Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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.7. Achan’s Sin and Israel’s Defeat
1. The defeat of Israel (Joshua 7:1-5)
2. The source of the defeat revealed (Joshua 7:6-15)
3. The transgressor found out (Joshua 7:16-23)
4. The judgment of Achan (Joshua 7:24-26)
The insignificant place Ai brings defeat. Joshua sent men to view Ai. What authority was given to him to do so? There was no need to send spies once more, for the Lord had said, that the whole land was given to them. They report Ai a place without walls and recommend that only two or three thousand men be sent up. Defeat follows.
Ai means “ruins.” It is mentioned for the first time in Genesis 12. Abraham built his altar between Bethel (House of God) and Ai. Ai is another type of the world. But the source of the defeat was Achan’s sin. The shekels of silver and gold, the Babylonian garment, had blinded his eyes. These things were to be “accursed,” which literally means devoted; devoted to the treasury of the Lord (6:19). Joshua had given the command that such should be the case, and also announced, that disobedience would bring trouble upon Israel. Achan’s sin was responsible for the defeat of the people. He confesses, “I saw--I coveted--I took.” The same old story, first enacted in the garden of Eden. The evil in the midst of the people of God, unjudged, becomes the most powerful agent against Israel and withholds God’s power and blessing. It is so still. As soon as we cling to the things of the world, the enemy gets an advantage over us, and we have little power and cannot advance in the things of Christ. Ah! the Achans in our lives! Judge self, bring the evil thing into the light and victory and blessing will follow. Joshua’s prayer and Jehovah’s answer; Achan’s sin discovered and forced confession; the judgment which falls upon him and his house; the heap of stones raised over him--all is of interest and instruction, which our limited space forbids to follow in detail.
The valley of Achor is mentioned in Hosea 2:15 as a door of hope. The place and door of hope is in Him, who died not for his sins, but who took the sin and guilt of the nation upon Himself.
“The valley of Achor was not only the place of national repentance, and of a national repudiation of sin, but it was also the place of a great and tragic national expiation. Israel had sinned, and so Israel had suffered, but it was the sin of one man that had brought judgment on the camp. Now, observe, the sin of a single man was imputed to Israel, and became Israel’s sin, and because of that imputation of sin, the wrath of God fell on the whole nation. But when the sin of that one man was discovered, and when it was confessed before God, then the sin imputed to the congregation reverted on to the head of the one criminal. Thus the penalty due to a national sin was actually carried out upon him whose guilt had involved the nation in judgment; and as the deadly stones were hurled upon him, that man in his death was not only reaping the reward of his disobedience, but the sin of the nation was being expiated in the death of the individual; and thus was opened ‘a door of hope’ through ‘the valley of trouble,’ whereby Israel might enter the land of promise, and find her vineyards from thence.”--Aitken.