Tuesday, August 31, 2010

JOSHUA: Chapter 4

Chapter 4
Summary:When the Israelites had all crossed over the Jordan River, God spoke to Joshua telling him to pick out twelve men from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. He tells Joshua to have each of the twelve men take out a stone out from where the priests had stood in the Jordan River and carry them to where they will camp that night.

Joshua selected twelve men, one from each tribe, and told them each to go out toward where the ark was out into the middle of the Jordan River, and carry out a stone upon their shoulders. He continues to tell them that when future generations ask about the meaning behind these stones, that they are to answer that they serve as a memorial to the people of Israel of when the waters of the Jordan River were halted as the ark of the covenant passed over the river.

The men did as they were commanded, and each took a stone out of the river and carried them over to where they were camped. Joshua set up twelve stones* and set them in the Jordan River in the spot where the priests were standing next to the ark of the covenant, where the stones stand to this day.

The priests who carried the ark remained standing in the midst of the Jordan River until after the monument of stones was complete and the Israelites had passed through the river. When the Israelites had all passed through the priests carried the ark through the river in the presence of all of the people.

The armed tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had led the way across the river as they had sworn to Moses prior to his death. About 40,000 soldiers had passed over the river into the plains of Jericho prepared for war. On that day God had magnified Joshua in view of all of the people of Israel, and the people feared him, just as they had feared Moses, all the days of his life.

God then told Joshua to command the priests to come up and out of the river bed of the Jordan River. As soon as the priests set foot on dry land, the waters of the Jordan River returned to their place and flowed over the banks as they had before.

The Israelites had crossed the Jordan River on the tenth day of the first month*, and camped in Gilgal, on the eastern border of Jericho. In Gilgal Joshua piled up the twelve stones that had been taken out from the Jordan River. Joshua then told the Israelites that if their children ask about the significance of these stones, that they are to tell them that they are a reminder of when the people of Israel crossed through the Jordan River on dry land, and that God had dried up the waters of the Jordan River - just as he had done to the Red Sea - that all the people of the earth know the mighty hand of God - adding, "that they fear the Lord your God forever."
Notes:1.) It's unclear as to whether Joshua has set up a different set of twelve stones as monument in the river itself, or if this is a possible error that seems to imply that the original twelve stones were both left in the river and at the campsite in Gilgal.

2.) Approximately March 25th by our modern calendar.
Thoughts:Essentially this chapter seems to serve as a "me too" justification for Joshua's position as the leader of the Israelites. Mention Moses and most likely the first thing that comes to mind is Moses parting the Red Sea. This chapter seems to try and attribute the same wondrous feat to Joshua, but lacks the urgency of the original tale found in the book of Exodus.

Unlike Moses's tale, Joshua and his merry men are not being pursued by a mighty army, nor are they desperately facing impending doom having been boxed in by their pursuers and a vast body of water. Instead, Joshua and the Israelites are armed to the hilt ready to invade foreign lands and simply need to get across a river. Quite a different dynamic from Moses's situation, yet the chapter attempts to equate the grandness of this event to the parting of the Red Sea (even going so far as to reference it specifically in Joshua 4:23) in an attempt to bolster Joshua's status to that of Moses. Yet it comes off as lame as if a modern U.S. President were to sail a boat through the Delaware to try and equate himself to George Washington. Joshua then goes one step further by selecting twelve men, one from each tribe of Israel, to build a monument to memorialize this event.

The chapter comes off as a desperate attempt to justify Joshua's place as ruler and confidant to God, and to equate them to that of Moses.

No comments:

Post a Comment