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Israel Crosses the Jordan

Bright and early the next morning Joshua and the Israelites left Shittim and came to the Jordan.[a] They camped there before crossing the river.[b] After three days the leaders went through the camp and commanded the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God[c] being carried by the Levitical priests, you must leave here[d] and walk[e] behind it. But stay about 3,000 feet behind it.[f] Keep your distance[g] so you can see[h] which way you should go, for you have not traveled this way before.”

Joshua told the people, “Ritually consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will perform miraculous deeds among you.” Joshua told the priests, “Pick up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they picked up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people.

The Lord told Joshua, “This very day I will begin to honor you before all Israel,[i] so they will know that I am with you just as I was with Moses. Instruct the priests carrying the ark of the covenant, ‘When you reach the bank of the Jordan River,[j] wade into the water.’”[k]

Joshua told the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God!” 10 Joshua continued,[l] “This is how you will know the living God is among you and that he will truly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites. 11 Look! The ark of the covenant of the Lord[m] of the whole earth is ready to enter the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now select for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one per tribe. 13 When the feet[n] of the priests carrying the ark of the Lord, the Lord[o] of the whole earth, touch[p] the water of the Jordan, the water coming downstream toward you will stop flowing and pile up.”[q]

14 So when the people left their tents to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went[r] ahead of them. 15 When the ones carrying the ark reached the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark touched the surface[s] of the water—(the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest time)[t] 16 the water coming downstream toward them stopped flowing.[u] It piled up far upstream[v] at Adam (the city near Zarethan); there was no water at all flowing to the sea of the rift valley (the Salt Sea).[w] The people crossed the river opposite Jericho. 17 The priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan. All Israel crossed over on dry ground until the entire nation was on the other side.[x]


  1. Joshua 3:1 tn Heb “And Joshua arose early in the morning and he and the Israelites left Shittim and came to the Jordan.”
  2. Joshua 3:1 tn The words “the river,” though not in the Hebrew text, have been supplied in the translation for clarity.
  3. Joshua 3:3 sn The ark of the covenant refers to the wooden chest that symbolized God’s presence among his covenant people.
  4. Joshua 3:3 tn Heb “set out from your place.”
  5. Joshua 3:3 tn Or “march.”
  6. Joshua 3:4 tn Heb “But there should be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in measurement.”sn The precise distance is uncertain, but the measurement designated אַמָּה (ʾammah, “cubit”) was probably equivalent to approximately 18 inches, or 45 cm) in length.
  7. Joshua 3:4 tn Heb “do not approach it.”
  8. Joshua 3:4 tn Heb “know.”
  9. Joshua 3:7 tn Or more literally, “to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel.”
  10. Joshua 3:8 tn Heb “the edge of the waters of the Jordan.” The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied for clarity.
  11. Joshua 3:8 tn Heb “stand in the Jordan.” Here the repetition of the word “Jordan” would be redundant according to contemporary English style, so it was not included in the translation.
  12. Joshua 3:10 tn Heb “said.”
  13. Joshua 3:11 tn Or “Ruler”; or “Master.”
  14. Joshua 3:13 tn Heb “the soles of the feet.”
  15. Joshua 3:13 tn Or “Ruler”; or “Master.”
  16. Joshua 3:13 tn Or “rest in.”
  17. Joshua 3:13 tn Heb “the waters of the Jordan, the waters descending from above, will be cut off so that they will stand in one pile.”
  18. Joshua 3:14 tn The verb, though not in the Hebrew, is added for clarification.
  19. Joshua 3:15 tn Heb “dipped into the edge.”
  20. Joshua 3:15 tn Heb “and the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest.”sn The lengthy description of the priests’ arrival at the Jordan and the parenthetical reminder that the Jordan was at flood stage delay the climax of the story and add to its dramatic buildup.
  21. Joshua 3:16 tn Heb “the waters descending from above stood still.”
  22. Joshua 3:16 tn Heb “they stood in one pile very far away.”
  23. Joshua 3:16 tn Heb “the [waters] descending… were completely cut off.”sn The Salt Sea is an ancient name for the Dead Sea.
  24. Joshua 3:17 tn Heb “and all Israel was crossing over on dry ground until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.”