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The Sin of Achan and Its Punishment

But the Israelites broke faith in regard to the devoted things: Achan son of Carmi son of Zabdi son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things, and the anger of the Lord burned against the Israelites.(A)

Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai. Then they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Not all the people need go up; about two or three thousand men should go up and attack Ai. Since they are so few, do not make the whole people toil up there.” So about three thousand of the people went up there, and they fled before the men of Ai.(B) The men of Ai killed about thirty-six of them, chasing them from outside the gate as far as Shebarim and killing them on the slope. The hearts of the people melted and turned to water.

Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the ground on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel, and they put dust on their heads.(C) Joshua said, “Ah, Lord God! Why have you brought this people across the Jordan at all, to hand us over to the Amorites so as to destroy us? Would that we had been content to settle beyond the Jordan!(D) O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has turned their backs to their enemies! The Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and surround us and cut off our name from the earth. Then what will you do for your great name?”(E)

10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! Why have you fallen on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I imposed on them. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have acted deceitfully, and they have put them among their own belongings.(F) 12 Therefore the Israelites are unable to stand before their enemies; they turn their backs to their enemies because they have become a thing devoted for destruction themselves. I will be with you no more unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. 13 Proceed to sanctify the people and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: There are devoted things among you, O Israel; you will be unable to stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.(G) 14 In the morning, therefore, you shall come forward tribe by tribe. The tribe that the Lord takes shall come near by clans, the clan that the Lord takes shall come near by households, and the household that the Lord takes shall come near one by one. 15 And the one who is taken as having the devoted things shall be burned with fire, together with all that he has, for having transgressed the covenant of the Lord and for having done an outrageous thing in Israel.’ ”(H)

16 So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel near tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17 He brought near the clans of Judah, and the clan of the Zerahites was taken, and he brought near the clan of the Zerahites by households,[a] and Zabdi was taken.(I) 18 And he brought near his household one by one, and Achan son of Carmi son of Zabdi son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. 19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and make confession to him. Tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.”(J) 20 And Achan answered Joshua, “It is true; I am the one who sinned against the Lord God of Israel. This is what I did:(K) 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, then I coveted them and took them. They now lie hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. 23 They took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites, and they spread them out before the Lord. 24 Then Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan son of Zerah, with the silver, the mantle, and the bar of gold, with his sons and daughters, with his oxen, donkeys, and sheep, and his tent and all that he had, and they brought them up to the Valley of Achor.(L) 25 Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord is bringing trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him to death; they burned them with fire, cast stones on them,(M) 26 and raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore that place to this day is called the Valley of Achor.[b](N)

Ai Captured by a Stratagem and Destroyed

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed; take all the fighting men with you, and go up to Ai. See, I have handed over to you the king of Ai with his people, his city, and his land.(O) You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may take its spoil and plunder its livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush against the city, behind it.”(P)

So Joshua and all the fighting men set out to go up against Ai. Joshua chose thirty thousand warriors and sent them out by night with the command, “You shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it; do not go very far from the city, but all of you stay alert.(Q) I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. When they come out against us, as before, we will flee from them. They will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city, for they will say, ‘They are fleeing from us as before.’ While we flee from them, you shall rise up from the ambush and seize the city, for the Lord your God will give it into your hand. And when you have taken the city, you shall set the city on fire, doing as the Lord has ordered; see, I have commanded you.”(R) So Joshua sent them out, and they went to the place of ambush and lay between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai, but Joshua spent that night with the people.[c]

10 In the morning Joshua rose early and mustered the people and went up, with the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai.(S) 11 All the fighting men who were with him went up and drew near before the city and camped on the north side of Ai, with a ravine between them and Ai. 12 Taking about five thousand men, he set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 13 So they stationed the forces, the main encampment that was north of the city and its rear guard west of the city, and Joshua went that night into the valley. 14 When the king of Ai saw this, he and all his people, the inhabitants of the city, hurried out early in the morning to the meeting place facing the Arabah to meet Israel in battle, but he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city.(T) 15 And Joshua and all Israel made a pretense of being beaten before them and fled in the direction of the wilderness. 16 So all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and as they pursued Joshua they were drawn away from the city. 17 There was not a man left in Ai[d] who did not go out after Israel; they left the city open and pursued Israel.

18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Stretch out the sword that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the sword that was in his hand toward the city.(U) 19 As soon as he stretched out his hand, the troops in ambush rose quickly out of their place and rushed forward. They entered the city, took it, and at once set the city on fire.(V) 20 So when the men of Ai looked back, the smoke of the city was rising to the sky. They had no power to flee this way or that, for the people who fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers. 21 When Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city was rising, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. 22 And the other Israelites came out from the city against them, so they were surrounded by Israelites, some on one side and some on the other, and Israel struck them down until no one was left who survived or escaped.(W) 23 But the king of Ai was taken alive and brought to Joshua.

24 When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and when all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and attacked it with the edge of the sword. 25 The total of those who fell that day, both men and women, was twelve thousand—all the people of Ai.(X) 26 For Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the sword until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.(Y) 27 Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel plundered for themselves, according to the word of the Lord that he had issued to Joshua.(Z) 28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it forever a heap of ruins, as it is to this day.(AA) 29 And he hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening, and at sunset Joshua commanded, and they took his body down from the tree, threw it down at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raised over it a great heap of stones, which stands there to this day.(AB)

Joshua Renews the Covenant

30 [e]Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel,(AC) 31 just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the Israelites, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, “an altar of unhewn[f] stones, on which no iron tool has been used,” and they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord and sacrificed offerings of well-being.(AD) 32 And there, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua[g] wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses that he had written.(AE) 33 All Israel, alien as well as native-born, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark in front of the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, half of them in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded earlier, that they should bless the people of Israel.(AF) 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, blessings and curses, according to all that is written in the book of the law.(AG) 35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the aliens who resided among them.(AH)


  1. 7.17 Heb mss Syr: MT one by one
  2. 7.26 That is, trouble
  3. 8.9 Heb among the people
  4. 8.17 Gk: Heb adds or Bethel
  5. 8.30 Q ms places 8.30–35 before 5.1
  6. 8.31 Heb whole
  7. 8.32 Heb he