Joshua 4

Memorial Stones from Jordan

1 Now when all the nation had finished crossing the 1Jordan, the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying,
2 "2Take for yourselves twelve * men from the people, one man from each * tribe,
3 and command them, saying, 'Take up for yourselves twelve * stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests' feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in 3the lodging place where you will lodge tonight.' "
4 So Joshua called the twelve * men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each * tribe;
5 and Joshua said to them, "Cross again to the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel.
6 "Let this be a sign among you, so that 4when your children ask later, saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?'
7 then you shall say to them, 'Because the 5waters of the Jordan were cut off before * the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.' So these stones shall become a 6memorial to the sons of Israel forever *."
8 Thus the sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve * stones from the middle of the Jordan, just as the LORD spoke to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel; and they carried them over with them to 7the lodging place and put them down there.
9 Then Joshua set up twelve * 8stones in the middle of the Jordan at the place * where the feet of the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing, and they are there to this day.
10 For the priests who carried the ark were standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything was completed that the LORD had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. And the people hurried and crossed;
11 and when all the people had finished crossing, the ark of the LORD and the priests crossed before the people.
12 9The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe * of Manasseh crossed over in battle array before the sons of Israel, just as Moses had spoken to them;
13 about 40,000 * equipped for war, crossed for battle before the LORD to the desert plains of Jericho.
14 10On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life.
15 Now the LORD said to Joshua,
16 "Command the priests who carry 11the ark of the testimony that they come up from the Jordan."
17 So Joshua commanded the priests, saying, "Come up from the Jordan."
18 It came about when the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD had come up from the middle of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up to the dry ground, that the waters of the Jordan returned to their place, and went over all its banks as before.
19 Now the people came up from the Jordan on the 12tenth of the first month and camped at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho.
20 13Those twelve * stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up 14at Gilgal.
21 He said to the sons of Israel, "When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, 'What are these stones?'
22 then you shall inform your children, saying, 'Israel crossed this Jordan on 15dry ground.'
23 "For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before * you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red * Sea, 16which He dried up before * us until we had crossed;
24 that 17all the peoples of the earth may know that the 18hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may 19fear the LORD your God forever *."

Joshua 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

Stones taken out of Jordan. (1-9) The people pass through Jordan. (10-19) The twelve stones placed in Gilgal. (20-24)

Verses 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.

Verses 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.

Verses 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!

Cross References 19

  • 1. Deuteronomy 27:2; Joshua 3:17
  • 2. Joshua 3:12
  • 3. Joshua 4:20
  • 4. Exodus 12:26; Exodus 13:14; Joshua 4:21
  • 5. Joshua 3:13
  • 6. Exodus 12:14; Numbers 16:40
  • 7. Joshua 4:20
  • 8. Genesis 28:18; Joshua 24:26; 1 Samuel 7:12
  • 9. Numbers 32:17
  • 10. Joshua 3:7
  • 11. Exodus 25:16
  • 12. Deuteronomy 1:3
  • 13. Joshua 4:8
  • 14. Joshua 4:3, 8
  • 15. Joshua 3:17
  • 16. Exodus 14:21
  • 17. 1 Kings 8:42; 2 Kings 19:19; Psalms 106:8
  • 18. Exodus 15:16; 1 Chronicles 29:12; Psalms 89:13
  • 19. Exodus 14:31; Psalms 76:7; Jeremiah 10:7

Footnotes 12

Chapter Summary


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 Commentaries

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