4 When the last one had crossed the Jordan, the Eternal One spoke to Joshua.
Eternal One: 2 Summon the twelve men you chose from the people, one representing each tribe, 3 and tell them to take twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan riverbed where the priests stand with the covenant chest. Tell them to carry these stones this day, and when the people make camp tonight, to lay them down.
4 Joshua did just as He instructed and summoned the twelve men, who had been chosen from the Israelites to represent the twelve tribes, 5 to give them instructions.
Joshua: Go back into the Jordan riverbed to the covenant chest of the Eternal your God, and each carry a stone upon your shoulder, (twelve stones for the twelve tribes of the Israelites) 6 so that we may build a memorial of this day. Someday when your children ask you, “Why are these stones piled up here?” 7 you will tell them how the waters of the Jordan parted as the covenant chest of the Eternal One crossed the river, and these stones will fix that memory for the Israelites forever.
Memory is important in the Book of Joshua and in the stories that follow. When the people of Israel remember God’s promises—and His goodness—good things happen. But when they forget, they turn to other things for meaning; they put their trust in other gods—money, power, position, and possessions. It’s been a problem for the people of God up to the present day, so these attempts to remember can remind us about God’s great works. It has always been true that when God’s people take their eyes off Him, they forget the lessons of the past. We honor God through our worship, and we are reminded of significant lessons learned when we praise Him.
8 The Israelites did as the Eternal commanded through Joshua. They carried twelve stones from the riverbed that day, one for each Israelite tribe, and laid them down that night when they made their camp. 9 Joshua also set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan where the priests who had carried the covenant chest stood, and the stones remain there to this day.
10 The priests who carried the chest stood in the Jordan until all the people had hurried across, until all had been accomplished that the Eternal and Moses had commanded Joshua to tell the people.
11 Only then, when all of the people had passed, did the priests bearing the chest of the Eternal cross over into the presence of the people.
12-13 On the western side of the Jordan stood about 40,000 men ready for battle, including fighters from the people of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh who had crossed onto the plains of Jericho in the presence of the Eternal, as they had been commanded by Moses. 14 That day the Eternal exalted Joshua in the eyes of the people, and they looked up to him (as they had looked up to Moses before him) for the rest of his life.
15 Then the Eternal One told Joshua,
Eternal One: 16 Command the priests who are carrying the covenant chest to come out of the Jordan.
17 Joshua gave the order.
18 As the people watched, the priests carried the chest of the Eternal up out of the Jordan; and as soon as they had stepped out of the riverbed, the river was filled and overflowing, just as it had been before.
19 The Israelites crossed the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month and camped at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho. 20 This was where Joshua set up the twelve stones from the Jordan riverbed. 21 He summoned the people of Israel.
Joshua: Someday your children will ask you, “What do these stones mean?” 22 And you will tell them, “Israel crossed the Jordan here on dry ground.” 23 For the Eternal One, your God, dried up the waters of the Jordan until you crossed over (just as He held back the Red Sea for our parents until they crossed) 24 so that everyone on earth would know how powerful the Eternal is and so that you would reverence your God, the Eternal, forever.