Joshua 7
Pulpit Commentary
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.
Verse 1. - Committed a trespass in the accursed thing. The word מָעַל, here used, signifies originally to cover, whence מְעִיל a garment. Hence it comes to mean to act deceitfully, or perhaps to steal (cf. the LXX. ἐνοσφίσαντο, a translation rendered remarkable by the fact that it is the very word used by St. Luke in regard to the transgression of Ananias and Sapphira. But the LXX. is here rather a paraphrase than a translation). It is clearly used here of some secret act. But in Leviticus 5:15 it is used of an unwitting trespass, committed בִּשְׁגָגָה, in error of fact, but not of intention. Achan. Called Achar in 1 Chronicles 2:7, no doubt from a reference to the results of his conduct. He had "troubled Israel" (עָכַר), ver. 25, and the valley which witnessed his punishment obtained the name of Achor. The copies of the LXX. vary between the two forms, the Vatican Codex having Achar; the Alexandrian, Achan. Zabdi. Zimri in 1 Chronicles 2:6. Such variations of reading are extremely common, and are increased in our version by the varieties of English spelling adopted among our translators (see Shemuel for Samuel in 1 Chronicles 6:33). The LXX. has Zambri here. Took of the accursed thing. Commentators have largely discussed the question how the sin of Achan could be held to extend to the whole people. But it seems sufficient to reply by pointing out the organic unity of the Israelitish nation. They were then, as Christians are now, the Church of the living God. And if one single member of the community violated the laws which God imposed on them, the whole body was liable for his sin, until it had purged itself by a public act of restitution (see Deuteronomy 21:1-8). So St. Paul regards the Corinthian Church as polluted by the presence of one single offender, until he was publicly expelled from its communion (see 1 Corinthians 5:2, 6, 7). The very words "body politic" applied to a state imply the same idea - that of a connection so intimate between the members of a community that the act of one affects the whole. And if this be admitted to be the case in ordinary societies, how much more so in the people of God, who were under His special protection, and had been specially set apart to His service? In the history of Achan, moreover, we read the history of secret sin, which, though unseen by any earthly eye, does nevertheless pollute the offender, and through him the Church of God, by lowering his general standard of thought and action, enfeebling his moral sense, checking the growth of his inner and devotional life, until, by a resolute act of repentance and restitution towards God, the sin is finally acknowledged and put away. "A lewd man is a pernicious creature. That he damnes his own soule is the least part of his misehiefe; he commonly drawes vengeance upon a thousand, either by the desert of his sinne, or by the infection" (Bp. Hall).
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.
Verse 2. - Ai. עַי or הָעַי "the ruins" (cf. Iim and Ije-abarim, the ruins or heaps of Abarim, Numbers 33:44, 45; and Iim, Joshua 15:29. Probably it is the same as הָעַוּים which we find mentioned in conjunction with Bethel in Joshua 18:22, 23. It becomes עַיָּא in Nehemiah 11:31, and the feminine form is found in Isaiah 10:28. The latter, from the mention of Michmash in the route of Sennacherib immediately afterwards, is probably the same as Ai. Robinson and Hell - the former very doubtfully - place it at Turmus Aya, an eminence crowned with ruins above Deir Duwan. But Vandevelde contests this, and places it at Tell-el-Hajar, i.e., the Tell or heap of ruins; and G. Williams and Capt. Wilson have independently fixed on the same spot, though they call it et-Tel, or "the heap," and suppose the "el-Hajar" to have been added in answer to the question, "what heap?" This situation seems best to suit the requirements of the narrative. For it is "on the southern brow of the Wady-el-Mutyah" (Vandevelde), near that "wild entanglement of hill and valley at the head of the Wady Harith," which "climbs into the heart of the mountains of Benjamin till it meets the central ridge of the country at Bethel" (Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 202). Its situation, unlike that of Turmus Aya, is calculated to give cover to an ambush of 5,000 men, and it also answers to the conditions in its nearness to Michmash, from which Turmus Aya is more than three hours' journey distant. The Tell is "covered with heaps of ruins" (Capt. Wilson, 'Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement,' 4. p. 124). Conder, however ('Handbook,' p. 254), identifies Ai with Haiyan, two miles from Bethel, in the same Wady, but why, he gives no hint. A fortress so situated was one which Joshua could not leave in his rear, and so its capture was a matter of necessity. By its position, if not from the number of its inhabitants, it was necessarily a very strong one. Ai is mentioned as early as Genesis 12:8, and we find that it was inhabited down to the Captivity, for the "men of Bethel and Ai" are mentioned (and, it may be observed, in close proximity