Reading 62/349, Joshua 7-9

The law is broken here. Children are punished for the crime of their father, which is specifically forbidden by the law. That was not what God asked for, but it is what happened.


But the children of Israel broke faith with regard to the devoted things, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the devoted thing, and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel. Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth-aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, “Go up and spy out the land.” The men went up and spied out Ai. They returned to Joshua, and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and strike Ai. Do not make all the people toil there, for they are but few.” So there went up there out of the people about three thousand men, and they fled before the men of Ai. The men of Ai struck about thirty-six of the men, and they chased them from before the gate to Shebarim, and struck them at the descent, and the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth 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. Joshua said, “Alas, Lord God, why have you at all brought this people over the Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to cause us to perish? would that we had been content and lived beyond the Jordan! Oh, Lord, what shall I say, after Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and will compass us round, and cut off our name from the earth, and what will you do for your great name?”

The Lord said to Joshua, “Get up; why have you fallen on your face in this way? Israel has sinned, yes, they have transgressed my covenant which I commanded them, yes, they have taken of the devoted thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the devoted thing from among you. Up, sanctify the people, and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, There is a devoted thing in the midst of you, Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies, until you take away the devoted thing from among you. In the morning therefore you shall be brought forward by your tribes, and it shall be, that the tribe which the Lord takes shall come forward by families, and the family which the Lord shall take shall come forward by households, and the household which the Lord shall take shall come forward man by man. It shall be, that he who is taken with the devoted thing shall be burnt with fire; he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he has done folly in Israel.’”

So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel forward by their tribes, and the tribe of Judah was taken, and he brought forward the families of Judah, and he took the family of the Zerahites, and he brought forward the family of the Zerahites, man by man, and Zabdi was taken, and he brought forward his household man by man, and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. Joshua said to Achan, “My son, please give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and make confession to him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” Achan answered Joshua, and said, “Of a truth I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, thus have I done: when I saw among the spoil a nice cloak from Shinar, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, I coveted them, and took them, and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.” So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. They took them from the midst of the tent, and brought them to Joshua, and to all the children of Israel, and they laid them down before the Lord. Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the mantle, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his donkeys, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them up to the valley of Achor. Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The Lord shall trouble you this day.” All Israel stoned him with stones, and they burned them with fire, and stoned them with stones. They raised over him a great heap of stones, to this day, and the Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger. Therefore the name of that place was called "The valley of Achor" to this day.

The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai; behold, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land. You shall do to Ai and her king as you did to Jericho and her king, except the spoil of it, and the livestock of it, you shall take as a prey for yourselves. Set an ambush for the city behind it. So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up to Ai, and Joshua chose out thirty thousand men, the mighty men of valor, and sent them forth by night. He commanded them, saying, Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind the city; do not go very far from the city, but be all ready, and I, and all the people who are with me, will approach to the city. It shall happen, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them, and they will come out after us, until we have drawn them away from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first, so we will flee before them, and you shall rise up from the ambush, and take possession of the city, for the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand. It shall be, when you have seized on the city, that you shall set the city on fire; according to the word of the Lord shall you do, behold, I have commanded you. Joshua sent them forth, and they went to set up the ambush, and stayed between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai, but Joshua lodged that night among the people. Joshua arose up early in the morning, and mustered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. All the people, the men of war who were with him, went up, and drew near, and came before the city, and encamped on the north side of Ai, now there was a valley between him and Ai. He took about five thousand men, and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. So they set the people, all the army who was on the north of the city, and their ambush on the west of the city, and Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley. It happened, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hurried and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at the time appointed, before the Arabah; but he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the desert. All the people who were in the city were called together to pursue after them, and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the city. There was not a man left in Ai or Beth El, who did not go out after Israel, and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel. The Lord said to Joshua, Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai; for I will give it into your hand. Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. The ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand, and entered into the city, and took it, and they hurried and set the city on fire. When the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way, and the people who fled to the desert turned back on the pursuers. When Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and killed the men of Ai. The others came forth out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side, and they struck them, so that they let none of them remain or escape. The king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua. It happened, when Israel had made an end of killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the desert in which they pursued them, and they were all fallen by the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all Israel returned to Ai, and struck it with the edge of the sword. All that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, all the men of Ai. For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the javelin, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took for prey to themselves, according to the word of the Lord which he commanded Joshua. So Joshua burnt Ai, and made it a heap forever, a desolation, to this day. The king of Ai he hanged on a tree until the evening, and at the going down of the sun Joshua commanded, and they took his body down from the tree, and cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raised thereon a great heap of stones, to this day.

Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, in Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of uncut stones, on which no man had lifted up any iron, and they offered thereon burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings. He wrote there on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote, in the presence of the children of Israel. All Israel, and their elders and officers, and their judges, stood on this side of the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, as well the immigrant as the native; 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 at the first, that they should bless the people of Israel. Afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the immigrants who were among them.

It happened, when all the kings who were beyond the Jordan, in the hill country, and in the lowland, and on all the shore of the great sea in front of Lebanon, the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard of it; that they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord. But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they also resorted to a ruse, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins, old and torn and bound up, and old and patched shoes on their feet, and old garments on them, and all the bread of their provision was dry and was become moldy. They went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him, and to the men of Israel, We are come from a far country, now therefore make you a covenant with us. The men of Israel said to the Hivites, What if you dwell among us, and how shall we make a covenant with you? They said to Joshua, We are your servants. Joshua said to them, Who are you? and from whence come you? They said to him, From a very far country your servants are come because of the name of the Lord your God, for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth. Our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, Take provision in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them, and tell them, We are your servants, and now make you a covenant with us. This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go to you; but now, behold, it is dry, and is become moldy, and these wineskins, which we filled, were new, and behold, they are torn, and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey. The men took of their provision, and did not ask counsel at the mouth of the Lord. Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the princes of the congregation swore to them. It happened at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors, and that they lived among them. The children of Israel traveled, and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kiriath Jearim. The children of Israel did not strike them, because the princes of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. All the congregation murmured against the princes. But all the princes said to all the congregation, We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, now therefore we may not touch them. This we will do to them, and let them live; lest wrath be on us, because of the oath which we swore to them. The princes said to them, Let them live, so they became wood cutters and drawers of water to all the congregation, as the princes had spoken to them. Joshua called for them, and he spoke to them, saying, Why have you deceived us, saying, We are very far from you; when you dwell among us? Now therefore you are cursed, and there shall never fail to be of you bondservants, both wood cutters and drawers of water for the house of my God. They answered Joshua, and said, Because it was certainly told your servants, how that the Lord your God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you; therefore we were sore afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. Now, behold, we are in your hand, as it seems good and right to you to do to us, do. So did he to them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, that they did not kill them. That day Joshua made those wood cutters and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the Lord, to this day, in the place which he should choose.

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