1. Joshua 1:11 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

What do "three days" often stand for in narratives?

Joshua 1:11 (ESV)

11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.’”

In biblical narratives three days often seems to be symbolic rather than chronological. It denotes a stylized biblical time period to mark momentous events (Exodus 10:22–23) or important transitions (Genesis 30:36; Joshua 2:16; Joshua 2:22; Joshua 9:16; 1 Kings 12:5). It also marks important journeys (Exodus 3:18; Exodus 5:3) especially into the wilderness (Exodus 8:27; Exodus 15:22; Numbers 10:33; Numbers 33:8).1

Given the above, the precise chronology of the three days mentioned in Joshua 2:16, Joshua 2:22, and Joshua 3:2 is uncertain.2