The Israelites are defeated at Ai because the herem (proscription) of Jericho is violated. Achan admits his guilt and he and his entire family are stoned to death.
The misappropriated items are found : “Joshua sent messengers, who hurried to the tent; and there it was, buried in his tent, with the silver underneath.” (v. 22)
III. Select Verses
2-5: Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which lies close to Beth-aven — east of Bethel — with orders to go up and spy out the country. So the men went up and spied out Ai. They returned to Joshua and reported to him, “Not all the troops need go up. Let two or three thousand men go and attack Ai; do not trouble all the troops to go up there, for [the people] there are few.” So about three thousand of the troops marched up there; but they were routed by the men of Ai. The men of Ai killed about thirty-six of them, pursuing them outside the gate as far as Shebarim, and cutting them down along the descent. And the heart of the troops sank in utter dismay.
10-12: But the LORD answered Joshua: “Arise! Why do you lie prostrate? Israel has sinned! They have broken the covenant by which I bound them. They have taken of the proscribed and put it in their vessels; they have stolen; they have broken faith! Therefore, the Israelites will not be able to hold their ground against their enemies; they will have to turn tail before their enemies, for they have become proscribed. I will not be with you any more unless you root out from among you what is proscribed.
16-18: Early next morning, Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes; and the tribe of Judah was indicated. He then had the clans of Judah come forward, and the clan of Zerah was indicated. Then he had the clan of Zerah come forward by ancestral houses, and Zabdi was indicated. Finally he had his ancestral house come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was indicated.
22-26: Joshua sent messengers, who hurried to the tent; and there it was, buried in his tent, with the silver underneath. They took them from the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites, and displayed them before the LORD. Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan son of Zerah — and the silver, the mantle, and the wedge of gold — his sons and daughters, and his ox, his ass, and his flock, and his tent, and all his belongings, and brought them up to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, “What calamity you have brought upon us! The LORD will bring calamity upon you this day.” And all Israel pelted him with stones. They put them to the fire and stoned them. They raised a huge mound of stones over him, which is still there. Then the anger of the LORD subsided. That is why that place was named the Valley of Achor — as is still the case.
1. The herem is violated
2-5. Defeat at Ai
6-9. Joshua’s complaint
10-12. Yahweh’s condemnation
13-15. Command to purify and appear before Yahweh
16-18. Achan of Judah is indicated
19-21. Achan admits his guilt
22-23. The misappropriated items are found
24-25. Achan and his family are stoned
26. Yahweh is pleased; The etymology of the Valley of Achor
No comment today. Stay tuned.
VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)