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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 4

Wesley's Explanatory NotesWesley's Notes

Verse 1

And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,

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

Verse 2

Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,

Out of every tribe a man — For the greater evidence, and the more effectual spreading the report of this marvellous work among all the tribes.

Verse 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.

Lodge this night — That is, in Gilgal, as is expressed below, verse19,20.

Verse 4

Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:

Prepared — That is, appointed for that work, and commanded to be ready for it.

Verse 5

And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:

Before the ark — That is, go back again to the place where the ark stands.

Verse 6

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

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

Verse 9

And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.

Twelve stones — These stones are not the same with those which a man could carry upon his shoulder, verse — 5. They might be very much larger; and being set up in two rows one above another, might be seen, at least when the water was low, especially where it was shallow, as it was ordinarily, though not at this time, when Jordan overflowed all its banks. Add to this, that the waters of Jordan are very clear; therefore these stones might be seen in it, either by those who stood upon the shore, because the river was not broad; or by those that passed in boats.

Unto this day — This might be written, either — 1. by Joshua who probably wrote this book near20 years after this was done: or, 2. by some other holy man divinely inspired, who inserted this and some such passages both in this book and in the writings of Moses.

Verse 10

For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over.

Commanded Joshua — Not particularly, but in 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 — That is, passed over with haste, an argument of their fear, or weakness of their faith; as on the contrary, the priests are commended that they stood firm, and settled in their minds, as well as in the posture of their bodies.

Verse 13

About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the LORD unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.

Before the Lord — Either, 1. before the ark, or, 2. in the presence of God who observed whether they would keep their covenant made with their brethren, or not.

Verse 16

Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.

Out of Jordan — For being now in the middle, and deepest place of the river, they are most properly said to go up to the land.

Verse 17

Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan.

The priests — Who stayed contentedly in the river, ’till God by Joshua called them out.

Verse 18

And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.

Their place — Returned into their proper channel, according to their natural and usual course.

Verse 19

And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.

The first month — Namely, 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 he used four days after, according to the law, Exodus 12:3; Exodus 12:6.

Gilgal — A place afterwards so called, Joshua 5:9.

Verse 20

And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.

In Gilgal — Probably in order, like so many little pillars, to keep up the remembrance of this miraculous benefit.

Verse 23

For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:

Before us — That is, myself and Caleb, and all of us here present; for this benefit, though done to their fathers, is justly said to be done to themselves, because they were then in their parent’s loins. It greatly magnifies later mercies, to compare them with former mercies; for hereby it appears, that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/wen/joshua-4.html. 1765.
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