to those of Rama, Geba, and Michmash - see Isaiah 10:28 above cited) in Ezra 2:28. See also Nehemiah 11:31, above cited. The name Ai, or ruins, found so early, implies that the aboriginal inhabitants had built a city in that almost inaccessible situation. Lieut. Conder gives a very vivid description of the site et-Tel in 'Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement,' April, 1874. There are, he says, "huge mounds of broken stone and shingle ten feet high. The town," he adds, "must have been pounded small, and the fury of its destruction is still evidenced by its completeness." He continues: "The party for the ambush, following the ancient causeway from Bethel to Jordan (which we have recovered throughout its entire length) as far as Michmash, would then easily ascend the great wady west of Ai, and arrive within a quarter of a mile of the city without having ever come in sight of it. Here, hidden by the knoll of Burjums and the high ground near it, a force of almost any magnitude might wait unsuspected. The main body in the meanwhile, without diverging from the road, would ascend the gently sloping valley and appear before the town on the open battlefield which stretches away to its east and south. From the knoll the figure of Joshua would be plainly visible to either party, with his spear stretched against the sky" [see ch Joshua 8:18). But the site still eludes investigation. Lieut. Kitchener, Mr. Birch, Mr. Guest, would place it at Kh-Haiy, or the rock Rimmon. When those who have visited the country are so divided in opinion, nothing but silence remains for those who have not. Beth-avern (cf. 1 Samuel 14:23). This place has not yet been identified. It was close by Ai, and not far from Bethel, as the transference of its name to Bethel by Hosea (Hosea 4:15; 5:8; 10:5) shows. It could not have been a place of any importance, or the historian would not have found it necessary to explain where it was. Hosea has perhaps derived his knowledge of it from this passage. Some writers have identified it with Bethel. But this is obviously incorrect, since the literal rendering of the Hebrew here places Ai "in the immediate proximity of Beth-aven, eastward of Bethel." The LXX. omits all reference to Beth-aven. But there are many various readings. Bethel Formerly Luz (Genesis 28:19; Genesis 35:7; Judges 1:23). The last-cited passage seems to prove that Bethel was not among, the cities taken during Joshua's campaign; though this is extraordinary in the face of the fact that the inhabitants of Luz gave their assistance to the men of Ai in the battle (see Joshua 8:17, where, however, it is remarkable that the LXX. omits all reference to Bethel). We may observe that there is no mention of the capture of Bethel, or the destruction of the inhabitants, and that this exactly agrees with Judges 1:22-26. This is an undesigned coincidence well worthy of note. We may also remark on the exact conformity between the situation of Bethel as described here and in Genesis 12:8. The city to which the name Bethel was attached was not the place of Abraham's altar, as we learn from the passage just cited, but was in its immediate neighbourhood. The ruins which now mark its site are of a later date than the events recorded in Scripture. Its modern name is Beitin. Go up and view the country. Rather, spy (or reconnoitre); literally, foot the country. Joshua does not refuse to avail himself of human expedients because he is under Divine guidance (see also ch. 2). The reasons for this reconnoitring expedition are made clear enough by the passage quoted from Lieut. Condor's survey above.
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.
Verse 3. - Make not all the people to labour thither; or, weary not the people with the journey thither. "Good successe lifts up the heart with too much confidence" (Bp. Hall).
So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai.
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.
Verse 5. Unto Shebarim. LXX., καὶ ἕως συνέτριψαν αὐτούς, as though we had שְׁבָרוּם (or, as Masius suggests, הַשְׁבִירִים) from שָׁבַר to break in pieces. So the Syriac and Chaldee versions. But this is quite out of the question. The Israelites were not annihilated, for they only lost about 36 men. Nor is Shebarim a proper name, as the Vulgate renders it. It has the article, and must be rendered either with Keil, the stone quarries (literally, the crushings or breakings), or with Gesenius, the ruins, which, however, is less probable, since Ai (see above)has a similar signification. Munsterus mentions a view that it was so called in consequence of the slaughter of the Israelites. But this is very improbable. In the going down. Ai stood in a strong position on the mountains. The margin "in Morad "is therefore not to be preferred. It means, as the Israelites and their antagonists descended from the gates. The hearts of the people melted and became as water. This was not cowardice, but awe. The people had relied upon the strong hand of the Lord, which had been so wonderfully stretched out for them. From Joshua downwards, every one felt that, for some unknown reason, that support had been withdrawn.

