The Book of Joshua, chapter 7, with BAC Commentary. Achan Hides the Booty and all Israel Suffer for it!
Joshua 7: Individual Responsibility for the Generality and Vice Versa, Family Responsibility, Tribal Lineage, Cruelty to Animals.
ACHAN THE SON OF CARMI, a high-born personage from the Tribe of Judah, had taken booty from the city of Jericho. This had been forbidden. Even though his transgression had been a secret one, his action reflected faults in the general community.
Meanwhile the Israelites continued their conquest of Canaan. They attacked the city of Ai in the region of Beth-el. They were over-confident, relied on past successes and assumed that God would continue to intercede for them. Their attack failed and the attackers fled. They had lost 36 warriors but more than this, they had broken ranks before the enemy. Whereas previously all their enemies had been in awe before them, now they were in danger. The Canaanites greatly outnumbered them and were liable to exterminate them. Joshua prayed to God. He was told that the people had transgressed. The illicit booty and its possessor would need to be removed. Lots were cast at first by tribe, then by family (clan), then by households, and finally by individuals within the household.
This indicates the importance of ancestral lineage and the place we each hold within our Tribe. In the future this will be made known. The researches and studies of Brit-Am/Hebrew Nations in a very general way have made a start along these lines.
Achan was found to be the guilty party. He had taken a valuable garment made in Shinar (Mespopotamia) along with silver coins and a wedge of gold for himself.
Achan and all his family and livestock and all he had were stoned and their bodies burnt. Apparently his family had helped hide the booty.
This also teaches us something of the Biblical attitude to animals.
We have to look after our animals, provide their needs, and not to be needlessly cruel to them.
They are however little more than possessions and must never be accorded consideration detrimental to humans.
The remains of Achan and his family and possessions, etc, were, after being burnt, covered with a pile of stones.
The anger of the Almighty abated.
[Joshua 7:1] BUT THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL COMMITTED A TRESPASS IN THE ACCURSED THING: FOR ACHAN, THE SON OF CARMI, THE SON OF ZABDI, THE SON OF ZERAH, OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH TOOK OF THE ACCURSED THING: AND THE ANGER OF THE LORD WAS KINDLED AGAINST THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL.
<<SON OF>> etc The Commentator Daat Sofrim says that Scripture emphasizes the high birth of the culprit to illustrate that something was wrong with the entire community. The fish begins to smell from the head. <<ANGER...WAS KINDLED>>: literally nostrils burned as opposed to nostrils extended denoting restraint. The Commentator Daat Sofrim says that the intention is that up to now God had been holding Himself back and overlooking all kinds of faults. This particular offence caused an arousal not only against the offence itself but also against all the other sins that had until now had been overlooked.
[Joshua 7:2] AND JOSHUA SENT MEN FROM JERICHO TO AI, WHICH IS BESIDE BETHAVEN, ON THE EAST OF BETHEL, AND SPAKE UNTO THEM, SAYING, GO UP AND VIEW THE COUNTRY. AND THE MEN WENT UP AND VIEWED AI.
[Joshua 7:3] AND THEY RETURNED TO JOSHUA, AND SAID UNTO HIM, LET NOT ALL THE PEOPLE GO UP; BUT LET ABOUT TWO OR THREE THOUSAND MEN GO UP AND SMITE AI; AND MAKE NOT ALL THE PEOPLE TO LABOUR THITHER; FOR THEY ARE BUT FEW.
They were over-confident, relied on past successes and assumed that God would continue to intercede for them. They under-estimated the enemy and over-estimated themselves.
[Joshua 7:4] SO THERE WENT UP THITHER OF THE PEOPLE ABOUT THREE THOUSAND MEN: AND THEY FLED BEFORE THE MEN OF AI.
[Joshua 7:5] AND THE MEN OF AI SMOTE OF THEM ABOUT THIRTY AND SIX MEN: FOR THEY CHASED THEM FROM BEFORE THE GATE EVEN UNTO SHEBARIM, AND SMOTE THEM IN THE GOING DOWN: WHEREFORE THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE MELTED, AND BECAME AS WATER.
