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chapter summaryEven a casual reading of Judges 3 should bring back memories of the Exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea. Some think that this is no big deal—it’s just a river, not a sea and the Jordan isn’t that wide. However, the miss the aside in verse 15: “…now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest.” In my Bible his phrase is in parentheses.

I grew up on the Conodoguinet creek in Pennsylvania. It’s about 40 yards wide and 2-3 feet deep where it bordered our property. In fact, most of the creek, in the summertime, was ankle to knee deep and easily waded for fishing. But, in the spring, when we’d get a lot of rain, the Conodoguinet would flood and you would not want to be in it then. The water turned a chocolate milky brown about 10+ feet deep and moved swiftly through our property. It would have been dangerous to wade out into it at that point.

This is my understanding of the Jordan. At some places it could be crossed by wading—unless it was flood season, then forget it. My reading of the text tells me that it was flood season. The note from the ESV Study Bible says, “The Jordan’s swollen waters would have been considerably more daunting than the river at its normal 3- to 10- foot (0. 9- to 3. 0- m) depth and 90- to 100- foot (27- to 31- m) width. Crossing such water would be no less miraculous than crossing the Red Sea.”

  1. Big Ideas
    1. Joshua is established, firmly, as their leader.
    2. God wants Israel to know that Joshua is the new Moses.
      1. We take transitions in power for granted in this country. Presidents come and go without revolution. Presidents are are disposed or run out of town or killed in order to effect regime change. This is not so in many other countries.
      2. This transition is crucial because the Israelites were fickle. Remember the golden calf in Exodus 32? These people, if they thought they were leader-less, could have easily turned around and gone back to Egypt. They needed to know that Joshua was their leader by God’s endorsement—no if’s and’s or but’s about it.
  2. Best Verses
    1. 7 The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.”
    2. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan.
    3. 17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.
  3. Bottom-line Application
    In times of transition, God is still in control and He will overcome obstacles in our path.
  4. Verses to Memorize
    1. 7 The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.”
  5. Things that don’t make sense—exactly why the Israelites had to keep a distance of 2000 cubits (about .8 miles) from the ark (v. 4) is not clearly explained. Commentary seems to say that more people could see it from that distance or “The sacrosanct nature of the ark may also have prompted this safe distance, but this is not stated.” ESV
  6. Commentary
    This is a very crucial transitional chapter in Joshua for it establishes Joshua as the new Moses, as the new leader of what will be the nation of Israel. As highlighted above in verse 17, this is the first time that Israel is referred to as a “nation”—in Egypt and the Wilderness they were referred to as “a people.”