INTRODUCTION TO Joshua 7
For the trespass of Achan the children of Israel were smitten and put to flight by the men of Ai, Joshua 7:1; 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, Joshua 7:6; 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, Joshua 7:10; which directions Joshua followed, and the person was found out, who being urged to a confession made one, Joshua 7:16; upon which he and all he had, with the things he had taken, were burnt with fire, Joshua 7:22.
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.But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing,.... Or concerning it, with respect to it, by taking part of what was devoted to another use, and forbidden theirs: this was done, not by the whole body of the people, only by one of them; but it not being discovered who it was, it was imputed to the whole, on whom it lay to find out the guilty person and punish him, or else the whole must suffer for it: this chapter begins with a "but", and draws a vail over the fame and glory of Joshua, observed in Joshua 6:27,
for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing; of what was devoted to the Lord and to sacred uses; this he had taken to himself out of the spoil of the city of Jericho, for his own use, contrary to the command of God: his descent is particularly described, that it might be known of what family and tribe he was; and it is traced up to Zerah, who was a son of Judah, Genesis 38:30,
and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel; because of the sin of Achan.
And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai.And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai,.... Which was the next city of importance, though not so large as Jericho, and was, as the Jews say (l), three miles distant from it; Abarbinel says (m) four miles, and so Bunting (n); Jerom (o) says, that in his times very few ruins of it appeared, only the place was shown where it stood:
which is beside Bethaven; a name by which Bethel in later times was called, Hosea 4:15; but here it is manifestly a distinct place from it; just hard by or near to this place, as Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it, was the city of Ai: Bethaven seems to have been the suburbs of it, or however was very near unto it:
on the east side of Bethel; near to which Abraham built an altar, as did Jacob also, and which in former times was called Luz, Genesis 12:8; and was well known in later ages by the name of Bethel; it was reckoned about a mile from Ai: the situation of this city is so particularly described to distinguish it from another city of this name, Ai of the Amorites, Jeremiah 49:3; and is here called "that Ai", that well known Ai, as Kimchi observes:
and spake unto them; at the time he sent them, when he gave them their orders to go thither:
saying, go up and view the country; the mountainous part of it; for they were now in a plain, where Jericho was seated; and observe what place was most proper to attack next, and which the best way of coming at it:
and the men went up and viewed Ai; what a sort of a city it was, how large, and what its fortifications, and what avenues were to it: by this it appears that Ai was built upon a hill, or at least was higher than Jericho and its plains; and with this agrees what a traveller says (p) of it, it is a village full of large ruins (in this he differs from Jerom) and from hence are seen the valley of Jericho, the dead sea, Gilgal, and Mount Quarantania, and many other places towards the east.
(l) Shemoth Rabba, sect. 32. fol. 185. 2.((m) In Joshua 20.fol. 34. 1.((n) Travels Of the Patriarchs, &c. p. 95. (o) De loc. Heb. fol. 87. E. (p) Baumgarten. Peregrinatio, l. 3. c. 1. p. 105.
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.And they returned unto Joshua, and said unto him, let not all the people go up,.... After they had reconnoitred the place, they came back to their general, and gave it as their opinion, that there was no need for the whole army to go up against the city:
but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; such a number they judged were sufficient to take it:
and make not all the people to labour thither; carrying their tents, bearing their armour, and going up hill:
for they are but few; the inhabitants of Ai, men and women making but twelve thousand; Joshua 8:25.
So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai.So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men,.... Joshua detached from the army the largest number proposed, that there might be strength enough to take the place; and those he sent under proper officers to Ai, who went up to the very gate of the city, as appears from Joshua 7:5,
and they fled before the men of Ai; for upon their appearing at the gate of their city, they came out with all their forces against them, and as soon as they did, the children of Israel durst not face them, but without engaging with them fled at once: God having forsaken them, their courage failed, the dread of their enemies falling on them.