<<SHEBARIM>>: means the "breaks". Israel broke down at that point. The names of places often presage events that later occur there.
[Joshua 7:6] AND JOSHUA RENT HIS CLOTHES, AND FELL TO THE EARTH UPON HIS FACE BEFORE THE ARK OF THE LORD UNTIL THE EVENTIDE, HE AND THE ELDERS OF ISRAEL, AND PUT DUST UPON THEIR HEADS.
[Joshua 7:7] AND JOSHUA SAID, ALAS, O LORD GOD, WHEREFORE HAST THOU AT ALL BROUGHT THIS PEOPLE OVER JORDAN, TO DELIVER US INTO THE HAND OF THE AMORITES, TO DESTROY US? WOULD TO GOD WE HAD BEEN CONTENT, AND DWELT ON THE OTHER SIDE JORDAN!
Joshua had a point. They had conquered the eastern side of the Jordan. There was plenty of room. They could have stayed there and then perhaps attempted to conquer the western side later. God told them to cross the Jordan and conquer the western side. This was despite the fact that the western side was well-populated with strong fortified cities, warlike peoples who were probably more sophisticated militarily than they were.
The Israelites relied on God, were obeying the commandment of God and therefore it was logical to expect God to help them. Even now people who come to Israel from overseas when they encounter difficulties suddenly regret leaving their former place of residence or wishing that (if they had to leave anyway, as many of them did) that they had gone elsewhere. This is natural. Human nature is essentially the same all over. We can improve ourselves by small increments and then it is the marginal differences that determine the end result. Water at 99 degrees is still in a liquid state, one more degree and it changes altogether and becomes something else. So too, with human beings. So too, with all of us. We can change and even if we cannot where there is life there is hope. Keep trying and God helps. He is always there, we must learn to turn to him from time to time.
[Joshua 7:8] O LORD, WHAT SHALL I SAY, WHEN ISRAEL TURNETH THEIR BACKS BEFORE THEIR ENEMIES!
The defeat was not only a physical one but a moral spiritual one as well. Until now much of their success was due to the terror they struck into the hearts of the opponent, the reputation they had for invincibility and their claim that the God of Israel was the God the Universe and would fight for them. Now everything had been reversed. Suddenly they were revealed as a mass of family-oriented citizens who could not fight but would run away and allow themselves to be beaten by a relatively small number of opponents. Their enemies were liable to sense the vulnerability of the Israelites and come swarming down for the kill.
[Joshua 7:9] FOR THE CANAANITES AND ALL THE INHABITANTS OF THE LAND SHALL HEAR OF IT, AND SHALL ENVIRON US ROUND, AND CUT OFF OUR NAME FROM THE EARTH: AND WHAT WILT THOU DO UNTO THY GREAT NAME?
Defeat would also be a desecration of the name of God in the eyes of the whole world.
Even now when something bad happens to the Jews in Israel the name of God is desecrated. The calamities may be caused by sin but nevertheless in the eyes of others the Jews are still considered representative of God.
The same applies, surprisingly enough, on another level to the USA. The USA in the eyes of others is considered a religious country. By religious I mean honoring God in the Israelite sense. America and even Britain in a way are also considered as the equivalent of Israelites in the eyes of the heathen. This is a strange phenomenon but it can be sensed.
The same applies to people like you and I. I started out doing research etc and writing. Things took their own turn and now a certain standard is expected of myself for better or for worse. The same applies to Brit-Am people in general. We must now watch more closely how we act, endeavor to act well, and not antagonize people unnecessarily. We made a few mistakes in the past but on the whole I think we learned from them.
How Brit-Am functions and to what degree it succeeds may have implications on how people view the whole subject of Israelite Identity.
We are in need of all of you. We have a true good message that deserves to succeed and needs to be made known for the good of others and of ourselves. Each one of you should realize that in a way he/she has a stake in us and should endeavor however possible to strengthen yourselves and us. In some way we are all part of one entity. Nothing is by chance.
