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Israel Commemorates the Crossing

When the entire nation was on the other side,[a] the Lord told Joshua, “Select for yourselves twelve men from the people, one per tribe. Instruct them, ‘Pick up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests[b] stand firmly, and carry them over with you and put them in the place where you camp tonight.’”

Joshua summoned the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one per tribe. Joshua told them, “Go in front of the ark of the Lord your God to the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to put a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the Israelite tribes. The stones[c] will be a reminder to you.[d] When your children ask someday, ‘Why are these stones important to you?’ tell them how the water of the Jordan stopped flowing[e] before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the water of the Jordan stopped flowing.[f] These stones will be a lasting memorial for the Israelites.”

The Israelites did just as Joshua commanded. They picked up twelve stones, according to the number of the Israelite tribes, from the middle of the Jordan as the Lord had instructed Joshua. They carried them over with them to the camp and put them there. Joshua also set up twelve stones[g] in the middle of the Jordan in the very place where the priests carrying the ark of the covenant stood. They remain there to this very day.

10 Now the priests carrying the ark of the covenant were standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the Lord had commanded Joshua to tell the people was accomplished, in accordance with all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people went across quickly, 11 and when all the people had finished crossing, the ark of the Lord and the priests crossed as the people looked on.[h] 12 The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed for battle ahead of the Israelites, just as Moses had instructed them. 13 About 40,000 battle-ready troops[i] marched past the Lord to fight[j] on the rift valley plains[k] of Jericho. 14 That day the Lord brought honor to Joshua before all Israel. They respected[l] him all his life,[m] just as they had respected[n] Moses.

15 The Lord told Joshua, 16 “Instruct the priests carrying the ark of the covenantal laws[o] to come up from the Jordan.” 17 So Joshua instructed the priests, “Come up from the Jordan!” 18 The priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the middle of the Jordan, and as soon as they set foot on dry land,[p] the water of the Jordan flowed again and returned to flood stage.[q]

19 The people went up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month[r] and camped in Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 Now Joshua set up in Gilgal the[s] twelve stones they had taken from the Jordan. 21 He told the Israelites, “When your children someday ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones represent?’[t] 22 explain to[u] your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan River[v] on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the water of the Jordan before you while you crossed over. It was just like when the Lord your God dried up the Red Sea before us while we crossed it.[w] 24 He has done this so[x] all the nations[y] of the earth might recognize the Lord’s power[z] and so you might always obey[aa] the Lord your God.”


  1. Joshua 4:1 tn Heb “And when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.”
  2. Joshua 4:3 tn Heb “the feet of the priests.”
  3. Joshua 4:6 tn Heb “that this may be”; the referent of “this” (the twelve stones) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  4. Joshua 4:6 tn Heb “in order that this might be a sign among you.”
  5. Joshua 4:7 tn Heb “were cut off from before.”
  6. Joshua 4:7 tn Heb “how the waters descending from above stood still.”
  7. Joshua 4:9 tn Here “also” has been supplied in the translation to make it clear (as indicated by v. 20) that these are not the same stones the men took from the river bed.
  8. Joshua 4:11 tn Heb “in the presence of the people.”
  9. Joshua 4:13 tn Heb “men equipped for battle.”
  10. Joshua 4:13 tn Heb “for war.”
  11. Joshua 4:13 sn The עֲרָבָה (ʿaravah, “rift valley”) extends from Galilee to the Gulf of Aqaba. The עַרְבוֹת (ʿarevot) of Jericho” refer to the parts of the Jordan Valley in the vicinity of Jericho (see HALOT 880 s.v. עֲרָבָה). The region is characterized by gently sloping plains which descend about 450 feet over the five miles from Jericho to the Jordan. Many translation say simply the “plains of Jericho” for the portion west of the Jordan and “plains of Moab” for the eastern portion. The translation here clarifies that the plains are part of the rift valley basin.
  12. Joshua 4:14 tn Heb “feared.”
  13. Joshua 4:14 tn Heb “all the days of his life.”
  14. Joshua 4:14 tn Heb “had feared.”
  15. Joshua 4:16 tn Traditionally, “the ark of the testimony,” another name for the ark of the covenant. The Hebrew term עֵדוּת (ʿedut, “testimony” or “witness”) here refers to the Mosaic covenant and the body of stipulations contained within it (see HALOT 791 s.v. 2).
  16. Joshua 4:18 tn Heb “and the soles of the feet of the priests were brought up to the dry land.”
  17. Joshua 4:18 tn Heb “and the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and went as formerly over their banks.”sn Verses 15-18 give a more detailed account of the priests’ crossing that had been briefly described in v. 11.
  18. Joshua 4:19 sn The first month was the month Abib (= late March-early April in the modern calendar). The preparations for Passover also began on the tenth day of the first month (Exod 12:2-3).
  19. Joshua 4:20 tn Heb “these,” referring specifically to the twelve stones mentioned in vv. 3-7.
  20. Joshua 4:21 tn Heb “What are these stones?”
  21. Joshua 4:22 tn Heb “make known to.”
  22. Joshua 4:22 tn Heb “crossed this Jordan”; the word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied to clarify the meaning.
  23. Joshua 4:23 tn Heb “just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea when he dried [it] up before us while we crossed over.”
  24. Joshua 4:24 tn Heb “in order that.”
  25. Joshua 4:24 tn Or “peoples.”
  26. Joshua 4:24 tn Heb “know the hand of the Lord that it is strong.”
  27. Joshua 4:24 tn Heb “fear.”