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Achan’s Sin and Its Consequences

The people of Israel proved to be disloyal about the things claimed by the Lord. Achan, son of Carmi, grandson of Zabdi, great-grandson of Zerah, and a member of the tribe of Judah, took something that had been claimed by the Lord. So Yahweh became angry with the people of Israel.

Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai. Ai is near Beth Aven, east of Bethel. He said to them, “Go, look at that country.” So the men went and looked at Ai.

They came back to Joshua and told him, “You don’t need to send all the troops. Only about two or three thousand men are needed to destroy Ai. Don’t tire the troops out by sending all of them. There are only a few troops in Ai.”

So about three thousand men were sent. However, they fled from the men of Ai. The men of Ai killed about thirty-six of them, chasing them from the city gate to the slope of the stone quarries. Israel’s troops lost heart and were scared stiff.

Joshua and the leaders of Israel tore their clothes in grief. They put dust on their heads and bowed down to the ground in front of Yahweh’s ark. They stayed there until evening. Joshua said, “Adonay Yahweh, why did you bring these people across the Jordan River? Was it to hand us over to the Amorites so that they could destroy us? I wish we had been content to live on the other side of the Jordan! Adonay, what else can I say after Israel ran away from its enemy? When the Canaanites and everyone who lives in the land hears about it, they will surround us and remove every memory of us from the earth. What will you do then so that your great name will be remembered?”

10 Yahweh said to Joshua, “Get up! What are you doing bowing on the ground? 11 Israel has sinned. They have ignored the requirements[a] that I have placed on them. They have taken what I claimed for myself and put it among their own goods. They have not only stolen, but they have also lied.

12 “The people of Israel will not be able to defend themselves against their enemies. They will run away from their enemies because the people of Israel are now claimed for destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy what I have claimed for myself.

13 “Get up! Tell the people, ‘Get ready for tomorrow by performing the ceremonies to make yourselves holy. This is what Yahweh Elohim of Israel says: You have what I claimed for myself, Israel. You will not be able to defend yourselves against your enemies until you get rid of what I have claimed. 14 In the morning come forward by tribes to the tent of meeting. The tribe Yahweh selects will come forward by families. Then the family Yahweh selects will come forward by households, and the household Yahweh selects will come forward man by man. 15 The man who is selected, along with everything he has, must be burned because he has stolen what the Lord has claimed. He has ignored Yahweh’s requirements and done a godless thing in Israel.’”

16 Joshua got up early in the morning. He had Israel come forward by tribes. The tribe of Judah was selected. 17 Then he had the families of Judah come forward, and the family of Zerah was selected. Then he had the family of Zerah come forward man by man, and Zabdi was selected. 18 Then he had Zabdi’s household come forward man by man, and Achan was selected. Achan from the tribe of Judah was the son of Carmi, grandson of Zabdi, and great-grandson of Zerah.

19 Joshua said to Achan, “Son, give honor and praise to Yahweh Elohim of Israel! Tell me what you have done. Don’t hide anything from me.”

20 Then Achan answered Joshua, “It’s true. I have sinned against Yahweh Elohim of Israel. This is what I did: 21 I saw a fine robe from Babylonia, five pounds of silver, and a bar of gold weighing about one pound among the loot. I wanted them, so I took them. You will find them buried inside my tent with the silver beneath them.”

22 Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent. The loot was buried inside with the silver beneath it. 23 They took the loot from the tent and brought it to Joshua and all the people of Israel. Then they laid it out in the presence of Yahweh.

24 Joshua and all Israel took Achan (son of Zerah), the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons and daughters, his cattle, his donkeys, his sheep, and his tent—everything he had—and brought them to the valley of Achor [Disaster].

25 Then Joshua said, “Why did you bring this disaster on us? Yahweh will bring disaster on you today!” And all Israel stoned Achan and his family to death. Then they burned the bodies and piled stones over them. 26 They made such a large pile of stones over Achan that it is still there today. Then Yahweh withdrew his burning anger. For this reason that place is still called the valley of Achor today.


  1. Joshua 7:11 Or “covenant.”