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Nave's Topical Bible - Cremation; Discipline; Dishonesty; Disobedience to God; Intercession; Nation; Punishment; Self-Condemnation; Self-Incrimination; Stoning; Thompson Chain Reference - Achan; Bible Stories for Children; Capital Punishment; Children; Cremation; Dead, the; Death Penalty; Home; Nation, the; Penalty, Death; Pleasant Sunday Afternoons; Punishment; Punishments; Religion; Stoning; Stories for Children; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Courts of Justice; Judgments; Punishments;
Verse Joshua 7:25. Why hast thou troubled us? — Here is a reference to the meaning of Achan's or Achar's name, מה עכרתנו meh ACHAR-tanu; and as עכר achar is used here, and not עכן achan, and the valley is called the valley of Achor, and not the valley of Achan, hence some have supposed that Achar was his proper name, as it is read 1 Chronicles 2:7, and in some MSS., and ancient versions. Joshua 7:17.
And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned then with stones. — With great deference to the judgment of others, I ask, Can it be fairly proved from the text that the sons and daughters of Achan were stoned to death and burnt as well as their father? The text certainly leaves it doubtful, but seems rather to intimate that Achan alone was stoned, and that his substance was burnt with fire. The reading of the present HEBREW text is, They stoned HIM with stones, and burnt THEM with fire, after they had stoned THEM with stones. The singular number being used in the first clause of the verse, and the plural in the last, leaves the matter doubtful. The VULGATE is very clear: Lapidavitque EUM omnis Israel; et cuncta quae illius erant, igne consumpta sunt, "All Israel stoned him; and all that he had was consumed with fire." The SEPTUAGINT add this and the first clause of the next verse together: Και ελιθοβολησαν αυτον λιθοις πας Ισραηλ, και επεστησαν αυτῳ σωρον λιθων μεγαν: And all Israel stoned HIM with stones, and raised over HIM a great heap of stones. The Syriac says simply, They stoned HIM with stones, and burned what pertained to HIM with fire. The TARGUM is the same as the Hebrew. The ANGLO-SAXON seems to refer the whole to Achan and his GOODS: [Anglo-Saxon] And HIM they stoned there, and burnt his goods. The ARABIC version alone says, They stoned HIM and his CHILDREN, and his goods, [Arabic]. Instead of burnt THEM, אתם otham, two of De Rossi's MSS. read אתו otho, HIM; which reading, if genuine, would make the different members of the verse agree better. It is possible that Achan, his oxen, asses, sheep, tent, and all his household goods, were destroyed, but his sons and daughters left uninjured. But it may be asked, Why are they brought out into the valley with the rest? Why, that they might see and fear, and be for ever deterred by their father's punishment from imitating his example.
I have gone thus far into this important transaction, in which the justice and mercy of God are so much concerned, that I might be able to assign to each its due. That Achan's life was forfeited to justice by his transgression, no one doubts: he sinned against a known and positive law. His children could not suffer with him, because of the law, Deuteronomy 24:16, unless they had been accomplices in his guilt: of this there is no evidence; and the text in question, which speaks of Achan's punishment, is extremely dubious, as far as it relates to this point. One circumstance that strengthens the supposition that the children were not included, is the command of the Lord, Joshua 7:15: "HE that is taken with the accursed thing, shall be burnt with fire; he, and all that he hath." Now, all that he hath may certainly refer to his goods, and not to his children; and his punishment, and the destruction of his property would answer every purpose of public justice, both as a punishment and preventive of the crime; and both mercy and justice require that the innocent shall not suffer with the guilty, unless in very extraordinary cases, where God may permit the righteous or the innocent to be involved in those public calamities by which the ungodly are swept away from the face of the earth: but in the case before us, no necessity of this kind urged it, and therefore I conclude that Achan alone suffered, and that his repentance and confession were genuine and sincere; and that, while JUSTICE required his life, MERCY was extended to the salvation of his soul.
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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 7:25". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-7.html. 1832.
Achan’s sin (7:1-26)
God was angry that Israel had not been fully obedient to him in the conquest of Jericho. One of the people, Achan, secretly kept for himself what he should have destroyed (7:1). Therefore, when the Israelites moved on to attack the much smaller town of Ai, God allowed them to be driven back and to suffer losses (2-5). Joshua was distressed, not just because Israel had been defeated, but because their defeat would encourage the Canaanites. If all the Canaanites joined forces, Israel could be destroyed (6-9).
In response to Joshua’s desperate prayer, God told him the reason for Israel’s defeat. One person’s sin concerning the devoted things of Jericho was enough to break the agreement that the whole nation had made with God, and so bring disaster upon it. God’s curse on the devoted things passed on automatically to those associated with them. The person who kept the devoted things was now himself devoted to destruction, and through him Israel was also (see 6:18). The nation could be saved only by destroying the devoted things and all persons and things connected with them (10-15). Through the ritual of drawing lots, Joshua discovered that Achan was the guilty person. Achan’s confession confirmed that the choice was correct (16-21). He and all that was his were then destroyed (22-26).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Joshua 7:25". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/joshua-7.html. 2005.