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.
Verse 6. - And Joshua rent his clothes. A token of grief usual among the Jews (see Genesis 37:29, 84; 44:13, etc. Knobel cites Leviticus 21:10); and though Joshua was not the high priest, yet from his peculiar position he might be expected to adopt somewhat of the high priest's demeanour, and at least not to display this outward sign of grief without the strongest reason. The words "before the ark" are omitted in the LXX. And put dust on their heads. A sign of still more abject humiliation. The head, the noblest part of man, was thus placed beneath the dust of the ground from whence he was taken (see 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:2; 2 Samuel 13:19; 2 Samuel 15:32; 1 Kings 20:38; Job 2:12; Lamentations 2:10). It was a common custom among the Greeks. (See Lucian, De Luetu, 12). Homer mentions the custom (Iliad, 18). Pope's translation runs thus: -

"Cast on the ground, with furious hands he spread
The scorching ashes o'er his graceful head.
His purple garments and his golden hairs,
Those he deforms with dust, and these he tears."
Lines 26-30.
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!
Verse 7. - Wherefore hast thou at all brought. The LXX. seems in some way to have read עבד for עבר; they translate "why did thy servant cross?" But their rendering is a clear grammatical blunder, for the Masorites remark that the ה is to be preserved. Would to God we had been content. Calvin makes some severe remarks on Joshua's folly and want of faith under this reverse. But it may be paralleled by the conduct of most Christians in adversity. How few are there who can bear even temporal calamity calmly and patiently, even though they have abundant reason to know that temporal affliction is not only no sign of the displeasure of God, but the reverse! And when, through allowing secret sin to lurk within the soul, the Christian is overcome and brought to shame by his spiritual enemies, how much more seldom it is that he has the courage to gird up the loins of his soul and renew the conflict, in full confidence that victory will be his in the end! How much more frequently does he despair of victory, wish he had never undertaken the Christian profession, give up his belief in the protecting care and guidance of God, and desist, at least for a time, from the good fight of faith, to his own serious injury and to the detriment of God's Church! "It is not," adds Calvin, "a new thing for pious minds, when they aspire to seek God with holy zeal, to obscure the light of faith by the vehemence and impetuosity of their affections. And in this way all prayers would be rendered valueless, did not the Lord in His boundless indulgence pardon them, and, wiping away all their stains, receive them as if they were pure. And yet while in thus freely expostulating they cast all their care upon God, this blunt simplicity, though it needs pardon, is yet far more acceptable than the feigned modesty and self restraint of the hypocrites."
O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!
Verse 8. - What shall I say? To encourage the people who will be downcast by this defeat, while their enemies will gather courage.
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?
Verse 9. - For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it. The invariable argument of Moses (Exodus 32:12; Numbers 14:13-16; Deuteronomy 9:28; Deuteronomy 32:26, 27). The disgrace which the sin of man brings upon the cause of the Lord is a real and very terrible thing (cf. 2 Samuel 12:14; Ezekiel 36:23).
And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?
Verse 10. - Get thee up. Not puerile lamentation, but action, is ever the duty of the soldier of the Lord. If defeat assails either the individual or the cause, there is a reason for it, and this must be promptly searched out, and with God's aid be discovered. The sin or error once found out and put away, the combat may be renewed and brought to a successful issue.
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.
Verse 11. - Israel hath sinned. A simple but satisfactory explanation. It is not God who changes. It is we who frustrate His counsels of love and protection against our enemies. We have here another assertion of the principle that if one member suffer all the members suffer with it. Achan's sin was the sin of all Israel. So the sin of one man is still the sin of the whole Church. And have also stolen. The accusation is cumulative. Israel, which was all involved in the sin of one among their number, had

