28 Apr. Joshua 7:1-26

28 Apr. The Israelites’ first attack on Ai fails

“But the Israelites did not obey the LORD. There was a man from the tribe of Judah named Achan… Because Achan kept some of the things that were to be given to the LORD, the LORD became very angry at the Israelites.”

“Joshua 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.”

“Later 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 2,000 to 3,000 men to fight. There is no need to send all our people.’”

“So about 3,000 men went up to Ai, but the people of Ai beat them badly. The people of Ai killed about 36 Israelites and then chased the rest from the city gate all the way down to the quarry, killing them as they went down the hill. When the Israelites saw this, they lost their courage.”

“Then Joshua tore his clothes in sorrow. He bowed face down on the ground before the Ark of the LORD and stayed there until evening. The elders of Israel did the same thing. They also threw dust on their heads to show their sorrow.”

“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? ... The LORD said to Joshua, ‘Stand up! Why are you down on your face? 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 and lied and have taken those things for themselves… I will not help you any more unless you destroy everything as I commanded you…’”

“Early the next morning Joshua led all of Israel to present themselves [before God] in their tribes, and the LORD chose the tribe of Judah… and the LORD then chose the family group of Zerah. When all the families of Zerah presented themselves, the family of Zabdi was chosen… [and] the LORD chose Achan son of Carmi…”

“Then 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.’ Achan answered, ‘It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I did: among the things I saw was a beautiful coat from Babylonia and about 2 kilogrammes of silver and more than half a kilogramme 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,’”

“So Joshua sent men who ran to the tent and found the things hidden there, with the silver. The men brought them out of the tent, took them to Joshua and all the Israelites, and spread them on the ground before the LORD. Then Joshua and all the people of Israel led Achan son of Jerah 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. 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 and his family until they died. Then the people burned them. They 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.”

          (Joshua 7:1-26)



After the successful capture of Jericho, Joshua sent men from the Israelites’ camp to spy on the Canaanite city of Ai, east of Bethel, near Bethaven (meaning ‘house of iniquity’) (see 3 on the map on 23 April).

The spies confidently reported back that the capture of Ai would be so easy that only a small force would be required to take it. But the first Israelite attack on Ai was a disaster, with many Israelites killed, and the remaining forces routed.

The Bible explains that the attack on Ai failed because of Achan's sin (see Joshua 7:11).

Before the Israelites had attacked Jericho, God told Joshua to tell the people that everything taken in the city should either be destroyed or given to the LORD. Joshua had told the men, “The city and everything in it are to be destroyed as an offering to the LORD…Don’t take any of the things that are to be destroyed as an offering to the LORD. If you take them and bring them into our camp, you yourselves will be destroyed, and you will bring trouble to all of Israel. All the silver and gold and things made from bronze and iron belong to the LORD and must be saved for him.” (Joshua 6:17-19)

But greed got the better of one man, and he took a large quantity of silver and gold (and a beautiful coat) during the sacking of Jericho and buried them inside his tent. When the tribes of Israel were presented before God, the LORD indicated (probably through the priest using the Urim and Thummim – see Exodus 28:30 & Numbers 27:21) that the man who had sinned was of the tribe of Judah, from the family group of Zerah, and belonged to the family of Zabdi – namely Achan, son of Carmi.

Achan was forced to confess his guilt, and he and his family were stoned to death in the Valley of Achor (meaning ‘Valley of Trouble’). The Israelites repented of their sin, and appealed to God to bless their second attempt to conquer the city of Ai.

The photo of Tell es-Sultan (by Abraham Sobkowski) shows archaeological remains of the ancient city of Jericho, destroyed by the Israelites in c.1406BC.

You can read more about the conquest of Ai @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/27-the-israelites-move-into-canaan/the-israelites-conquer-southern-canaan/

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