Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Joshua: Chapter 4


Take the inside out,
bring the ourside in
Stable in the swirl
foot sunk in sand--

then disconnect at let the water back in.

[For full chapter, click here
This chapter followes seemlessly from the last: it is the actualization of the plans and commands.  If the previous chapter ends with the announcment that "all the nation passed through the Jordan," this chapter begins at the moment after "and it was, when all the nation passed through the Jordan." If in the previous chapter, God promised Joshua that "I will begin to magnify you in the eyes of this nation, and they will know that as I was with Moses I will be with you" (3: 7),  in this chapter it has become a fact: "on that day God magnified Joshua in the eyes of all of Israel, and they feared him as they had feared Moses, all the days of his life" (4:14).

Continued is the theme of transition, here embodied in the Jordan River, the literal passage between before and after, inside and outside, As in the case of Rahab and her window, there is something sacred about the liminal space, and about the right of passage. The men that Joashua "prepared" before the passage must go back and take stones from the bedrock of the river, by the very feet of the preists. These stones are to be set up in the first "resting place" that Israel finds within the Land (again, an allusion to Moses and his experience at the "resting place" [malon] on his way to Egypt], continuing the presence of the passage. These are to be "speaking stones", arousing testemony. And even as teh Jordan is moved into the Land, the outer edge is moved into the Jordan, as twelve stones are set up within the river, to permenantly link the before and after. Thus, the desert experience is linked into teh transitional space of the river, and the river is moved into the "resting place" at Gilgal.  

Holding the passage open are the feet of the preists, rooted within the watery mud, causing the river to pile up on one side, and dry up on the other. "As soon as the soles of the preists' feet were lifted to the dry land, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place, running between its banks as before" (4:18). The transition from Moses to Joshua, from desert to the Land, revolves around literal movement: around learning to walk in a new way.]

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