25. And Joshua said, etc The invective seems excessively harsh; as if it had been his intention to drive the wretched man to frantic madness, when he ought rather to have exhorted him to patience. I have no doubt that he spoke thus for the sake of the people, in order to furnish a useful example to all, and my conclusion, therefore, is, that he did not wish to overwhelm Achan with despair, but only to show in his person how grievous a crime it is to disturb the Church of God. It may be, however, that the haughty Achan complained that his satisfaction, by which he thought that he had sufficiently discharged himself, was not accepted, (75) and that Joshua inveighed thus bitterly against him with the view of correcting or breaking his contumacy. The question seems to imply that he was expostulating, and when he appeals to God as judge, he seems to be silencing an obstinate man. The throwing of stones by the whole people was a general sign of detestation, by which they declared that they had no share in the crime which they thus avenged, and that they held it in abhorrence. The heap of stones was intended partly as a memorial to posterity, and partly to prevent any one from imprudently gathering particles of gold or silver on the spot, if it had remained unoccupied. For although the Lord had previously ordered that the gold of Jericho should be offered to him, he would not allow his sanctuary to be polluted by the proceeds of theft.
(75) French, “ Combien qu’il se peut faire, qu’Achan estant fier se soit plaint de ce qu’on ne se contentoit pas de la reparation, et payement qu’il avoit fait, par lequel il pensoit s’estre bien acquitte, et avoir grand devoir;” “Although it may be that Achan complained of their not being contented with the reparation and payment which he had made, and by which he thought that he had acquitted himself well, and performed a great duty.” — Ed.
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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 7:25". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-7.html. 1840-57.
Now in chapter seven we read that,
The children of Israel committed a trespass against the Lord in the [holy thing, or in the] accursed thing: [rather] for Achan took of the accursed thing: [That is he took some of the spoil that they said was to go only to God, and he took it for himself.] and God's anger was kindled against the children of Israel ( Joshua 7:1 ).
So Moses sent some men up to look over Bethel and Ai. Now Jordan is down in the plains. Jericho is down in the plains of Jordan. It's quite a climb up the valley from Jericho to Bethel, and Ai. Actually when you're in Jericho you're about twelve hundred feet below sea level. When you get up to Bethel, you're about twenty-eight hundred feet above sea level. There is this valley that goes up, a very beautiful valley, that goes up from Jericho up to Bethel. It was the natural route. So the men went up and they looked and Ai, and they came back to Joshua. They said, "Joshua there's no need of sending the whole army, just give us two or three thousand men, and we'll take Ai."
So Joshua sent a regiment up to take the men of Ai. The men of Ai came out against them and they began to flee, and the men of Ai pursued them and thirty-six of them were slain. They came running back to camp. Joshua fell on his face before the Lord, down in verse seven, and he prayed, tore his clothes, fell to the earth on his face.
And Joshua said, Alas, [That's a term that means, "we've had it", kind of a thing, "Alas",] O Lord, why have you brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and we had stayed on the other side of Jordan. O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turns their backs before their enemies. When the Canaanites hear of this, they shall encircle us, and cut off our name from the earth: and what will you do to your great name? And the Lord said to Joshua, Stand up, why are you lying on your face ( Joshua 7:7-10 )?
I like this. It's like when Moses was lying on his face when they had found themselves trapped between Pihahiroth and Zephon, and the Red sea in front of them, and the Egyptian army had cut off their retreat route. Moses cried out unto the Lord, "We're trapped." The Lord said, "Wherefore thou criest unto me?" "Well who else am I gonna cry to? You're the one that led me down here." The Lord said, "Stretch forth your hand." In other words, "Hey, now's not the time to pray, time to move." There comes a time to move, and there's a time to pray. True. But then there's a time to get up and start moving. "And Moses, this isn't the time to pray, this is the time to move."
Now with Joshua, here he is laying out the whole lament. "Lord, what are You doing to us? What are we gonna do turning our backs to the enemies? Boy, when this word gets around, they're all gonna come down, we're gonna get wiped out. We'd have been better off if we'd stayed on the other side. Lord, what are You doing?" The Lord said, "Stand up. Why are you crying unto me?" Then the Lord revealed to him that there was sin in the camp.
They have transgressed God's covenant for they have taken unto themselves of the treasure from Jericho ( Joshua 7:11 ).
Now as we make a spiritual analogy here, and I think it is important that we do it. You see spiritually now we are entering into a new dimension of relationship with God, the life and the walk of the Spirit. Now God hasn't promised that it's gonna be all victory. There are battles. There are giants in the land. Your flesh has been deeply entrenched for a long, long time.
