Joshua 7

Listen to Joshua 7

Israel Defeated at Ai

1 But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for 1Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel.
2 Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near 2Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, "Go up and spy out the land." And the men went up and spied out Ai.
3 And they returned to Joshua and said to him, "Do not have all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few."
4 So about 3,000 men went up there from the people. And 3they fled before the men of Ai,
5 and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people 4melted and became as water.
6 Then Joshua 5tore his clothes and 6fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put 7dust on their heads.
7 And Joshua said, "Alas, O Lord GOD, 8why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan!
8 O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies!
9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and 9cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?"

The Sin of Achan

10 The LORD said to Joshua, "Get up! Why have you fallen on your face?
11 Israel has sinned; they have 10transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the 11devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings.
12 12Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They 13turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become 14devoted for destruction.[a] I will be with you no more, unless you destroy 15the devoted things from among you.
13 Get up! Consecrate the people and say, 16'Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the LORD, God of Israel, "There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you."
14 In the morning therefore you shall be brought near 17by your tribes. And the tribe that the LORD takes by lot shall come near by clans. And the clan that the LORD takes shall come near by households. And the household that the LORD takes shall come near man by man.
15 18And he who is taken with the devoted things shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has 19transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has done 20an outrageous thing in Israel.'"
16 So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel near tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was taken.
17 And he brought near the clans of Judah, and the clan of the 21Zerahites was taken. And he brought near the clan of the Zerahites man by man, and Zabdi was taken.
18 And he brought near his household man by man, and Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.
19 Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, 22give glory to the LORD God of Israel and 23give praise[b] to him. And 24tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me."
20 And Achan answered Joshua, "Truly 25I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did:
21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels,[c] then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath."
22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath.
23 And they took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the people of Israel. And they laid them down before the LORD.
24 And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the 26Valley of Achor.
25 And Joshua said, "Why did you 27bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today." And all Israel 28stoned him with stones. 29They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones.
26 And they raised over him 30a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then 31the LORD turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.[d]

Joshua 7 Commentary

Chapter 7

The Israelites smitten at Ai. (1-5) Joshua's humiliation and prayer. (6-9) God instructs Joshua what to do. (10-5) Achan is detected, He is destroyed. (16-26)

Verses 1-5 Achan took some of the spoil of Jericho. The love of the world is that root of bitterness, which of all others is most hardly rooted up. We should take heed of sin ourselves, lest by it many be defiled or disquieted, ( Hebrews 12:15 ) ; and take heed of having fellowship with sinners, lest we share their guilt. It concerns us to watch over one another to prevent sin, because others' sins may be to our damage. The easy conquest of Jericho excited contempt of the enemy, and a disposition to expect the Lord to do all for them without their using proper means. Thus men abuse the doctrines of Divine grace, and the promises of God, into excuses for their own sloth and self-indulgence. We are to work out our own salvation, though it is God that works in us. It was a dear victory to the Canaanites, whereby Israel was awakened and reformed, and reconciled to their God, and the people of Canaan hardened to their own ruin.

Verses 6-9 Joshua's concern for the honour of God, more than even for the fate of Israel, was the language of the Spirit of adoption. He pleaded with God. He laments their defeat, as he feared it would reflect on God's wisdom and power, his goodness and faithfulness. We cannot at any time urge a better plea than this, Lord, what wilt thou do for thy great name? Let God be glorified in all, and then welcome his whole will.

Verses 10-15 God awakens Joshua to inquiry, by telling him that when this accursed thing was put away, all would be well. Times of danger and trouble should be times of reformation. We should look at home, into our own hearts, into our own houses, and make diligent search to find out if there be not some accursed thing there, which God sees and abhors; some secret lust, some unlawful gain, some undue withholding from God or from others. We cannot prosper, until the accursed thing be destroyed out of our hearts, and put out of our habitations and our families, and forsaken in our lives. When the sin of sinners finds them out, God is to be acknowledged. With a certain and unerring judgment, the righteous God does and will distinguish between the innocent and the guilty; so that though the righteous are of the same tribe, and family, and household with the wicked, yet they never shall be treated as the wicked.

