Spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark - It is remarkable that the priests, not the Levites, whose ordinary business it was were employed to carry the ark on this occasion. Calmet conjectures that this was because it was probably carried without being wrapped up in its curtains, as it always was when the Levites carried it. Though it was the business of the Levites, the sons of Kohath, to carry the ark; yet on certain occasions the priests alone performed this office.
These were the most solemn occasions, and on such alone, we may presume, the priests performed this office instead of the Levites. In all their former marches the ark was carried in the center of this immense camp; (see the scheme at the end of Numbers 2:2; (note) of the book of Numbers); but now it was to proceed at the head of the army, and to go before them, and at such a distance, about three quarters of a mile, that the whole camp might see it as their guide.
They took up - i. e. on the day following. The course of events is anticipated.
The passage of the Israelites over Jordan was to be miraculous. “And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you. And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people. And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.” SR 176.1Read in context »
At the right and left of the breast-plate were set two larger stones, which shone with great brilliancy. When difficult matters were brought to the judges, which they could not decide, they were referred to the priests, and they inquired of God, who answered them. If in favor, and if he would grant them success, a halo of light and glory especially rested upon the precious stone at the right. If against, a vapor or cloud seemed to settle upon the precious stone at the left hand. When they inquired of God in regard to going to battle, the precious stone at the right, when circled with light, said, Go and prosper. The stone at the left, when shadowed with a cloud, said, Thou shalt not go, thou shalt not prosper. 4aSG 102.1
When the high priest entered within the most holy once a year, and ministered before the ark in the awful presence of God, he inquired, and God often answered him with an audible voice. When the Lord did not answer by a voice, he let the sacred beams of light and glory rest upon the cherubim upon the right of the ark, in approbation or favor. If their requests were refused, a cloud rested upon the cherubim at the left. 4aSG 102.2
Four heavenly angels always accompanied the ark of God in all its journeyings, to guard it from all danger, and to fulfill any mission required of them in connection with the ark. Jesus the Son of God, followed by heavenly angels, went before the ark as it came to Jordan, and the waters were cut off before his presence. Christ and angels stood by the ark and the priests in the bed of the river until all Israel had passed over Jordan. Christ and angels attended the circuit of the ark around Jericho, and finally cast down the massive walls of the city, and delivered Jericho into the hands of Israel. 4aSG 102.3Read in context »
Joshua commanded the children of Israel to prepare for a three-days’ journey, and that all the men of war should go out to battle. “And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee; only the Lord thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses. Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death; only be strong and of a good courage.” 4aSG 59.1
The passage of the Israelites over Jordan was to be miraculous. “And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you. And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people. And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.” 4aSG 59.2
The priests were to go before the people and bear the ark containing the law of God. And as their feet were dipped in the brim of Jordan, and waters were cut off from above, and the priests passed on, bearing the ark, which was a symbol of the Divine presence, and the Hebrew host followed. When the priests were half way over Jordan, they were commanded to stand in the bed of the river until all the host of Israel had passed over. Here the then existing generation of the Israelites were convinced that the waters of Jordan were subject to the same power that their fathers had seen displayed at the Red Sea, forty years before. Many of these passed through the Red Sea when they were children. Now they pass over Jordan, men of war, fully equipped for battle. After all the host of Israel had passed over Jordan, Joshua commanded the priests to come up out of the river. As soon as the priests, bearing the ark of the covenant, came up out of the river, and stood on dry land, Jordan rolled on as before, and overflowed all his banks. This wonderful miracle performed for the Israelites greatly increased their faith. That this wonderful miracle might never be forgotten, the Lord directed Joshua to command that men of note, one of each tribe, take up stones from the bed of the river, the place where the priests’ feet stood while the Hebrew host was passing over, and to bear them upon their shoulders, and erect a monument in Gilgal, to keep in remembrance the fact that Israel passed over Jordan on dry land. After the priests had come up from Jordan, God removed his mighty hand, and the waters rushed like a mighty cataract down their own channel. 4aSG 59.3Read in context »