Now they conquered over the first obstacle because they followed the instructions of the Lord implicitly. But having gained the first victory, a danger arose, that was this business of self-confidence. "Lord we don't need Your help with Ai. We now know what the process of victory is. We're flushed with victory. God has just delivered this strong city into our hands. Ai, it isn't nearly as big as Jericho. If we can conquer Jericho then Ai will be nothing. Lord, we don't need You on this one. We can handle this one on our own. Joshua don't send the whole army, just a couple thousand of us. We'll go up and take that thing for you."
How many times, when God has given us a victory over some major issue of our flesh, we get flushed with victory? And with a feeling of confidence, and we think, "Oh my, I've got it, I've arrived. I don't need help anymore. I can handle this little area. This is nothing, Lord, you know. I'll be able to manage this one, no problem God." I go out on my own without first seeking God. God says, "Stand up. Why are you crying unto Me?" Had he prayed first, he wouldn't have been in the predicament he was in.
Now that is often true of our lives. If we had only prayed beforehand, we would have never been in the mess. So many times we are crying unto the Lord saying, "Lord, why?" He says, "Hey, why are you crying unto Me? Where were you before you started the thing? I didn't tell you to go there. I didn't command you to get into that mess. I'm not the one that directed you there. You went there on your own." Self-confidence, I think, "Lord, I can manage this. I can handle this. I don't need Your help." Man, that's when the enemy always just gives me a real trumping. Beware of that kind of self-confidence, and know that you can't conquer the least of the areas of your flesh without divine guidance and help. Sorry about that, but you're just as weak as I am when it comes to dealing with the flesh. We've got to have the help of the Lord in every area of our lives if we are going to know victory over the flesh.
Now the reason why that is so is because God doesn't want you to become a proud fool, and to go around boasting of how you conquered over your appetite. Or you conquered over this, or that, or the other, and start laying heavy trips on us, and becoming sort of pharisaical against us, saying, "Well, I used to have that problem too, but I just did this, and that and the other, and anybody can do it if they really set their mind to it, you know." That kind of bologna, and you start putting down everybody else like "If you were only as good as I am, then you could make it." So God lets us realize how hopelessly and helplessly we are lost without His help. So that when the victory comes, all I can say is, "Oh thank You, Lord. You did it."
I tried everything, everything to get rid of my temper. You don't know how hard I tried. I hated it. I hated myself whenever I would lose my temper. But one day God took it away. For a long time I was trying to control my temper because that's what my mother told me. "Son, control yourself." I tried, and there were times when I was relatively successful, building up a real head of steam inside, but keeping it capped. But then sometimes that cap didn't work, and then when I blew, I really blew because there was so much pressure inside at that point, that you know, then you really go wild. You just tear everything up. Then you feel miserable and horrible. "Oh no. Why did I do that?" Just going through the whole thing.
One day God took it away. It was no longer a process of controlling my temper. I didn't have a temper. I didn't realize that He had taken it away for several years. One day something happened that would've really triggered me with a tremendous outburst, and there was no outburst. There was no steam, there was no anger, and I realized God had taken that vile, horrible temper away. "Oh praise the Lord."
So I don't have any little formulas of success, on how to control your temper. I tried them all and they didn't work. But I have discovered that what I couldn't do for myself, the Lord was able to do for me when I came to the end of myself. When I despaired of myself, when I knew that I couldn't do it, and I cried out in desperation, "God help me. I can't do it."
Now so often we think that, "Oh, that's the end of the road when I have to call upon God when I can't do it". Oh how tragic that you would get to that point. No. How blessed, because that final cry of despair is often the prelude for the first cry of victory. When God brings you to the absolute end and despairing of yourself, and you know that there is no way you can do it and you give up. Then is when God has the opportunity to step in and begin His work, because He's taking you one point beyond yourself. That's always a great point to be. "God it can't be done unless You do it." So that then when He goes ahead and does it, I then don't play the fool and take the glory as though I did it.
Now God wants the glory for the victories in your life. God gave them a glorious victory at Jericho. They thought, "We got it made. Don't send the whole army, we'll just go up." They got whipped, came running back to Joshua. God said, "Don't cry unto Me there's sin in the camp. If everything was all right within the camp, you would've had the victory. But there's sin in the camp." They had taken of the accursed thing. So they called off the tribes, had the tribes come by, and God chose the tribe of Judah. They had the families of Judah come by, and God chose this particular family out of the tribes of Judah. Then God had the families to pass by, and God then picked out from the family, this fellow by the name of Achan from the family of the Zarhites.
and Zabdi was taken: And he brought out 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 taken ( Joshua 7:17-18 ).
Now if you were Achan, how would you feel if all the tribes passed by, and then they say, "The tribe of Judah", you think, "Oh, I wonder." Then they have all the families of Judah pass by, and they choose this family, the Zarhites. You think, "Uh oh getting closer." Then they have all the families of the Zarhites pass by, and they choose then your own household. Then it comes right down to you.
