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Treasury of Scripture Knowledge: Joshua 4

Chapter 4

And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,

were clean passed

3:17 Deuteronomy 27:2

Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,

twelve men

3:12 Numbers 1:4-15 13:2 34:18 Deuteronomy 1:23 1 Kings 18:31 Matthew 10:1-5

And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.

the priest's fees


twelve stones

24:27 Genesis 28:22 Deuteronomy 27:1-26 1 Samuel 7:12 Psalms 103:2 11:4 Luke 19:40

leave them


Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:


2 Mark 3:14-19

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?

a sign

22:27 Exodus 12:14 13:9 31:13 Numbers 16:38 Isaiah 55:13 Ezekiel 20:12,20

when your

21 Exodus 12:26,27 13:14 Deuteronomy 6:20,21 11:19 Psalms 44:1 71:18 78:3-8 Isaiah 38:19 Acts 2:39

in time to come

Heb. to-morrow.

Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.

the waters



6 Exodus 12:14 28:12 30:16 Numbers 16:40 Psalms 111:4 Isaiah 66:3 *marg:; 1 Corinthians 11:24

And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the LORD spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.

did so as Joshua

2-5 1:16-18

And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.

set up twelve

Exodus 24:12 28:21 1 Kings 18:31 Psalms 111:2-4

and they are there

These words might be written by Joshua at the close of his life, or perhaps be added by some later prophet. It seems from this verse, that there were two sorts of stones erected as a memorial of this great event: twelve at Gilgal (ver. 20,) and twelve in the bed of the Jordan; which last might have been placed on a base of strong stone work, so high as always to be visible, and serve to mark the very spot where the priests stood with the ark. Drs. Kennicott and Shuckford, however, would read here with the Syriac, mittoch, "from the midst," instead of bethoch, "in the midst;" and render, "And Joshua took up the twelve stones (taken) from the midst of Jordan," etc. But this reading is unsupported by any MS. yet collated; and it appears wholly unnecessary.

Genesis 26:33 Deuteronomy 34:6 Judges 1:26 1 Samuel 30:25 2 Samuel 4:3 2 Chronicles 5:9 Matthew 27:8 Matthew 28:15

For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over.

stood in the midst

3:13,16,17 Isaiah 28:16


Numbers 27:21-23 Deuteronomy 31:9


Exodus 12:39 Psalms 119:60 Proverbs 27:1 Ecclesiastes 9:10 2 Corinthians 6:2 Hebrews 3:7,8

And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the LORD passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people.

that the ark

18 3:8,17

And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them:

the children

1:14 Numbers 32:20-32

About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the LORD unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.

prepared for war

or, ready armed.

Ephesians 6:11

to the plains

5:10 2 Kings 25:5 Jeremiah 39:5 52:8

On that day the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.


1:16-18 3:7 1 Corinthians 10:2

they feared him

Exodus 14:31 1 Samuel 12:18 1 Kings 3:28 2 Chronicles 30:12 Proverbs 24:21 Romans 13:4

Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.

3:3-6 Exodus 25:16-22 Revelation 11:19

Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan.

Come ye up

Genesis 8:16-18 Daniel 3:26 Acts 16:23,35-39

And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.

the soles


lifted up

Heb. plucked up. that the waters. As soon as the priests and the ark were come up out of Jordan, the waters of the river, which had stood on a heap, flowed down according to their natural and usual course, and again soon filled the channel. This make it abundantly evident, that the miraculous change which had been given to the river was not from any secret natural cause, but solely by the power of God, and for the sake of his chosen people; for when Israel's host had passed through, and the token of his presence was removed, immediately the waters went forward again: so that if it be asked, "What aileth thee, O Jordan, that thou wast driven back?" it must be answered, it was in obedience to the God of Israel, and in kindness to the Israel of God.

Exodus 14:26-28

and flowed

Heb. went.

3:15 1 Chronicles 12:15 Isaiah 8:8

And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.

first month

Exodus 12:2,3


That is, the place afterwards called Gilgal; for it is so called here by anticipation. It was about ten furlongs east from Jericho, and fifty west from the Jordan. See Josephus and Calmet.

5:9 10:6,43 15:7 1 Samuel 11:14,15 15:33 Amos 4:4 5:5 Micah 6:5

And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.


And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?

When your

6 Psalms 105:2-5 145:4-7

in time to come

Heb. to-morrow.

Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.

3:17 Exodus 14:29 15:19 Psalms 66:5,6 Isaiah 11:15,16 44:27 51:10 Revelation 16:12

For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:

as the Lord

The parents must take that occasion to tell their children of the drying up of the Red Sea forty years before: "As the Lord your God did to the Red Sea." It greatly magnifies later mercies to compare them with those before enjoyed; for, by making the comparison, it appears that God is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. Later blessings should also bring to remembrance former mercies, and revive thankfulness for them.

which he dried

Exodus 14:21 Nehemiah 9:11 Psalms 77:16-19 78:13 Isaiah 43:16 63:12-14

That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.

all the people

Exodus 9:16 Deuteronomy 28:10 1 Samuel 17:46 1 Kings 8:42,43 2 Kings 5:15 19:19 Psalms 106:8 Daniel 3:26-29 4:34,35 6:26,27

that it is

Exodus 15:16 1 Chronicles 29:12 Psalms 89:13

ye might

Exodus 14:31 20:20 Deuteronomy 6:2 Psalms 76:6-8 89:7 Jeremiah 10:6,7 32:40

for ever

Heb. all days.