From Shittim to Gilgal (3:1 - 4:18)

excerpt from Joshua and the Promised Land
by Roy H. May, Jr.

With Rahab's assurance that the kings would melt before them, Joshua and the Hebrews crossed the Jordan River into Canaan. According to the biblical text, the river divided and the people, following the priests and the ark of the covenant, walked to the other side on dry ground. The Jordan crossing is presented as a parallel to the crossing of the Red or Reed Sea (Exodus 14:21-22). Joshua is the new Moses. As Yahweh divided the Reed Sea when Moses held out his hand, so Yahweh divided the Jordan River as Joshua stood in the water. As crossing the Reed Sea signified freedom from slavery, so crossing the Jordan River meant freedom from being without land. The story is presented as a liturgy in which the ark of the covenant signifies God's presence. It leads the way to Yahweh's promise of land.

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