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Biblical Personalities-Joshua-Monuments Print E-mail

Bible-Biblical-Personalities-Midrash-JoshuaOn the Tenth of Nisan: See Haftarah for First Day Pesach- "Transition": “When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, God said to Joshua,  “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.” So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of God your Lord into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’  tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of God. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”


So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as God had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down.  Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day (Joshua 4:1-9).”

While they were still in the Jordan, Joshua said to them, Know why you are crossing the Jordan; it is on condition that you disinherit the inhabitants of the land from before you; as it said: Then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you.”

Rabbi Judah said: Abba Halafta, R. Eliezer b. Mathia and Hananiah b. Hakinai stood upon those stones and estimated that each was equal to about forty se'ah. (Sotah 34a)

In consequence [of what is related in the Scriptures], you must conclude that there were three sets of stones: one which Moses caused to be erected in the land of Moab, as it is said: “Beyond Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare etc.,” and elsewhere it states: “You shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law [very plainly-explained in all seventy languages: Rashi] and the inference is drawn from the use of the analogous word.

The second set was that which Joshua caused to be erected in the midst of the Jordan, as it is said: “And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan.”

The third set was that which he caused to be erected in Gilgal, as it is said: And those twelve stones which they took.

Our Rabbis taught: How did the Israelites inscribe the Torah? — Rabbi Judah says: They inscribed it upon the stones, as it is stated: ‘“You shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law etc.”  After that they plastered them over with plaster.

Rabbi Simeon said to him, According to your explanation, how did the nations of that period learn the Torah!

He replied to him, The Holy One, blessed be He, endowed them with exceptional intelligence; and they sent their scribes who peeled off the plaster and carried away [a copy of the inscription]. On that account was the verdict sealed against them [to descend] to the pit of destruction, because it was their duty to learn [Torah] but they failed to do so.

Rabbi Simeon says: They inscribed it upon the plaster and wrote below, That they teach you not to do after all [their abominations]. Hence you learn that if they turn in penitence they would be accepted.

Come and see how many miracles were performed on that day. Israel crossed the Jordan, came to Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal [thus traversing a distance of] more than sixty mil, no creature was able to withstand them and whoever withstood them was immediately panic-stricken; as it is said: “I will send My terror before thee, and will discomfort all the people to whom you shalt come.”

And it states: “Terror and dread falls upon them . . . till Your people pass over, O Lord.” This alludes to the first advance [of Israel in the days of Joshua]; and “Till the people pass over which You have gotten,” alludes to the second advance in the days of Ezra. Conclude from this that the Israelites were worthy that a miracle should be performed on their behalf during the second advance as in the first advance, but sin caused [it to be withheld].

After that they brought the stones, built the altar, and plastered it with plaster, and inscribed thereon all the words of the Torah in seventy languages; as it is said: “Very plainly.”

Then they sacrificed burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, ate and drank and rejoiced, pronounced the blessings and the curses, packed up the stones, and came and lodged in Gilgal; as it is said: “Carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place.” It is possible [to think that they were to deposit them in any lodging place; therefore there is a text to state, “Where you shall lodge this night,” and then it is written: “And those twelve stones, which they took [out of Jordan, did Joshua set up in Gilgal (Sotah 35b-36a).”

iPray- Blessings: Rabbi Nachman said: Joshua instituted for them the "benediction of the land," the 2nd blessing of Birchat Hamazon, when they entered the land. (Berachot 48b)

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