And Joshua said to Achan, My son, [I love the way that Joshua deals with him in tenderness, course he dealt pretty firmly in a little bit, but gives him a chance to repent at least, "And Joshua said unto Achan, My son,"] give, I pray thee, glory to Jehovah the God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what have you done; don't try to hide it from me. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and I've done this: And when I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, I coveted them, and I took them; behold, they are hid in the earth in the middle of my tent, the silver is under it. So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and all the children of Israel, and they laid them out before the Lord ( Joshua 7:19-23 ).
So Achan was guilty of stealing, this belonged to God. It was to be given to the Lord all of the spoil of Jericho. But this man coveted, he saw this beautiful Babylonish garment. He saw this silver and gold, and he coveted these things, and took them and hid them in his tent figuring no one would know, no one would see. But his sin was costly, it cost the lives of thirty-two, thirty-six of the men of Israel, who fell before the men of Ai.
Lot of times a person thinks that he, that his sin only bothers me. "My sin it may hurt me, but it only hurts me", kind of bit. No sir. Your sin has a bad effect on others. So Achan and his family were brought forth, and Achan was stoned for his sin.
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Joshua 7:25". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/joshua-7.html. 2014.
2. Defeat at Ai ch. 7
At Jericho, Israel learned God’s strength. At Ai, she learned her own weakness. She could only conquer her enemies as she remained faithful to God’s covenant.
"We are never in greater danger than right after we have won a great victory." [Note: Henry Jacobsen, Claiming God’s Promises: Joshua, p. 62.]
"The pinching of the [east-west] ridge route by Ai . . . makes it a natural first line of defense for the Hill Country around Bethel. Therefore, tactically speaking, the strategic importance of the region and routes around Bethel . . . and Bethel’s natural eastern approach from Jericho via Ai explain Joshua’s choice of this region and this site as his first objective in the Hill Country. This basic fact cannot be ignored in any discussion of the identification of the location of Ai.
"In the Bible the site of Ai (HaAi in Hebrew means the ruin or the heap of stones) is linked with Bethel. The most prominent ruin in the entire area east of the Bethel Plateau is called in Arabic et-Tell . . . at the junction of the two main natural routes from Jericho to the Hill Country. . . . The site of et-Tell has no equal in the region both in terms of strategic importance and in terms of surface debris indicating an ancient city.
"Excavations at et-Tell have revealed a large city from the Early Bronze Age [3150-2200 B.C.] in the millennium prior to Joshua’s conquest. A small village later than Joshua’s conquest (later than both the early and the late dates for the conquest) does not provide the answer to the question of the lack of remains at et-Tell. Therefore, although the setting of et-Tell fits perfectly the detailed geographical information in Joshua 8, 9, an archaeological problem exists due to the lack of remains from the period of Joshua at the site." [Note: Monson, pp. 168-69. For a review of excavations in search of Ai and the problem of the lack of archaeological evidence for Ai’s existence at et-Tell in Joshua’s day, see Ziony Zevit, "The Problem of Ai," Biblical Archaeology Review 11:2 (March-April 1985):58-69. See also Archer, "Old Testament . . .," p. 111.]
One scholar argued for et-Tell being the Ai of Abraham’s time, el-Maqatir being the Ai of Joshua’s time, and still another close site being the Ai of Nehemiah’s time (Ezra 2:28; Nehemiah 7:32). El-Maqatir is less than a mile west of et-Tell. [Note: Peter Briggs, "Testing the Factuality of the Conquest of Ai Narrative in the Book of Joshua," a paper presented at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Colorado Springs, Colo., Nov. 15, 2001.]
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 7:25". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/joshua-7.html. 2012.
Even though Achan’s sin carried a punishment that he could not decrease or postpone, Achan could at least reduce his guilt by confessing his sin. This he did in response to Joshua’s paternal entreaty (Joshua 7:19). Confessing one’s sin is one way to glorify God.
Achan’s confession clearly revealed the process involved in yielding to temptation (Joshua 7:21). He allowed the sight of something attractive to grow into covetousness. Then he took the step from covert mental sin to overt physical sin. Finally he sought to cover his action rather than confessing it. The same progression appears in the story of the Fall and in the story of David’s sin with Bathsheba (Genesis 3:6-7; Genesis 3:10; 2 Samuel 11:2-4; 2 Samuel 11:8). One shekel weighed about four ounces. Josephus wrote that the mantle from Shinar that Achan took was "a royal garment woven entirely of gold." [Note: Josephus, 5:1:10.]
The Israelites punished Achan’s children with him (Joshua 7:24), evidently because they had participated in his sin (cf. Proverbs 15:27). [Note: Woudstra, p. 130.] It would have been difficult for Achan to hide the amount of spoil he took under his tent without his family’s knowledge. The people also destroyed all of Achan’s possessions (cf. Deuteronomy 13:16-17). Achan’s sin was high-handed defiance against God (cf. Numbers 15:30; Numbers 15:35).