[Joshua 7:10] AND THE LORD SAID UNTO JOSHUA, GET THEE UP; WHEREFORE LIEST THOU THUS UPON THY FACE?
[Joshua 7:11] ISRAEL HATH SINNED, AND THEY HAVE ALSO TRANSGRESSED MY COVENANT WHICH I COMMANDED THEM: FOR THEY HAVE EVEN TAKEN OF THE ACCURSED THING, AND HAVE ALSO STOLEN, AND DISSEMBLED ALSO, AND THEY HAVE PUT IT EVEN AMONG THEIR OWN STUFF.
<<DISSEMBLED ALSO>>: Joshua had apparently made an enquiry and endeavored to induce the guilty party to come forward of his own volition. An examination and investigation had been conducted and the culprit had lied.
[Joshua 7:12] THEREFORE THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL COULD NOT STAND BEFORE THEIR ENEMIES, BUT TURNED THEIR BACKS BEFORE THEIR ENEMIES, BECAUSE THEY WERE ACCURSED: NEITHER WILL I BE WITH YOU ANY MORE, EXCEPT YE DESTROY THE ACCURSED FROM AMONG YOU.
<<BECAUSE THEY WERE ACCURSED>>: I repeat: Not only for the particular sin but for other things as well they had aroused the ire of the Almighty. This anger had been triggered off by the sin in question.
[Joshua 7:13] UP, SANCTIFY THE PEOPLE, AND SAY, SANCTIFY YOURSELVES AGAINST TO MORROW: FOR THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL, THERE IS AN ACCURSED THING IN THE MIDST OF THEE, O ISRAEL: THOU CANST NOT STAND BEFORE THINE ENEMIES, UNTIL YE TAKE AWAY THE ACCURSED THING FROM AMONG YOU.
<<SANCTIFY THE PEOPLE>>: This meant to undergo a ritual immersion in a spring, pond, or river and spiritually cleanse themselves.
[Joshua 7:14] IN THE MORNING THEREFORE YE SHALL BE BROUGHT ACCORDING TO YOUR TRIBES: AND IT SHALL BE, THAT THE TRIBE WHICH THE LORD TAKETH SHALL COME ACCORDING TO THE FAMILIES THEREOF; AND THE FAMILY WHICH THE LORD SHALL TAKE SHALL COME BY HOUSEHOLDS; AND THE HOUSEHOLD WHICH THE LORD SHALL TAKE SHALL COME MAN BY MAN.
The lot is about to happen who the individual offender was but it starts off with the tribe and then works down through the household clan before reaching the family. This comes to tell us that even though the individual offender is to be punished he became what he is at least partially due to where he had come from. He is not to be excused for his offence but the society and family structure that produced him is also going to sweat as all eyes turn towards it. It too has offended by not taking care of its own while there was opportunity. A lot of us have children and some children have a tendency to be frequently in trouble. It is not always our fault or if it is the time to do something is sometimes beyond us. Even so, if one prays and corrects oneself and does better things get improved and sometimes change for the good altogether.
[Joshua 7:15] AND IT SHALL BE, THAT HE THAT IS TAKEN WITH THE ACCURSED THING SHALL BE BURNT WITH FIRE, HE AND ALL THAT HE HATH: BECAUSE HE HATH TRANSGRESSED THE COVENANT OF THE LORD, AND BECAUSE HE HATH WROUGHT FOLLY IN ISRAEL.
[Joshua 7:16] SO JOSHUA ROSE UP EARLY IN THE MORNING, AND BROUGHT ISRAEL BY THEIR TRIBES; AND THE TRIBE OF JUDAH WAS TAKEN:
[Joshua 7:17] AND HE BROUGHT THE FAMILY OF JUDAH; AND HE TOOK THE FAMILY OF THE ZARHITES: AND HE BROUGHT THE FAMILY OF THE ZARHITES MAN BY MAN; AND ZABDI WAS TAKEN:
[Joshua 7:18] AND HE BROUGHT HIS HOUSEHOLD MAN BY MAN; AND ACHAN, THE SON OF CARMI, THE SON OF ZABDI, THE SON OF ZERAH, OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH, WAS TAKEN.
