Bible Commentaries
Joshua 7

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-26

Repulse at Ai, due to Achan’s Sin

The capture of Jericho is followed by an attempt upon Ai, a place of strategic importance, as commanding a main entrance into the interior of Canaan westward; the upper entrance into the valley of Aijalon being commanded by Ai and Bethel. This chapter has an interest of its own, as exhibiting Joshua in a new light, as the spiritual guide, drawing out, with the mingled sweetness and severity of a father (Joshua 7:19), the sinner’s detailed confession (see on Joshua 7:20). The incident of Achan’s sin and its effects upon the fortunes of Israel is an illustration (a) of the penalty of solidarity—the inevitable spread of the results of sin and pollution from a single member to the whole body; (b) of the conditional nature of God’s promises of success. In contrast to the many previous assurances, it is announced that the presence of God is to be withdrawn absolutely (Joshua 7:12) unless the ’accursed thing’ be removed. Further, at the very beginning of the Holy War, Israel is taught—and we through Israel—that exceptional temptations do not excuse a lowering of the standard of conduct on the part of God’s soldiers.

6f. Joshua’s extreme despondency is really a mark of his soldiery capacity. He was general enough to know the immense moral effect of even a slight success or reverse at the beginning of a war. Moreover, no one who had Joshua’s sense of divine mission and vocation, as represented e.g. by the message of Joshua 1:2-9 and the vision of Joshua 5:13, could fail to interpret the reverse as implying some mysterious cause of divine displeasure. And though Joshua is chidden for the faithlessness of his despondency (Joshua 7:10), his uneasiness is at the same moment (Joshua 7:11) justified and explained.

20. There is a special interest about this confession of Achan’s, because its wording is practically identical with that of the traditional form of confession which seems to have been used by those who brought sin and trespass offerings. A particular confession is enjoined in such passages as Leviticus 5:6; Numbers 5:6, Numbers 5:7. The form was as follows: ’I have sinned, I have done perversely, I have rebelled, and thus’ (here follows detailed confession) ’have I done, but I return in penitence before Thee, and let this victim be my expiation.’

21. This verse throws an interesting light on the wealth of Jericho, and the extent of her commerce.

25. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire] This inclusion of Achan’s household in the punishment is one of the moral problems of the book. Edersheim (’Bib. Hist.’ art. ’Joshua,’ p. 69 note) interprets the use of the singular number in Joshua 7:25; as showing that Achan was the only person stoned; the plural number following (Joshua 7:25) referring to his cattle and property only. Others emphasise the fact (not brought out in the narrative) that his family must have been privy to the crime; or dwell on the ’entail’ of divine visitation pronounced in the second commandment (Exodus 20:5). The last view agrees best with the passage as it stands, which suggests in a very striking way the sufferings people bring upon their children by their sins.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Joshua 7". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.