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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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A´chan (troubler); in 1 Chronicles 2:7 written Achar. From the peculiarly appropriate significance of the name, it is supposed to have been imposed after the occurrence of the facts which rendered it notorious. The city of Jericho, before it was taken, was put under that awful ban, whereby all the inhabitants (excepting Rahab and her family) were devoted to destruction, all the combustible goods to be consumed by fire, and all the metals to be consecrated to God. This vow of devotement was rigidly observed by all the troops when Jericho was taken, save by one man, Achan, a Judahite, who could not resist the temptation of secreting an ingot of gold, a quantity of silver, and a costly Babylonish garment, which he buried in his tent. But God made known this infraction, which (the vow having been made by the nation as one body) had involved the whole nation in his guilt. The Israelites were defeated, with serious loss, in their first attack upon Ai; and as Joshua was well assured that this humiliation was designed as the punishment of a crime which had inculpated the entire people, he took immediate measures to discover the criminal. As in other cases, the matter was referred to the Lord by the lot, and the lot ultimately indicated the actual criminal. The conscience-stricken offender then confessed his crime to Joshua; and his confession being verified by the production of his ill-gotten treasure, the people, actuated by the strong impulse with which men tear up, root and branch, a polluted thing, hurried away not only Achan, but his tent, his goods, his spoil, his cattle, his children, to the valley (afterwards called) of Achor, north of Jericho, where they stoned him, and all that belonged to him; after which the whole was consumed with fire, and a cairn of stones raised over the ashes. The severity of this act, as regards the family of Achan, has provoked some remark. Instead of vindicating it, as is generally done, by the allegation that the members of Achan's family were probably accessories to his crime after the fact, we prefer the supposition that they were included in the doom by one of those sudden impulses of indiscriminate popular vengeance to which the Jewish people were exceedingly prone, and which, in this case, it would not have been in the power of Joshua to control by any authority which he could under such circumstances exercise





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Achan'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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