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.And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men,.... In the pursuit of them, which were but few, but a sufficient rebuke of Providence; their loss was but small, but their shame and disgrace great:
for they chased them from before the gate; the gate of the city of Ai:
even unto Shebarim; not that there was a place of this name before, but it was so called from hence, because there they were broken, as Kimchi observes; and the Targum and Jarchi render it,"until they were broken,''their lines broken, not being able to retreat in order, but were scattered, and fled to their camp as they could: Gussetius (q) thinks it was the; name of a place, but not so called for the above reason, but because there lay broken pieces of the rock scattered about:
and smote them in the going down; the hill from Ai; "Morad", rendered "going down", may taken for the proper name of a place, and which, Kimchi says, was a place before Ai, in which there was a declivity and descent, and in that place they smote them when they fled:
wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water; that is, the whole body of the people, when this little army returned defeated, their spirits failed them, their courage was lost, their nerves were loosed, and they became languid, faint, and feeble; not that their loss was so great, but that they perceived God had forsaken them, and what the issue of this would be they dreaded.
(q) Comment. Ebr. p. 825.
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.And Joshua rent his clothes,.... As was usual in those ancient times, on hearing bad news, and as expressive of grief and trouble (r); see Genesis 37:29,
and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord, until the eventide; in a posture of adoration and prayer, in which he continued till even; how long that was cannot be said, since the time is not mentioned when the army returned from Ai; very probably it was some time in the afternoon: this was done before the ark of the Lord, the symbol of the divine Presence, not in the most holy place, where that usually was, and into which Joshua might not enter, but in the tabernacle of the great court, over against where the ark was:
he and the elders of Israel; either the elders of the people in the several tribes, or rather the seventy elders, which were the sanhedrim or council, and which attended Joshua, and assisted him as such:
and put dust upon their heads; another rite or ceremony used in times of mourning and distress, and that very anciently, before Joshua's time and after, see Job 2:12; and among various nations; so when Achilles bewailed the death of Patroclus, he is represented by Homer (s) taking with both his hands the black earth, and pouring it on his head; so Aristippus among the Athenians is said (t) to sprinkle dust on his head in token of mourning on a certain account.
(r) "Tum pius", Aeneas, &c. Virgil. Aeneid. l. 5. prope finem. (s) , &c. Iliad. 18. ver. 23. Vid. Odyss. 24. "Sparsitque cinis", &c. Seneca, Troad. Acts 1. Chorus. (t) Heliodor. Aethiop. l. 1. c. 13.
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!And Joshua said, alas! O Lord God,.... What a miserable and distressed condition are we in! have pity and compassion on us; who could have thought it, that this would have been our case?
wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us: who are mentioned either for the whole people of the land of Canaan; or rather, because the people of Israel were now in that part of the country which they inhabited: these words discover much weakness, diffidence, and distrust, and bear some likeness to the murmurs of the children of Israel in the wilderness; but not proceeding from that malignity of spirit theirs did, but from a concern for the good of the people and the glory of God, they are not resented by him:
would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan; in which he seems to cast the blame, not upon the Lord but upon himself and the people, who were not content to dwell on the other side, but were desirous of a larger and better country; and now ruin seemed to be the consequent of that covetous disposition and discontented mind.
O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!O Lord, what shall I say,.... For the comfort and encouragement of the people of Israel, in vindication of thy power and faithfulness, and against the charge of weakness in thyself, unfaithfulness to thy promises, and unkindness to thy people, brought by our enemies:
when Israel hath turned their backs before their enemies? or after they have done it; what is to be said now, this being the case? he speaks as a man confounded, and at the utmost loss how to account for the power, the providence, and promises of God.
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?For the Canaanites,.... Those that dwell on the east and on the west of the land, see Joshua 11:3; who were one of the seven nations:
and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it; of this defeat; not only the Amorites, among whom they now were, and the Canaanites before mentioned, but the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, and the Jebusites:
and shall environ us round; come with all their forces from all parts of the land, and surround us, so that there will be no escaping for us:
and cut off our name from the earth; utterly destroy us, that we shall be no more a nation and people, and the name of an Israelite no more be heard of, see Psalm 83:4,
and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? this, though mentioned last, was uppermost in the heart of Joshua, and was reserved by him as his strongest argument with God to appear for them and save them; since his own glory, the glory of his perfections, his wisdom, goodness, power, truth, and faithfulness, was so much concerned in their salvation.
