3 Early the next morning, with Joshua leading them, the Israelites broke camp, left Shittim, and traveled to the eastern bank of the Jordan to set up camp again before crossing the river. 2 Three days later, the leaders went through the camp 3-4 and gave the Israelites their marching orders.
They camped where Balaam had come to curse Israel and where the men of Israel had gone after the Moabite prostitutes (Numbers 22–25).
Leaders: Tomorrow, you will know it is time to go when you see the Levite priests carrying the covenant chest of the Eternal One, your God. Follow the chest so that you will know where you’re supposed to go because you have not been this way before. But stay about half a mile away from it. Don’t come any nearer than that as you march.
Joshua (to the people): 5 Do all the ritual purifications and prepare yourselves because tomorrow the Eternal will show you wonders.
6 Joshua told the priests from the tribe of Levi to pick up the covenant chest and to walk in front of the people, so the priests lifted the chest and carried it to the front of the procession.
Eternal One (to Joshua): 7 Today I will do wonders that will begin to show the Israelites that you have My special favor, that I am with you just as I was with Moses before you. 8 At your command, the priests will carry the covenant chest into the edge of the Jordan water and they are to stand there in the Jordan, waiting.
9 So Joshua called the Israelites together.
Joshua: Come closer, and hear what your God, the Eternal, has to say: 10 Today you will see a sign that the one, true living God is present among you, the God who will without doubt drive out all this land’s inhabitants: Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites. 11 The covenant chest of the Lord of all the earth will pass in front of you into the Jordan River. 12 Now select twelve men, one from each tribe of Israel. 13 When the priests who bear the covenant chest of the Eternal, who is Lord over all the earth, step into the river, then you will see the waters of the Jordan stop as if behind a wall.
14 So the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan, with the priests carrying the covenant chest before them. 15 During harvest time the Jordan is swollen, running over its banks; but when the priests stepped into the river’s edge, 16-17 the waters stopped, piling upstream at the city of Adam, near Zarethan, while the water flowing downstream toward the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, ran out. Then the Israelites crossed the Jordan opposite the city of Jericho, walking on dry land just as Moses had led their ancestors from Egypt. While the Israelites crossed on the dry riverbed, the priests who carried the covenant chest stood firmly in the middle of the Jordan until the last Israelite had crossed over.