“That Hashem dried the Jordan waters from before you until you crossed as Hashem dried the Reed Sea from before us until we crossed.” Yehoshua instructed the Jewish people to relate to their children that they also experienced miracles of major proportions. Although the splitting of the Jordan was a far cry from the splitting of the Reed Sea, some similarities did exist. According to the Midrash, tens of miracles transpired at the Reed Sea, including transparent walls of water, tailored paths for each tribe, fruit trees and milk and honey. This was the royal treatment shown to the Jewish people during their first year of existence. Now, after forty years of a rocky relationship, they could not expect the same. However, in a reduced level they did experience an open revelation from Hashem on a major scale.
The significance of commemorating this smaller miracle was to set a precedent for the Jewish inhabitants of the land. The forty years of miracles served as an appropriate setting for the incubation period of the Jewish people. Now that they had arrived in Israel it was time to depart from that nurturing environment and breathe on their own. But even in their new setting, Hashem continued to reveal Himself in miraculous ways. Although these ways were scaled down to meet the spiritual level of that generation, they were nonethesss repeat experiences of the generation of the past. This similar pattern showed that Hashem’s interest in His people had not dulled, and that He continues to relate to them with the same love shown to them in their past.
“In order that all the nations of the land know that the hand of Hashem is strong (and) in order that you shall revere Hashem for all times.” Yehoshua added to this eternal monument the recognition that the miracle convinced the nations of Hashem’s strength. This thought presents much difficulty to us. We previously learned (see chapter 2, verses 9-11) that the splitting of the Reed Sea together with the defeat of the mighty Emorite Kings Sichon and Og created an atmosphere of awe. In fact, only three days ago Rachav informed the spies of the awe-stricken condition of the Canaanites since their discovery of these earlier miracles. What was now so convincing about this miracle and what greater reaction could they have had than the ongoing condition of fear and awe already existing?
The answer to these questions seems to be in the exact wording of Yehoshua’s perpetual message. He said, “In order that they should know….” The term “know” reflects a total awareness of something to the extent of being a tangible experience. Although they were aware of the splitting of the Reed Sea and the defeat of Sichon and Og, these awesome revelations were not directed towards them. True they believed that the experiences happened, but the Canaanites themselves were not personally involved in them. This time things were different because the crossing of the Jordan directly affected them. They understood that this miraculous crossing was only the beginning of a miraculous conquest of their land. These awesome experiences were soon to befall the nations themselves and they clearly realized they stood no chance to succeed. The penetrating result of this personal message is described in the next section.
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