And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?And the Lord said unto Joshua, get thee up,.... From the ground where he lay prostrate, with his face to it: this he said, not as refusing his supplication to him, but rather as encouraging and strengthening him; though chiefly he said this in order to instruct him, and that he might prepare for what he was to do:
wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? in this manner, so distressed and dejected; or for this thing, as the Targum, for this defeat of the army; something else is to be done besides prayer and supplication.
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.Israel hath sinned,.... For though one only had committed the sin, others might have known of it, and connived at it; however, there was sin committed among them, and it must be discovered, the guilt charged, and punishment inflicted:
and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them; not the law given on Mount Sinai, called the covenant, though in general that was now broken, inasmuch as they then promised to hear and obey all that the Lord should say unto them, Exodus 24:7; but it particularly means the command given, Joshua 6:18; that they should take nothing of that which was devoted the Lord, and thereby make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it; and which shows that that was not a command given by Joshua of himself, but what he had from the Lord:
for they have even taken of the accursed thing; somewhat of that which was devoted to sacred uses:
and have also stolen; taken it away, not openly, but by stealth, as being conscious they ought not to have done what they did, and so sinned both against God and their own consciences:
and dissembled also; or "lied" (u); pretended they had not taken any of the accursed thing when they had; and it is probable that the people in general, each of the tribes, families, and houses, were examined by proper officers, whether they had taken any of the spoil, or not, to themselves, and they all denied they had, and he that had taken it among the rest; and perhaps was particularly asked the question, which he answered in the negative:
and they have put it even amongst their own stuff; their household stuff, mixed them with their own goods that they might not be known; or put them "in their own vessels" (w), for their own use and service.
(u) "mentiti sunt", Pagninus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (w) "in vasis suis", Montanus.
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.Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies,.... Being forsaken of God for the sin committed among them:
but turned their backs before their enemies: had not courage to face them, but fled as soon as they appeared:
because they were accursed; of God for the accursed thing that had been taken, as was threatened would be their case, should they take any of it; Joshua 6:18,
neither will I be with you any more, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you; that is, until they had put to death the person who had taken of the accursed thing, and made himself thereby accursed, and even all the camp of Israel; till this was done, the Lord would not be with them to protect and defend them, and give them success against their enemies.
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.Up, sanctify the people,.... The word "up" not only signifies getting up from the ground on which he lay, but to bestir himself, and to be active in what he would now be enjoined and directed to do, and in the first place to "sanctify the people", that is, by giving them orders to do it themselves:
and say, sanctify yourselves against tomorrow; either by some ceremonial ablutions, or by the performance of moral duties, as prayer, repentance, and good works; or rather, they were to "prepare" themselves, as the Targum and Kimchi interpret it, to get ready against the morrow, and expect to be thoroughly searched, in order to find out the person who had taken the accursed thing:
for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, there is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel; an accursed person, who had taken of what was devoted to the Lord for his own use, and so accursed:
thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you; by putting him to death.
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.In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes,.... One or more of every tribe, according to the number of them, were to be brought the next morning before Joshua and the elders of Israel, the sanhedrim and council of the nation, and very probably the tabernacle, where they assembled for this purpose:
and it shall be, that the tribe which the Lord taketh; how a tribe and so a family or household were taken is differently understood; what some of the Jewish writers say deserves no regard, as the detention of persons by the ark, or of the dulness of the stones in the Urim and Thummim: it seems best to understand the whole affair as done by casting lots (x); so Josephus (y) and Ben Gersom; and they might in this way be said to be taken by the Lord, because the disposition of the lot is by him, Proverbs 16:33; now it is said, that the tribe that should be taken, as Judah was, from what follows:
shall come according to the families thereof; that is, the families in that tribe, meaning the heads of them, as Kimchi well observes; these were to come to the place where the lots were cast:
and the family which the Lord shall take shall come by households; on whatsoever family in the tribe the lot should fall, the heads of households in that family should appear and have lots cast on them: and the household which the Lord shall take shall come man by man; that household that should be taken by lot, the men thereof, the heads of the house, should come each of them and have lots east on them, that the particular man that sinned might be discovered.
(x) Pirke Eliezer, c. 38. Samaritan. Chronic. apud Hottinger. Smegma. Oriental. l. 1. c. 8. p. 505. Jarchi in loc. (y) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 10.
