Let us begin from the last encampings of Israel beyond Jordan.
Numbers 33:49: |They encamped near Jordan from Beth-jeshimoth unto Abel-shittim.| -- |From Beth-jeshimoth to Abel-shittim were twelve miles.| It is a most received opinion among the Jews, that the tents of the Israelites in the wilderness contained a square of twelve miles. So the Targum of Jonathan, upon Number 2:2; |The encamping of Israel was twelve miles in length, and twelve miles in breadth.| And the Gemarists say, |It is forbidden a scholar to teach a tradition before his master, yea, not to do it, until he be twelve miles distant from him, according to the space of the encamping of Israel. But whence is that space proved? 'And they encamped near Jordan from Beth-jeshimoth to Abel-shittim.' -- How far is that? Twelve miles.|
They believe, also, that the bulk of the host took up the same space, while they passed Jordan. Nor is it unfit so to believe: for it, indeed, seems at least to have taken up a very large space in its passage: this especially being observed, that, while the ark stood in the middle of Jordan, none might come within two thousand cubits near it, Joshua 3:4. When, therefore, it is said, |that the people passed over against Jordan,| it is to be understood of the middle of the host, -- or of those that carried the ark, and of those that went next after the ark.
From Abel to Jordan, were sixty furlongs (seven miles and a half). The breadth of Jordan from bank to bank was but of a moderate space. The Jerusalem Talmudists do write thus of it, in some part of it: |A fire sometime passed over Jordan| (that is, a flame kindled on this bank flew over to that). |But how far is the flame carried? R. Eleazar saith, For the most part to sixteen cubits; but when the wind drives it, to thirty. -- R. Judah saith, To thirty cubits; and, when the wind drives it, to fifty. -- R. Akibah saith, To fifty cubits; and when the wind blows, to a hundred.|
From Jordan to Gilgal were fifty furlongs (six miles and a quarter). Therefore the whole journey of that day, from Abel to Gilgal, was fourteen miles, or thereabouts. The Talmudists, being deceived by the ambiguity of the word Gilgal, extend it to sixty miles, and more: whom see afterward quoted in the eighty-eighth chapter. It is thus said in Midras Tillin, |Saul went, in one day, threescore miles.|
Of the stones, set up by Joshua in Jordan and Gilgal, the Gemarists have these words: -- |R. Judah saith, Aba Chalaphta, and R. Eleazar Ben Mathia, and Chaninah Ben Chakinai, stood upon those stones, and reckoned them to weigh forty sata each.|