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The Sin of Achan

But the people of Israel 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 Zimri. And Zimri was the son of Zerah.) Achan kept some of the things that were to be given to the Lord. So the Lord became very angry at the Israelites.

Joshua sent some men from Jericho to Ai. (Ai 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.

Later they came back to Joshua. They said, “There are only a few men in Ai to fight against us. So we will not need all our people to defeat them. Send 2,000 or 3,000 men to fight there. There is no need to send all of our people.” So about 3,000 men went to Ai. But the people of Ai beat them badly. The people of Ai chased the Israelites. They chased them from the city gate all the way to where stones were cut from the ground. They killed about 36 Israelites as they went down the hill. When the Israelites saw this, they became very afraid.

Then Joshua tore his clothes to show how upset he was. He bowed facedown on the ground before the Box of the Lord. And he stayed there until evening. The leaders of Israel did the same thing. They also threw dirt on their heads to show they were upset. Then 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 should have been happy to stay on the other side of the Jordan. Lord, there is nothing I can say now. Israel has been beaten by the enemy. The Canaanites and all the other people in this country will hear about this. They will surround and kill all of us! Then what will you do for your own great name?”

10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! Why are you down on your face? 11 The 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 from me. They have lied. They have taken those things for themselves. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot face their enemies. They turn away from the fight and run. I have commanded that they be destroyed. You must destroy everything I commanded you to destroy. I will not help you anymore unless you do this.

13 “Now go! Have the people make themselves holy for me. 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 all stand before the Lord. All the tribes will stand before him. The Lord will choose one tribe. And that tribe must stand alone before him. Then the Lord will choose one family group from that tribe. And that family group must stand alone before him. Then the Lord will choose one family from that family group. And it must stand alone before him. Then the Lord will look at that family man by man. 15 The man who is keeping what should have been destroyed will himself be destroyed by fire. And everything he owns will be destroyed with him. He has broken the agreement with the Lord. He has done a disgraceful thing among the people of Israel!’”

16 Early the next morning Joshua led all of Israel before the Lord. All of the tribes stood before him. And the Lord chose the tribe of Judah. 17 So all the family groups of Judah stood before the Lord. The Lord then chose the family group of Zerah. And all the families of Zerah stood before the Lord. Then the family of Zimri was chosen. 18 And Joshua told all the men in that family to come before the Lord. The Lord chose Achan son of Carmi. (Carmi was the son of Zimri. And Zimri was the son of Zerah.)

19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, you should tell the truth. Confess to the Lord, the God of Israel. Tell me what you did. Don’t try to hide anything from me.”

20 Achan answered, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I did: 21 Among the things I saw was a beautiful coat from Babylonia. And I saw about five pounds of silver and more than one and one-quarter 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. The silver is under the coat.”

22 So Joshua sent some men to the tent. They ran to the tent and found the things hidden there. The silver was under the coat. 23 The men brought them out of the tent. Then they took them to Joshua and all the Israelites. They spread them out on the ground before the Lord. 24 Then Joshua and all the people led Achan son of Zerah to the Valley of Trouble. They also took the silver, the coat and the gold. They took Achan’s sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, tent and everything he owned. 25 Joshua 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 until he died. They also killed his family with stones. Then the people burned them. 26 They piled rocks over Achan’s body. And those rocks are still there today. That is why it is called the Valley of Trouble. After this the Lord was no longer angry.

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