Joshua 4:15
And the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying,
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4:10-19 The priests with the ark did not stir till ordered to move. Let none be weary of waiting, while they have the tokens of God's presence with them, even the ark of the covenant, though it be in the depths of adversity. Notice is taken of the honour put upon Joshua. Those are feared in the best manner, and to the best purpose, who make it appear that God is with them, and that they set him before them.The passage of the priests to the further bank had been already referred to, Joshua 4:11; but the writer, in observance of his general plan (compare introductory remarks to Joshua 3), re-introduces it here as the leading feature in the concluding section of his account, and (as before) with mention of God's special direction about it. The statement that on the removal of the ark the waters of Jordan at once returned to their former level Joshua 4:18, heightens the impression which is especially inculcated throughout - that the whole transaction was extraordinary and miraculous. The details and incidents of the passage are no doubt open to manifold discussion: but all such discussion will be futile unless it proceed throughout on the admission that we have here before us the record of a distinctly supernatural interposition: compare the introduction to the Book of Joshua. Jos 4:14-24. God Magnifies Joshua.

14-17. On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel—It appeared clear from the chief part he acted, that he was the divinely appointed leader; for even the priests did not enter the river or quit their position, except at his command; and thenceforward his authority was as firmly established as that of his predecessor.

No text from Poole on this verse. And the Lord spake unto Joshua,.... When all the people had passed over jordan:

saying; as follows.

And the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,
Verse 15. - And the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying. Meyer and others, according to the method of a certain school, regard this as an extract from another document, which is equivalent to saying that the Book of Joshua is a compilation of the most unintelligent kind, a conclusion which is refuted by every line of the Book. A vivid and picturesque narrative, such as we have before us, could hardly have Been brought together by the liberal use of scissors and paste, with utter disregard of the coherence of the extracts. It is not denied that the writer Of the Book of Joshua may have compiled his history from contemporary documents (see Introduction). All that is affirmed is that in so doing he used his materials with ordinary common sense. As has been before remarked, a marked feature of early Hebrew composition was repetition; repetition with additional details to add to the completeness of the narrative, but designed principally to emphasise the principal facts. Thus we are now told that it was at the command of Joshua, on God's express intimation, that the priests left their post. And to mark more clearly the historian's sense of the importance of the miracle, it is added that, as soon as the priests' feet had left the channel in which the waters had flowed up to the moment that they entered the waters of Jordan on the other side, the waters which had been cut off returned, and flowed exactly where they had done before. This additional fact, supplementing as it does the briefer detail in Joshua 3:17 and Joshua 4:11, must be therefore regarded as a record of the solemn conviction of the historian that in the events he is narrating he recognised a special interposition of the hand of God (see vers. 23, 24), in which in like manner we find a repetition in fuller detail of the command concerning the stones, designed to mark more clearly the sense the historian wishes his readers to have of the direct interference of God in what he has recorded. The children of Israel carried out these instructions. The execution is ascribed to the "children of Israel," i.e., to the whole nations, because the men selected from the twelve tribes acted in the name of the whole nation, and the memorial was a matter of equal importance to all. ינּחוּם does not signify that they set up the stones as a memorial, but simply that they laid them down in their place of encampment. The setting up at Gilgal is mentioned for the first time in Joshua 4:20. In addition to this, Joshua set up twelve stones for a memorial, on the spot where the feet of the priests had stood as they bore the ark of the covenant, which stones were there "to this day," i.e., the time when the account was written. There is nothing to warrant our calling this statement in question, or setting it aside as a probable gloss, either in the circumstance that nothing is said about any divine command to set up these stones, or in the opinion that such a memorial would have failed of its object, as it could not possibly have remained, but would very speedily have been washed away by the stream. The omission of any reference to a command from God proves nothing, simply because divine commands are frequently hinted at but briefly, so that the substance of them has to be gathered from the account of their execution (compare Joshua 3:7-8, with Joshua 3:9-13, and Joshua 4:2-3, with Joshua 4:4-7); and consequently we may assume without hesitation that such a command was given, as the earlier commentators have done. Moreover, the monument did not fail of its object, even if it only existed for a short time. The account of its erection, which was handed down by tradition, would necessarily help to preserve the remembrance of the miraculous occurrence. But it cannot be so absolutely affirmed that these stones would be carried away at once by the stream, so that they could never be seen any more. As the priests did not stand in the middle or deepest part of the river, but just in the bed of the river, and close to its eastern bank, and it was upon this spot that the stones were set up, and as we neither know their size nor the firmness with which they stood, we cannot pronounce any positive opinion as to the possibility of their remaining. It is not likely that they remained there for centuries; but they were intended rather as a memorial for the existing generation and their children, than for a later age, which would be perpetually reminded of the miraculous help of God by the monument erected in Gilgal.
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