Joshua 4:6
That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean you by these stones?
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Joshua 4:6. That this may be a sign among you — A monument or memorial of this day’s work. Had Joshua given orders to prepare for erecting this memorial of himself, it might have looked like a design to perpetuate his own name and honour; but as it was done by the divine direction, it could be viewed in no other light than as a monument raised to the honour and glory of God, who hath “so done his marvellous works, that they ought to be had in everlasting remembrance,” and means devised to preserve among men the memory of them.4:1-9 The works of the Lord are so worthy of rememberance, and the heart of man is so prone to forget them, that various methods are needful to refresh our memories, for the glory of God, our advantage, and that of our children. God gave orders for preparing this memorial.Take you twelve men - The order is given in the plural, because no doubt the tribes themselves were to choose their own representatives, the choice being approved by Joshua Jos 4:4. These twelve would be left with Joshua on the hither bank of the river, waiting to receive his orders after the rest of the people had made their way across Joshua 3:17; Joshua 4:1. 6, 7. That this may be a sign among you—The erection of cairns, or huge piles of stones, as monuments of remarkable incidents has been common among all people, especially in the early and rude periods of their history. They are the established means of perpetuating the memory of important transactions, especially among the nomadic people of the East. Although there be no inscription engraved on them, the history and object of such simple monuments are traditionally preserved from age to age. Similar was the purpose contemplated by the conveyance of the twelve stones to Gilgal: it was that they might be a standing record to posterity of the miraculous passage of the Jordan. A sign; a monument or memorial of this day’s work. That this may be a sign among you,.... A commemorative one:

that when your children ask their fathers in time to come; or "tomorrow" (g) and so in all time, or any time hereafter:

saying, what mean you by these stones? what is the reason of setting them up, and in this place, and being just of such a number?

(g) Sept. "eras", Pagninus, Montanus.

That this may be a sign among you, that when your {c} children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

(c) God commands that not only we ourselves profit by this wonderful work, but that our posterity may know the cause of it, and glorify his Name.

6. when your children] Comp. Exodus 12:26; Exodus 13:14; Deuteronomy 6:20.Verse 6. - That this may be a sign unto you. There was for many years a visible memorial of the miracle. When your children ask their fathers in time to come (cf. Exodus 12:26; Exodus 13:14; Deuteronomy 6:20). The passover, the law itself, as well as certain outward and visible memorials, were to be the guarantees to future ages of the truth of the history related in the Books of Hoses and Joshua. The monument has disappeared, but the observance of the passover and the whole law by the Jews now, more than 3,000 years after the events related in these books, is a perpetual standing witness of the truth of the record. In like manner the Christian passover, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, is appealed to by Christians of every denomination as a proof of the substantial truth of the narrative of the Gospels. But the priests stood with the ark of the covenant "in the midst of Jordan," i.e., in the bed of the river, not merely by the river, "upon dry ground, הכן," lit., firmando, i.e., with a firm foot, whilst all Israel went over upon dry ground, "till all the people were passed over." This could easily have been accomplished in half a day, if the people formed a procession of a mile or upwards in breadth.
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