“So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground” (Jos. 3:14-17 NIV).
He was called “Abram the Hebrew” in Genesis 14:13. The word “Hebrew” in Hebrew is עברי (Ivrie). The root letters are used to mean cross over, or pass through. The word is used to talk about moving houses, transgressing laws, going through difficulties, crossing the road, crossing over a river, and so on. In the Bible, it seems to have primarily referred to those who traversed rivers.
Joshua told Israel what it meant to cross over:
“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many… “‘Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea. And the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea… Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan. They fought with you, and I gave them into your hand… “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:3-15, parts omitted).
During Creation Week, everything appeared from the primordial waters. Whatever came from these waters was a new creation. When a baby is born into flesh, it also comes by water and blood. John disputed with those who thought Christ appeared spiritually but not in flesh by saying,
“This is He who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood” (1 Jn 5:6)
Before crossing over the Red Sea, Israel was given the Passover, each family sacrificing a spotless lamb before setting out on their journey to cross over out of Egypt. They came out by water and blood.
Christians mark the journey from their old life to their new life in Jesus by water and blood as they did. Romans 6 tells us that our baptism represents laying our old life to rest in a watery grave, and rising from death into a newness of life. The feast that we celebrate features the broken bread of Christ’s spotless sacrifice, and the wine of his blood. Not blood only, but blood mingled with water, for when the Roman spear pierced his side, blood and water gushed out. In the oldest Christian traditions, the wine is mingled with water in the common cup before it is administered.
I like to read the Bible slowly, stopping to look up things I don’t recognize or understand. Joshua in Hebrew is Yehoshua, which means Deliverer. Jesus in Hebrew is Ye’shua, a shortened version of Yehoshua that means the same thing, so they had the same name. I’d never heard of a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarathan, but I could not find it in my Bible atlas. I suppose it wasn’t important enough of a place to mention it, except in this passage.
So why did Holy Spirit mention it here?
Joshua lead his people across the Jordan River. Jordan is a compound name. Jor means death, and dan means judgement. Now put the pieces together…
Our Deliverer lead us across the river into a new country and life, but it wasn’t just any river. By the blood and water gushing out from the wound in his side, He stopped death and judgement in its tracks – all the way back to Adam – so that we could enter upon dry ground.