Achan Sins and is Punished
1 But the Israelites disobeyed the command about the city’s riches.tn Heb “But the sons of Israel were unfaithful with unfaithfulness concerning what was set apart [to the Lord].” Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi,tn 1 Chr 2:6 lists a “Zimri” (but no Zabdi) as one of the five sons of Zerah (cf. also 1 Chr 7:17, 18). son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, stole some of the riches.tn Heb “took from what was set apart [to the Lord].” The Lord was furious with the Israelites.tn Heb “the anger of the Lord burned against the sons of Israel.”sn This incident illustrates well the principle of corporate solidarity and corporate guilt. The sin of one man brought the Lord’s anger down upon the entire nation.
2 Joshua sent men from Jerichomap For location see Map5-B2; Map6-E1; Map7-E1; Map8-E3; Map10-A2; Map11-A1. to Ai (which is located near Beth Aven, east of Bethelmap For the location of Bethel see Map4-G4; Map5-C1; Map6-E3; Map7-D1; Map8-G3.) and instructed them, “Go up and spy on the land.” So the men went up and spied on Ai.
3 They returned and reported to Joshua,tn Heb “and they returned to Joshua and said to him.” “Don’t send the whole army.tn Heb “Don’t let all the people go up.” About two or three thousand men are adequate to defeat Ai.tn Heb “Let about two thousand men or about three thousand men go up to defeat Ai.” Don’t tire out the whole army, for Ai is small.”tn Heb “all the people for they are small.”
4 So about three thousand men went up, but they fled from the men of Ai.
5 The men of Ai killed about thirty-six of them and chased them from in front of the city gate all the way to the fissurestn The meaning and correct translation of the Hebrew word שְׁבָרִים (shÿvarim) is uncertain. The translation “fissures” is based on usage of the plural form of the noun in Ps 60:4 HT (60:2 ET), where it appears to refer to cracks in the earth caused by an earthquake. Perhaps deep ravines or gorges are in view, or the word is a proper noun (“all the way to Shebarim”). and defeated them on the steep slope.sn The precise geographical location of the Israelite defeat at this “steep slope” is uncertain. The people’stn Or “army’s.” courage melted away like water.tn Heb “and the heart of the people melted and became water.”
6 Joshua tore his clothes;sn Tearing one’s clothes was an outward expression of extreme sorrow (see Gen 37:34; 44:13). he and the leaderstn Or “elders.” of Israel lay face down on the ground before the ark of the Lord until eveningtn Heb “and fell on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel.” and threw dirt on their heads.sn Throwing dirt on one’s head was an outward expression of extreme sorrow (see Lam 2:10; Ezek 27:30).
7 Joshua prayed,tn Heb “said.” “O, Master, Lord! Why did you bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites so they could destroy us?
8 If only we had been satisfied to live on the other side of the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say now that Israel has retreatedtn Heb “turned [the] back.” before its enemies?
9 When the Canaanites and all who live in the land hear about this, they will turn against us and destroy the very memory of ustn Heb “and cut off our name.” from the earth. What will you do to protect your great reputation?”tn Heb “What will you do for your great name?”
10 The Lord respondedtn Heb “said.” to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying there face down?tn Heb “Why are you falling on your face?”
11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenantal commandment!tn Heb “They have violated my covenant which I commanded them.” They have taken some of the riches;tn Heb “what was set apart [to the Lord].” they have stolen them and deceitfully put them among their own possessions.tn Heb “and also they have stolen, and also they have lied, and also they have placed [them] among their items.”
12 The Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they retreat because they have become subject to annihilation.tn Heb “they turn [the] back before their enemies because they are set apart [to destruction by the Lord].” I will no longer be with you,tn The second person pronoun is plural in Hebrew, indicating these words are addressed to the entire nation. unless you destroy what has contaminated you.tn Heb “what is set apart [to destruction by the Lord] from your midst.”
13 Get up! Ritually consecrate the people and tell them this: ‘Ritually consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, because the Lord God of Israel says, “You are contaminated,tn Heb “what is set apart [to destruction by the Lord] [is] in your midst.” O Israel! You will not be able to stand before your enemies until you remove what is contaminating you.”tn Heb “remove what is set apart [i.e., to destruction by the Lord] from your midst.”
14 In the morning you must approach in tribal order.tn Heb “by your tribes.” The tribe the Lord selectstn Heb “takes forcefully, seizes.” must approach by clans. The clan the Lord selects must approach by families.tn Heb “houses.” The family the Lord selects must approach man by man.tn Heb “by men.”
15 The one caught with the richestn Heb “with what was set apart [to the Lord].” must be burned uptn Heb “burned with fire.” along with all who belong to him, because he violated the Lord’s covenant and did such a disgraceful thing in Israel.’”
16 Bright and early the next morning Joshua made Israel approach in tribal ordertn Heb “by tribes.” and the tribe of Judah was selected.
17 He then made the clans of Judah approach and the clan of the Zerahites was selected. He made the clan of the Zerahites approach and Zabditn See the note on “Zabdi” in 1 Chr 7:1. was selected.tn Heb “and he selected Zabdi.” The Lord is the apparent subject. The LXX supports reading a passive (Niphal) form here, as does the immediate context.
18 He then made Zabdi’stn Heb “his”; the referent (Zabdi) has been specified in the translation for clarity. family approach man by mantn Heb “by men.” and Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, was selected.
19 So Joshua said to Achan, “My son, honortn Heb “give glory to.” the Lord God of Israel and give him praise! Tell me what you did; don’t hide anything from me!”
20 Achan told Joshua, “It is true. I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel in this way:tn Heb “like this and like this I did.”
21 I saw among the goods we seized a nice robe from Babylon,tn Heb “Shinar,” a reference to Babylon (cf. Gen 10:10; 11:2; 14:1). Many modern translations retain the Hebrew name “Shinar” (cf. NEB, NRSV) but some use the more familiar “Babylon” (cf. NIV, NLT). two hundred silver pieces,tn Heb “shekels.” and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels. I wanted them, so I took them. They are hidden in the ground right in the middle of my tent with the silver underneath.”
22 Joshua sent messengers who ran to the tent. The things were hidden right in his tent, with the silver underneath.tn Heb “Look, [it was] hidden in his tent, and the silver was beneath it.”
23 They took it all from the middle of the tent, brought it to Joshua and all the Israelites, and placedtn Heb “poured out,” probably referring to the way the silver pieces poured out of their container. it before the Lord.
24 Then Joshua and all Israel took Achan, son of Zerah, along with the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, ox, donkey, sheep, tent, and all that belonged to him and brought them up to the Valley of Disaster.tn Or “Trouble” The name is “Achor” in Hebrew, which means “disaster” or “trouble” (also in v. 26).
25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought disastertn Or “trouble.” The word is “achor” in Hebrew (also in the following clause). on us? The Lord will bring disaster on you today!” All Israel stoned him to death. (They also stoned and burned the others.)tc Heb “and they burned them with fire and they stoned them with stones.” These words are somewhat parenthetical in nature and are omitted in the LXX; they may represent a later scribal addition.
26 Then they erected over him a large pile of stones (it remains to this very daytc Heb “to this day.” The phrase “to this day” is omitted in the LXX and may represent a later scribal addition.) and the Lord’s anger subsided. So that place is called the Valley of Disaster to this very day.