Joshua 7

The sin of Achan

1 The people of Israel did not do as God had told them through Joshua. Achan, son of Carmi, son of Zimri, son of Zerah of the tribe of Judah, did not obey God. He took some of the things that belonged to God. So the Lord was very angry with the people of Israel.

2 Now Joshua had sent men from Jericho to Ai. This is a city near to Beth Aven, and east of Bethel. He said to them, ‘Go up and look at the land near there, in secret.’ So, the men went to see what they could find out.

3 The men came and spoke to Joshua. ‘There are not many men there. Do not make all the people tired. 2,000 or 3,000 men should be enough to take the city.’ 4 So about 3,000 men went up to Ai. But the men of Ai made them run away. 5 And the men of Ai killed about 36 of the Israelites. They ran after the Israelites from the gate of the city to the place where they cut stone for building. They killed them as they ran over the hill. When the people of Israel heard this, they were very frightened. They felt very weak.

6 Joshua tore his clothes to show that he was very sad. He fell with his face to the ground in front of the Lord's Covenant Box. He stayed there until it began to get dark. The people's leaders did the same, and put dirt on their heads. 7 Joshua said, ‘Lord God, why did you ever bring this group of people over the Jordan? Did you want the Amorites to destroy us? We might have been happy if we had stayed on the other side of the Jordan! 8 Lord, what can I say now that the enemies of Israel have won the fight? 9 The Canaanites and other tribes who live here will hear about this. They will come round us and kill us all. No one will give honour to your name.’ 10 The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Stand up! Why are you lying on the ground? 11 Israel has sinned. They have not kept their promise. They did not do what I told them. I said that they must destroy everything that was not gold or silver or metal. They have taken some of these things. They took them. Then they said that they had not taken anything. They have hidden them with their own things. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies. They run away from their enemies now. The Israelites have sinned and their enemies can destroy them. You must destroy everything that I told you to destroy. If you do not, then I will not be with you any more.

13 Get up. Tell the people to make themselves clean. Get ready for tomorrow when you will meet with me. I, the Lord God of Israel say this, “Israel, you have kept some of the things that I told you to destroy. You will not win the fight against your enemies until you have destroyed these things!” 14 In the morning, tell them to come to me, one tribe at a time. I will choose one tribe. The groups of that tribe will come before me, one by one. The group that I will choose will come before me, family by family. I will choose a family. Then the men of that family will come before me, one by one. 15 I will choose the man who has taken the things. Then you will burn him with the things that he has taken. You are to burn him and all that he has and all his family. He has caused great trouble to Israel. He made them ashamed, because he did not obey me.’

16 Early the next morning, Joshua made the tribes come in front of him, tribe by tribe. The Lord chose the tribe of Judah. 17 Groups of the tribe of Judah came in front of him, and the Lord chose the group of Zerah. Families of the Zerahites came in front of him, and the Lord chose the family of Zimri. 18 Joshua made each man of the family of Zimri come in front of him, and the Lord chose Achan, son of Carmi, son of Zimri, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah.

19 Then Joshua spoke to Achan. ‘My son,’ he said, ‘give honour to the Lord, the God of Israel. Tell me what you have done. Do not hide it from me.’ 20 Achan replied, ‘It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done. 21 I found a beautiful coat from Babylon and about two kilos of silver and a piece of gold that weighed half a kilo. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are in the ground under my tent, with the silver under the other things.’ 22 So Joshua sent people with a message. They ran to the tent and they found the things that Achan had hidden. The silver was under them. 23 They took the things from the tent and brought them to Joshua and the other Israelites. They put them all before the Lord.

24 Then Joshua and all the people took Achan, the son of Zerah, and the coat, the gold and the silver to the valley of Achor (‘Achor’ means trouble). With him, they took his sons, daughters, cows, sheep and other animals and all that he had. 25 Joshua said, ‘Why did you cause us so much trouble? The Lord will give you trouble today!’ Then all Israel threw big stones at him until he died. They killed his family and his animals with him. They also burnt his family and all that he had. 26 They put many big stones over him, that are still there. That is why the place is still called ‘Trouble Valley’. Then the Lord was not angry any more.