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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 4

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



God commands them to carry twelve stones for a memorial out of Jordan; Joshua orders it; the people perform, Joshua 4:1-8.

Twelve other stones set up for a memorial in the midst of Jordan, Joshua 4:9.

The people pass over: the order they observe, Joshua 4:10-13.

God magnifies Joshua, Joshua 4:14.

The priests with the ark are commanded to come up out of Jordan, Joshua 4:15-17.

The waters return, Joshua 4:18.

The time of this passage, Joshua 4:19.

Twelve stones set up in Gilgal; to what purpose declared, Joshua 4:20-24.

Verse 1

This was commanded before, Joshua 3:12, and is here repeated with enlargement, as being now to be put in execution.

Verse 2

For the greater evidence and certainty, and the more effectual spreading of the report of this marvellous work among all the tribes.

Verse 3

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,Joshua 4:20.

Verse 4

Prepared, i.e. appointed or chosen for that work, and commanded them to be ready for it.

Verse 5

Pass over before the ark, i.e. go back again to the place where the ark stands.

Verse 6

A sign; a monument or memorial of this day’s work.

Verse 7

Before the ark; as it were at the sight and approach of the ark, to give it and the Israelites a safe passage.

Verse 9

In the midst of Jordan; properly so called; as Joshua 3:17.

Quest. How could these stones be a monument of this work, when they were not seen, but generally covered with the waters of Jordan?

Answ. These stones are not the same with those which a man could carry upon his shoulders, Joshua 4:5, and therefore might be very much larger; and being set up in two rows one above another, they might possibly be seen, at least sometimes when the water was low, and especially where the water was commonly more shallow, as it might be ordinarily in this place, though not at this time, when Jordan overflowed all its banks. Add to this, that the waters of Jordan are said to be very pure and clear; and therefore these stones, though they did not appear above it, might be seen in it, either by those who stood upon the shore, because that river was not broad; or at least by those that passed in boats upon the river, who could easily discern them by the peculiar noise and motion of the water occasioned by that heap of stones. And this was sufficient, especially considering that there was another more distinct and visible monument of this miracle set up in Gilgal.

They are there unto this day: this might be written, either,

1. By Joshua, who wrote this book near twenty years after this was done; or,

2. By some other holy man, divinely inspired and approved of by the whole Jewish church, who inserted this and some such passages, both in this book, and in the writings of Moses.

Verse 10

To speak unto the people, i.e. to command the people to do. According to all that Moses commanded Joshua; which he did not particularly, but in the general, because he commanded Joshua to observe and do all that God had commanded him by Moses, and all that he should command him any other way. Hasted and passed over, i.e. passed over with haste; which is noted as an argument of their fear, or weakness of their faith; as, on the contrary, the priests are commended that they stood firm, and fixed, and settled in their minds, as well as in the posture of their bodies.

Verse 11

The people looking on, and beholding this wonderful work of God with attention and admiration.

Verse 13


1. Before the ark, by which they, as well as the rest, passed when they went over Jordan. Or,

2. In the presence of God, who diligently observed whether they would keep their promise and covenant made with their brethren, or not.

Verse 16

For being now in the middle, and lowest, and deepest place of the river, (of which See POOLE "Joshua 3:17",) they are most properly said to ascend or go up to the land; which word is thrice used ill this and the two next following verses.

Verse 17

The priests staid contentedly in the river, till God by Joshua called them out.

Verse 18

The waters came down from their heaps, and returned with all convenient speed into their proper channel, according to their natural and usual course.

Verse 19

The first month, to wit, of Nisan, which wanted but five days of forty years from the time of their coming out of Egypt, which was on the fifteenth day of this month; so punctual is God in the performing of his word, whether promised or threatened. And this day was very seasonable for the taking up of the lambs, which were to be used four days after, according to the law, Exodus 12:3,Exodus 12:6.

Gilgal; a place so called hereafter upon a following occasion, Joshua 5:9. So here it is an anticipation.

Verse 20

Which most probably were placed severally and in order, like so many little pillars, which was most proper to keep remembrance of this miraculous benefit vouchsafed to this people.

Verse 23

Before us, i.e. myself and Caleb, and all of us here present; for this benefit, though done to their fathers, is justly and rightly said to be done to themselves, because they were then in their parents’ loins; and their very being, and all their happiness, depended upon that deliverance.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 4". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/joshua-4.html. 1685.
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