeremiah 12:5; Jeremiah 49:19; 1:44), which drives the wild beasts from their retreats on its banks (see also 1 Chronicles 12:15). Some travellers have boldly asserted, in spite of this concurrent testimony, that Jordan does not overflow its banks at the time of harvest. But they have mistaken the wheat for the barley harvest, forgetting that in Palestine the latter precedes the former by six or seven weeks. By the time of wheat harvest Jordan has returned to its normal condition, and all traces of the inundation have passed away (see Thomson, 'Land and the Book,' pp. 618-621). The time of harvest, i.e., the barley harvest, which took place about the 10th Nisan, or Abib, when the Israelites crossed. The wheat harvest was about Pentecost, or seven weeks later (Exodus 34:22). An important argument for the genuineness of the narrative (and much the more important as its chief incident is miraculous) is drawn from this passage by Blunt in his 'Undesigned Coincidences.' He remarks that in Exodus 9:31, 33 the barley and flax are said to have ripened together. Therefore the time of the barley and flax harvest would be identical. Accordingly we have Rahab, three days before the event here recorded, in possession of the as yet undried stalks of flax which had just been cut. Nothing could be a more satisfactory proof that the narrative we have before us comes from persons who were accurately and minutely informed concerning the circumstances of which they tell us.
That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.
Verse 16. - Stood and rose up upon a heap. Literally, "stood - they rose up, one heap." The narrative assumes a poetic form here (cf. Exodus 15:8, 9; Judges 5:27). Very far from the city Adam. The Masorites have corrected the text here. The original text has בְאָדָם for which the suggested Keri is מֵאָדָס. But the correction is needless. It is better to render, "they rose up, one heap, very far off, at the city Adam." The city Adam is nowhere else mentioned in Scripture, The LXX. appears to have read מְאֹד מְאֹד instead of מְאֹד מֵאָדָס, for it translates σφόδρα σφοδρῶς. This reading of the LXX. shows that the correction, though it obscures the sense, is of great antiquity, and that the site of Adam was then quite unknown. Knobel would place it either just south of the Jabbok, where the ford Damieh now exists, or at Eduma, now Daumeh, twelve German miles east of Neapolis. The former is generally accepted now, and Conder ('Handbook,' p. 241) identifies it with Admah (see Genesis 14:2), in the plain or ciccar of Jordan. That is beside Zaretan. Called Zarthan in the original (cf. 1 Kings 4:12; 1 Kings 7:46), and Zeredatha, in 2 Chronicles 4:17. Some read Zeredatha for Zererath in Judges 7:22. Knobel supposes, and not without some probability, that Zereda, Jeroboam's birthplace, is the same as this. It was in the plain of Jordan, not far from Succoth, at the mouth of the Jabbok. The LXX. here reads Καριαθιαρείμ, i.e., either Kiriathaim or Kirjath-jearim, but without authority. Delitzsch and Knobel suppose the spot to be Kurn, or Karn (i.e., horn) Sartabeh, near the ford Damieh, where the Jordan valley is at its narrowest, and the rocks stretch forward so as almost to meet. They fix on this spot, partly from the suitability of the situation for such an arresting of the waters, partly from its agreement with the situation of Zarthan, as described in the Scriptures. Vandevelde agrees with them. There was an Adami and a Zartanath higher up the river near Bethshean, which some have supposed to be meant (see Joshua 19:83; 1 Kings 4:12), but these lay entirely out of Joshua's line of march. The sea of the plain. Rather the sea of the עֲרָבָה (θάλασσαν Αραβα, LXX.), or desert (so Deuteronomy 3:17; Deuteronomy 4:49; 2 Kings 14:25; see also Deuteronomy 1:1). The term is applied by the Hebrews and Arabs to any sterile region, and thence to the sterile depression which borders on the Jordan, extending from the lake of Tiberias southward. The Arabs now apply the term el ghor to the part between Tiberias and the Dead Sea, and reserve the term Arabah for the desert valley, or wady, which extends thence to the Red Sea. So Gesen., 'Thesaurus,' s.v.; and Robinson, 'Bibl. Res.' The word translated plain in Genesis 13:10 is כִּכַּר, a word of very different signification (see also 'Shephelah' and 'Emek,' Joshua 10:40; Joshua 11:2). The salt sea. This sea is called the Dead Sea from the immobility of its waters, as well as from the apparent absence of all life within them. "Some of our party," says Canon Tristram," employed themselves in searching, but without avail, for life in the Dead Sea." It lies at a level of more than 1,300 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. Its waters are thus described by Dr. Thomson: "The water is perfectly clear and transparent. The taste is bitter and salt, far beyond that of the ocean. It acts upon the tongue and mouth like alum; smarts in the eye like camphor; produces a burning, pricking sensation." The specific gravity of its waters is very great, and bathers find a great difficulty in swimming in it from the unusual buoyancy of the water. This is caused by the very large quantity of saline matter held in solution from the salt hills in the neighbourhood. One of them, Jebel Usdum, is described by Canon Tristram as "a solid mass of rock salt," and the water in its vicinity as "syrup of chloride of sodium," that is to say, of common salt. So also Bartlett, 'Egypt and Palestine,' p. 451. The statement that no bird can fly across its waters is a fable. The fullest account of the various attempts - some of them fatal - to explore the Dead Sea are to be found in Ritter's 'Geography of Palestine,' vol. 3. Canon Tristram explored the western side thoroughly, while Mr. Macgregor's canoe voyage, described in his 'Rob Roy on the Jordan,' gives a number of most interesting details. In Ritter's work will also be found some valuable observations on the physical geography of the district, on the geological formation of the basin of the Dead Sea, together with two papers, one by M. Terreil and the other by M. Lartet, on the chemical composition of the Dead Sea waters. Failed and were cut off. Literally, were completed, were cut off, i.e., were completely cut off, so that the supply of water failed, and the channel of the Jordan to the southward, and to the northward as far as Zaretan, became dry ground (see also Psalm 114:3).
And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.
Verse 17. - Firm. The LXX. does not translate this. The Vulgate renders accincti. The original, literally translated, means to cause to stand upright. In the midst of Jordan. That is, they stood surrounded by water, but not in midstream, which would be expressed by בְּקֶרֶב as in ver. 10, where our version has "among" (see note on Joshua 4:9). So Drusius: "In medio Jordanis; i.e., intra Jordanem. Sic Tyrus legitur sita in corde maris; i.e., intra mare nam non procul abest a continente." Clean over. The word is the same as that translated "failed" in the last note. It means completion - "till the people had entirely finished crossing." Origen thus explains, in his fourth homily on Joshua, the mystical signification of this crossing the Jordan: "Cure catechumenorum aggregatus es numero, et praeceptis Ecclesiasticis parere coepisti digressus es mare rubrum, et in deserti stationibus positus, ad audiendam Dei legem, et intuendum Mosei vulture per gloriam Domini revelatum quotidie vacas. Si vero ad mysticum baptismi veneris fontem, et consistente sacerdotali et Levitico ordine initiatus fueris venerandis illis magnificisque sacramentis quae norunt illi quos nosse fas est, hanc etiam sacerdotum ministeriis Jordane digresso terram repromissionis intratis, in qua te post Moysen suscipi Jesus, et ipse tibi efficitur novi itineris dux."