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.And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire,.... He that is taken by lot, and the accursed thing found with him, this should be the death, burning, one of the four capital punishments with the Jews: this was ordered in this case, because the city of Jericho, accursed or devoted, was burnt with fire, Joshua 6:24,
he and all that he hath; the particulars of which are enumerated, Joshua 7:24,
because he hath transgressed the covenant of the Lord; See Gill on Joshua 7:11,
and because he hath wrought folly in Israel; as all sin and every transgression of the law is, and was the cause of Israel's turning their backs on their enemies; which, as Abarbinel says, was folly, and made the people of Israel look foolish, mean, and contemptible: the word has also the signification of a dead carcass, and may possibly have respect, to the thirty six men whose death he was the occasion of, Joshua 7:5, and therefore justly ought to die himself.
So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken:So Joshua rose up early in the morning,.... Which showed his readiness and diligence to obey the command of God; and as there was much work to do, it required that he should rise early:
and brought Israel by their tribes: before the Lord, at the tabernacle, where he and the high priest and elders attended; each tribe was thither brought by their representatives:
and the tribe of Judah was taken: either his stone in the breastplate of the high priest looked dull, as some say, or rather the lot being cast fell on that tribe.
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:And he brought the family of Judah,.... That is, the tribe of Judah, as Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it, (z); or rather, the several families in that tribe, even the heads of them:
and he took the family of the Zarhites: which descended from Zerah the son of Judah; that was taken by lot:
and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and cast lots on them:
and Zabdi was taken: that part of the family of the Zarhites which sprung from Zabdi, a son of Zerah.
(z) So R. Sol. Ohel Moed, fol. 94. 2.
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.And he brought his household man by man,.... The household of Zabdi, the heads of each house therein:
and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken; the lot fell upon him, and he was laid hold on, and detained.
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.And Joshua said unto Achan, my son,.... Treating him in a very humane, affectionate, and respectable manner, though so great a criminal, being a subject of his, and of the same religion and nation:
give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, by acknowledging his omniscience, justice, power, truth, and faithfulness; as in his promises so in his threatenings:
and make confession unto him; of the sin he had been guilty of; this Joshua might urge, partly for his own good, who might more reasonably expect the forgiveness of his sin: so it is said in the Misnah (a), whoever confesses has a part in the world to come, for so we find concerning Achan, Joshua 7:19; and partly for the glory of God, this being the instance in which he is directed to give it to him; and partly on account of others, particularly the tribe, family, and household to whom he belonged, who after all might not be satisfied thoroughly that he was guilty, unless he had confessed it: according to Maimonides (b), this was but a temporary law on which Achan was put to death; for, he says, our law condemns no man to death on his own confession, nor on the prophecy of a prophet, who says that he committed such a theft; and it was not on his confession, but by the order of God, determining the affair by lot, that he was put to death: the confession Joshua directs to was not what was made to man, but to God, that is, of the evil of it, and as committed against God, though the fact itself was to be owned before man, as follows:
and tell me now what thou hast done, hide it not from me; what were the particular things he had taken; the lot showed he had taken something, but what that was, as yet was unknown, and where it was; and this Joshua desires him he would inform him of and satisfy him about, and without any reserve openly declare the truth.
(a) Sanhedrin, c. 6. sect. 2.((b) Pirush in ib. & Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 18. sect. 6.
And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:And Achan answered Joshua, and said,.... He made a free and open confession of his sin:
indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel; against him who had been so good to Israel in many instances, and particularly in delivering Jericho into their hands in so extraordinary a manner; against a law of his, respecting the spoil of that city, which sin was the more aggravated thereby; and that he had committed the sin he was taken for and charged with, he owns was a true and real fact:
and thus and thus have I done; such and such things have I taken, and in the manner as follows.
