Memorials to the Jordan Crossing
When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. 3 Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’”
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. 5 He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 6 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”
8 So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there.
9 Joshua also set up another pile of twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, at the place where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were standing. And they are there to this day.
10 The priests who were carrying the Ark stood in the middle of the river until all of the Lord’s commands that Moses had given to Joshua were carried out. Meanwhile, the people hurried across the riverbed. 11 And when everyone was safely on the other side, the priests crossed over with the Ark of the Lord as the people watched.
12 The armed warriors from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh led the Israelites across the Jordan, just as Moses had directed.13 These armed men—about 40,000 strong—were ready for battle, and the Lordwas with them as they crossed over to the plains of Jericho.
14 That day the Lord made Joshua a great leader in the eyes of all the Israelites, and for the rest of his life they revered him as much as they had revered Moses.
15 The Lord had said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant[a] to come up out of the riverbed.” 17 So Joshua gave the command.18 As soon as the priests carrying the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant came up out of the riverbed and their feet were on high ground, the water of the Jordan returned and overflowed its banks as before.
19 The people crossed the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month.[b] Then they camped at Gilgal, just east of Jericho. 20 It was there at Gilgal that Joshua piled up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River.
21 Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea[c] when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. 24 He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever.”
- Verses 1 – 3: Lord told Joshua to get one man from each tribe and go to where the priests were and bring back a stone
- Verse 10: Israelites passed over in haste; hurried over
- Priests get out and the water returns and overflowed the banks
- Verses 20 – 24: And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
- First of seven stone memorials in the Book of Joshua
- Two main purposes:
- Show the power of God – God said He would lead to the Promised Land back in Genesis 12
- Israelites would fear the Lord forever
- Both purposes wrapped up in one saying – REMEMBER WHOSE YOU ARE!
- The Israelites had a history of forgetting who God was and who they were. God’s Chosen People.
- In the midst of this transition and uncertainty they needed to REMEMBER WHOSE THEY WERE
- It’s the same for us today
- Things going well, things going bad – REMEMBER WHOSE YOU ARE!
- In two places this passage talks about what to say when your children ask you what the stones mean. (Versus 6 and 21) Stresses the importance of constantly telling your kids about the greatness of God.
- 6:6, 7 – “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise.”
- God wants us to “Remember Whose We Are” and to daily let our kids know.