Joshua 7

Achan’s Sin

1 But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things[a] ; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri,[b] the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel.
2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.
3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.”
4 So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai,
5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.
6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads.
7 And Joshua said, “Alas, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan!
8 Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies?
9 The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?”
10 The LORD said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?
11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions.
12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.
13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them.
14 “ ‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the LORD chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the LORD chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the LORD chooses shall come forward man by man.
15 Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!’ ”
16 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was chosen.
17 The clans of Judah came forward, and the Zerahites were chosen. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was chosen.
18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was chosen.
19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”
20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done:
21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia,[c] two hundred shekels[d] of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels,[e] I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”
22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath.
23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the LORD.
24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor.
25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today.” Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them.
26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor[f] ever since.

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 55

  • 1. S Joshua 6:18
  • 2. ver 26; 1 Chronicles 2:7
  • 3. Joshua 22:20
  • 4. ver 18; Numbers 1:4
  • 5. S Exodus 4:14; S Exodus 32:20
  • 6. S Leviticus 10:6
  • 7. S Genesis 12:8; S Joshua 8:1,28
  • 8. Joshua 18:12; 1 Samuel 13:5; 1 Samuel 14:23; Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:8; Hosea 10:5
  • 9. Genesis 12:8; Joshua 12:16; Joshua 16:1; Judges 1:22; 1 Samuel 30:27; 2 Kings 23:15; Jeremiah 48:13; Amos 3:14; Amos 4:4; Amos 5:5-6; Amos 7:10,13
  • 10. S Numbers 21:32
  • 11. S Leviticus 26:17; S Deuteronomy 28:25
  • 12. Joshua 22:20
  • 13. S Genesis 42:28; Psalms 22:14; Isaiah 13:7; Leviticus 26:36; Joshua 2:9,11; Ezekiel 21:7; Nahum 2:10
  • 14. S Genesis 37:29
  • 15. S Genesis 17:3; 1 Chronicles 21:16; Ezekiel 9:8
  • 16. Judges 20:23
  • 17. Joshua 8:10; Joshua 9:11; Joshua 20:4; Joshua 23:2
  • 18. 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 13:19; 2 Samuel 15:32; Nehemiah 9:1; Job 2:12; Lamentations 2:10; Ezekiel 27:30; Revelation 18:19
  • 19. 1 Samuel 4:3
  • 20. S Exodus 5:22; S Numbers 14:16
  • 21. Exodus 32:12; S Deuteronomy 9:28
  • 22. Deuteronomy 28:58; 1 Samuel 12:22; Psalms 48:10; Psalms 106:8; Jeremiah 14:21
  • 23. S Exodus 9:27; Deuteronomy 29:27; Joshua 24:16-27; 2 Kings 17:7; Hosea 10:9
  • 24. ver 15; Joshua 6:17-19; Joshua 23:16; Judges 2:20; 1 Samuel 15:24; Psalms 78:10
  • 25. Acts 5:1-2
  • 26. ver 21
  • 27. Leviticus 26:37; Numbers 14:45; Judges 2:14
  • 28. Psalms 18:40; Psalms 21:12
  • 29. S Leviticus 26:17
  • 30. Joshua 6:18
  • 31. Psalms 44:9; Psalms 60:10
  • 32. S Leviticus 11:44; Joshua 3:5; Joshua 6:18
  • 33. 1 Samuel 10:19
  • 34. Proverbs 16:33
  • 35. Joshua 6:18
  • 36. Deuteronomy 7:25; 2 Kings 25:9; 1 Chronicles 14:12; Isaiah 37:19; Jeremiah 43:12; Ezekiel 30:16
  • 37. 1 Samuel 14:39
  • 38. S ver 11
  • 39. Genesis 34:7
  • 40. Numbers 26:20
  • 41. S ver 1; S Leviticus 24:11
  • 42. John 1:7
  • 43. Exodus 14:17; 1 Samuel 6:5; Psalms 96:8; Isaiah 42:12; Jeremiah 13:16; John 9:24*
  • 44. S Leviticus 5:5; 1 Samuel 14:43
  • 45. S Genesis 34:29; S Genesis 49:27
  • 46. S Deuteronomy 7:25; Ephesians 5:5; 1 Timothy 6:10
  • 47. S Numbers 16:27
  • 48. ver 26; Joshua 15:7; Isaiah 65:10; Hosea 2:15
  • 49. S Joshua 6:18
  • 50. S Leviticus 20:2; Deuteronomy 17:5; 1 Kings 12:18; 2 Chronicles 10:18; 2 Chronicles 24:21; Nehemiah 9:26
  • 51. S Genesis 38:24
  • 52. 2 Samuel 18:17
  • 53. S Genesis 35:20
  • 54. S Numbers 25:4; Deuteronomy 13:17
  • 55. S ver 24; Isaiah 65:10; Hosea 2:15

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them; also in verses 11, 12, 13 and 15.
  • [b]. See Septuagint and 1 Chron. 2:6; Hebrew "Zabdi" ; also in verses 17 and 18.
  • [c]. Hebrew "Shinar"
  • [d]. That is, about 5 pounds or about 2.3 kilograms
  • [e]. That is, about 1 1/4 pounds or about 575 grams
  • [f]. "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

Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.