The heap of stones the people raised over Achan, his family, and his possessions (Joshua 7:26) memorialized this act of rebellion for the Israelites and their children (cf. Joshua 8:29; 2 Samuel 18:17). They named the valley in which the execution took place "Achor" (lit. troubling or disaster) as a further reminder (cf. Hosea 2:15; Isaiah 65:10). Note the wordplay with Achan’s name.
"Whilst they [the Israelites] learned from his mercies how greatly he was to be loved, they needed also to learn from his judgments how greatly he was to be feared." [Note: Bush, p. 85.]
Israel’s defeat at Ai graphically illustrates the far-reaching influence of sin. The private sin of one or a few individuals can affect the welfare of many other people who do not personally commit that sin.
Achan and his family were to Israel at this time what Ananias and Sapphira were to the early church (Acts 5). They were a strong warning of the consequences of sin among God’s people. Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10), and Korah and his cohorts (Numbers 16), were similar examples. The fact that God does not judge sin today as He did on these occasions does not mean He feels any less strongly about it. He mercifully withholds judgment in most instances. Nevertheless sin still produces the same destruction and death.
"God’s first revenges are so much more fearful, because they must be exemplary." [Note: J. Hall, Contemplations on the Old and New Testaments, p. 99.]
God’s punishment on Achan was not unfair. It is only by God’s mercy that any sinner lives to old age. God can judge any sinner at any time in his or her life and be perfectly just. No sinner has any claim on God’s grace. God is no man’s debtor.
"As we read in ch. vii the story of Israel’s first fight and first failure, we shall see that there were in the main, two causes of defeat: self-confidence, and covetousness; and these are still prime causes of failure in a Christian life." [Note: W. Graham Scroggie, The Land and Life of Rest, p. 38.]
Chapters 1-7 form a unit of text: the Jericho siege narrative. Rahab and Achan open and close this section respectively forming its "bookends." Rahab was a female Canaanite prostitute; Achan was an Israelite man. Rahab hid the spies under her roof; Achan hid stolen loot under his tent. Rahab, her house, and her family were saved; Achan, his tent, and his family were destroyed. The writer was teaching theology by the way he constructed his narrative. [Note: J. Daniel Hays, "An Evangelical Approach to Old Testament Narrative Criticism," Bibliotheca Sacra 166:661 (January-March 2009):12.]
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 7:25". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/joshua-7.html. 2012.
And Joshua said, why hast thou troubled us?.... Been the occasion of so much trouble to us, by committing this sin:
the Lord shall trouble thee this day; by the destruction of him and all that belonged to him: this is said to show that his punishment was of God, and according to his will: in the Misnah r an emphasis is laid on the phrase "this day", and it is observed,
"this day thou shalt be troubled, but thou shalt not be troubled in the world to come;''
suggesting that though temporal punishment was inflicted on him, yet his iniquity was forgiven, and he would be saved with an everlasting, salvation; and as it may be hoped from the ingenuous confession that he made, that he had true repentance for it, and forgiveness of it:
and all Israel stoned him with stones; hence some gather, that only Achan himself suffered death, and not his sons and daughters:
and burnt them with fire after they had stoned them with stones; which the Jewish commentators understand of his oxen, asses, and sheep; so Jarchi, Ben Gersom, and Abarbinel: likewise his tent, and household goods, the Babylonish garment, gold and silver, were burnt, and he himself also, for that is the express order, Joshua 7:15; the Jews say, as particularly Jarchi observes, that he was stoned because he profaned the sabbath, it being on the sabbath day that Jericho was taken, and stoning was the punishment of the sabbath breaker, and he was burnt on the account of the accursed thing; so Abendana.
r Sanhedrin ut supra. (Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 18. sect. 6.)
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 7:25". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-7.html. 1999.
|Achan's Arraignment; Achan's Confession; The Execution of Achan.||B. C. 1451.|
16 So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken: 17 And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken: 18 And he brought 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 taken. 19 And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. 20 And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: 21 When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. 22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. 23 And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD. 24 And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. 26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.
