When the whole nation was finally across, God spoke to Joshua:
"Select twelve men from the people, a man from each tribe,
and tell them, 'From right here, the middle of the Jordan where the feet of the priests are standing firm, take twelve stones. Carry them across with you and set them down in the place where you camp tonight.'"
Joshua called out the twelve men whom he selected from the People of Israel, one man from each tribe.
Joshua directed them, "Cross to the middle of the Jordan and take your place in front of the Chest of God, your God. Each of you heft a stone to your shoulder, a stone for each of the tribes of the People of Israel,
so you'll have something later to mark the occasion. When your children ask you, 'What are these stones to you?'
you'll say, 'The flow of the Jordan was stopped in front of the Chest of the Covenant of God as it crossed the Jordan - stopped in its tracks. These stones are a permanent memorial for the People of Israel.'"
The People of Israel did exactly as Joshua commanded: They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan - a stone for each of the twelve tribes, just as God had instructed Joshua - carried them across with them to the camp, and set them down there.
Joshua set up the twelve stones taken from the middle of the Jordan that had marked the place where the priests who carried the Chest of the Covenant had stood. They are still there today.
The priests carrying the Chest continued standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything God had instructed Joshua to tell the people to do was done (confirming what Moses had instructed Joshua). The people crossed; no one dawdled.
When the crossing of all the people was complete, they watched as the Chest of the Covenant and the priests crossed over.
The Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had crossed over in battle formation in front of the People of Israel, obedient to Moses' instructions.
All told, about 40,000 armed soldiers crossed over before God to the plains of Jericho, ready for battle.
God made Joshua great that day in the sight of all Israel. They were in awe of him just as they had been in awe of Moses all his life.
God told Joshua,
"Command the priests carrying the Chest of the Testimony to come up from the Jordan."
Joshua commanded the priests, "Come up out of the Jordan."
They did it. The priests carrying God's Chest of the Covenant came up from the middle of the Jordan. As soon as the soles of the priests' feet touched dry land, the Jordan's waters resumed their flow within the banks, just as before.
The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month. They set up camp at The Gilgal (The Circle) to the east of Jericho.
Joshua erected a monument at The Gilgal, using the twelve stones that they had taken from the Jordan.
And then he told the People of Israel, "In the days to come, when your children ask their fathers, 'What are these stones doing here?'
tell your children this: 'Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry ground.'
"Yes, God, your God, dried up the Jordan's waters for you until you had crossed, just as God, your God, did at the Red Sea, which had dried up before us until we had crossed.
This was so that everybody on earth would recognize how strong God's rescuing hand is and so that you would hold God in solemn reverence always."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)