With the crossing of the Jordan, the Israelites are ready for a new beginning. It seems auspicious that I read this chapter today, the day when Rosh Hashana begins. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts. It’s when the cycle of the seasons both ends and starts, embarking on a new era for all of us. Tonight begins 5776 according to the Jewish calendar. Although the Jewish and secular new years each have different customs, both inherently bring with them (at least for me) feelings of reflection and change. I’m eager to continue this project in the new year, as well as to embark on additional Jewish explorations.
Immediately when the people finish crossing the river, Joshua instructs each tribe to send a man to take a stone, representing his tribe, to place at their lodging place. “That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask in time to come, saying, What are these stones for you? Then you shall say to them, That the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord; when it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off; and these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever (Joshua 4:6-7).” Marking an occasion with a monument is an important way of imparting a tangible memory to future generations. The people obey Joshua and set up the stones. The priests finally exit the river, carrying the ark. Now, curiously, an additional twelve stones are taken out of the Jordan and set up at Gilgal. They are representative as well of the crossing. “That all the people of the earth might know the power of the Lord, that it is mighty; that you might fear the Lord your God forever (Joshua 4:24).”
Shana tovah to all of my readers. I wish you blessings for a sweet, happy, and healthy new year.