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.
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(14-18) In the morning therefore ye shall be brought.—That is, brought near, or presented. The word used here, and throughout the passage, is the same that is commonly used for the presentation of an offering.

(14) The tribe which the Lord taketh.—There is nothing in the language of the passage, when closely considered, which would lead us to suppose that the discovery of the criminal was by casting lots. The parallel passage—viz., the selection of King Saul from the tribes of Israel (1Samuel 10:20-21)—shows that the oracle of God was consulted. “They inquired,” and “the Lord answered.” So it was, perhaps, in the case of Achan. We seem to see the High Priest of Israel “asking counsel for Joshua after the judgment of Urim before the Lord,” as it had been foretold in Numbers 27:21; and the elders of Israel standing by, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. The representatives of the tribes enter the sacred enclosure in succession, and pass before the High Priest, in awful silence, broken only by the voice of Jehovah, who pronounces it intervals the names of Judah, Zarhite, Zabdi, Carmi, Achan. It must have been a terrible ordeal. But all present must have felt that no human partiality, or private animosity, was seeking its victim. The Judge of all the earth was doing judgment. And when the accusation of Jehovah was followed by the explicit confession of the criminal, and this again by the discovery of the stolen spoil of Jericho, which was brought in by the messengers, and “poured out before the Lord,” and when this discovery was followed by the execution of the awful sentence, all who were present must have received a lesson, which it was impossible to forget, as to the reality of the covenant of God. And if, as seems most probable, the voice of the oracle was uttered from the inner sanctuary, from between the cherubim, but “heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God, when He speaketh” (Ezekiel 10:5), we learn once more the majesty of the law given to Israel. The arrest of Jordan, the overthrow of Jericho, and the discovery of Achan, are all manifestations of power proceeding from the same source.

Joshua 7:14-15. The tribe which the Lord taketh — Which shall be declared guilty by the lot, which is disposed by the Lord, (Proverbs 16:33,) and which was to be cast in the Lord’s presence before the ark. Of such use of lots, see 1 Samuel 14:41; 1 Samuel 14:52; Jonah 1:7; Acts 1:26. Shall be burnt with fire — As persons and things accursed were to be. All that he hath — His cattle and goods, as is noted Joshua 7:24, according to the law, Deuteronomy 13:16. Wrought folly — So sin is often called in Scripture, in opposition to the idle opinion of sinners, who commonly esteem it to be their wisdom. In Israel — That is, among the church and people of God, who had such excellent laws to direct them, and such an all-sufficient and gracious God to provide for them, without any such unworthy practices. It was sacrilege, it was invading God’s rights, and converting to a private use that which was devoted to his glory, which was to be thus severely punished, for a warning to all people in all ages to take heed how they rob God.

7:10-15 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.The Lord taketh - i. e. by lot. The Hebrew word for lot suggests that small stones, probably white and black ones, were used. These were probably drawn from a chest (compare the expressions in Joshua 18:11; Joshua 19:1). The lot was regarded as directed in its result by God (margin reference); and hence, was used on many important occasions by the Jews and by other nations in ancient times. For example:

(1), for apportionment, as of Canaan among the twelve tribes Numbers 26:55; of the Levitical cities (Joshua 21:4 ff); of spoil or captives taken in war Joel 3:3.

(2) for detection of the guilty, as in the case if Achan, Jonathan 1 Samuel 14:42, and Jonah Jon 1:7.

(3) for determining the persons to undertake a dangerous or warlike enterprise Judges 20:10.

(4) for making appointment to important functions (Leviticus 16:8 ff; Acts 1:26); or for sharing the duties or privileges of an office among those concerned 1 Chronicles 24:31; Luke 1:9.

The casting of lots before Haman Esther 3:7 seems to have been with a view of determining the lucky day for his undertaking against the Jews. One passage Proverbs 18:18 perhaps points also to the employment of the lot to decide litigation.

10-15. the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up—The answer of the divine oracle was to this effect: the crisis is owing not to unfaithfulness in Me, but sin in the people. The conditions of the covenant have been violated by the reservation of spoil from the doomed city; wickedness, emphatically called folly, has been committed in Israel (Ps 14:1), and dissimulation, with other aggravations of the crime, continues to be practised. The people are liable to destruction equally with the accursed nations of Canaan (De 7:26). Means must, without delay, be taken to discover and punish the perpetrator of this trespass that Israel may be released from the ban, and things be restored to their former state of prosperity. Which the Lord taketh; which shall be discovered or declared guilty by the lot, which is disposed by the Lord, Proverbs 16:33, and which was to be cast in the Lord’s presence before the ark. Of such use of lots, see 1 Samuel 14:41,42Jo 1:7 Acts 1:26.

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.

