Jordan River (Bible)

What the Jordan River Symbolize in the Bible?


Water became symbolic of the covenant between God and the Israelites in the Book of Joshua. In chapter 3 of the Book of Joshua, the Israelites crossed the Jordan River.  Joshua said to the people, “Draw near and hear the words of the Lord your God. Joshua said, ‘By this you shall know that among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites: the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to pass before you into the Jordan.’”

Before the people crossed the Jordan River, twelve stones were placed in the Jordan River. These stones were symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve sons of Jacob; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, and Joseph. Joshua told the people, “…See these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever.”


Following the crossing of the Jordan River the twelve stones were taken out of the water and placed at Gilgal. These stones were symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel and the crossing of the Red Sea in the Book of Exodus.

The text reads; “Those twelve stones, which they had taken out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal, saying to the Israelites, ‘When your children ask their parents in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground.’  For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea,which he dried up for us until we crossed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, and so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.’”

Water in the Book of Joshua was symbolic of the belief that God was with the people and their God was the one true God. Water in the Book of Joshua wassymbolic of the covenants that God had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.