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Joshua 3 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Israel Crosses the Jordan River

Early the next morning, Joshua and the Israelites packed up and left Acacia. They went to the Jordan River and camped there that night. Two days later[a] their leaders went through the camp, 3-4 shouting, “When you see some of the priests[b] carrying the sacred chest, you’ll know it is time to cross to the other side. You’ve never been there before, and you won’t know the way, unless you follow the chest. But don’t get too close! Stay about half a mile back.”

Joshua told the people, “Make yourselves acceptable[c] to worship the Lord, because he is going to do some amazing things for us.”

Then Joshua turned to the priests and said, “Take the chest and cross the Jordan River ahead of us.” So the priests picked up the chest by its carrying poles and went on ahead.

The Lord told Joshua, “Beginning today I will show the people that you are their leader, and they will know that I am helping you as I helped Moses. Now, tell the priests who are carrying the chest to go a little way into the river and stand there.”

Joshua spoke to the people:

Come here and listen to what the Lord our God said he will do! 10 The Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites control the land on the other side of the river. But the living God will be with you and will force them out of the land when you attack. And now, God is going to prove that he’s powerful enough to force them out. 11-13 Just watch the sacred chest that belongs to the Lord, the ruler of the whole earth. As soon as the priests carrying the chest step into the Jordan, the water will stop flowing and pile up as if someone had built a dam across the river.

The Lord has also said that each of the twelve tribes should choose one man to represent it.

14 The Israelites packed up and left camp. The priests carrying the chest walked in front, 15 until they came to the Jordan River. The water in the river had risen over its banks, as it often does in springtime.[d] But as soon as the feet of the priests touched the water, 16-17 the river stopped flowing, and the water started piling up at the town of Adam near Zarethan. No water flowed toward the Dead Sea, and the priests stood in the middle of the dry riverbed near Jericho while everyone else crossed over.

Footnotes:

  1. 3.2 Two days later: The Hebrew text has “At the end of three days,” two days after they had set up camp.
  2. 3.3,4 the priests: The Hebrew text has “the priests, the Levites” ; priests belonged to the tribe of Levi.
  3. 3.5 Make yourselves acceptable: People had to do certain things to make themselves acceptable to worship the Lord (see Leviticus 7.20,21; 15.2,33; 22.4-8; Deuteronomy 23.10,11).
  4. 3.15 springtime: Or “harvest time” ; the grain harvest was in late spring.

Joshua 3 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.

Footnotes:

  1. Joshua 3:4 That is, about 3,000 feet or about 900 meters
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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