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Achan Sins and is Punished

But the Israelites disobeyed the command about the city’s riches.[a] Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi,[b] son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, stole some of the riches.[c] The Lord was furious with the Israelites.[d]

Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai (which is located near Beth Aven, east of Bethel) and instructed them, “Go up and spy on the land.” So the men went up and spied on Ai. They returned and reported to Joshua,[e] “Don’t send the whole army.[f] About two or three thousand men are adequate to defeat Ai.[g] Don’t tire out the whole army, for Ai is small.”[h]

So about 3,000 men went up, but they fled from the men of Ai. The men of Ai killed about thirty-six of them and chased them from in front of the city gate all the way to the fissures[i] and defeated them on the steep slope.[j] The people’s[k] courage melted away like water.[l]

Joshua tore his clothes;[m] he and the leaders[n] of Israel lay face down on the ground before the ark of the Lord until evening[o] and threw dirt on their heads.[p] Joshua prayed,[q] “O, Sovereign Lord! Why did you bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites so they could destroy us? If only we had been satisfied to live on the other side of the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say now that Israel has retreated[r] before its enemies? When the Canaanites and all who live in the land hear about this, they will turn against us and destroy the very memory of us[s] from the earth. What will you do to protect your great reputation?”[t]

10 The Lord responded[u] to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying there face down?[v] 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenantal commandment![w] They have taken some of the riches;[x] they have stolen them and deceitfully put them among their own possessions.[y] 12 The Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they retreat because they have become subject to annihilation.[z] I will no longer be with you,[aa] unless you destroy what has contaminated you.[ab] 13 Get up! Ritually consecrate the people and tell them this: ‘Ritually consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, because this is what the Lord God of Israel has said, “You are contaminated,[ac] O Israel! You will not be able to stand before your enemies until you remove what is contaminating you.”[ad] 14 In the morning you must approach in tribal order.[ae] The tribe the Lord selects[af] must approach by clans. The clan the Lord selects must approach by families.[ag] The family the Lord selects must approach man by man.[ah] 15 The one caught with the riches[ai] must be burned up[aj] along with all who belong to him, because he violated the Lord’s covenant and did such a disgraceful thing in Israel.’”

16 Bright and early the next morning Joshua made Israel approach in tribal order,[ak] and the tribe of Judah was selected. 17 He then made the clans of Judah approach, and the clan of the Zerahites was selected. He made the clan of the Zerahites approach, and Zabdi[al] was selected.[am] 18 He then made Zabdi’s[an] family approach man by man[ao] and Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, was selected. 19 So Joshua said to Achan, “My son, honor[ap] the Lord God of Israel and give him praise! Tell me what you did; don’t hide anything from me.” 20 Achan told Joshua, “It is true. I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel in this way:[aq] 21 I saw among the goods we seized a nice robe from Babylon,[ar] 200 silver pieces,[as] and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels. I wanted them, so I took them. They are hidden in the ground right in the middle of my tent, with the silver underneath.”

22 Joshua sent messengers who ran to the tent. The things were hidden right in his tent, with the silver underneath.[at] 23 They took it all from the middle of the tent, brought it to Joshua and all the Israelites, and placed[au] it before the Lord. 24 Then Joshua and all Israel took Achan, son of Zerah, along with the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, oxen, donkeys, sheep, tent, and all that belonged to him and brought them up to the Valley of Disaster.[av] 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought disaster on[aw] us? The Lord will bring disaster on you today!” All Israel stoned him to death. (They also stoned and burned the others.)[ax] 26 Then they erected over him a large pile of stones (it remains to this very day[ay]) and the Lord’s anger subsided. So that place is called the Valley of Disaster to this very day.


