Dec. 6. Crossing the Jordan River

Josh. 3:1-5:16

When the time came to cross the Jordan River, the officers went in among the people and instructed them to set out when they saw the priests and Levites begin to move the ark of the covenant. They were to maintain two thousand cubits (about the distance of ten football fields) distance between themselves and the ark. The Israelites were to sanctify or cleanse themselves for the journey.

As was pointed out when Joshua was appointed leader, Eleazar, the high priest would be the mediator between the people and God. Joshua received his orders directly from God just as Moses and He assured Joshua that He would be with him just as He had been with Moses before him.

The Jordan River was overflowing its banks during the harvest season. When the priests bearing the ark stood in the water, the river stopped flowing from upstream and the water stood up in a heap. Downstream, the water flowed into the Salt Sea and the people crossed on dry land into Canaan.

As the children of Israel crossed the river, Joshua was commanded to take twelve men, one from each tribe and gather twelve stones from the riverbed. They were set up in their camp in Gilgal to serve as a memorial of the river crossing for the future generations of Israelites. Joshua also placed twelve stones at the place the priests stood with the ark of the covenant during the crossing.

All males, men of war that departed from Egypt had been circumcised, but as they wandered in the wilderness, no one else had been circumcised. God instructed Joshua to circumcise the males who had entered the Promised Land. This was accomplished and everyone healed by the time of the Passover four days after crossing the Jordan.

Food for Israel was plentiful in their new land. The next day after the Passover, they ate of the produce of the land and the manna from heaven ceased.

Joshua’s authority as the leader of God’s people was solidified as he met the Commander of the army of the Lord. Like Moses forty years earlier, God’s presence was signified as he was standing on holy ground.