The twelve commemorative stones (Josh 4:1-4:9)

“When the entire nation had finished crossing over the Jordan, Yahweh said to Joshua. ‘Select twelve men from the people, one from each tribe.’ Command them. ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood. Carry them over with you. Lay them down in the place where you camp tonight.’ Then Joshua summoned the twelve men from the Israelites, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. Joshua said to them. ‘Pass on before the ark of Yahweh your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, one for each of the tribes of the Israelites, so that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘what do those stones mean to you?’ Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh. When it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever.’”

Yahweh told Joshua to take 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan and pile them up in his camp. Each one of the tribes sends one person to do this. This stone pile will be a remembrance of how the Ark of the Covenant led the crossing of the Jordan for generations to come.

“The Israelites did as Joshua commanded. They took up twelve stones out of the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as Yahweh told Joshua. They carried them over with them to the place where they camped. They laid them down there. Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant had stood. They are there to this day.”

If this sounds confusing, it should be. There appears to be 2 stories combined here. The 1st is clear. The 2nd story is to pile 12 stones in the middle of the Jordan. One pile you can see, the one on land. However, the other is in the Jordan River so that you cannot see, but is still there today. Maybe they did both.