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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Achan

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(Heb. Akan',עָכָן , prob. troubler; Sept. Ἀχάν in Joshua 22:20, elsewhere ῎Αχαρ), a son of Carmi, called also ACHAR (1 Chronicles 2:7), in commemoration of his crime and awful doom, as related in Joshua 7:1-26 (see Kitto's Daily Bible Illust. in loc.). The city of Jericho, before it was taken, was put under that awful ban, of which there are other instances in the early Scripture history, 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 (see Deuteronomy 7:16; Deuteronomy 7:23-26). 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, deeming that his sin was hid. 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 whole people, he took immediate measures to discover the criminal by means of the lot (q.v.). 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 hurried away not only Achan, but his tent, his goods, his spoil, his cattle, his children, to the valley (hence afterward called) of Achor (q.v.), near 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, B.C. 1618. (See Pyle, Sermons, 3, 185; Saurin, Disc. Hist. 3, 78; Simeon, Works, 2, 574; Buddicom, Christ. Exodus 2, 350; Origen, Opp. 2, 415). The severity of this act, as regards the family of Achan, has provoked some remark (see A. Clarke and Keil, in loc.). 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 stern, vehement impulses of semi-martial vengeance to which the Jewish (like all Oriental) people were exceedingly prone, and which, though extreme (comp. Deuteronomy 24:16), was permitted (for the terms "all that he hath" did not necessarily prescribe it) as a check to a cupidity that tended so strongly both to mutiny and impiety. (See ACCURSED),


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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Achan'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/a/achan.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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