Teaching Yehoshua, Part 3

  • 50 minutes
  • Grades: 3-6
  • Lesson Plan
  • by: Dahna Gordon Baskin

This lesson focuses on the gathering of twelve stones from the Yarden and the building of the monument in Gilgal.

Introduction

This lesson focuses on the gathering of twelve stones from the Yarden and the building of the monument in Gilgal.

Lesson objectives

Students will understand the text, Yehoshua 4: 1-24.

Resources & Equipment needed

Copies of Sefer Yehoshua.

Procedure

The following is also available in a worksheet format in the appendix below. Discuss the events of perek 4, making sure to cover these points.

1. Hashem told Yehoshua to choose twelve men-one from each tribe. Once the nation crossed over, the twelve men were to go back onto the river bed and pick up twelve stones from under the Kohanim’s feet. They were to bring these stones into the Land and build a monument to write parts of the Torah on them in 70 languages. This was for the world to see the miracle Hashem performed by splitting the Yarden. Hashem already prepared the stones so they would not have to dig them up. Even though they were huge stones they were able to carry them. The stones were also a witness to their children and grandchildren who would one day be curious and ask why the stones are there. Hashem didn’t have to perform these great miracles but He wanted the experience to be indelibly engraved upon their memories for all generations. The people could have waded quietly across the Yarden river in a natural way. But Hashem wanted it to be AMAZING. That’s why the 12 men had to GO BACK IN. Once everybody finished crossing, everybody would take notice of the people going back in. It wasn’t: “Oh do me a favor, while your crossing, it’s on your way, pick up some stones”. They risked their lives going back. They had no idea when the waters would come crashing down. Hashem also performed a miracle by allowing them to carry such heavy stones. Everybody watched and it was an experience that could not be easily forgotten.

2. Gilgal was where the monument was built because that was to be the camp of the Bnai Yisrael during the years of conquest. The Mishkan would also be there before it was erected in Shiloh. Only some of the people would go out and fight, the rest would remain in Gilgal –they were the majority. The monument needed to be easily visible because there was a great danger that they would forget that it was only in the merit of Torah and mitzvot that they had conquered the land. Only through continual faithfulness to Hashem and to His Torah would they be worthy of remaining there. They could not do as they please and feel secure. If they did whatever they wanted, the land would be conquered from right under them.

3. Why did Hashem choose to memorialize the miracles by a monument of 12 stones? When Yaakov was running away from his brother, the midrash tells us that he stopped to sleep on Har HaMoriah. He found the mizbe’ach Avraham used to sacrifice the ram instead of Yitzchak. He took 12 stones from it and and put them around his head to protect himself from wild animals. Miraculously, during the night, the 12 stones melded together to become one solid rock. This was a prediction that he would one day have 12 sons who would one day be the fathers of the 12 tribes. They would be strong and hard as stones. They would fight bravely and conquer Eretz Canaan. The message was that the 12 tribes would only be strong if they were united. As long as they lived together in peace they would be able to stand up to their enemies and defend their land. But if they would argue and fight amongst themselves they would become divided, and their enemies would conquer them and they would be exiled. Therefore Hashem commanded Yehoshua to take 12 stones for the 12 tribes and build them together into a mizbe’ach. The 12 stones were all equal in size and weight, just as each of the tribe played an equally important role in the eyes of Hashem.

4. Yehoshua also erected a twelve stone monument in the middle of the Yarden, they protruded above the water, so that in case future generations would forget what the monument on land was, they would see two sets of 12 stones opposite each other and know it was no coincidence. They will remember that this is the place Hashem made the miracle for Bnai Yisrael while they crossed the Yarden. Yehoshua erected the stones himself to show he didn’t want to belittle the 12 great leaders even though they were all not accustomed to doing manual labor.

Assessment
To review/evaluate the students comprehension of the class, there are two choices. One option is handing out the question sheet and having students answer the questions on their own. Alternatively, hand out the questions and answer key (see appendix 2) and have students match the Q&A correctly. The questions and correct answers appear below. Printer-ready versions of the questions and answer key appear in the appendix.

1. What is the message of the 12 strong stones together in a monument in the Yarden? The 12 stones were all equal in size and weight, just as each of the tribes played an equally important role in the eyes of Hashem. The 12 tribes would also be strong and hard as stones and would fight bravely and conquer Eretz Canaan. The message was that the 12 tribes would only be strong if they were united. As long as they lived together in peace they would be able to stand up to their enemies and defend their land. But if they would argue and fight amongst themselves, they would become divided, and their enemies would conquer them and they would be exiled.

2. Why did the monument need to be visible to Bnai Yisrael? The monument needed to be easily visible because there was a great danger that the nation would forget that it was only in the merit of Torah that they had conquered the land. Only through continual faithfulness to Hashem and to His Torah would they be worthy of remaining there. They could not do as they please and feel secure. If they did whatever they wanted, the land would be conquered from them.

3. What else would be in the same location as the 12 stone monument?The Mishkan would also be there (before it was erected in Shiloh).

4. Why ‘12’ stones? When Yaakov was running away from his brother, the midrash tells us that he stopped to sleep on Har HaMoriah. He found the mizbe’ach Avraham used to sacrifice the ram instead of Yitzchak. He took 12 stones from it and and put them around his head to protect himself from wild animals. Miraculously, during the night, the 12 stones melded together to become one solid rock. This was a prediction that he would one day have 12 sons who would be the fathers of Bnai Yisrael. Therefore Hashem commanded Yehoshua to take 12 stones, for the 12 tribes, and build them together into a mizbe’ach.

5. What did they need the 12 stones for? To build a monument on which parts of the Torah would be written in 70 languages. When people saw the monument, they would understand the miracle Hashem performed by splitting the Yarden. The stones were also meant to be a witness to their children and grandchildren who would one day be curious and ask why the stones are there.

6. Who picked up the stones to carry out of the Yarden? Twelve men—one from each tribe.

7. When did the men go and get the stones? Why then? Once all of Bnei Yisrael crossed over, the twelve men went back onto the river bed and picked the twelve stones. The people could have picked up the stones when everyone was crossing, but Hashem wanted it to be memorable. So once everybody finished crossing, the men went back in. Everybody would take notice of the people going back in. It wasn’t like: ‘Oh do me a favor, while your crossing, it’s on your way, pick up some stones’. They risked their lives going back. They had no idea when the waters would come crashing down. Hashem also enabled them to carry the heavy stones. Everybody watched and it was an experience that could not be easily forgotten.

8.What were the miracles Hashem made with respect to the 12 stones? Hashem already prepared the stones, they would not have to dig them up. Even though they were huge stones they were able to carry them.

9. Which part of the Yarden did the 12 stones come from? From under the Kohanim’s feet who were carrying the aron.

10. Where did Bnai Yisrael have to bring the 12 stones, why? Gilgal was where the monument was built because that was to be the camp of the Bnai Yisrael during the years of conquest. Only some of the people would go out and fight, the majority would remain in Gilgal for the duration.

11. Where and why did Yehoshua put up another 12 stone monument? Yehoshua also erected a twelve stone monument in the middle of the Yarden. These stones protruded above the water so that in case future generations forgot what the monument on land was, they would see two sets of 12 stones opposite each other and know it was no coincidence. They would remember that this is the place Hashem made the miracle for Bnai Yisrael while they crossed the Yarden.

12. Why didn’t Hashem just let Bnai Yisrael wade naturally over the Yarden? He wanted the experience to be indelibly engraved upon the memories of Bnei Yisrael for all generations.

Appendices

Related Lessons

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