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.
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(24) And his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had.—All were evidently destroyed together (comp. Joshua 22:20). For any other sin but this, Achan must have suffered alone. “The children shall not be put to death for the fathers.” But in this case, warning had been given that the man who took of the accursed thing, or chêrern, would be an accursed thing like it, if he brought it into his house (Deuteronomy 7:26), and would make the camp of Israel chêrem also (Joshua 6:18), and thus Achan’s whole establishment was destroyed as though it had become part of Jericho. It is not necessary to assert that the family of Achan were accomplices. His cattle were not so, and yet they were destroyed. See also 1Chronicles 2:7, where his line is not continued. Observe also the incidental reference to the fact in Joshua 22:20, “That man perished not alone in his iniquity.” The severity of the punishment must be estimated by the relation of Achan’s crime to the whole plan of the conquest of Canaan. If the destruction of the Canaanites was indeed the execution of the Divine vengeance, it must be kept entirely clear of all baser motives, lest men should say that Jehovah gave His people licence to deal with the Canaanites as it seemed best for themselves. The punishment of Saul for taking the spoil of Amalek (1 Samuel 15), and the repeated statement of the Book of Esther that the Jews who stood for their lives and slew their enemies, the supporters of Haman’s project, laid not their hands on the prey, are further illustrations of the same principle. The gratification of human passions may not be mingled with the execution of the vengeance of God. (See Esther 8:11; Esther 9:10; Esther 9:15-16.)

The valley of Achor.—In 1Chronicles 2:7, Achan himself is designated Achar (one among several examples of the alteration of a name to suit some circumstance of a person’s history. Compare Bathsheba for Bathshua, Shallum for Jehoiachin, Ishbosheth for Eshbaal, &c.). There is a double play upon the names in Hosea 2:15 : “I will give her her vineyards (Carmêha. Compare Carmi, “my vineyard”) from thence, and the valley of trouble (Achor) for a door of hope.” The valley of Achor is a pass leading from Gilgal towards the centre of the country, or, as it might be represented, from Jericho towards Jerusalem—i.e., from the city of destruction to the city of God. So it was to Israel in the conquest. The future state of Achan is in the hands of the Judge who “doeth judgment.” No mercy to his crime on earth was possible. It would have been injustice to all mankind.

Joshua 7:24. And his sons and his daughters — It is very probable, Achan being an old man, that his children were grown up, and the things which he had stolen being buried in the midst of his tent, it is likely they were conscious of the fact, as the Jewish doctors affirm they were; and if they were not accomplices in his crime, yet, at least, they concealed it. This is said, on the supposition that they were stoned and burned. But, according to the LXX., who say nothing of his children, only he was put to death. And it is not necessary to understand even the Hebrew text as affirming any thing further. It says, all Israel stoned him with stones, without mentioning his family. And what it afterward adds, And burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones, may be understood of the oxen, and asses, and sheep which belonged to Achan, and which God willed to be destroyed, together with his tent, and other effects, to excite a greater horror of his crime. For the brute creatures, though not capable of sin, nor of punishment, properly so called, yet, as they were made for man’s use, so they may be justly destroyed for man’s good. And as they are daily killed for our bodily food, it surely cannot seem strange that they should sometimes be killed for the instruction of our minds, that we may hereby learn the contagious nature of sin, which involves innocent creatures in its destructive effects.

7:16-26 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.The sin had been national (Joshua 7:1 note), and accordingly the expiation of it was no less so. The whole nation, no doubt through its usual representatives, took part in executing the sentence. Achan had fallen by his own act under the ban Joshua 6:18, and consequently he and his were treated as were communities thus devoted Deuteronomy 13:15-17. It would appear too that Achan's family must have been accomplices in his sin; for the stolen spoil could hardly have been concealed in his tent without their being privy thereto. 24-26. Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan—He with his children and all his property, cattle as well as movables, were brought into one of the long broad ravines that open into the Ghor, and after being stoned to death (Nu 15:30-35), his corpse, with all belonging to him, was consumed to ashes by fire. "All Israel" was present, not only as spectators, but active agents, as many as possible, in inflicting the punishment—thus testifying their abhorrence of the sacrilege, and their intense solicitude to regain the divine favor. As the divine law expressly forbade the children to be put to death for their father's sins (De 24:16), the conveyance of Achan's "sons and daughters" to the place of execution might be only as spectators, that they might take warning by the parental fate; or, if they shared his punishment (Jos 22:20), they had probably been accomplices in his crime, and, indeed, he could scarcely have dug a hole within his tent without his family being aware of it. His sons and his daughters; but this seems hard and unjust, and therefore forbidden by God himself, Deu 24:16.

Answ. 1. That law was given to men, not to God, who certainly hath a more absolute right and sovereignty over men than one man hath over another.

2. Their death was a debt they owed to nature and to their own sins, which debt God may require when he pleaseth; and he could not take it in more honourable and excellent circumstances than these, that the death of a very few in the beginning of a new empire, and of their settlement in the land might be useful to prevent the death of many thousands, who took warning by this dreadful example, whom, if the fear of God did not, yet the love of their own and of their dear children’s lives would, restrain from such dangerous and pernicious practices.

3. It is very probable they were conscious of the fact, as the Jewish doctors affirm. If it be pretended that some of them were infants, the text doth not say so, but only calls them sons and daughters. And considering that Achan was an old man, as is most probable, because he was the fifth person from Judah, (of which See Poole "Joshua 7:1",) it seems most likely that the children were grown up, and so capable of knowing, and concealing or discovering this fact. Nor doth it follow that they were not guilty because it is not said so; for it is apparent that many circumstances are omitted in divers historical relations in Scripture, which sometimes are supplied in other places.

