The Sin of Achan
1But the Israelites did not obey the Lord. There was a man from the tribe of Judah named Achan. (He was the son of Carmi and grandson of Zabdi, who was the son of Zerah.) Because Achan kept some of the things that were to be given to the Lord, the Lord became very angry at the Israelites.
2Joshua sent some men from Jericho to Ai, which was near Beth Aven, east of Bethel. He told them, “Go to Ai and spy out the area.” So the men went to spy on Ai.
3Later they came back to Joshua and said, “There are only a few people in Ai, so we will not need all our people to defeat them. Send only two or three thousand men to fight. There is no need to send all of our people.” 4So about three thousand men went up to Ai, but the people of Ai beat them badly. 5The people of Ai killed about thirty-six Israelites and then chased the rest from the city gate all the way down to the canyon, killing them as they went down the hill. When the Israelites saw this, they lost their courage.
6Then Joshua tore his clothes in sorrow. He bowed facedown on the ground before the Ark of the Lord and stayed there until evening. The leaders of Israel did the same thing. They also threw dirt on their heads to show their sorrow. 7Then Joshua said, “Lord God, you brought our people across the Jordan River. Why did you bring us this far and then let the Amorites destroy us? We would have been happy to stay on the other side of the Jordan. 8Lord, there is nothing I can say now. Israel has been beaten by the enemy. 9The Canaanites and all the other people in this country will hear about this and will surround and kill us all! Then what will you do for your own great name?”
10The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! Why are you down on your face? 11The Israelites have sinned; they have broken the agreement I commanded them to obey. They took some of the things I commanded them to destroy. They have stolen and lied and have taken those things for themselves. 12That is why the Israelites cannot face their enemies. They turn away from the fight and run, because I have commanded that they be destroyed. I will not help you anymore unless you destroy everything as I commanded you.
13“Now go! Make the people holy. Tell them, ‘Set yourselves apart to the Lord for tomorrow. The Lord, the God of Israel, says some of you are keeping things he commanded you to destroy. You will never defeat your enemies until you throw away those things.
14“ ‘Tomorrow morning you must be present with your tribes. The Lord will choose one tribe to stand alone before him. Then the Lord will choose one family group from that tribe to stand before him. Then the Lord will choose one family from that family group to stand before him, person by person. 15The one who is keeping what should have been destroyed will himself be destroyed by fire. Everything he owns will be destroyed with him. He has broken the agreement with the Lord and has done a disgraceful thing among the people of Israel!’ ”
16Early the next morning Joshua led all of Israel to present themselves in their tribes, and the Lord chose the tribe of Judah. 17So the family groups of Judah presented themselves, and the Lord then chose the family group of Zerah. When all the families of Zerah presented themselves, the family of Zabdi was chosen. 18And Joshua told all the men in that family to present themselves. The Lord chose Achan son of Carmi. (Carmi was the son of Zabdi, who was the son of Zerah.)
19Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, tell the truth. Confess to the Lord, the God of Israel. Tell me what you did, and don’t try to hide anything from me.”
20Achan answered, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I did: 21Among the things I saw was a beautiful coat from Babylonia and about five pounds of silver and more than one and one-fourth pounds of gold. I wanted these things very much for myself, so I took them. You will find them buried in the ground under my tent, with the silver underneath.”
22So Joshua sent men who ran to the tent and found the things hidden there, with the silver. 23The men brought them out of the tent, took them to Joshua and all the Israelites, and spread them out on the ground before the Lord. 24Then Joshua and all the people led Achan son of Zerah to the Valley of Trouble. They also took the silver, the coat, the gold, Achan’s sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, tent, and everything he owned. 25Joshua said, “I don’t know why you caused so much trouble for us, but now the Lord will bring trouble to you.” Then all the people threw stones at Achan and his family until they died. Then the people burned them. 26They piled rocks over Achan’s body, and they are still there today. That is why it is called the Valley of Trouble. After this the Lord was no longer angry.