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.When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment,.... One, as the Targum adds, for no more was taken; a garment made of Babylonish wool, as Jarchi; or a valuable garment made in Babylon, called "Shinar", for that is the word in the text, so Kimchi and Abarbinel; and Babylonian garments were in great esteem in other nations: Pliny says (c) Babylon was famous for garments interwoven with pictures of divers colours, and which gave name to them; and Plutarch (d) relates, that Cato in his great modesty, and being an enemy to luxury, having a Babylonish garment that came to him by inheritance, ordered it immediately to be sold: the Vulgate Latin version calls it a scarlet robe; and in some Jewish writings (e) it is interpreted, a garment of Babylonian purple, as if it only respected the colour; and purple and scarlet are sometimes promiscuously used and put for the same, see Matthew 27:28; and were the colour worn by kings: and Josephus here calls it a royal garment, wholly interwoven with gold (f); and some have thought it to be the garment of the king of Jericho, which is not unlikely; however, it is much more probable than that Jericho was subject to the king of Babylon, and that he had palaces in Jericho, and when he came thither was clothed with this robe, so Jarchi; as is elsewhere said (g) by others, that he had a deputy who resided in Jericho, who sent dates to the king of Babylon, and the king sent him gifts, among which was a garment of Shinar or Babylon:
and two hundred shekels of silver; which, if coined money, was near twenty five English pounds:
and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight: or a "tongue of gold" (h); a plate of gold in the shape of a tongue, as Kimchi and Abarbinel; a piece of unwrought gold which weighed fifty shekels, and worth of our money about seventy five pounds, according to Brererwood (i): where he saw these, and from whence he took them, is not said; according to some Jewish writers, these belonged to one of their idols; it is said (k), he saw the Teraphim and the silver they offered before it, and the garment which was spread before it, and the tongue or wedge of gold in its mouth; and he desired them in his heart, and went and took them, and hid them in the midst of his tent: and the Samaritan Chronicle (l) makes him confess that he went into a temple in Jericho and found the above things there: and Masius conjectures that the wedge of gold was a little golden sword, with which the men of Jericho had armed their god, since an ancient poet (m) calls a little sword a little tongue:
then I coveted them, and took them; he is very particular in the account, and gradually proceeds in relating the temptation he was under, and the prevalence of it; it began with his eyes, which were caught with the goodliness of the garments, and the riches he saw; these affected his heart and stirred up covetous desires, which influenced and directed his hands to take them:
and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent; Josephus (n) says, he dug a deep hole or ditch in his tent, and put them there, that is, the Babylonish garment and the wedge of gold; which, as Ben Gersom gathers from Joshua 7:25, was wrapped up and hid within the garment; which is not improbable, since otherwise no account is given of that:
and the silver under it; the two hundred shekels of silver lay under the garment in which was the wedge of gold, and so it lay under them both.
(c) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 48. (d) In Vita Catonis. (e) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 85. fol. 75. 2.((f) Ut supra. (Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 48.) (g) Bereshit Rabba, ib. (h) "linguam auream", Montanus, Tigurine version, Masius; "lingulam auream", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (i) De Ponder. &. Pret. Vet. Num. c. 5. (k) Pirke Eliezer, ut supra. (c. 38.) (l) Apud Hottinger, ut supra. (Smegm. Oriental. l. 1. c. 8. p. 505.) (m) Naevius apud A. Cell. Noct. Attic. l. 10. c. 25. (n) Ut supra. (Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 48.)
So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it.So Joshua sent messengers,.... Directly to Achan's tent, to see if it was as he had said, and to bring the things with them:
and they ran unto the tent; either for joy that the iniquity was discovered, as Kimchi; or that none of the tribe of Judah or of Achan's family or relations should get there before them, and take them from thence and make void the lot; so Jarchi, Ben Gersom, and Abarbinel; but, no doubt, it is remarked, to show the readiness and diligence of the messengers to obey the order of Joshua:
and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it; as Achan had said.
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.And they took them out of the midst of the tent,.... Out of the place, hole, or pit in which they were hid:
and brought them to Joshua and to the children of Israel; to Joshua as the chief ruler, and to the elders and heads of the tribes assembled together:
and laid them out before the Lord; or "poured them out" (o); the golden wedge, out of the garment in which it was wrapped, and the two hundred shekels of silver found under it: it seems as if these were poured or laid out separately upon the ground before the tabernacle, where the ark of the Lord was, they belonging to the spoils which were devoted to him; as well as hereby they were plainly seen by the Israelites, that these were the very things which Achan had confessed.
(o) "fundentes", Munster; "fuderunt", Piscator.