[Joshua 7:19] AND JOSHUA SAID UNTO ACHAN, MY SON, GIVE, I PRAY THEE, GLORY TO THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL, AND MAKE CONFESSION UNTO HIM; AND TELL ME NOW WHAT THOU HAST DONE; HIDE IT NOT FROM ME.
<<MY SON>>: Joshua was a good man. He had compassion even on he who whose behavior had threatened the whole community. He spoke kindly unto him.
[Joshua 7:20] AND ACHAN ANSWERED JOSHUA, AND SAID, INDEED I HAVE SINNED AGAINST THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL, AND THUS AND THUS HAVE I DONE:
[Joshua 7:21] WHEN I SAW AMONG THE SPOILS A GOODLY BABYLONISH GARMENT, AND TWO HUNDRED SHEKELS OF SILVER, AND A WEDGE OF GOLD OF FIFTY SHEKELS WEIGHT, THEN I COVETED THEM, AND TOOK THEM; AND, BEHOLD, THEY ARE HID IN THE EARTH IN THE MIDST OF MY TENT, AND THE SILVER UNDER IT.
<<BABYLONISH>>: The Hebrew has 'of Shinar'. Shinar was the area of Babylonia. In modern terms Shinar is pronounced as Sumer.
[Joshua 7:22] SO JOSHUA SENT MESSENGERS, AND THEY RAN UNTO THE TENT; AND, BEHOLD, IT WAS HID IN HIS TENT, AND THE SILVER UNDER IT.
[Joshua 7:23] AND THEY TOOK THEM OUT OF THE MIDST OF THE TENT, AND BROUGHT THEM UNTO JOSHUA, AND UNTO ALL THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, AND LAID THEM OUT BEFORE THE LORD.
[Joshua 7:24] AND JOSHUA, AND ALL ISRAEL WITH HIM, TOOK ACHAN THE SON OF ZERAH, AND THE SILVER, AND THE GARMENT, AND THE WEDGE OF GOLD, AND HIS SONS, AND HIS DAUGHTERS, AND HIS OXEN, AND HIS ASSES, AND HIS SHEEP, AND HIS TENT, AND ALL THAT HE HAD: AND THEY BROUGHT THEM UNTO THE VALLEY OF ACHOR.
<<HIS SONS, AND HIS DAUGHTERS>>: They too, it appears, had been accomplices and had helped hide the booty.
[Joshua 7:25] AND JOSHUA SAID, WHY HAST THOU TROUBLED US? THE LORD SHALL TROUBLE THEE THIS DAY. AND ALL ISRAEL STONED HIM WITH STONES, AND BURNED THEM WITH FIRE, AFTER THEY HAD STONED THEM WITH STONES.
<<THIS DAY>>: The Commentators mention that Achan would be punished on that day but then it would be over. Through the punishment he would be purified of his sin. After this day he would be free and not be punished in the next world. All Israel stoned him because in a sense all Israel bore some of the guilt and this was their atonement. Punishment of wrongdoers is necessary for the health of society as much as for the sake of the criminal and not just as revenge on behalf of the offended parties.
[Joshua 7:26] AND THEY RAISED OVER HIM A GREAT HEAP OF STONES UNTO THIS DAY. SO THE LORD TURNED FROM THE FIERCENESS OF HIS ANGER. WHEREFORE THE NAME OF THAT PLACE WAS CALLED, THE VALLEY OF ACHOR, UNTO THIS DAY.
<<A GREAT HEAP OF STONES>>: The Israelites were accustomed to regularly erect stone heaps and monuments. They continued to do so in their places of exile, as explained in "Ephraim". Usually however these monuments were erected to commemorate important positive events or future messages.