1. Joshua 3:6 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

Why did the ark have to go ahead of the rest of Israel?

Joshua 3:6 (ESV)

6 And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.

It is interesting that the priests carry the ark over the crossing when this task was normally to be done by the Kohathites who were Levites but not priests (Numbers 4:15). This occasion may have been deemed so solemn that priests were charged with the duty normally assigned to non-priestly Levites. The main reason (from the text) for the distance between the ark and people is so that the people can see where they must go.1 However, elsewhere in the Bible, God’s presence also led Israel in the wilderness and against formidable enemies (Exodus 33:14–15; Deuteronomy 4:37–38). By the ark’s lead, the people thus know that the Lord is going ahead of them.2