We begin this 17th part in the series where we left off in Part 15, exploring more of what the Lord of Time has concealed for us in the book of Joshua. We had noted that, regarding the buried treasure of Joshua 4:9, the keystone pattern appears in the thematic structure of the text.
In the structure of Joshua's account of the Jordan crossing, verse 4:9 is the 4th line in a set of 4, as you can see highlighted in this graphic. The first two lines are separated from the other two by several lines of text, but you can confirm for yourself that these 4 compose a single unit easily enough. Just take some time to explore the interactive structure - in Part 15 or here, Thematic Symmetry of Joshua 3:1 - 5:1 - Interactive.
The keystone pattern involves 4 things in a sequence, with 3 being of the same kind and the 4th being similar but different and special. The subject of the first 3 lines of this 4 line unit involves 12 stones that are removed from the riverbed and subsequently carried off to be laid down in their lodging place. The 4th line involves a different set of 12 stones that are placed into the riverbed from where the others had been removed.
Line 1: "Take up for yourselves twelve stones..."
Line 2: "and carry them over with you..."
Line 3: "and they carried them over with them..."
Line 4: "9 Then Joshua set up twelve stones..."
This is the keystone pattern, and the implication is that this is a prophetic model of the 4 shemitah counted off from the celestial sign of 1991. For the moment, just keep this in mind because we'll be giving this significant observation more attention.
There are two other observations to note about the 4 lines of structure featured in the graphic above.
We call to your attention how there is a 3 to 1 ratio of stones-out to stones-in the number of lines of content. In fact, the imbalance in the narrative's larger context far exceeds that. The stones-out activity features heavily in the narrative, including the selection of the 12 men and the matter of being one for each of the 12 tribes of Israel, and this also includes the carrying of the stones away to their lodging place and setting them as a memorial in Gilgal. In contrast, the 12 stones Joshua placed in the riverbed occupies a single verse. As a result of this conspicuous imbalance, instead of receiving less emphasis the verse that is the 4th in the keystone set receives more!
The third observation reveals a curious and very significant feature. The action of the narrative is modeled for us in the structure of that very text. Twelve stones are taken from the riverbed and moved westward to Gilgal while twelve other stones are moved eastward from the promised land and placed into the riverbed. The action is a crossing over in opposite directions. This same crossing over appears in the structure of the text as the theme of the 1st line is repeated in the 4th and the theme of the 2nd is repeated in the 3rd. The themes repeat in reverse order, inverting, crossing over, you see. This kind of construction is called a chiasm because of the Greek letter that has the shape of a cross like the English letter X.
That 4 line unit of chiastic or cross-over design in the text exists within larger containers. The next-larger unit of thematic structure presents a simple repetition of themes in the same order, which forms a distinct unit in relation to the next-larger unit.
In the next-larger unit of structure we find another chiasm (spanning verses 3:16b-4:11a), as you see in this graphic.
The text with the brown background is concerned with the crossing over of all the people of the nation of Israel. Nested inside that, the text with the blue background (and also what's nested inside that) is concerned with the ritual of the crossing stones. In this graphic the small image of the highlighted passage appears next to the diagram of the crossing for easy comparison. The people of the nation of Israel flow around the Ark where the ritual of the crossing stones takes place. This is the same kind of thing we illustrated earlier with the crossing stones ritual being modeled by the crossing lines of text! The thematic structure of the text models the action of the narrative!
Perhaps the first benefit of this observation is simply an awareness that the Author has highlighted the activity of this event as something worthy of our special attention. We have gained several insights from our study and reflection, as the Lord has been gracious with favor.
The special construction of the text that models the action of the narrative informs us that the stone moving and crossing ritual was "nested inside" the crossing over of the children of Israel both spacially and chronologically, in space and time. The stones were crossing while the people were crossing, and this was highly organized and synchronized, choreographed in the way of ceremonial rituals.
We're working through this passage very deliberately to make it very plain that there's nothing willy-nilly going on. Aaron and I are being strongly impressed upon that what happened in that ritual crossing and in the weeks surrounding it echoes through time in a very literal way, and it will take more installments of this series of posts to develop this in a way that will make sense as we try to convey some what the Lord is bringing forth for our benefit, for our faith and hope and encouragement, in preparing us for what is soon to come. Along the way we'll share some things that will answer questions you may have had for a long time and others you have probably never thought to ask, and this fresh insight will invite more questions - of a better kind!
What a grand adventure this continues to be! We are, together, a people blessed with great abundance as we steward this grain of salvation toward the approaching famine.