Verses 16-26 See 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. See also, how much it is our concern, when God is contending with us, to find out the cause that troubles us. We must pray with holy Job, Lord, show me wherefore thou contendest with me. Achan's sin began in the eye. He saw these fine things, as Eve saw the forbidden fruit. 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. It proceeded out of the heart. They that would be kept from sinful actions, must mortify and check in themselves sinful desires, particularly the desire of worldly wealth. Had Achan looked upon these things with an eye of faith, he would have seen they were accursed things, and would have dreaded them; but looking on them with an eye of sense only, he saw them as goodly things, and coveted them. When he had committed the sin, he tried to hide it. As soon as he had got this plunder, it became his burden, and he dared not to use his ill-gotten treasure. So differently do objects of temptation appear at a distance, to what they do when they have been gotten. See the deceitfulness of sin; that which is pleasing in the commission, is bitter in the reflection. See how they will be deceived that rob God. Sin is a very troublesome thing, not only to a sinner himself, but to all about him. The righteous God will certainly recompense tribulation to them that trouble his people. Achan perished not alone in his sin. They lose their own, who grasp at more than their own. His sons and daughters were put to death with him. It is probable that they helped to hide the things; they must have known of them. What fatal consequences follow, even in this world, to the sinner himself, and to all belonging him! One sinner destroys much good. What, then, will be the wrath to come? Let us flee from it to Christ Jesus as the sinner's Friend. There are circumstances in the confession of Achan, marking the progress of sin, from its first entrance into the heart to its being done, which may serve as the history of almost every offence against the law of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Cross References 31

  • 1. Joshua 22:20; [1 Chronicles 2:6, 7]
  • 2. Joshua 18:12; 1 Samuel 13:5; 1 Samuel 14:23; Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:8; Hosea 10:5
  • 3. Leviticus 26:17; Deuteronomy 28:25
  • 4. Joshua 2:9, 11
  • 5. Genesis 37:29, 34; Numbers 14:6; 2 Samuel 1:11; 2 Samuel 13:31
  • 6. Numbers 14:5
  • 7. 1 Samuel 4:12
  • 8. Exodus 5:22; 2 Kings 3:10
  • 9. Psalms 83:4
  • 10. ver. 15
  • 11. Joshua 6:17, 18
  • 12. Numbers 14:45; Judges 2:14
  • 13. ver. 8
  • 14. Joshua 6:18
  • 15. ver. 11
  • 16. Joshua 3:5
  • 17. 1 Samuel 10:19
  • 18. 1 Samuel 14:38, 39
  • 19. ver. 11
  • 20. Genesis 34:7; Judges 20:6
  • 21. Numbers 26:20
  • 22. 1 Samuel 6:5; Jeremiah 13:16; Malachi 2:2; John 9:24
  • 23. Numbers 5:6, 7; 2 Chronicles 30:22; Ezra 10:11; Daniel 9:4
  • 24. 1 Samuel 14:43
  • 25. 2 Samuel 12:13
  • 26. ver. 26; Joshua 15:7; Isaiah 65:10; Hosea 2:15
  • 27. Joshua 6:18; 1 Chronicles 2:7
  • 28. Leviticus 20:2; Leviticus 24:14
  • 29. Joshua 22:20
  • 30. Joshua 8:29; 2 Samuel 18:17; [Lamentations 3:53]
  • 31. Deuteronomy 13:17

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. That is, set apart (devoted) as an offering to the Lord (for destruction)
  • [b]. Or and make confession
  • [c]. A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
  • [d]. Achor means trouble

Chapter Summary


For the trespass of Achan the children of Israel were smitten and put to flight by the men of Ai, Jos 7:1-5; which gave him and the elders of the people great concern, both for Israel and for the name of the Lord, which was expressed by Joshua in prayer to God, Jos 7:6-9; when the Lord informed him of the reason of it, and gave him directions for finding out the guilty person, and for the punishment of him, Jos 7:10-15; which directions Joshua followed, and the person was found out, who being urged to a confession made one, Jos 7:16-21; upon which he and all he had, with the things he had taken, were burnt with fire, Jos 7:22-26.

Joshua 7 Commentaries