We have in these verses,
I. The discovery of Achan by the lot, which proved a perfect lot, though it proceeded gradually. Though we may suppose that Joshua slept the better, and with more ease and satisfaction, when he knew the worst of the disease of that body of which, under God, he was the head, and was put into a certain method of cure, yet he rose up early in the morning (Joshua 7:16; Joshua 7:16), so much was his heart upon it, to put away the accursed thing. We have found Joshua upon other occasions an early riser; here it shows his zeal and vehement desire to see Israel restored to the divine favour. In the scrutiny observe, 1. That the guilty tribe was that of Judah, which was, and was to be, of all the tribes, the most honourable and illustrious; this was an alloy to their dignity, and might serve as a check to their pride: many there were who were its glories, but here was one that was its reproach. Let not the best families think it strange if there be those found in them, and descending from them, that prove their grief and shame. Judah was to have the first and largest lot in Canaan; the more inexcusable is one of that tribe it, not content to wait for his own share, he break in upon God's property. The Jews' tradition is that when the tribe of Judah was taken the valiant men of that tribe drew their swords, and professed they would not sheathe them again till they saw the criminal punished and themselves cleared who knew their own innocency. 2. That the guilty person was at length fastened upon, and the language of the lot was, Thou art the man,Joshua 7:18; Joshua 7:18. It was strange that Achan, being conscious to himself of guilt, when he saw the lot come nearer and nearer to him, had not either the wit to make an escape or the grace to make a confession; but his heart was hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, and it proved to be to his own destruction. We may well imagine how his countenance changed, and what horror and confusion seized him when he was singled out as the delinquent, when the eyes of all Israel were fastened upon him, and every one was ready to say, Have we found thee, O our enemy? See here, (1.) 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, and so bringing to shame and ruin those that continue their fellowship with those unfruitful works. A bird of the air, when God pleases, shall carry the voice,Ecclesiastes 10:20. See Psalms 94:7, c. (2.) How much it is our concern, when God is contending with us, to find out what the cause of action is, what the particular sin is, that, like Achan, troubles our camp. We must thus examine ourselves and carefully review the records of conscience, that we may find out the accursed thing, and pray earnestly with holy Job, Lord, show me wherefore thou contendest with me. Discover the traitor and he shall be no longer harboured.
II. His arraignment and examination, Joshua 7:19; Joshua 7:19. Joshua sits judge, and, though abundantly satisfied of his guilt by the determination of the lot, yet urges him to make a penitent confession, that his soul might be saved by it in the other world, though he could not give him any encouragement to hope that he should save his life by it. Observe, 1. How He accosts him with the greatest mildness and tenderness that could be, like a true disciple of Moses. He might justly have called him "thief," and "rebel," "Raca," and "thou fool," but he call him "son;" he might have adjured him to confess, as the high priest did our blessed Saviour, or threatened him with the torture to extort a confession, but for love's sake he rather beseeches him: I pray thee make confession. This is an example to all not to insult over those that are in misery, though they have brought themselves into it by their own wickedness, but to treat even offenders with the spirit of meekness, not knowing, what we ourselves should have been and done if God had put us into the hands of our own counsels. It is likewise an example to magistrates, in executing justice, to govern their own passions with a strict and prudent hand, and never suffer themselves to be transported by them into any indecencies of behaviour or language, no, not towards those that have given the greatest provocations. The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Let them remember the judgment is God's, who is Lord of his anger. This is the likeliest method of bringing offenders to repentance. 2. What he wishes him to do, to confess the fact, to confess it to God, the party offended by the crime; Joshua was to him in god's stead, so that in confessing to him he confessed to God. Hereby he would satisfy Joshua and the congregation concerning that which was laid to his charge; his confession would also be an evidence of his repentance, and a warning to others to take heed of sinning after the similitude of his transgression: but that which Joshua aims at herein is that God might be honoured by it, as the Lord, the God of infinite knowledge and power, from whom no secrets are hid; and as the God of Israel, who, as he does particularly resent affronts given to his Israel, so he does the affronts given him by Israel. Note, In confessing sin, as we take shame to ourselves, so we give glory to God as righteous God, owning him justly displeased with us, and as a good God, who will not improve our confessions as evidences against us, but is faithful and just to forgive when we are brought to own that he would be faithful and just if he should punish. By sin we have injured God in his honour. Christ by his death has made satisfaction for the injury; but it is required that we by repentance show our good will to his honour, and, as far as in us lies, give glory to him. Bishop Patrick quotes the Samaritan chronicle, making Joshua to say here to Achan, Lift up thy eyes to the king of heaven and earth, and acknowledge that nothing can be hidden from him who knoweth the greatest secrets.
