Friday, May 20, 2011

Parting Waters

Did you know that waters are parted four times in the Bible?

I'm sure many are familiar with the scene from the movie the Ten Commandments, where Moses parts the Red Sea with his staff in dramatic fashion. In the Bible, of course, the parting of the Red Sea is found in Exodus 14.

The interesting thing is, though, that it is not the only place where waters are parted in the Bible. Waters are also parted in these three passages: Joshua 3:1 - 4:18, II Kings 2:7-8, and II Kings 2:13-14.

In Joshua 3:14-17, for example, the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land via the Jordan River:
So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest), that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.
In the II Kings 2:7-8 passage, Elijah and Elisha are also crossing the Jordan River, but in this case Elijah rolls up his cloak and strikes the waters: 
And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood facing them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
Likewise, in II Kings 2:13-14, when Elisha crossed the Jordan, he also rolled up his cloak (well, Elijah's cloak, really) and struck the water:
He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, “Where is the LORD God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over.
In addition, in the Joshua passage, it talks about memorial stones being placed near the river to commemorate the crossing. In Joshua 4:4-7 it reads:
Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed 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.”
Has anybody gone on an archaelogical search today to find these stones?

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