Joshua 4:6-7

6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’
7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

Joshua 4:6 in Other Translations

KJV
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?
ESV
6 that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, 'What do those stones mean to you?'
NLT
6 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’
MSG
6 so you'll have something later to mark the occasion. When your children ask you, 'What are these stones to you?'
CSB
6 so that this will be a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean to you?'

Joshua 4:6-7 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO JOSHUA 4

This chapter relates an order, that is men, should take twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, and carry them to the first place they lodged at as a memorial of their passage over it, Jos 4:1-8; and how Joshua set up twelve other stones in the river itself, Jos 4:9; and how many of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, went before the Israelites when they passed over, Jos 4:10-14; which being done, the priests were ordered to come out of Jordan, when the waters returned to their place, Jos 4:15-18; The time when this miracle was wrought is observed, Jos 4:19; and an account is given of Joshua's pitching the twelve stones taken out of Jordan in Gilgal, and the use they were to be of in future time, Jos 4:20-24.

Joshua 4:6-7 In-Context

4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe,
5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites,
6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’
7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
8 So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the LORD had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down.
9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.

Cross References 5

  • 1. S Joshua 2:12
  • 2. S Exodus 10:2
  • 3. ver 21; Exodus 12:26; S Exodus 13:14
  • 4. Joshua 3:13
  • 5. S Exodus 28:12; Exodus 12:14
Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.