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Joshua 3-4 New English Translation (NET Bible)

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]

Israel Commemorates the Crossing

When the entire nation was on the other side,[y] the Lord told Joshua, “Select for yourselves twelve men from the people, one per tribe. Instruct them, ‘Pick up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests[z] stand firmly, and carry them over with you and put them in the place where you camp tonight.’”

Joshua summoned the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one per tribe. Joshua told them, “Go in front of the ark of the Lord your God to the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to put a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the Israelite tribes. The stones[aa] will be a reminder to you.[ab] When your children ask someday, ‘Why are these stones important to you?’ tell them how the water of the Jordan stopped flowing[ac] before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the water of the Jordan stopped flowing.[ad] These stones will be a lasting memorial for the Israelites.”

The Israelites did just as Joshua commanded. They picked up twelve stones, according to the number of the Israelite tribes, from the middle of the Jordan as the Lord had instructed Joshua. They carried them over with them to the camp and put them there. Joshua also set up twelve stones[ae] in the middle of the Jordan in the very place where the priests carrying the ark of the covenant stood. They remain there to this very day.

10 Now the priests carrying the ark of the covenant were standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the Lord had commanded Joshua to tell the people was accomplished, in accordance with all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people went across quickly, 11 and when all the people had finished crossing, the ark of the Lord and the priests crossed as the people looked on.[af] 12 The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed for battle ahead of the Israelites, just as Moses had instructed them. 13 About 40,000 battle-ready troops[ag] marched past the Lord to fight[ah] on the rift valley plains[ai] of Jericho. 14 That day the Lord brought honor to Joshua before all Israel. They respected[aj] him all his life,[ak] just as they had respected[al] Moses.

15 The Lord told Joshua, 16 “Instruct the priests carrying the ark of the covenantal laws[am] to come up from the Jordan.” 17 So Joshua instructed the priests, “Come up from the Jordan!” 18 The priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the middle of the Jordan, and as soon as they set foot on dry land,[an] the water of the Jordan flowed again and returned to flood stage.[ao]

19 The people went up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month[ap] and camped in Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 Now Joshua set up in Gilgal the[aq] twelve stones they had taken from the Jordan. 21 He told the Israelites, “When your children someday ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones represent?’[ar] 22 explain to[as] your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan River[at] on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the water of the Jordan before you while you crossed over. It was just like when the Lord your God dried up the Red Sea before us while we crossed it.[au] 24 He has done this so[av] all the nations[aw] of the earth might recognize the Lord’s power[ax] and so you might always obey[ay] the Lord your God.”

Footnotes:

  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.”
  25. Joshua 4:1 tn Heb “And when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.”
  26. Joshua 4:3 tn Heb “the feet of the priests.”
  27. Joshua 4:6 tn Heb “that this may be”; the referent of “this” (the twelve stones) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  28. Joshua 4:6 tn Heb “in order that this might be a sign among you.”
  29. Joshua 4:7 tn Heb “were cut off from before.”
  30. Joshua 4:7 tn Heb “how the waters descending from above stood still.”
  31. Joshua 4:9 tn Here “also” has been supplied in the translation to make it clear (as indicated by v. 20) that these are not the same stones the men took from the river bed.
  32. Joshua 4:11 tn Heb “in the presence of the people.”
  33. Joshua 4:13 tn Heb “men equipped for battle.”
  34. Joshua 4:13 tn Heb “for war.”
  35. Joshua 4:13 sn The עֲרָבָה (ʿaravah, “rift valley”) extends from Galilee to the Gulf of Aqaba. The עַרְבוֹת (ʿarevot) of Jericho” refer to the parts of the Jordan Valley in the vicinity of Jericho (see HALOT 880 s.v. עֲרָבָה). The region is characterized by gently sloping plains which descend about 450 feet over the five miles from Jericho to the Jordan. Many translation say simply the “plains of Jericho” for the portion west of the Jordan and “plains of Moab” for the eastern portion. The translation here clarifies that the plains are part of the rift valley basin.
  36. Joshua 4:14 tn Heb “feared.”
  37. Joshua 4:14 tn Heb “all the days of his life.”
  38. Joshua 4:14 tn Heb “had feared.”
  39. Joshua 4:16 tn Traditionally, “the ark of the testimony,” another name for the ark of the covenant. The Hebrew term עֵדוּת (ʿedut, “testimony” or “witness”) here refers to the Mosaic covenant and the body of stipulations contained within it (see HALOT 791 s.v. 2).
  40. Joshua 4:18 tn Heb “and the soles of the feet of the priests were brought up to the dry land.”
  41. Joshua 4:18 tn Heb “and the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and went as formerly over their banks.”sn Verses 15-18 give a more detailed account of the priests’ crossing that had been briefly described in v. 11.
  42. Joshua 4:19 sn The first month was the month Abib (= late March-early April in the modern calendar). The preparations for Passover also began on the tenth day of the first month (Exod 12:2-3).
  43. Joshua 4:20 tn Heb “these,” referring specifically to the twelve stones mentioned in vv. 3-7.
  44. Joshua 4:21 tn Heb “What are these stones?”
  45. Joshua 4:22 tn Heb “make known to.”
  46. Joshua 4:22 tn Heb “crossed this Jordan”; the word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied to clarify the meaning.
  47. Joshua 4:23 tn Heb “just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea when he dried [it] up before us while we crossed over.”
  48. Joshua 4:24 tn Heb “in order that.”
  49. Joshua 4:24 tn Or “peoples.”
  50. Joshua 4:24 tn Heb “know the hand of the Lord that it is strong.”
  51. Joshua 4:24 tn Heb “fear.”
New English Translation (NET)

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Joshua 3-4 New International Version (NIV)

Crossing the Jordan

Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits[a] between you and the ark; do not go near it.”

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.

And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”

Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.

14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been[b] in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.

10 Now the priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the Lord had commanded Joshua was done by the people, just as Moses had directed Joshua. The people hurried over, 11 and as soon as all of them had crossed, the ark of the Lord and the priests came to the other side while the people watched. 12 The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them. 13 About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for war.

14 That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses.

15 Then the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant law to come up out of the Jordan.”

17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.”

18 And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.

19 On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[c] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.

Footnotes:

  1. Joshua 3:4 That is, about 3,000 feet or about 900 meters
  2. Joshua 4:9 Or Joshua also set up twelve stones
  3. Joshua 4:23 Or the Sea of Reeds
New International Version (NIV)

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