III. His confession, which now at last, when he saw it was to no purpose to conceal his crime, was free and ingenuous enough, Joshua 7:20; Joshua 7:21. Here is, 1. A penitent acknowledgment of fault. "Indeed I have sinned; what I am charged with is too true to be denied and too bad to be excused. I own it, I lament it; the Lord is righteous in bringing it to light, for indeed I have sinned." This is the language of a penitent that is sick of his, and whose conscience is loaded with it. "I have nothing to accuse any one else of, but a great deal to say against myself; it is with me that the accursed thing is found; I am the man who has perverted that which was right and it profited me not." And that wherewith he aggravates the sin is that it was committed against the Lord God of Israel. He was himself an Israelite, a sharer with the rest of that exalted nation in their privileges, so that, in offending the God of Israel, he offended his own God, which laid him under the guilt of the basest treachery and ingratitude imaginable. 2. A particular narrative of the fact: Thus and thus have I done. God had told Joshua in general that a part of the devoted things was alienated, but is to him to draw from Achan an account of the particulars; for, one way or other, God will make sinners' own tongues to fall upon them (Psalms 64:8); if ever he bring them to repentance, they will be their own accusers, and their awakened consciences will be instead of a thousand witnesses. Note, It becomes penitents, in the confession of their sins to God, to be very particular; not only, "I have sinned," but, "In this and that instance I have sinned," reflecting with regret upon all the steps that led to the sin and all the circumstances that aggravated it and made it exceedingly sinful: thus and thus have I done. He confesses, (1.) To the things taken. In plundering a house in Jericho he found a goodly Babylonish garment; the word signifies a robe, such as princes wore when they appeared in state, probably it belonged to the King of Jericho; it was far fetched, as we translate it, from Babylon. A garment of divers colours, so some render it. Whatever it was, in his eyes it made a very glorious show. "A thousand pities" (thinks Achan) "that it should be burnt; then it will do nobody any good; if I take it for myself, it will serve me many a year for my best garment." Under these pretences, he makes bold with this first, and things it no harm to save it from the fire; but, his hand being thus in, he proceeds to take a bag of money, two hundred shekels, that is one hundred ounces of silver, and a wwedge of gold which weighed fifty shekels, that is twenty-five ounces. He could not plead that, in taking these, he saved them from the fire (for the silver and gold were to be laid up in the treasury); but those that make a slight excuse to serve in daring to commit one sin will have their hearts so hardened by it that they will venture upon the next without such an excuse; for the way of sin is downhill. See what a peer prize it was for which Achan ran this desperate hazard, and what an unspeakable loser he was by the bargain. See Matthew 16:26. (2.) He confesses the manner of taking them. [1.] the sin began in the eye. He saw these fine things, as Eve saw the forbidden fruit, and was strangely charmed with the sight. 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. Look not thou upon the wine that is red, upon the woman that is fair; close the right eye that thus offense thee, to prevent the necessity of plucking it out, and casting it from thee, Matthew 5:28; Matthew 5:29. [2.] It proceeded out of the heart. He owns, I coveted them. thus lust conceived and brought forth this sin. Those that would be kept from sinful actions must mortify and check in themselves sinful desires, particularly the desire of worldly wealth, which we more particularly call covetousness. O what a world of evil is the love money the root of! Had Achan looked upon these things with an eye of faith, he would have seen them accursed things, and would have dreaded them, but, looking upon them with an eye of sense only, he saw them goodly things, and coveted them. It was not the looking, but the lusting that ruined him. [3.] When he had committed it he was very industrious to conceal it. Having taken of the forbidden treasures, fearing lest any search should be made for prohibited goods, he hid them in the earth, as one that resolved to keep what he had gotten, and never to make restitution. Thus does Achan confess the whole matter, that God might be justified in the sentence passed upon him. See the deceitfulness of sin; that which is pleasing in the commission is bitter in the reflection; at the last it bites like a serpent. Particularly, see what comes of ill-gotten goods, and how those will be cheated that rob God. Job 20:15, He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again.
IV. His conviction. God had convicted him by the lot; he had convicted himself by his own confession; but, that no room might be left for the most discontented Israelite to object against the process, Joshua has him further convicted by the searching of his tent, in which the goods were found which he confessed to. Particular notice is taken of the haste which the messengers made that were sent to search: They ran to the tent (Joshua 7:22; Joshua 7:22), not only to show their readiness to obey Joshua's orders, but to show how uneasy they were till the camp was cleared of the accursed thing, that they might regain the divine favour. Those that feel themselves under wrath find themselves concerned not to defer the putting away of sin. Delays are dangerous, and it is not time to trifle. When the stolen goods were brought they were laid out before the Lord (Joshua 7:23; Joshua 7:23), that all Israel might see how plain the evidence was against Achan, and might adore the strictness of God's judgments in punishing so severely the stealing of such small things, and yet the justice of his judgments in maintaining his right to devoted things, and might be afraid of ever offending in the like kind. In laying them out before the Lord they acknowledged his title to them, and waited to receive his directions concerning them. Note, Those that think to put a cheat upon God do but deceive themselves; what is taken from him he will recover (Hosea 2:9) and he will be a loser by no man at last.
V. His condemnation. Joshua passes sentence upon him (Joshua 7:25; Joshua 7:25): Why hast thou troubled us? There is the ground of the sentence. O, how much hast thou troubled us! so some read it. He refers to what was said when the warning was given not to meddle with the accursed thing (Joshua 6:18; Joshua 6:18), lest you make the camp of Israel a curse and trouble it. Note, Sin is a very troublesome thing, not only to the sinner himself, but to all about him. He that is greedy of gain, as Achan was, troubles his own house (Proverbs 15:27) and all the communities he belongs to. Now (says Joshua) God shall trouble thee. See why Achan was so severely dealt with, not only because he had robbed God, but because he had troubled Israel; over his head he had (as it were) this accusation written, "Achan, the troubler of Israel," as Ahab, 1 Kings 18:18. This therefore is his doom: God shall trouble thee. Note, the righteous God will certainly recompense tribulation to those that trouble his people, 2 Thessalonians 1:6. Those that are troublesome shall be troubled. Some of the Jewish doctors, from that word which determines the troubling of him to this day, infer that therefore he should not be troubled in the world to come; the flesh was destroyed that spirit might be saved, and, if so, the dispensation was really less severe than it seemed. In the description both of his sin and of his punishment, by the trouble that was in both, there is a plain allusion to his name Achan, or, as he is called, 1 Chronicles 2:7, Achar, which signifies trouble. He did too much answer his name.
