Joshua 4:3
And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
IV.

(3) Out of the midst of Jordan . . . twelve stones—(9) Twelve stones in the midst of Jordan.—It would seem that we are to understand two cairns to have been set up, one on either side the river, to mark the place where the Israelites crossed. The western cairn was in Gilgal, the other on the opposite side, at the edge of the overflow, where the priests had stopped. The only difficulty lies in the words above cited, in the midst of Jordan. The phrase, like many other Hebrew phrases, is used in a different way from that in which we should use it. The words “in the middle of the Jordan” to an English reader appear to mean half-way between the banks. But if the river were divided, and half of it had recoiled many miles towards the north, and the rest flowed away to the south, any one standing between these two parts of the river might be said to stand in the midst of Jordan, the two parts being on either side; and he would be equally in the midst, as regards them, whether he were at the edge of the stream or not. It is contrary to common-sense, as well as to the words of the text, to suppose that a cairn was set up in the midst of the river’s bed. “They are there unto this day,” the writer adds in Joshua 4:9. It is perfectly clear from Joshua 3:8 that the priests stood at the brim of the overflow. That spot and no other would be the particular spot which it would be most interesting to mark, the place from which Jordan, in full flood, was driven back.

Further, the words “in the midst” (Hebrew, Vthôlc) do not necessarily mean more than within. In Joshua 19:1, it is said the inheritance of Simeon was within (b’thôk) the inheritance of the children of Judah. Yet it was entirely on one edge of it. May not the ark standing in the midst of Jordan represent that suspension of the power of death which is effected by the interposition of our Saviour, and fills the interval between the reign of death “from Adam to Moses,” and the “second death” that is to come?

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. CHAPTER 4

Jos 4:1-8. Twelve Stones Taken for a Memorial Out of Jordan.

1-3. the Lord spake unto Joshua, Take you twelve men—each representing a tribe. They had been previously chosen for this service (Jos 3:12), and the repetition of the command is made here solely to introduce the account of its execution. Though Joshua had been divinely instructed to erect a commemorative pile, the representatives were not apprised of the work they were to do till the time of the passage.

Out of the midst of Jordan; See POOLE "Joshua 3:17". There ye shall lodge this night, i.e. in Gilgal, as is expressed below, Joshua 4:19,20.

And command you them, saying,.... As follows:

take you hence out of the midst of Jordan; so that they were obliged to go back into the midst of Jordan, having already passed over it, as appears from Joshua 4:1,

out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm; where being stones, they chose to stand upon them, and which were a firm standing for them; and which secured them from the slime and mud at the bottom of the river the waters left behind; though it is not absolutely necessary to understand it that they were to take, and did take, the stones from under their feet, but those that lay about the place where they stood:

twelve stones; each man a stone; and, according to the Samaritan Chronicle (f), every man inscribed his name on the stone:

and ye shall carry them over with you; from the place they took them up, to the place they should next stop at:

and leave them in the lodging place where you shall lodge this night: which was in the place afterwards called Gilgal, Joshua 4:19.

(f) Apud Hottinger. Smegma Oriental. p. 500, 503.

And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood {a} firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the {b} lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.

(a) As in Jos 3:17.

(b) Meaning, the place where they would camp.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. twelve stones] We find on several occasions large stones set up to commemorate remarkable events, as (a) by Jacob in memory of the vision of the Angels at Beth-el (Genesis 28:18); (b) by the same patriarch on his return from Padan-aram (Genesis 35:14); (c) by the same patriarch again as a “heap of witness” between him and Laban (Genesis 31:45-47); (d) by Samuel at “Eben-ezer” to mark the site of the victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:12). Such stones were sometimes consecrated by anointing with oil (Genesis 28:18).

Verse 3. - Stood firm. Much discussion has taken place about the proper rendering of the word הָכִין which the LXX. translates ἐτοίμους, and the Vulgate durissimos. It seems best to take it, as our version does, as the infinitive absolute, and to translate as in ch. 'Hi. 17. But the punctuation of the Masorites separates it from מִםמּצַּב. They would apparently render "to set up." Joshua 4:3When all the people had crossed over Jordan,

(Note: The piska in the middle of Joshua 4:1 is an old pre-Masoretic mark, which the Masorites have left, indicating a space in the midst of the verse, and showing that it was the commencement of a :parashah.)

Joshua issued to the twelve men who had been appointed by the twelve tribes the command given to him by God: "Go before the ark of Jehovah into the midst of Jordan, and take every man a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites," or, as it is expressed in the fuller explanation in the divine command in Joshua 4:3, "from the standing-place of the priests, the setting up of twelve stones (הכין is an infinitive used as a substantive, or else it should be pointed as a substantive), and carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place of encampment where ye shall pass the night."

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