The Word Made Fresh
1After the death of the LORD’s servant, Moses, the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun who was Moses’ lieutenant, and said, 2“My servant Moses is dead. Get ready to lead all these people across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. 3I promised Moses that wherever they set foot over there will belong to them. 4From the Arabian wilderness in the south to the Lebanon range in the north, and from the River Euphrates, including all the Hittite country in the east, to the Great Sea (the Mediterranean) in the west — all of it will belong to you. 5In your whole life no one will be able to oppose you. I was with Moses, and I will be with you. I will never fail you or abandon you. 6Be strong and confident and courageous because you are the one who will lead these people into the land I gave to their ancestors. 7Be strong, be brave, and make sure you keep all the law Moses gave you. Don’t turn away from any of it and you will be successful everywhere you go. 8Keep this book of the Law with you. Read it and meditate on it day and night so that you will be sure to obey all of it. That will assure your success and prosperity. 9Am I not the one who led you? Be brave and strong. Don’t be afraid or unsure of yourself because I am with you wherever you go.”
10Then Joshua summoned the leaders and told them, 11“Go throughout the camp and tell the people to get ready, because they will cross the Jordan in three days, and you will go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you.”
12Joshua told the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, 13“Remember that Moses told you the LORD will give you the land on this side of the Jordan. 14Your wives and children and animals can stay here, but all your brave men must go across armed for war ahead of the other tribes and help them take possession of their land. 15When the LORD settles them in their land, you can return here to your own land.”16They answered, “We’ll do it! We’ll go wherever you send us. 17We followed Moses and we will follow you, and may the LORD your God be with you also! 18Anyone who rebels against your authority and disobeys you will be put to death. Be strong! Take courage!”
1-9: God speaks directly to Joshua, as with Moses before him, but this will turn out more and more to be a rare thing. In any case it is remembered here that, as far as Joshua is concerned, the gift of the land includes everything from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River — all of modern Israel, Jordan, and Syria, and most of Saudi Arabia and Iraq. That is much greater than the territory assigned to the twelve tribes, and probably reflects later holdings under the rule of David and Solomon. Obedience to the Law is again emphasized.
10-11: So, 33 days after Moses dies, they are going to invade Canaan!
12-15: The tribes that settled east of the Jordan River are reminded of their promise to lead the invasion of Canaan.
16-18: The tribes pledge their loyalty to Joshua and give their blessing to his leadership. So far, they are saying and doing the right things.
The number three often symbolizes a momentous event in the Bible. When Joseph was in prison in Egypt the royal cupbearer and the royal baker had dreams that were interpreted to mean something important would happen in three days (see Genesis 40). Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the great fish (see Jonah 1:17). And, of course, Christ rose from the dead after three days in the tomb. So, when Joshua announces they will cross the Jordan in three days, we know that Israel’s future is about to change.