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.
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Joshua 7:25-26. They burned them with fire after they had stoned them — God would have their dead carcasses burned, to show his utmost detestation of such persons as break forth into sins of such public scandal and mischief. A great heap of stones — As a monument of the sin and judgment here mentioned, that others might be warned by the example; and as a brand of infamy, as Joshua 8:29; 2 Samuel 18:17. The valley of Achor — Or, the valley of trouble, from the double trouble expressed Joshua 7:25.

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. Stoned him with stones, and burned him with fire; which is easily understood, both out of the following words, and from God’s command to do so, Joshua 7:15, which doubtless was here executed.

Quest. How could both these deaths be inflicted upon them?

Answ. It seems they were stoned to death, which was the punishment of such offenders, Numbers 15:35, and not burned to death; and therefore the stoning only of Achan is mentioned here, and not his burning; and God would have their dead carcasses burned to show his utmost detestation of such persons as break forth into sins of such a public scandal and mischief. And for the burning of Achan, commanded Joshua 7:15, it seems not likely to be meant of his burning alive, because that burning is common to him, and all that he hath, as is there expressed; but of the burning of his dead carcass, and other lifeless things, as the manner was with accursed things, Deu 13:16.

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 Joshua said, {n} 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.

(n) He declares that this is God's judgment because he had offended, and caused others to be slain.

25. Why hast thou troubled us?] Compare the question of Ahab to Elijah, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). “For thou disturblidist us, the Lord schall disturble the in this dai,” Wyclif.

And all Israel stoned him] The use of the singular here and in the following verse is deserving of notice. It suggests that it does not necessarily follow that the sons and daughters of Achan were burned with him. In this case “the plural number used would refer only to the oxen, asses, and sheep, and all that Achan possessed.” Edersheim. Stoning was the ordinary mode of execution (Exodus 17:4), especially for idolatry and blasphemy (1 Kings 21:10).

and burned them with fire] This was a terrible aggravation of the ordinary punishment of death, Leviticus 20:14.

Verse 25. - Stoned him with stones. The word here is not the same as in the last part of the verse. It has been suggested that the former word signifies to stone a living person, the second to heap up stones upon a dead one; and this derives confirmation from the fact that the former word has the signification of piling up, while the latter rather gives the idea of the weight of the pile. Some have gathered from the use of the singular here, that Achan only was stoned; but the use of the plural immediately afterwards implies the contrary, unless, with Knobel, we have recourse to the suggestion that "them" is a "mistake of the Deuteronomist" for "him." It is of course possible that his family were only taken there to witness the solemn judgment upon their father. But the use of the singular and plural in Hebrew is frequently very indefinite (see Judges 11:17, 19; Psalm 66:6. See note above, on Joshua 6:25). Joshua 7:25Then 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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