We will now take a closer look at another one of the details given to us in the Genesis account of Jacob’s trouble.
• Jacob crossed over the Jordan River.
Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed . . . And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac . . . I am not worthy of the least of all of the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. (Genesis 32:7, 9, 10 KJV)
Abraham, the father of our faith, was the first man to be called a Hebrew in Genesis 14:13. The word “Hebrew” is derived from the Hebrew word ivri, which comes from the Hebrew root word avar, meaning “to cross over.” By faith Abraham left his father’s house in Haran at God’s command and crossed over into the land of Canaan to where God wanted him. The implication is that he was going to a better place. Whether Abraham was a Hebrew because he crossed over or he crossed over because he was Hebrew really does not matter. The fact is that by faith he left where he was at and crossed over to where God wanted him, and that is what the word Hebrew means. The point is that by its very nature, biblically speaking, the word Hebrew infers that one must humble oneself before God in obedience to His word, and this takes faith.
The interesting thing about the Hebrew word avar, as speaker and Wildbranch Ministry founder Brad Scott has pointed out, is that simply by exchanging two letters in the original Hebrew and having them swap places, one goes from the word for Hebrew to the word for Arab. The Hebrew word avar is spelled ayin, beit, resh. When one swaps the beit and the resh, the word becomes arav or Arab. You may remember that the Hebrew letter beit represents a house. The Hebrew letter resh happens to be the letter for head. Thus, the difference between an Arab and a Hebrew can in one sense be viewed as a question of which one of the two is believed to be head of the house, confirming, as Brad Scott asserts, that God has embedded His truths in the very letters of the Hebrew language. Abraham, originally from Ur of the Chaldeans, came out of Haran. Crossing over, he was recognized as Hebrew, and from the time that his children were born to this very day, the issue has always remained one of birthright. The question has always been a matter of headship. Who is head of the house—Allah or Yahweh, Muhammad or Jesus (Yeshua)? Who has right to the land—Muslim nations or the nation of Israel, Esau or Jacob?
Like his grandfather, Abraham, Jacob also crossed over to where God called him. For his obedience, Jacob was blessed as was Abraham. As Abraham’s seed, Jacob followed in his grandfather’s footsteps, and as is the case with many other portions of Scripture, the things recorded as having come to pass for Abraham, Jacob, and others are often a type or picture of future events and reflect more significant spiritual truths. Take the following as an example.
JOSHUA AND ISRAEL AT THE JORDAN
Jacob became the father of twelve sons who later became the twelve tribes of Israel. Several hundred years after Jacob’s death, after Moses had brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and to the border of their inheritance, Joshua prepared to take the twelve tribes across the Jordan River to take possession of the land that God had promised them. Moses himself could not do so (Numbers 20:12):
Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed. And it came about at the end of three days that the officers went through the midst of the camp; and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” . . . And . . . all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan. (Joshua 3:1–4, 17 NASB)
The children of Israel lodged overnight on the one side of the Jordan before crossing. Note that they began to pass over at the end of the third day. The Holy Spirit points out that the children of Israel were about two thousand cubits removed from the Ark of the Covenant when they crossed the river. The Ark contained the word of God. The reason given for the distance between them and the Ark was that they might know the way to go because they had not passed that way before. After God’s people crossed the Jordan, Joshua had all the males circumcised in accordance with the Lord’s command:
At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. (Joshua 5:2 KJV)
Once again, as in the case of crossing over, implicit in the act of circumcision is the concept of obedience:
Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer. (Deuteronomy 10:16 NKJV)
And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. (Deuteronomy 30:6 NKJV)
Of all the people that came out of Egypt, the only ones that crossed the Jordan, except for Joshua and Caleb, were those who were initially too young to be accountable for their sins and to be partakers in the sins of their parents. In addition to this were those who had been born in the wilderness, none of whom had been circumcised during the years of wandering. The original generation that came out of Egypt died in the wilderness because of their disobedience and unbelief (Joshua 5:6–7). The Bible then records that the children of Israel kept the Passover:
And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. (Joshua 5:10 KJV)
After crossing the Jordan, the children of Israel kept the Passover at Gilgal. The name Gilgal implies a rolling away (Joshua 5:9). At Gilgal, the Lord rolled away Egypt’s reproach from off Israel. They observed the Passover in the shadow of the city of Jericho. Jericho (Yerecho in Hebrew) comes from the Hebrew root word yareach or yerach, meaning “moon,” according to Strong’s. Based on other sources, Jericho also translates as Beit Yerah or “the house of the moon god.” In any case, the Bible then tells us that the very next thing that Israel did was to come against the walled city in battle (Joshua 6:2). So to recap:
• Joshua led God’s people over the Jordan.
• God’s people began to cross over on the third day.
• There was a distance of about two thousand cubits between God’s people and the Ark containing God’s word.
• Once over the Jordan, God’s people were circumcised.
• Once circumcised, God’s people kept the Passover at Gilgal.
• God’s people kept Passover in the shadow of Jericho.
That which is recorded in the book of Joshua is also prophetic of future events and conveys deeper spiritual truth. Before we move on to what that spiritual truth might be though, let’s return for a moment to the banks of the Jordan before the children of Israel crossed over.
THE MIXED MULTITUDE . . .