Then the People of Israel violated the holy curse. Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah of the tribe of Judah, took some of the cursed things. God became angry with the People of Israel.
Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai (The Ruin), which is near Beth Aven just east of Bethel. He instructed them, "Go up and spy out the land." The men went up and spied out Ai.
They returned to Joshua and reported, "Don't bother sending a lot of people - two or three thousand men are enough to defeat Ai. Don't wear out the whole army; there aren't that many people there."
So three thousand men went up - and then fled in defeat before the men of Ai!
The men of Ai killed thirty-six - chased them from the city gate as far as The Quarries, killing them at the descent. The heart of the people sank, all spirit knocked out of them.
Joshua ripped his clothes and fell on his face to the ground before the Chest of God, he and the leaders throwing dirt on their heads, prostrate until evening.
Joshua said, "Oh, oh, oh . . . Master, God. Why did you insist on bringing this people across the Jordan? To make us victims of the Amorites? To wipe us out? Why didn't we just settle down on the east side of the Jordan?
Oh, Master, what can I say after this, after Israel has been run off by its enemies?
When the Canaanites and all the others living here get wind of this, they'll gang up on us and make short work of us - and then how will you keep up your reputation?"
God said to Joshua, "Get up. Why are you groveling?
Israel has sinned: They've broken the covenant I commanded them; they've taken forbidden plunder - stolen and then covered up the theft, squirreling it away with their own stuff.
The People of Israel can no longer look their enemies in the eye - they themselves are plunder. I can't continue with you if you don't rid yourselves of the cursed things.
"So get started. Purify the people. Tell them: Get ready for tomorrow by purifying yourselves. For this is what God, the God of Israel, says: There are cursed things in the camp. You won't be able to face your enemies until you have gotten rid of these cursed things.
"First thing in the morning you will be called up by tribes. The tribe God names will come up clan by clan; the clan God names will come up family by family; and the family God names will come up man by man.
The person found with the cursed things will be burned, he and everything he has, because he broke God's covenant and did this despicable thing in Israel."
Joshua was up at the crack of dawn and called Israel up tribe by tribe. The tribe of Judah was singled out.
Then he called up the clans and singled out the Zerahites. He called up the Zerahite families and singled out the Zabdi family.
He called up the family members one by one and singled out Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah of the tribe of Judah.
Joshua spoke to Achan, "My son, give glory to God, the God of Israel. Make your confession to him. Tell me what you did. Don't keep back anything from me."
Achan answered Joshua, "It's true. I sinned against God, the God of Israel. This is how I did it.
In the plunder I spotted a beautiful Shinar robe, two hundred shekels of silver, and a fifty-shekel bar of gold, and I coveted and took them. They are buried in my tent with the silver at the bottom."
Joshua sent off messengers. They ran to the tent. And there it was, buried in the tent with the silver at the bottom.
They took the stuff from the tent and brought it to Joshua and to all the People of Israel and spread it out before God.
Joshua took Achan son of Zerah, took the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his ox, donkey, sheep, and tent - everything connected with him. All Israel was there. They led them off to the Valley of Achor (Trouble Valley).
Joshua said, "Why have you troubled us? God will now trouble you. Today!" And all Israel stoned him - burned him with fire and stoned him with stones.
They piled a huge pile of stones over him. It's still there. Only then did God turn from his hot anger. That's how the place came to be called Trouble Valley right up to the present time.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)