Joshua 4

The Book of Joshua
Chapter 4

Chapter Overview:

Twelve stones taken up out of the midst of Jordan, and twelve set up there for a memorial, ver. 1 - 9.
The march of the people through Jordan, ver. 10 - 13.
God magnifies Joshua, who commands the priests to come out of Jordan, ver. 14 - 17.
The waters close again, ver. 18, 19.
Joshua erects twelve stones for a memorial, ver. 20 - 24.
4:1Spake - This was commanded before, 3:12 , and is here repeated with enlargement, as being now to be put in execution.
4:2Out of every tribe a man - For the greater evidence, and the more effectual spreading the report of this marvellous work among all the tribes.
4:3Lodge this night - That is, in Gilgal, as is expressed below, ver. 19 ,20.
4:4Prepared - That is, appointed for that work, and commanded to be ready for it.
4:5Before the ark - That is, go back again to the place where the ark stands.
4:6A sign - A monument or memorial of this day's work.
4:9Twelve stones - These stones are not the same with those which a man could carry upon his shoulder, ver. 5 . They might be very much larger; and being set up in two rows one above another, might be seen, at least when the water was low, especially where it was shallow, as it was ordinarily, though not at this time, when Jordan overflowed all its banks. Add to this, that the waters of Jordan are very clear; therefore these stones might be seen in it, either by those who stood upon the shore, because the river was not broad; or by those that passed in boats.Unto this day - This might be written, either
  1. by Joshua who probably wrote this book near 20 years after this wasdone: or,
  2. by some other holy man divinely inspired, who inserted this and some suchpassages both in this book and in the writings of Moses.
4:10Commanded Joshua - Not particularly, but in general; because he commanded Joshua to observe and do all that God had commanded him by Moses, and all that he should command him any other way. Hasted - That is, passed over with haste, an argument of their fear, or weakness of their faith; as on the contrary, the priests are commended that they stood firm, and settled in their minds, as well as in the posture of their bodies.
4:13Before the Lord - Either,
  1. before the ark, or,
  2. in the presence of God who observed whether they would keep their covenant made with their brethren, or not.
4:16Out of Jordan - For being now in the middle, and deepest place of the river, they are most properly said to go up to the land.
4:17The priests - Who stayed contentedly in the river, 'till God by Joshua called them out.
4:18Their place - Returned into their proper channel, according to their natural and usual course.
4:19The first month - Namely, of Nisan, which wanted but five days of forty years from the time of their coming out of Egypt, which was on the fifteenth day of this month. So punctual is God in the performing of his word, whether promised or threatened. And this day was very seasonable for the taking up of the lambs which were to he used four days after, according to the law, Exodus 12:3 ,6.Gilgal - A place afterwards so called, Joshua 5:9 .
4:20In Gilgal - Probably in order, like so many little pillars, to keep up the remembrance of this miraculous benefit.
4:23Before us - That is, myself and Caleb, and all of us here present; for this benefit, though done to their fathers, is justly said to be done to themselves, because they were then in their parent's loins.It greatly magnifies later mercies, to compare them with former mercies; for hereby it appears, that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.