Saturday, August 21, 2004

Joshua 3

Joshua arises early to the task and leadsthe Israelites from Shittim to an encampment on the west side of the Jordan, directly opposite Jericho. There he waits three days. So, his early rising did not indicate haste.

The Israelites are commanded to stay 1000 yards from the Ark and are commanded to consecrate themselves. The Lord promises to perform a miracle, parting the Jordan, specifically to exalt Joshua. Commentator Matthew Henry ( points to Rahab's statement that the Jerichoites are in fear because of the parting of the Red Sea as evidence that the parting of the Jordan, especially in its flood stage, made them more fearful. Joshua 5:1 does indicate a cumulative panic on the part of the Canaanites. Joshua, however, tells the Israelites that the function of the miracle is to serve as a sign of God's presence and power rather than simply as a device for terrorizing Canaan.

The enemies of the Israelites are named: the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia (, the Canaanites lived between the Mediterranean coast and the Jordan. In some contexts, it applies specifically to the coastal dwellers and in that case is identical with Phoenicians. The Hittite territory was vague. Hebron was a Hittite city in Abraham's day, and Hittites are mentioned in south central Palestine. However, the territory is also stated to extend from Lebanon to the Euphrates. The Perizzites lived in southern Palestine. Hivites occupied central Palestine. The Amorites were dispersed throughout the area, and were accused of engaging in witchcraft. Little is known about the Girgashites. The Jebusites were headquartered in Jerusalem.

The "priests, who are Levites" carry the Ark to the Jordan. Twelve men are chosen, one from each tribe. These may be the same twelve that we are told in the following chapter are chosen to select stones from the dry river bottom to build a memorial but, if so, the text is contradictory.


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