Sunday, August 22, 2004

Joshua 4

The crossing of the Jordan takes place on the tenth day of the first month, Nissan. Since the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, this does not correspond to a specific day of the Western calendar, but would be in the range of March-April ( Passover begins on the fifteenth day of Nissan (, so this will be the first Passover celebrated in the Promised Land.

The miracle occurs in a perfectly unmistakable manner. Once the priest's feet enter the Jordan, the water stops flowing. As soon as they cross to the other side, the full flood of the Jordan recommences. Thus God's power, concentrated in the Ark, controls nature. Joshua gets the credit for the miracle, and the people revere him, as God has promised. Joshua again points to the benefits of the miracle to the Israelites, notably the salutary effect it has on their enemies and on the Israelites themselves.

The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh lead the way across the Jordan, with a total of 40,000 armed men.

Twelve stones, each carried by one man from each tribe, are set up at their camp, which was in Gilgal, at the eastern border of Jericho. The name Gilgal sounds like the Hebrew for to roll, according to the NIV. The stones, which we can presume were heavy since they had to be carried on the shoulder, are erected in a permanent shrine at Gilgal.

Commentator Matthew Henry (and others) believes that the twelve additional stones were set up in the middle of the Jordan as a monument (Joshua 4:9, However, the preceding sentence says that that the tribal representatives carried the twelve stones to the camp, so verse 9 would seem to be a textual imperfection, signaling Joshua's role in a slightly later event.


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