Crossing Over

Read or hear the story from Joshua 4:19-24

The book of Joshua was a product of a Jewish renewal movement during the time Israel was in exile in Babylon (6th century BCE). It was part of the Deuteronomistic History that shaped Jewish identity and gave them hope in a hopeless situation and power in a powerless place. (read Joshua and the Land, pp 3-6)

Moses said,
      Observe this law in the land you are about to cross into and occupy
            So that you and your children may worship God . . .
      Recite these words to your children
(see Deuteronomy 6)

Joshua said,
      You shall let your children know the meaning of these stones
            so that you may worship the Lord forever.

Jordon River illustration

Remember what happened to the water and the Egyptians at the Red Sea?
enslaved by Egyptians, led by Moses, saved by God
(see the story in Exodus 14)

Remember what happened to the demoniac and the pigs at the Galilean Sea?
possessed by demons, confronted by Jesus, saved by God
(see the story in Mark 5)

What is it about God that these stories communicate?


The people of Israel remember God as one who has the power to save them in their time of need. (read Joshua and the Land, pp. 11-12)

Jordan River illustration

Yeah, but . . .
What were the Israelites being saved from?
Seems like they were on the attack, not on the defense.
Seems like God helped them cross the river so they could destroy a city.

Okay, maybe . . .
God saved Israel from being a people without a land. (read Joshua and the Land, p. 19)
God wills that people have what they need to meet their needs.

Do you think God still does this?
Click here to add your response and/or read others' responses.

The story of Joshua crossing over the Jordan with the people of Israel was remembered throughout Israelís history. Thereís another favorite story which has similar features. It is about the prophets Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings:2). The similarities are:

For the story about Elijah and Elisha, check out 2 Kings:2.

Conflict over land . . . then . . . now
conflict image
  • Israel vs. Canaan in Palestine

        What is it?
                Not a city . . .
                        A holy place with a circle of twelve stones.

An ancient prompt to ask the question,
        Why are these here?
and to answer,
        In order to remember the times
        God has been present for us and helped us.

12 rocks

question mark
What do you do to remember the times
        God has been present for you and helped you?
What will remind you?
How do you expect the next generation to know?
12 rocks, 12 disciples...

12 stones in a circle
        12 tribes in the land
                12 disciples around the table
These are signs of remembrance.
Is there anything about this story that reminds you of Holy Communion?

The next time you:
        hear the words, Do this in remembrance of me
        taste the bread and wine
        see the circle of worshipers
remember the people of Israel crossing the river,
your spiritual family and the power God uses for you.

For a scholarly discussion of the relationship between the Jordan River and the Red Sea, read God at War, pages 64-65 by Old Testament professor Tom Dozeman

For information on stone circles in England, Scotland, and Ireland which date from the same Bronze Age period as Joshua, see the Stone Pages. (note*)

Note* These links jump to outside sites for further information. Links do not constitute an endorsement by the Women's Division of the information on other web sites. These links expose United Methodist Women to diverse perspectives, afford us an opportunity to compare them to United Methodist positions, and encourage United Methodist Women to critically analyze the issues raised by the Joshua web pages.

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Created by the Joshua Project Team who would appreciate your feedback.