(1) broken a solemn vow;

(2) had stolen what was not theirs;

(3) had acted deceitfully (כָּחַשַׁ); and

(4) had appropriated to themselves what belonged to God, which, as Keil remarks, was the last and gravest feature of their crime.

This is strongly brought out by the fivefold repetition of גַּם in the original.
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.
Verse 12. - Therefore. This plain statement disposes of the idea that the repulse before Ai was simply the result of Joshua's rashness in sending so small a body of troops. The vivid narrative of the detection of Achan, obviously taken from contemporary records, precedes the account of the final capture of the city, although Joshua, who, as we have seen, does not neglect to employ human means, resolves to take greater precautions before making a second attack. Not a hint is dropped that the former number of men was insufficient, or that Joshua had been misled by the information brought by the reconnoitring party. In the mind of the historian the defect is entirely owing to the existence of secret sin in the Israelitish camp. Except ye destroy the accursed from among. Dr. Maclear, in the 'Cambridge Bible for Schools,' calls attention to the fact that 1 Corinthians 5:13 is a quotation from the LXX. here, substituting, however, τὸν πονηρὸν for το ἀνάθεμα.
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.
Verse 13. - Sanctify the people. See note on Joshua 3:5. Thou canst not stand before thine enemies. Observe the singular number here, intensifying the testimony of the whole history to the fact that Israel was one body before the Lord. And observe, moreover, how the existence of secret sin, even though unknown to and undetected by him in whom it lurks, has power to enfeeble the soul in its conflict with its enemies. Hence we learn the duties Of watchfulness and careful examination of the soul by the light of God's Word.
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.
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.
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.
Verse 15. He that is taken with the accursed thing; or, according to Keil, "he on whom the ban falls." He and all that he hath (cf. ver. 24). The opinion that Achan's family had in some way become participators in his sin would seem preferable to the idea that his sin had involved them in the ban (see Deuteronomy 24:16, which qualifies Leviticus 26:39; so Hengstenberg, 'History,' p. 218). The destruction of their possessions is due to the fact that all the family had come under the ban. Folly נְבָלָה used of the heart as well as the head (cf. Genesis 34:7: Deuteronomy 22:21; Judges 19:23, 24; Judges 20:6; 2 Samuel 13:12; Psalm 14:1). The LXX. render by ἀνόμημα, and the Vulgate by herae, but Theodotion renders by ἀφροσύνη.