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.
14. according to your tribes] Each tribe was divided into families; each family into houses; each house into persons.

the tribe which the Lord taketh] i.e. by the sacred lot. We find the lots used (a) for the detection of a criminal here, and in the case of Jonathan (1 Samuel 14:42, and Jonah 1:7); (b) in the choice of men for an invading force (Jdg 1:1; Jdg 20:10); (c) in the partition of land (Numbers 26:55; Joshua 18:10; 1Ma 3:36); (d) in the assignment to foreigners or captors of spoils or prisoners (Joel 3:3; Nahum 3:10); (e) in the selection of the scapegoat on the day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:8); (f) in the settlement of doubtful questions (Proverbs 16:33; Proverbs 18:18). The custom was of great antiquity and widely spread, and “recommended itself as a sort of appeal to the Almighty, secure from all influence of passion or bias.” In Homer we find it employed by the gods themselves (Il. 22:209; Cic. de Div. 1. 34, 11. 41), and the Romans had their lots in divisions (sortes divisoriœ) and elections (sors urbana and peregrina) in the choice of a prætor.

Verse 14. - Taketh, i.e., by lot, as in 1 Samuel 14:42 (הַפִילוּ make it fall; cf. 1 Samuel 10:20) (cf. Jonah 1:7; also Proverbs 18:18). According to the families. The gradual centering of the suspicion upon the offender is one of the most striking features of the history. The genealogies of the children of Israel were very strictly kept, as the Books of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah show. Achan's name is carefully given in the genealogy of Judah in 1 Chronicles if. 7. The subdivision of the tribes into families (or clans, Keil) and households (or, as we should perhaps say, families) was for convenience of enumeration, military organisation, and perhaps of assessment. Oehler, 'Theologie des Allen Testaments,' Sec. 101, takes the same view as Keil. The tribes, he says, were divided into מִשְׁפָהות or ׃ך׃ך אֲלָפִים, Geschlechter (LXX. δημοι, for which the best English equivalent is clans, as above); these into families or houses (בָּתִּים), or fathers' hours (בֵּת אָבות); and these again into single heads of a house (גְבָרִים). The principle, he adds of a Mosaic family, is as follows: Every "family" forms a distinct whole, which as far as possible must be maintained in its integrity. Each tribe, says Jahn ('Hebrew Commonwealth,' Book II.), acknowledged a prince (כָשִׂיא) as its ruler. As its numbers increased, there arose a subdivision of the tribe into collections of families. Such a collection was called a house of fathers, a מִשְׁפְחָה or clan, or a thousand, rut this explanation is not so satisfactory as that given above. Kurz remarks on the important part family life played among the Hebrews, with whom, in consequence of their descent from Abraham, and the importance they attached to it, the nation was developed out of the family. See Introduction. Joshua 7:14Joshua was to take away this ban from the nation. To discover who had laid hands upon the ban, he was to direct the people to sanctify themselves for the following day (see at Joshua 3:5), and then to cause them to come before God according to their tribes, families, households, and men, that the guilty men might be discovered by lot; and to burn whoever was found guilty, with all that he possessed. נקרב, "to come near," sc., to Jehovah, i.e., to come before His sanctuary. The tribes, families, households, and men, formed the four classes into which the people were organized. As the tribes were divided into families, so these again were subdivided into houses, commonly called fathers' houses, and the fathers' houses again into men, i.e., fathers of families (see the remarks on Exodus 18:25-26, and by Bibl. Archaeology, 140). Each of these was represented by its natural head, so that we must picture the affair as conducted in the following manner: in order to discover the tribe, the twelve tribe princes came before the Lord; and in order to discover the family, the heads of families of the tribe that had been taken, and so on to the end, each one in turn being subjected to the lot. For although it is not distinctly stated that the lot was resorted to in order to discover who was guilty, and that the discovery was actually made in this way, this is very evident from the expression אשׁר־ילכּדנּה (which the Lord taketh), as this was the technical term employed, according to 1 Samuel 14:42, to denote the falling of the lot upon a person (see also 1 Samuel 10:20). Moreover, the lot was frequently resorted to in cases where a crime could not be brought home to a person by the testimony of eye-witnesses (see 1 Samuel 14:41-42; Jonah 1:7; Proverbs 18:18), as it was firmly believed that the lot was directed by the Lord (Proverbs 16:33). In what manner the lot was cast we do not know. In all probability little tablets or potsherds were used, with the names written upon them, and these were drawn out of an urn. This may be inferred from a comparison of Joshua 18:11 and Joshua 19:1, with Joshua 18:6, Joshua 18:10, according to which the casting of the lot took place in such a manner that the lot came up (עלה, Joshua 18:11; Joshua 19:10; Leviticus 16:9), or came out (יצא, Joshua 19:1; Joshua 19:24; Numbers 33:54). בּחרם הנּלכּד, the person taken in (with) the ban, i.e., taken by the lot as affected with the ban, was to be burned with fire, of course not alive, but after he had been stoned (Joshua 7:25). The burning of the body of a criminal was regarded as heightening the punishment of death (vid., Leviticus 20:14). This punishment was to be inflicted upon him, in the first place, because he had broken the covenant of Jehovah; and in the second place, because he had wrought folly in Israel, that is to say, had offended grievously against the covenant God, and also against the covenant nation. "Wrought folly:" an expression used here, as in Genesis 34:7, to denote such a crime as was irreconcilable with the honour of Israel as the people of God.
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