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Home » Daily Readings

Crossing the Jordan

Submitted by on Thursday, 13 August 2009No Comment

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The Book of Joshua is designated by scholars as one of the books constituting Deuteronomistic History. It is so called because it was written under the influence of the theology that dominates the book of Deuteronomy. In the book of Joshua, this theology is expressed in narrative form and is focused on the possession of the land promised to the patriarchs. We begin the reading of the book with a selection from chapter 3. The event narrated here has been announced by Joshua three days before it happened (1:11). In this chapter (as chapters 4 and 6), the Ark of the Covenant will be prominently mentioned. Here it is given different designations: the ark (4), the ark of the covenant of the Lord (3.17), the ark of the covenant (6.8.14), the ark of the covenant of the Lord of the earth (11), the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the God of the whole earth (13).

This is the same ark of the covenant the design of which is described in Exodus 25-35, build in Exodus 37 and put in its place in the holy of holies in Exodus 40. The Levites were designated to carry the ark (Deuteronomy 10:8) which contained the tablets of the covenant (10:5), the words of Deuteronomy (31;26) apart from Aaron’s staff (Exodus 16:32-34). The ark led the way through the desert sojourn (cf. Numbers 10:33) and the company of the Israelites in battle (cf. 10:35). In Numbers 7:89, we are told that Moses spoke to the Lord who is enthroned on the cherubims on top of the ark.

The entrance in the land of Canaan begins with the crossing of the Jordan, an event where the Lord shows to Israel that He is with them as they take possession of the land. The event also gives witness to the kind of role that Joshua will play in this particular stage of the history of Israel in the Promised land. “This day”, the Lord told him, “will I begin to exalt thee before Israel that they may know that as I was with Moses, so I am with thee also (v.7).” The exaltation (in the LXX, the verb hypsow) of Joshua by the Lord consists in the wondrous deeds that He performs for Israel beginning with the crossing of the Jordan. This will be followed by the destruction of Jericho and then the conquests of the rest of Canaan until the Israelites finally settle in the land under the leadership of Joshua. The Lord “exalts” Joshua that Israel may know that He is with them. In the New Testament, the exaltation (hypsow) of the Christ occurs on the cross (cf. John 3:14,8:28, 12:32 ), the sign by which God shows that his saving act is an act of supreme love in the Son (cf. John 3:14-16; 1 John 4:9-10 ).

The crossing of the Jordan was like the crossing of the Red Sea. As they did under the staff of Moses, so the Israelites walked on dry land as they crossed the Jordan. This event, memorialized in stone (see Joshua 4:5-7) will be a sign for future generations that the Lord of the earth was with Israel when they took possession of the promised land.

Deuteronomy 10:8
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8At that time he separated the tribe of Levi, to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to stand before him in the ministry, and to bless in his name until this present day.
Exodus 16:32-34
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32And Moses said: This is the word, which the Lord hath commanded: Fill a gomor of it, and let it be kept unto generations to come hereafter, that they may know the bread, wherewith I fed you in the wilderness, when you were brought forth out of the land of Egypt.
33And Moses said to Aaron: Take a vessel, and put manna into it, as much as a gomor can hold: and lay it up before the Lord to keep unto your generations,
34As the Lord commanded Moses. And Aaron put it in the tabernacle to be kept.
Numbers 10:33
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33So they marched from the mount of the Lord three days' journey, and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them, for three days providing a place for the camp.
Numbers 7:89
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89And when Moses entered into the tabernacle of the covenant, to consult the oracle, he heard the voice of one speaking to him from the propitiatory, that was over the ark between the two cherubims, and from this place he spoke to him.
John 3:14,8
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8The Spirit breatheth where he will; and thou hearest his voice, but thou knowest not whence he cometh, and whither he goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up:
John 3:14-16
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14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15That whosoever believeth in him, may not perish; but may have life everlasting.
16For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
1 John 4:9-10
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9By this hath the charity of God appeared towards us, because God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we may live by him.
10In this is charity: not as though we had loved God, but because he hath first loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins.
Joshua 4:5-7
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5And he said to them: Go before the ark of the Lord your God to the midst of the Jordan, and carry from thence every man a stone on your shoulders, according to the number of the children of Israel,
6That it may be a sign among you and when your children shall ask you tomorrow, saying: What mean these stones?
7You shall answer them: The waters of the Jordan ran off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, when it passed over the same: therefore were these atones set for a monument of the children of Israel for ever.

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