I’ve just published a post over on the Political Theology blog, on the subject of Joshua 24:1-18:
Water crossings play an especially important part in Joshua’s theological geography. The River Euphrates is referenced four times, the Jordan is mentioned twice, and two verses are devoted to recounting the crossing of the Red Sea (verses 6-7). The prominence of these rivers and bodies of water in Joshua’s account is noteworthy. Throughout Scripture the crossings of such water bodies represent transitions from one realm to another and from one existence or identity to another: the river is liminal, a place through which passage can be made from something old into something new.
The river or sea was a boundary and threshold. It was also an enduring testament to a historical passage into Israel’s current identity that had occurred. Israel’s entrance into Canaan through a series of water crossings was something of which they were always to be reminded as they regarded the bodies of water bordering and running through their land.
YHWH’s presence and dealing with Israel at the water crossings underlines this fact. He called them from the other side of the River Euphrates. He wrestled with their father Jacob and gave the people their name—Israel—at the Jabbok. He delivered them through the Red Sea. He brought them into the land through the Jordan. Through these water crossings, or washings, Israel was set apart to YHWH, a royal priesthood and a holy nation.
Read the whole piece here.