His oxen, and his asses, and his sheep; which, though not capable of sin, nor of punishment properly so called, yet, as they were made for man’s use, so they are rightly destroyed for man’s good; and being daily killed for our bodily food, it cannot seem strange to kill them for the instruction of our minds, that hereby we might learn the detestable and contagious nature of sin, which involves innocent creatures in its plagues; and how much sorer punishments are reserved for man, who having a law given to him, and that excellent gift of reason and will to restrain him from the transgressions of it, his guilt must needs be unspeakably greater, and therefore his sufferings more severe and terrible. Further, by this enumeration it appears that he had no colour of necessity to induce him to this fact, but was wholly inexcusable.

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, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the {l} wedge of gold, and his {m} 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.

{l} Some read a plate: others, a rod, and some a tongue.

(m) This judgment belonged only to God, and to whom he will reveal it. He had commanded man not to punish the child for the father's sins, De 24:16.

24. Song of Solomon of Zerah] Strictly, his great-grandson.

and his sons, and his daughters] Some have thought they were brought to the valley merely as spectators, that they might have a terrible warning: others think they must have been accomplices in his sin, and as he by his own act had placed himself under a ban (Joshua 6:18), so all that he had was treated as coming under the same law. (Comp. Deuteronomy 13:15-17.)

the valley] Henceforth known by the name of “Achor,” i.e. causing trouble and sorrow. Comp. Joshua 15:7, “And the border went up toward Debir from the valley of Achor;” Isaiah 65:10, “And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in;” Hosea 2:15, “And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope.” The exact site of the valley is unknown, but it was somewhere on the northern border of the tribe of Judah, among the ridges to the south of Jericho.

Verse 24. - Took Achan, the son of Zerah. Great-grandson in reality (see ver. 1; cf. 1 Kings 15:2, 10). And his sons and his daughters (see note, ver. 15). Brought them. Hebrew, "brought them up." The valley of Achor was above Jericho, whether higher up the valley or on higher ground is not known. The valley of Achor (see Joshua 15:7; Isaiah 65:10; Hosea 2:15). Achor means trouble (see note on Joshua 6:18). Joshua 7:24Then Joshua and all Israel, i.e., the whole nation in the person of its heads or representatives, took Achan, together with the things which he had purloined, and his sons and daughters, his cattle, and his tent with all its furniture, and brought them into the valley of Achor, where they stoned them to death and then burned them, after Joshua had once more pronounced this sentence upon him in the place of judgment: "How hast thou troubled us" (עכר, as in Joshua 6:18, to bring into trouble)! "The Lord will trouble thee this day." It by no means follows from the expression "stoned him" in Joshua 7:25, that Achan only was stoned. The singular pronoun is used to designate Achan alone, as being the principal person concerned. But it is obvious enough that his children and cattle were stoned, from what follows in the very same verse: "They burned them (the persons stoned to death, and their things) with fire, and heaped up stones upon them." It is true that in Deuteronomy 24:16 the Mosaic law expressly forbids the putting to death of children for their fathers' sins; and many have imagined, therefore, that Achan's sons and daughters were simply taken into the valley to be spectators of the punishment inflicted upon the father, that it might be a warning to them. But for what reason, then, were Achan's cattle (oxen, sheep, and asses) taken out along with him? Certainly for no other purpose than to be stoned at the same time as he. The law in question only referred to the punishment of ordinary criminals, and therefore was not applicable at all to the present case, in which the punishment was commanded by the Lord himself. Achan had fallen under the ban by laying hands upon what had been banned, and consequently was exposed to the same punishment as a town that had fallen away to idolatry (Deuteronomy 13:16-17). The law of the ban was founded upon the assumption, that the conduct to be punished was not a crime of which the individual only was guilty, but one in which the whole family of the leading sinner, in fact everything connected with him, participated. Thus, in the case before us, the things themselves had been abstracted from the booty by Achan alone; but he had hidden them in his tent, buried them in the earth, which could hardly have been done so secretly that his sons and daughters knew nothing of it. By so doing he had made his family participators in his theft; they therefore fell under the ban along with him, together with their tent, their cattle, and the rest of their property, which were all involved in the consequences of his crime. The clause בּאבנים אתם ויּסקלוּ does not refer to the stoning as a capital punishment, but to the casting of stones upon the bodies after they were dead and had been burned, for the purpose of erecting a heap of stones upon them as a memorial of the disgrace (vid., Joshua 8:29; 2 Samuel 18:17). - In Joshua 7:26, the account of the whole affair closes with these two remarks: (1) That after the punishment of the malefactor the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger; and (2) That the valley in which Achan suffered his punishment received the name of Achor (troubling) with special reference to the fact that Joshua had described his punishment as well as Achan's sin as עכר (troubling: see Joshua 7:25), and that it retained this name down to the writer's own time. With regard to the situation of this valley, it is evident from the word ויּעלוּ in Joshua 7:24 that it was on higher ground than Gilgal and Jericho, probably in one of the ranges of hills that intersect the plain of Jericho, and from Joshua 15:7, where the northern border of the possessions of Judah is said to have passed through this valley, that it is to be looked for to the south of Jericho. The only other places in which there is any allusion to this event are Hosea 2:17 and Isaiah 65:10.
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