  1. Joshua 7:1 tn Heb “But the sons of Israel were unfaithful with unfaithfulness concerning what was set apart [to the Lord].”
  2. Joshua 7:1 tn 1 Chr 2:6 lists a “Zimri” (but no Zabdi) as one of the five sons of Zerah (cf. also Josh 7:17, 18).
  3. Joshua 7:1 tn Heb “took from what was set apart [to the Lord].”
  4. Joshua 7:1 tn Heb “the anger of the Lord burned against the sons of Israel.”sn This incident illustrates well the principle of corporate solidarity and corporate guilt. The sin of one man brought the Lord’s anger down upon the entire nation.
  5. Joshua 7:3 tn Heb “and they returned to Joshua and said to him.”
  6. Joshua 7:3 tn Heb “Don’t let all the people go up.”
  7. Joshua 7:3 tn Heb “Let about two thousand men or about three thousand men go up to defeat Ai.”
  8. Joshua 7:3 tn Heb “all the people for they are small.”
  9. Joshua 7:5 tn The meaning and correct translation of the Hebrew word שְׁבָרִים (shevarim) is uncertain. The translation “fissures” is based on usage of the plural form of the noun in Ps 60:4 HT (60:2 ET), where it appears to refer to cracks in the earth caused by an earthquake. Perhaps deep ravines or gorges are in view, or the word is a proper noun (“all the way to Shebarim”).
  10. Joshua 7:5 sn The precise geographical location of the Israelite defeat at this “steep slope” is uncertain.
  11. Joshua 7:5 tn Or “army’s.”
  12. Joshua 7:5 tn Heb “and the heart of the people melted and became water.”
  13. Joshua 7:6 sn Tearing one’s clothes was an outward expression of extreme sorrow (see Gen 37:34; 44:13).
  14. Joshua 7:6 tn Or “elders.”
  15. Joshua 7:6 tn Heb “and fell on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel.”
  16. Joshua 7:6 sn Throwing dirt on one’s head was an outward expression of extreme sorrow (see Lam 2:10; Ezek 27:30).
  17. Joshua 7:7 tn Heb “said.”
  18. Joshua 7:8 tn Heb “turned [the] back.”
  19. Joshua 7:9 tn Heb “and cut off our name.”
  20. Joshua 7:9 tn Heb “What will you do for your great name?”
  21. Joshua 7:10 tn Heb “said.”
  22. Joshua 7:10 tn Heb “Why are you falling on your face?”
  23. Joshua 7:11 tn Heb “They have violated my covenant which I commanded them.”
  24. Joshua 7:11 tn Heb “what was set apart [to the Lord].”
  25. Joshua 7:11 tn Heb “and also they have stolen, and also they have lied, and also they have placed [them] among their items.”
  26. Joshua 7:12 tn Heb “they turn [the] back before their enemies because they are set apart [to destruction by the Lord].”
  27. Joshua 7:12 tn The second person pronoun is plural in Hebrew, indicating these words are addressed to the entire nation.
  28. Joshua 7:12 tn Heb “what is set apart [to destruction by the Lord] from your midst.”
  29. Joshua 7:13 tn Heb “what is set apart [to destruction by the Lord] [is] in your midst.”
  30. Joshua 7:13 tn Heb “remove what is set apart [i.e., to destruction by the Lord] from your midst.”
  31. Joshua 7:14 tn Heb “by your tribes.”
  32. Joshua 7:14 tn Heb “takes forcefully, seizes.”
  33. Joshua 7:14 tn Heb “houses.”
  34. Joshua 7:14 tn Heb “by men.”
  35. Joshua 7:15 tn Heb “with what was set apart [to the Lord].”
  36. Joshua 7:15 tn Heb “burned with fire.”
  37. Joshua 7:16 tn Heb “by tribes.”
  38. Joshua 7:17 tn See the note on “Zabdi” in Jos 7:1.
  39. Joshua 7:17 tn Heb “and he selected Zabdi.” The Lord is the apparent subject. The LXX supports reading a passive (Niphal) form here, as does the immediate context.
  40. Joshua 7:18 tn Heb “his”; the referent (Zabdi) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  41. Joshua 7:18 tn Heb “by men.”
  42. Joshua 7:19 tn Heb “give glory to.”
  43. Joshua 7:20 tn Heb “like this and like this I did.”
  44. Joshua 7:21 tn Heb “Shinar,” a reference to Babylon (cf. Gen 10:10; 11:2; 14:1). Many modern translations retain the Hebrew name “Shinar” (cf. NEB, NRSV) but some use the more familiar “Babylon” (cf. NIV, NLT).
  45. Joshua 7:21 tn Heb “shekels.”
  46. Joshua 7:22 tn Heb “Look, [it was] hidden in his tent, and the silver was beneath it.”
  47. Joshua 7:23 tn Heb “poured out,” probably referring to the way the silver pieces poured out of their container.
  48. Joshua 7:24 tn Or “Trouble” The name is “Achor” in Hebrew, which means “disaster” or “trouble” (also in v. 26).
  49. Joshua 7:25 tn Or “trouble on.” The word is “achor” in Hebrew (also in the following clause).
  50. Joshua 7:25 tc Heb “and they burned them with fire and they stoned them with stones.” These words are somewhat parenthetical in nature and are omitted in the LXX; they may represent a later scribal addition.
  51. Joshua 7:26 tc Heb “to this day.” The phrase “to this day” is omitted in the LXX and may represent a later scribal addition.