Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
the waters which came down from above—that is, the Sea of Galilee
stood and rose up upon a heap—"in a heap," a firm, compact barrier (Exodus 15:8; Psalms 78:13);
very far—high up the stream;
from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan—near mount Sartabeh, in the northern part of the Ghor (I Kings 7:46); that is, a distance of thirty miles from the Israelitish encampment; and
those that came down toward the sea of the desert—the Dead Sea—were cut off (Psalms 114:2-3). The river was thus dried up as far as the eye could reach. This was a stupendous miracle; Jordan takes its name, "the Descender," from the force of its current, which, after passing the Sea of Galilee, becomes greatly increased as it plunges through twenty-seven "horrible rapids and cascades," besides a great many lesser through a fall of a thousand feet, averaging from four to five miles an hour [LYNCH]. When swollen "in time of harvest," it flows with a vastly accelerated current.
the people passed over right against Jericho—The exact spot is unknown; but it cannot be that fixed by Greek tradition—the pilgrims' bathing-place—both because it is too much to the north, and the eastern banks are there sheer precipices ten or fifteen feet high.
THE WATERS OF JORDAN ARE DIVIDED. (Joshua 3:14-17)
And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, etc.—To understand the scene described we must imagine the band of priests with the ark on their shoulders, standing on the depressed edge of the river, while the mass of the people were at a mile's distance. Suddenly the whole bed of the river was dried up; a spectacle the more extraordinary in that it took place in the time of harvest, corresponding to our April or May—when "the Jordan overfloweth all its banks." The original words may be more properly rendered "fills all its banks." Its channel, snow-fed from Lebanon, was at its greatest height—brimful; a translation which gives the only true description of the state of Jordan in harvest as observed by modern travellers. The river about Jericho is, in ordinary appearance, about fifty or sixty yards in breadth. But as seen in harvest, it is twice as broad; and in ancient times, when the hills on the right and left were much more drenched with rain and snow than since the forests have disappeared, the river must, from a greater accession of water, have been broader still than at harvest-time in the present day.
Other Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown entries containing Joshua 3:16:
1 Kings 7:46
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