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Twelve Stones Set Up at Gilgal


When the entire nation had finished crossing over the Jordan, the L ord said to Joshua: 2“Select twelve men from the people, one from each tribe, 3and command them, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood, carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place where you camp tonight.’ ” 4Then Joshua summoned the twelve men from the Israelites, whom he had appointed, one from each tribe. 5Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the L ord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, one for each of the tribes of the Israelites, 6so that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the L ord. When it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever.”

8 The Israelites did as Joshua commanded. They took up twelve stones out of the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the L ord told Joshua, carried them over with them to the place where they camped, and laid them down there. 9(Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day.)

10 The priests who bore the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan, until everything was finished that the L ord commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people crossed over in haste. 11As soon as all the people had finished crossing over, the ark of the L ord, and the priests, crossed over in front of the people. 12The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed before the Israelites, as Moses had ordered them. 13About forty thousand armed for war crossed over before the L ord to the plains of Jericho for battle.

14 On that day the L ord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him, as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.

15 The L ord said to Joshua, 16“Command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, to come up out of the Jordan.” 17Joshua therefore commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18When the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the L ord came up from the middle of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet touched dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.

19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20Those twelve stones, which they had taken out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal, 21saying to the Israelites, “When your children ask their parents in time to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground.’ 23For the L ord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you crossed over, as the L ord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we crossed over, 24so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the L ord is mighty, and so that you may fear the L ord your God forever.”

14. On that day the Lord magnified, etc It was not indeed the principal end of the miracle to proclaim Joshua’s pre-eminence in power and authority, but as it greatly concerned the public interest, that the government of Joshua should be firmly established, it is justly set down as an additional instance of the divine favor, that he was, so to speak, adorned with sacred insignia to render him venerable in the eyes of the people, and prevent any one from presuming to despise him. For a promiscuous multitude, not ruled by a head, breaks up and falls away of its own accord. The Lord, therefore, to provide for the safety of his people, distinguished Joshua by a special mark declaratory of his vocation.

From this passage we may learn that God specially recommends to us all those through whose hands he displays his excellent working, and requires us to give them due honor and reverence. When it is said that the people feared Joshua as they had feared Moses, should any one object that the statement is refuted by the many sedition’s and tumults which they stirred up against him, not only wantonly but furiously, it is easy to answer, that it does not apply to the whole period from their departure out of Egypt, but only refers to that when subdued by plagues and softened down, they began to be duly obedient to Moses. For what is now described is a tranquil government, as if they had laid aside their ancient perverseness, more especially when the turbulent parents were dead and a better race had succeeded. Accordingly, we do not read that there was any difficulty in ruling and turning them. I now only briefly advert to what I have already explained. For when Joshua at the outset exhorted them to obedience, they said that they would be obedient as they had been to Moses.

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