VI. His execution. No reprieve could be obtained; a gangrened member must be cut off immediately. When he is proved to be an anathema, and the troubler of the camp, we may suppose all the people cry out against him, Away with him, away with him! Stone him, stone him! Here is,
1. The place of execution. They brought him out of the camp, in token of their putting far from them that wicked person,1 Corinthians 5:13. When our Lord Jesus was made a curse for us, that by his trouble we might have peace, he suffered as an accursed thing without the gate, bearing our reproach, Hebrews 13:12; Hebrews 13:13. The execution was at a distance, that the camp which was disturbed by Achan's sin might not be defiled by his death.
2. The persons employed in his execution. It was the act of all Israel, Joshua 7:24; Joshua 7:25. They were all spectators of it, that they might see and fear. Public executions are public examples. Nay, they were all consenting to his death, and as many as could were active in it, in token of the universal detestation in which they held his sacrilegious attempt, and their dread of God's displeasure against them.
3. The partakers with him in the punishment; for he perished not alone in his iniquity,Joshua 22:20; Joshua 22:20. (1.) The stolen goods were destroyed with him, the garment burnt, as it should have been with the rest of the combustible things in Jericho, and the silver and gold defaced, melted, lost, and buried, in the ashes of the rest of his goods under the heap of stones, so as never to be put to any other use. (2.) All his other goods were destroyed likewise, not only his tent, and the furniture of that, but his oxen, asses, and sheep, to show that goods gotten unjustly, especially if they be gotten by sacrilege, will not only turn to no account, but will blast and waste the rest of the possessions to which they are added. The eagle in the fable, that stole flesh from the altar, brought a coal of fire with it, which burnt her nest, Habakkuk 2:9; Habakkuk 2:10; Zechariah 5:3. Those lose their own that grasp at more than their own. (3.) His sons and daughters were put to death with him. Some indeed think that they were brought out (Joshua 7:24; Joshua 7:24) only to be the spectators of their father's punishment, but most conclude that they died with him, and that they must be meant Joshua 7:25; Joshua 7:25, where it is said they burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. God had expressly provided that magistrates should not put the children to death for the fathers'; but he did not intend to bind himself by that law, and in this case he had expressly ordered (Joshua 7:15; Joshua 7:15) that the criminal, and all that he had, should be burnt. Perhaps his sons and daughters were aiders and abettors in the villany, had helped to carry off the accursed thing. It is very probable that they assisted in the concealment, and that he could not hide them in the midst of his tent but they must know and keep his counsel, and so they became accessaries ex post facto--after the fact; and, if they were ever so little partakers in the crime, it was son heinous that they were justly sharers in the punishment. However God was hereby glorified, and the judgment executed was thus made the more tremendous.
4. The punishment itself that was inflicted on him. He was stoned (some think as a sabbath breaker, supposing that the sacrilege was committed on the sabbath day), and then his dead body was burnt, as an accursed thing, of which there should be no remainder left. The concurrence of all the people in this execution teaches us how much it is the interest of a nation that all in it should contribute what they can, in their places, to the suppression of vice and profaneness, and the reformation of manners; sin is a reproach to any people, and therefore every Israelite indeed will have a stone to throw at it.
5. The pacifying of God's wrath hereby (Joshua 7:26; Joshua 7:26): The Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger. The putting away of sin by true repentance and reformation, as it is the only way, so it is a sure and most effectual way, to recover the divine favour. Take away the cause, and the effect will cease.
VII. The record of his conviction and execution. Care was taken to preserve the remembrance of it, for warning and instruction to posterity. 1. A heap of stones was raised on the place where Achan was executed, every one perhaps of the congregation throwing a stone to the heap, in token of his detestation of the crime. 2. A new name was given to the place; it was called theValley of Achor, or trouble. This was a perpetual brand of infamy upon Achan's name, and a perpetual warning to all people not to invade God's property. By this severity against Achan, the honour of Joshua's government, now in the infancy of it, was maintained, and Israel, at their entrance upon the promised Canaan, were reminded to observe, at their peril, the provisos and limitations of the grant by which they held it. The Valley of Achor is said to be given for a door of hope, because when we put away the accursed thing then there begins to be hope in Israel, Hosea 2:15; Ezra 10:2.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Joshua 7:25". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/joshua-7.html. 1706.
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30