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1 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,

2 Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,

3 And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.

4 Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:

5 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:

6 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

7 Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.

8 And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the LORD spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.

9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.

10 For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over.

11 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the LORD passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people.

12 And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them:

13 About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the LORD unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.

14 On that day the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.

15 And the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,

16 Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.

17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan.

18 And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.

19 And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.

20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.

21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?

22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.

23 For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:

24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.

Commentary for Joshua 4

Stones taken out of Jordan. (1-9) The people pass through Jordan. (10-19) The twelve stones placed in Gilgal. (20-24)1-9 The works of the Lord are so worthy of rememberance, and the heart of man is so prone to forget them, that various methods are needful to refresh our memories, for the glory of God, our advantage, and that of our children. God gave orders for preparing this memorial.

10-19 The priests with the ark did not stir till ordered to move. Let none be weary of waiting, while they have the tokens of God's presence with them, even the ark of the covenant, though it be in the depths of adversity. Notice is taken of the honour put upon Joshua. Those are feared in the best manner, and to the best purpose, who make it appear that God is with them, and that they set him before them.

20-24 It is the duty of parents to tell their children betimes of the words and works of God, that they may be trained up in the way they should go. In all the instruction parents give their children, they should teach them to fear God. Serious godliness is the best learning. Are we not called, as much as the Israelites, to praise the loving-kindness of our God? Shall we not raise a pillar to our God, who has brought us through dangers and distresses in so wonderful a way? For hitherto the Lord hath helped us, as much as he did his saints of old. How great the stupidity and ingratitude of men, who perceive not His hand, and will not acknowledge his goodness, in their frequent deliverances!

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Joshua 4

  • Dewey J
    Jack blue, I understand from the Scriptures in this chapter that it was a fact that the Jordan river over flowed. That being the worse time of the year for anyone or anything to attempt to cross and that GOD performed another miracle like the parting of the Red Sea should be our focus. And not that the author used form of communication or personification of the Jordan river. Glory be to GOD! Amen.
  • Jacqueline Agnes Jones
    I believe that God want them to remember and not to forget what He have done and let there little one be told about what God had done when ask. Why are these stones here?Thay can tell them.lt was God who buy us out and a across the Jordan river. A stones for easy tribe of Israel. God want us not to forget some things. So we can glorify Him in our live to other.
  • Eaglesrock
    Walking through Jordan river on dry ground after cleansing themselves was a type of water baptism just like when they walk through the Red Sea.
  • Peter
    The last sentence is particulary moving for me : "That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever. " how was it that the writer of Joshua knew that Gods message would be spread over the Earth, not just the small area of Egypt and Canaan. It spoke to me directly today of God 's awesome power!
  • Insight 777
    This seems like a parable. Water is personified as male. The Jordan waters may be symbolic of people and not water at all. Verse 9 says that the 12 stones were set up in the midst of Jordan where they remain until today yet in verse 20 the 12 stones are taken out of Jordan and pitched in Gilgal. The 12 stones may represent the military power divisions of Israel. The military power of Israel exists even today and Jordan is aware of it. I think that Gilgal never was one specific area of land. I think Gilgal represents an organization that is moveable. Gilgal is the headquarters where military intel is given and received. Gilgal literally means circle of standing stones so that is where the commanders, of military divisions gather to receive orders.
  • Jack Blue for verse 18
    KJV what is the significance of the Jordan being referred to as in male gender flowed over all his banks .

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Bible Trivia

In the book of Joshua, twelve men were told to take stones from the middle of the Jordan River, what did that signify?
  • To represent the 12 tribes of Israel
  • One stone for each victory they would have as they traveled to the Promised Land
  • To be a permanent memorial of how the flow of the Jordan River stopped as the Ark of the Covenant pa
  • One stone for each priest who first entered the Jordan River