Preliminaries for the crossing of the Jordan River (Josh 3:1-3:6)

“Early in the morning Joshua rose and set out from Shittim with all the Israelites. They came to the Jordan. They camped there before crossing over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people. ‘When you see the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place. Follow it, so that you may know the way you should go. You have not passed this way before. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, a distance of about two thousand cubits. Do not come any nearer to it.’ Then Joshua said to the people. ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow when Yahweh will do wonders among you.’ To the priests Joshua said. ‘Take up the Ark of the Covenant. Pass on in front of the people.’ So they took up the Ark of the Covenant and went before the people.”

The crossing of the Jordan will be similar to the crossing of the Red Sea, almost like a liturgical worship action since the Ark of the Covenant must lead them into battle. After 3 days, the officers told their troops to follow the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant. However, they were to stay a good distance away from them. Everyone had to sanctify themselves for the next day as the Ark of the Covenant passed through them.