Study Guide

Book of Joshua Chapter 4

Chapter 4

The Israelites Miss Building Pyramids

  • The Israelites select one man from each tribe to select a stone from the middle of the Jordan River (you know, where the priests stood) to build a memorial. When their children ask what it means, they will tell them how God parted the waters of the Jordan and allowed the Israelites to cross over into the Promised Land (1-8). Memories.
  • The stones are piled in the middle of the river, so that when the water is not in flood, they can serve as a reminder of the power of God.
  • We guess the Israelites hadn't quite figured out that water erodes stone. So much for a permanent monument, you guys.
  • Now the Israelites cross the river Jordan while the priests hold the Ark, keeping the water at bay.
  • Wait a second. What? Didn't we just do this?
  • Oh yes. But see, the book of Joshua is like that time traveling island from Lost. In verses 10-24, the authors of the book of Joshua retell the same exact event you just read about. At first we thought this was a practical joke—you know, we sit there convinced we're reading the same thing over and over again, never getting anywhere, while the authors peer around the corner laughing—but then we thought better. This is the Bible after all, and we're pretty sure it never would have been written if its various authors didn't think it was serious business.
  • Worry not—a flashback is here to set us straight again. Through this flashback we learn that the tribe has done as Moses and then Joshua commanded (1:14; Deuteronomy 3:18). We also learn that the Lord is as pleased with Joshua as he was with Moses.
  • Okay—we get it. The whole point is that there are some pretty significant parallels going on here between Joshua and Moses. Duly noted.
  • Now that we're off the cosmic treadmill (a hearty high five to anyone who knows what that is without clicking the link), let's get back to the present.

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