12 stones of Joshua – ATA

Did Joshua have 12 stones removed from the Jordan river (Joshua 4:20) or not (Joshua 4:9)? Is there a contradiction?


The command and fulfillment of the command to take 12 stones out of the Jordan is found throughout the text.

Between verses 1-3, the people were told to select twelve men who would take up the twelve stones out of the Jordan river. Joshua then spoke with the men who had been appointed, telling them the significance of the stones (verses 4-7). One verse later, we have the confirmation that they did exactly as they were told to do:

And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the LORD has spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. (Joshua 4:8)

From verse 10-24, we have a detailed description of the events of that day: the priests standing in the midst of the Jordan, the people passing through, the stones being picked up, and eventually set up at Gilgal (v 20). So, what is verse 9 about?

It reads:

Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day. (Joshua 4:9)

These are not the stones mentioned in the rest of the text. Verse 1-8 and verses 10-24 clearly stated that twelve stones were taken from the river and set up at Gilgal. This is another memorial that was set up by Joshua in the midst of the river.

There is no contradiction.

A response to 1001 Bible Contradictions.

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