Reading through the Bible: day 72

Joshua 1 – 4

As the parting of water led the Israelites from Egypt, so it led them into the promised land.

There’s a problem in today’s text, which is internal. As I’ve pointed out on a few occasions, I feel that it’s not likely that an author would make such an internal error, but with Joshua I’m not so certain.

Joshua is generally said to have written his own book, and us fundamentalists like to keep it like that in our heads. The problem is, certain parts show that later additions may have been made, so it’s tough to call.

Where’d they put them stones?

A member from each of the twelve tribes selected a rock from the middle of the dried up Jordan, and they were placed to make a monument. 4:9 tells us they were “set up […] in the place in the place where the feet of the priests […] stood; and are there to this day.” 4:20 tells us they were “set up in Gilgal.”

The only thing I can think of, and this is possible from the wording in the text, is that the twelve men took their stones all the way to Gilgal, and Joshua built a monument of twelve (other) stones in the middle of the dry Jordan. While this would give a possible explanation to remove the contradiction, it leaves other questions. Why two monuments? Why one under water?

It’s possible that the one in Gilgal was to serve as the constant reminder to the Israelites, while the one in the river marked the crossing point but was only visible during drought periods. These are all just possibilities, and I’d be interested in your input.


Please give the reading through the Bible page a look if you haven’t already, there are some background posts and the index to this reading plan. Share it with others who you think can benefit from Reading the Bible.

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