Page images

nish the occasion of the fathers rehearsing to their children the history of the miraculous passage of the Jordan, and remain, also, a convincing proof of its reality. For how could these stones be set up at the time, or at any subsequent period, as commemorative of so wonderful an event, if it had never happened; unless, indeed, a whole nation were guilty of the imposture, or suffered themselves thus to be imposed upon, which, under the circumstances of the case, is perfectly incredible.

There was another and similar memorial of this miracle. At the command of Joshua, twelve stones were also set up in the bed of the Jordan, in the very “place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood;" and we read in the Scriptures, that "they are there unto this day”—that is, at the time when Joshua wrote the history, about twenty years after the event, or at a still later period, when some other inspired person added this clause to the original account. The Jordan, in its usual state, is not a deep river, and it was quite practicable so to arrange and elevate these stones that they would form a monument of a height to be sufficiently conspicuous in the midst of the stream, especially as its waters are remarkably transparent.

When every thing was, at length, finished according to the divine direction, and the people had entirely crossed the Jordan, the ark of the


Lord passed over, with the priests who bore it; while the vast multitude stood on the bank of the river in silent attention, to witness the closing scene of this wonderful interposition of the Almighty in their behalf. As soon as the priests, at the command of Joshua, had come up from the bed of the river, and their feet reached the dry ground, the Jordan instantly resumed its

The waters from above rushed down impetuously to fill up their wonted channel, and the stream rolled on, deep and full, overflowing again its far-distant banks, as if it had suffered no interruption.

These memorable events took place on the tenth day of the first month Nisan, (corresponding to the early part of our April,) 1451 years before the birth of Christ. It was just forty years, within five days, after the departure of the Israelites out of Egypt, four days before the annual feast of the passover, and on the day fixed for the setting apart of the paschal lamb for that occasion.

"On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they feared him as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.” Under the guidance and protection of God, he had brought them safely into the promised land. As the narrative opens before us, we shall find how much he had yet to do, that they might be established securely in the possession of their long-wished-for inheritance.

The closing scene of the christian's life has often been compared to the passage of the Jor. dan. For death alone separates him from the heavenly Canaan. All beyond is bright and lovely. The paradise of God-communion with him, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the spirits of the just made perfect-joys ineffable and eternal-await the believer, as soon as he leaves the body and enters the future world.

How should the example of the Israelites inspire him with an unwavering faith in Jesus, as he passes through the valley of the shadow of death. Having Joshua for their leader, and the ark of the covenant to precede them, they moved fearlessly over the Jordan, relying on the protection of Jehovah. And the presence of God, the consolations of the Spirit, the supporting arm of the Saviour, will be with the christian in his dying hour. Let him be assured of this, and be strong in the faith which will call down these blessings ; so that he may be able triumphantly to exclaim with the apostle, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."


The rite of circumcision administered, and the passover

observed at Gilgal, Joshua is commanded to take Jericho.

The inhabitants of Canaan were filled with great terror at the passage of the Israelites across the Jordan. It was such a miraculous interposition in behalf of this formidable people, as to show in a fearful light the power of the God whom they worshipped, and the protection he would afford them. The natural barrier which the river presented to their approach, was overcome, and the further progress of the invaders seemed irresistible. A general panic pervaded the oountry, as the news spread far and wide from the Jordan to the coasts of the sea; so that, in the strong language of the Scriptures, the heart of the inhabitants melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

In consequence of this, there was no rallying of the forces of the Canaanites to attack the encampment at Gilgal. It renained unmolested; and thus Joshua had an opportunity, in accordance with the divine command, of causing the rite of circumcision to be administered to those who, in Joshua & Judges.


their progress through the wilderness, had failed of receiving it.

It was the removing, by doing this, of the reproach that rested upon the Israelites, on account of so many of them remaining without circumcision, which gave its name to the place of their encampment; Gilgal signifying "a rolling away.To this place, which was situated between Jericho and the Jordan, about two miles from the former and six from the latter, Joshua and his army constantly returned, after their expeditions against the Canaanites. Here the manna ceased to fall. Here the first passover was celebrated after the entrance of the Israelites into the promised land. Here, probably, their women, children, flocks and goods remained during the continuance of their wars. Here the ark of the covenant had its residence till, after the conquest of the country, it was fixed at Shiloh. And here was the place where Saul was, many years afterwards, proclaimed king over Israel.

It was on the fourteenth day of the month at even, that the Israelites kept the passover at Gilgal. This was the third occasion of celebrating that sacred feast; the first being on the eve of their departure from Egypt, and the second at mount Sinai, the following year. On the day succeeding the passover, they ate of the old corn, (or grain,) of the land, which they probably found

« PreviousContinue »