ESV - 1 Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over.
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From Shittim to Jordan was about eight miles. They camped by the Jordan to get ready to cross into Canaan (Josh. 3:1). They evidently camped on the Jordan for three days (Josh. 3:1-2) for the following reasons: ❶ That was the will of God. Joshua instructed everyone to hear the words of the Lord carefully (Josh. 3:9). ❷ They sent the spies to Cannon and waiting for their report. At the end of three days, the spies had returned with the good report. ❸ Joshua commanded them to Sanctify themselves to see wonders tomorrow (Josh. 3:5). Sanctification means to set apart. Here the people did this by washing their clothes and their bodies in preparation to see the great miracles that would take place the next day. ❹ Joshua wanted to give a specific sign for the people to begin entering Canaan. When you see the ark and the priests and Levites bearing it, go after it (Josh. 3:3). ❺ Do not start until the ark is 2,000 cubits or (4,166 ft. 8 in., or about 4/5 of a mile.) from you (Josh. 3:4). The distance of 4/5 mile enabled all the camp to see the ark and follow it as their guide to a place they had never been. ❻ Joshua instructed the priests to take up the ark and pass over before the people (Josh. 3:6). Then he command the priests to stand still when they come to the brink of the Jordan (Josh. 3:8).
In my opinion, the Israelites rested at the Jordan River after their arrival from Shittim waiting for the return of the two men whom Joshua had sent out from Shittim to spy out the land. It took the two men three days to return because they were hiding in the hills from the searchers whom the King of Jericho had sent out to track them down (Joshua 2:1-24). The three days mentioned in Joshua 1:11 and Joshua 3:2 correspond to the three days in Joshua 2:15 and Joshua 2:22. Immediately after the two men returned, the Israelites commenced crossing the river.
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