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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 4

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1 WHEN the whole nation had completed the crossing of the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 2‘Choose twelve men from the people, one from each tribe, 3and order them to take up twelve stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan, where the priests have taken their stand. They are to carry the stones across and place them in the camp where you spend the night.’ 4Joshua summoned the twelve Israelites whom he had appointed, one man from each tribe, 5and said to them, ‘Go over in front of the Ark of the LORD your God as far as the middle of the Jordan, and let each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, one for each of the tribes of Israel. 6These stones are to stand as a memorial among you: in days to come, when your children ask what these stones mean, 7you will tell them how the waters 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. These stones will always be a reminder to the Israelites.’ 8The Israelites did as Joshua had commanded: they took up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, as the LORD had instructed Joshua, one for each of the tribes of Israel, carried them across to the camp, and placed them there.

9Joshua also erected twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan at the place where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant had stood; they are there to this day. 10The priests carrying the Ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until every command which the LORD had told Joshua to give the people was fulfilled a 4:10 fulfilled: so Gk; Heb. adds according to all that Moses commanded Joshua. . The people crossed hurriedly, 11and when they had all got across, then the Ark of the LORD crossed, and the priests with it to lead the people. 12At the head of the Israelites, there crossed over the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, as a fighting force, as Moses had told them to do; 13about forty thousand strong, drafted for active service, they crossed over to the lowlands of Jericho in the presence of the LORD to do battle.

14That day the LORD exalted Joshua in the eyes of all Israel, and the people revered him, as they had revered Moses all his life.

15The LORD said to Joshua, 16‘Command the priests carrying the Ark of the Testimony to come up from the Jordan.’ 17Joshua passed the command to the priests; 18and no sooner had the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD come up from the river bed, and set foot on dry land, than the waters of the Jordan returned to their course and filled up all its reaches as before.

19On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and encamped in Gilgal in the district east of Jericho, 20and there Joshua set up these twelve stones they had taken from the Jordan. 21He said to the Israelites, ‘In days to come, when your descendants ask their fathers what these stones mean, 22you are to explain to them that Israel crossed this Jordan on dry land, 23for the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan in front of you until you had gone across, just as the LORD your God did at the Red Sea when he dried it up for us until we had crossed. 24Thus all people on earth will know how strong is the hand of the LORD; and thus you will always stand in awe of the LORD your God.’

Notes:

a 4:10 fulfilled: so Gk; Heb. adds according to all that Moses commanded Joshua.

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