約書亞記 4

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1 國民盡都過了約但河,耶和華就對約書亞

2 你從民中要揀選十,每支派

3 吩咐他們:你們從這裡,從約但河中、祭司站定的地方,取十石頭帶過去,放在你們今夜要住宿的地方。

4 於是,約書亞將他從以色列人中所預備的那十,每支派召了來。

5 對他們:你們下約但河中,過到耶和華─你們的約櫃前頭,按著以色列人十二支派的數目,每石頭扛在肩上。

6 這些石頭在你們中間可以作為證據。日後,你們的子孫問你們:這些石頭是甚麼意思?

7 你們就對他們:這是因為約但河的耶和華的約櫃前斷絕;約櫃過約但河的時候,約但河的就斷絕了。這些石頭要作以色列人永遠紀念

8 以色列人就照約書亞所吩咐的,按著以色列人支派的數目,從約但河中取了十石頭耶和華所吩咐約書亞的行了。他們把石頭帶過去,到他們所住宿的地方,就放在那裡。

9 約書亞另把十石頭立在約但河中,在抬約櫃的祭司站立的地方;直到今日,那石頭還在那裡。

10 抬約櫃的祭司站在約但河中,等到耶和華曉諭約書亞吩咐百姓的事辦完了,是照摩西所吩咐約書亞的一切。於是百姓急速過去了。

11 眾百姓盡都過了河,耶和華的約櫃和祭司就在百姓面前過去。

12 流便人、迦得人、瑪拿西支派的人都照摩西所吩咐他們的,帶著兵器在以色列人前頭過去。

13 約有四萬人都準備打仗,在耶和華面前過去,到耶利哥平原,等候上陣。

14 當那日,耶和華使約書亞在以色列眾人眼前尊大。在他平生的日子,百姓敬畏他,像從前敬畏摩西一樣。

15 耶和華曉諭約書亞

16 你吩咐抬法櫃的祭司從約但河裡上來。

17 約書亞就吩咐祭司說:你們從約但河裡上來。

18 耶和華約櫃的祭司從約但河裡上來,掌剛落旱地,約但河的就流到原處,仍舊漲過兩岸。

19 初十日,百姓從約但河裡上來,就在吉甲,在耶利哥的東邊安營。

20 他們從約但河中取來的那十石頭,約書亞就立在吉甲

21 以色列人:日後你們的子孫問他們的父親:這些石頭是甚麼意思?

22 你們就告訴他們以色列人曾走乾地過這約但河;

23 因為耶和華─你們的在你們前面使約但河的乾了,等著你們過來,就如耶和華─你們的從前在我們前面使紅乾了,等著我們過來一樣,

24 要使地上萬民都知道耶和華的大有能力,也要使你們永遠敬畏耶和華─你們的

  

Exploring the Meaning of 約書亞記 4      

Napsal(a) New Christian Bible Study Staff and Rev. Julian Duckworth

Joshua 4: Twelve stones are taken from the river Jordan

In this chapter we pick up on the command to take twelve men, one from each tribe, which was mentioned in chapter 3. The task is for each man to pick up a large stone from where the priests’ feet stand, and take it across, and put it in the lodging place. These stones will be as memorial stones so that later generations who ask what these stones mean will be told about the miracle of the Lord in the crossing of the river Jordan.

Later, the Israelites camped at Gilgal and Joshua set the twelve stones up as a permanent memorial.

A ‘stone’ is a piece of hard rock. It corresponds to a truth; for us it stands for a truth which we have made ours and which guides us in our life (Apocalypse Revealed 231). It might be the truth that the Lord’s providence is involved in everything that happens. It could be the great truth that we will live for ever, or that God came on earth as a human being and overcame the power of hell. These and other truths are rock hard truths or stones.

But here, it is a stone which has been washed and worked on by the waters of the river Jordan, and over much time has become fashioned and rounded by erosion. So, it could be a life-truth, for example that we are to show respect to other people. That’s a great truth, but now it is connected with our understanding of the Lord. So we are to show respect to other people because each and every person has been created by God for a unique purpose. And we can also add that we know how it feels when other people respect us.

So we assemble our twelve memorial stones. These are to be recalled, remembered, revisited by us again and again as time passes. “Yes, God brought me here from where I was before.” (Arcana Caelestia 1988). This meaning of the stones helps us with the apparent contradiction in the chapter between Joshua 4:9 where “the stones are set up in the Jordan and are there to this day” and verse Joshua 4:20 where “Joshua sets up the twelves stones from out of the Jordan, in Gilgal.” Stones can’t be in two places at once, but yes, spiritually they can and need to be.

We need to always remember and be mindful of how the Lord works with us in giving us truths for our life. Everything is the Lord! These are stones in the Jordan. Yet we need to always remember that we are to live, act, and turn away from any evil as if it is only us making that decision and doing it. These are the stones set up at Gilgal (Apocalypse Explained 700[14]). Both of them are involved in our regeneration and spiritual life.

Then we are told that the men of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh went across the Jordan armed and went before all the other tribes. This links with several other mentions of these tribes who had chosen to live back over the Jordan and not in the land of Canaan. They stand for our outward life and our life in the world which, while it is not directly spiritual, must have qualities that come from God’s truths. Here, those qualities come from being willing to go in and fight to help take the land (Arcana Caelestia 2184).

Verse 13 says that about 40,000 prepared for war and crossed the river Jordan before the Lord for battle. Here is a number. Numbers in the Word are helpful clues to the inner meaning. The number 40 always stands for some kind of temptation or crisis in the Word – for example, Jesus was in the wilderness 40 days and 40 nights, tempted. Here, 40 has grown to become 40,000 but it has the same meaning of temptation (Arcana Caelestia 2273). Our spiritual life and regeneration will certainly take us into various temptations (‘battles’) and the Lord allows them so that we grow stronger through them. The whole conquest of Canaan is nothing else!

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