So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken:
Verse 16. - The family of Judah. The expression מִשְׁפַתַת is remarkable. Many commentators would read מִשְׁפְחֹת, not without some MSS. authority. Keil objects that the Chaldee and Syriac have the singular. But the LXX. has κατὰ δήμους, and the Vulgate juxta familias. On the whole it seems more probable that as מִשְׁפַחַת occurs twice in this passage, it has been so pointed where the same letters occur for the third time, than that, with Peele, it means tribe (so also Gesenius and Winer); or that, as others suggest, it is used for omnes or singulas genres. See, however, Judges 13:2, where it is unquestionably used in the sense of 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 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 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.
Verse 19. - My son. This is no mere hypocritical affectation of tenderness. Joshua feels for the criminal, even though he is forced to put him to death. So in cur own day the spectacle is not uncommon of a judge melted to tears as he passes sentence of death on the murderer. The expression seems almost to imply a belief that, though Achan must undergo the extremest penalty of the law in this world, Joshua entertained a hope that he might be forgiven in the next. It certainly proves that, stern as the law of Moses was, it was felt, at least in those early days, to be rather against the sin than the sinner that its severity was directed. In commenting upon the severity of the Mosaic covenant, whether towards offenders against its provisions or against the Canaanites, we must remember Bishop Butler's caution, that in this world we see but a very small portion of the whole counsel of God. Give glory to the Lord Cod of Israel, and make confession unto Him. Literally, offer (or impute) glory to the Lord God of Israel, and give confession (or praise) unto Him (cf. John 9:24). The meaning is to give honour to God as the all-seeing God, the revealer of secrets, by an open confession before men of what is already known to Him. It may have been a common formula of adjuration, though Masius thinks otherwise.
And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:
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.
Verse 21. - A goodly Babylonish garment. Literally, "a mantle of Shinar, one goodly one." Babylon was in the "land of Shinar" (see Genesis 11:2; Genesis 14:1; Isaiah 11:11; Zechariah 5:11). The אַדרֶת derived from אדר great, glorious, was an ample cloak, sometimes of hair or fur (Genesis 25:25; cf. 1 Kings 19:13, 19; 2 Kings 2:13, 14; Jonah 3:6, etc.). The Babylonish mantle was famed for its beauty (ποικίλη, LXX.), and was, no doubt, worked artistically with figures of men and animals. "Of all Asiatic nations, the Babylonians were the most noted for the weaving of cloth of divers colours. Into these stuffs gold threads were introduced into the woof of many hues. Amongst those who traded in 'blue clothes and embroidered work' with Tyro were the merchants of Asshur, or Assyria; and that the garments of Babylon were brought into Syria and greatly esteemed at a very early period, we learn from their being classed amongst the most precious articles of spoil, even with gold, in the time of Joshua" (Layard, 'Nineveh,' II. 413). From this, among other passages, we may infer the early date of the Book of Joshua. It marks an early stage of civilisation when an embroidered garment can be considered as in any degree equivalent to gold. The Israelites, it must be remembered, were not unaccustomed in Egypt to the highest degree of civilisation then known. "Nam Persarum, finitimarumque gentium luxum eo se ostentare solere vel ex eo constat quod captis ab Alexandro Magno Susis illicinventa fuerit 10 millia pondo, sive talents purpurae Hermionicae, teste Plutarcho in Alexandro" (Corn. a Lapide). A wedge of gold. Literally, "a tongue of gold." Some derive our word ingot from the French lingot, or little tongue. But others derive it with greater probability from the Dutch ingieten the same as the German einqiesen, to pour in. "Si ergo invenias spud philosophos perversa dogmata luculenti sermonis assertionibus decorata, ista eat lingua aurea. Sed vide, nete decipiat fulgor operis, ne te rapiat sermonis aurei pulchritudo: memento, quia Jesus anathema jussit esse omni aurum quod in Jericho fuerit inventum. Si poetam legeris modulatis versibus et praefulgido carmine Deos Deasque texentem, ne delecteris eloquentiae suavitate. Lingua aurea est: si eam sustuleritis, et posueris in tabernaculo tuo: polluis omnem ecclesiam Domini" (Orig., Hom. 7 on Joshua).
So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it.
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.
Verse 23. - Laid them out before the Lord. This shows the directly religious nature of the proceeding. God had directed the lot, the offender was discovered, and now the devoted things are solemnly laid out one by one (for so the Hebrew seems to imply, though in 2 Samuel 15:24 it has the sense of planting firmly, as molten matter hardens and becomes fixed) before Him whose they are, as a confession of sin, and also as an act of restitution.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
Verse 26. - And the Lord turned from the heat of His anger. There is no contradiction between this and such passages as 1 Samuel 15:29; James 1:17. It is not God, but we who turn. Our confession and restitution, by uniting our will with His, of necessity turn His wrath away. Yet of course it is through Jesus Christ alone that such confession and restitution is possible, and they are accepted simply because by faith they are united with His.

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