Joshua 7

1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the devoted things; for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. Therefore the LORD’s anger burned against the children of Israel. 2 Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, “Go up and spy out the land.” The men went up and spied out Ai. 3 They returned to Joshua, and said to him, “Don’t let all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and strike Ai. Don’t make all the people to toil there, for there are only a few of them.” 4 So about three thousand men of the people went up there, and they fled before the men of Ai. 5 The men of Ai struck about thirty-six men of them, and they chased them from before the gate even to Shebarim, and struck them at the descent. The hearts of the people melted, and became like water. 6 Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the LORD’s ark until the evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. 7 Joshua said, “Alas, Lord GOD, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to cause us to perish? I wish that we had been content and lived beyond the Jordan! 8 Oh, Lord, what shall I say, after Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! 9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and will surround us, and cut off our name from the earth. What will you do for your great name?” 10 The LORD said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face like that? 11 Israel has sinned. Yes, they have even transgressed my covenant which I commanded them. Yes, they have even taken some of the devoted things, and have also stolen, and also deceived. They have even put it amongst their own stuff. 12 Therefore the children of Israel can’t stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will not be with you any more, unless you destroy the devoted things from amongst you. 13 “Get up! Sanctify the people, and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, for the LORD, the God of Israel, says, “There is a devoted thing amongst you, Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted thing from amongst you.” 14 “‘In the morning therefore you shall be brought near by your tribes. It shall be that the tribe which the LORD selects shall come near by families. The family which the LORD selects shall come near by households. The household which the LORD selects shall come near man by man. 15 It shall be, that he who is taken with the devoted thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the LORD’s covenant, and because he has done a disgraceful thing in Israel.’” 16 So Joshua rose up early in the morning and brought Israel near by their tribes. The tribe of Judah was selected. 17 He brought near the family of Judah; and he selected the family of the Zerahites. He brought near the family of the Zerahites man by man, and Zabdi was selected. 18 He brought near his household man by man, and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was selected. 19 Joshua said to Achan, “My son, please give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and make confession to him. Tell me now what you have done! Don’t hide it from me!” 20 Achan answered Joshua, and said, “I have truly sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel, and this is what I have done. 21 When I saw amongst the plunder a beautiful Babylonian robe, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, then I coveted them and took them. Behold, they are hidden in the ground in the middle of my tent, with the silver under it.” 22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent. Behold, it was hidden in his tent, with the silver under it. 23 They took them from the middle of the tent, and brought them to Joshua and to all the children of Israel. They laid them down before the LORD. 24 Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his cattle, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had; and they brought them up to the valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? the LORD will trouble you today.” All Israel stoned him with stones, and they burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. 26 They raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. The LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Therefore the name of that place was called “The valley of Achor” to this day.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–5

Achan took some of the spoil of Jericho. The love of the world is that root of bitterness, which of all others is most hardly rooted up. We should take heed of sin ourselves, lest by it many be defiled or disquieted, Heb 12:15; and take heed of having fellowship with sinners, lest we share their guilt. It concerns us to watch over one another to prevent sin, because others’ sins may be to our damage. The easy conquest of Jericho excited contempt of the enemy, and a disposition to expect the Lord to do all for them without their using proper means. Thus men abuse the doctrines of Divine grace, and the promises of God, into excuses for their own sloth and self-indulgence. We are to work out our own salvation, though it is God that works in us. It was a dear victory to the Canaanites, whereby Israel was awakened and reformed, and reconciled to their God, and the people of Canaan hardened to their own ruin.

Verses 6–9

Joshua’s concern for the honour of God, more than even for the fate of Israel, was the language of the Spirit of adoption. He pleaded with God. He laments their defeat, as he feared it would reflect on God’s wisdom and power, his goodness and faithfulness. We cannot at any time urge a better plea than this, Lord, what wilt thou do for thy great name? Let God be glorified in all, and then welcome his whole will.

Verses 10–15

God awakens Joshua to inquiry, by telling him that when this accursed thing was put away, all would be well. Times of danger and trouble should be times of reformation. We should look at home, into our own hearts, into our own houses, and make diligent search to find out if there be not some accursed thing there, which God sees and abhors; some secret lust, some unlawful gain, some undue withholding from God or from others. We cannot prosper, until the accursed thing be destroyed out of our hearts, and put out of our habitations and our families, and forsaken in our lives. When the sin of sinners finds them out, God is to be acknowledged. With a certain and unerring judgment, the righteous God does and will distinguish between the innocent and the guilty; so that though the righteous are of the same tribe, and family, and household with the wicked, yet they never shall be treated as the wicked.

Verses 16–26

See the folly of those that promise themselves secrecy in sin. The righteous God has many ways of bringing to light the hidden works of darkness. See also, how much it is our concern, when God is contending with us, to find out the cause that troubles us. We must pray with holy Job, Lord, show me wherefore thou contendest with me. Achan’s sin began in the eye. He saw these fine things, as Eve saw the forbidden fruit. See what comes of suffering the heart to walk after the eyes, and what need we have to make this covenant with our eyes, that if they wander they shall be sure to weep for it. It proceeded out of the heart. They that would be kept from sinful actions, must mortify and check in themselves sinful desires, particularly the desire of worldly wealth. Had Achan looked upon these things with an eye of faith, he would have seen they were accursed things, and would have dreaded them; but looking on them with an eye of sense only, he saw them as goodly things, and coveted them. When he had committed the sin, he tried to hide it. As soon as he had got this plunder, it became his burden, and he dared not to use his ill-gotten treasure. So differently do objects of temptation appear at a distance, to what they do when they have been gotten. See the deceitfulness of sin; that which is pleasing in the commission, is bitter in the reflection. See how they will be deceived that rob God. Sin is a very troublesome thing, not only to a sinner himself, but to all about him. The righteous God will certainly recompense tribulation to them that trouble his people. Achan perished not alone in his sin. They lose their own, who grasp at more than their own. His sons and daughters were put to death with him. It is probable that they helped to hide the things; they must have known of them. What fatal consequences follow, even in this world, to the sinner himself, and to all belonging him! One sinner destroys much good. What, then, will be the wrath to come? Let us flee from it to Christ Jesus as the sinner’s Friend. There are circumstances in the confession of Achan, marking the progress of sin, from its first entrance into the heart to its being done, which may serve as the history of almost every offence against the law of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

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