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.And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah,.... Joshua and all Israel are mentioned, to show the perfect agreement between Joshua and the heads of the people in this affair of Achan, and in the nature and manner of his punishment:
and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold; which, though devoted to sacred uses, yet having been converted to another's use, and made his property, was not to be employed in the service of the sanctuary, but to be burnt with him:
and his sons and his daughters; who, according to Ben Gersom, Abarbinel, and Abendana, were not brought forth to be put to death, only to be spectators of the sentence of judgment, and the execution of it, that they might keep themselves from such evil things; though, as Achan may be supposed to be a man in years, being but the fourth generation from Judah; his sons and daughters were grown up in all probability, and might be accessories in this affair; and so, as some Jewish writers remark, were worthy of death, because they saw and knew what was done, and were silent and did not declare it (p); and it seems by what is said, Joshua 22:20; that they died as well as Achan, since it is there said, "that man perished not alone in his iniquity"; though it may be interpreted of his substance, his cattle, perishing with him; and indeed from Joshua 7:25; it seems as if none were stoned but himself, that is, of his family; no mention is made of his wife, who, if he had any, as Kimchi observes, knew nothing of the matter, it being hid from her:
and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep; in which lay his substance, as that of the eastern people generally did:
and his tent, and all that he had; the tent he and his family dwelt in, with all the household goods in it:
and they brought them unto the valley of Achor; so called by anticipation here; for it had its name from the trouble Achan gave to Israel, and with which he was troubled himself: some render it, "they brought them up" (q); and as it is more proper to descend into a valley the to go up to it, it is thought there was a mountain between the camp of Israel and this valley, so Kimchi and Ben Melech; see Hosea 2:15.
(p) Pirke Eliezer, ut supra (c. 38.) Kimchi in loc. (q) "ascendere fecerunt", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius, Vatablus.
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.And Joshua said, why hast thou troubled us?.... Been the occasion of so much trouble to us, by committing this sin:
the Lord shall trouble thee this day; by the destruction of him and all that belonged to him: this is said to show that his punishment was of God, and according to his will: in the Misnah (r) an emphasis is laid on the phrase "this day", and it is observed,"this day thou shalt be troubled, but thou shalt not be troubled in the world to come;''suggesting that though temporal punishment was inflicted on him, yet his iniquity was forgiven, and he would be saved with an everlasting, salvation; and as it may be hoped from the ingenuous confession that he made, that he had true repentance for it, and forgiveness of it:
and all Israel stoned him with stones; hence some gather, that only Achan himself suffered death, and not his sons and daughters:
and burnt them with fire after they had stoned them with stones; which the Jewish commentators understand of his oxen, asses, and sheep; so Jarchi, Ben Gersom, and Abarbinel: likewise his tent, and household goods, the Babylonish garment, gold and silver, were burnt, and he himself also, for that is the express order, Joshua 7:15; the Jews say, as particularly Jarchi observes, that he was stoned because he profaned the sabbath, it being on the sabbath day that Jericho was taken, and stoning was the punishment of the sabbath breaker, and he was burnt on the account of the accursed thing; so Abendana.
(r) Sanhedrin ut supra. (Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 18. sect. 6.)
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.And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day,.... That is, at the place where he suffered, or where they laid his ashes, they heaped up a pile of stones over him, as a monument whereby it might be known hereafter where he was executed and was buried; and which pile continued to the writing of this history: such sort of funeral monuments were usual with the Heathens (s) also as well as with the Jews, see Joshua 8:29; so the Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger; or the effects of it ceased; the outward face of things was altered, the dealings of God in his providence with Israel were changed; though, properly speaking, there is no change in God, nor such affections and passions in him as in man:
wherefore the name of the place was called the valley of Achor unto this day; from the trouble Achan met with, and the people of Israel on his account, see Joshua 7:24; and so it was called in the days of Isaiah and Hosea, Isaiah 65:10; and where it is prophesied of as what should be in time to come: according to Bunting (t), it was twelve miles from Jerusalem; Jerom (u) says it was at the north of Jericho, but Lamy (w), following Bonfrerius, places it to the south; see Joshua 15:7.
(s) Vid. Pausan. Arcadica, sive, l. 8. p. 477. & Phocica, sive, l. 10. p. 616, 617. (t) Travels of the Patriarchs, &c. p. 98. (u) De loc. Heb. fol. 88. B. (w) Apparat. Geograph. p. 61.