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Read Joshua 7

Achan’s Sin

1 But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.

Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.

When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.” So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.

Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. And Joshua said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?”

10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.

13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them.

14 “‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the Lord chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the Lord chooses shall come forward man by man. 15 Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!’”

16 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was chosen. 17 The clans of Judah came forward, and the Zerahites were chosen. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was chosen. 18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was chosen.

19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath.23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the Lord.

24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.”

Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.

Go Deeper

We are a forgetful bunch. In Joshua 7, we see how quickly the Israelites forgot about the Lord and His great work. After wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, God’s people finally entered into the Promised Land. In chapter 4 we see the Israelites build memorials to remember the Lord’s work, and in chapter 5 they reinstitute circumcision and the Passover. Then, in chapter 6, Joshua and the people fight the battle of Jericho and the walls come tumbling down. It’s been one victory and celebration after another, and the Israelites had every reason to trust the Lord’s commands and instructions. They must have felt unstoppable!

But then comes Joshua 7. The Israelite army loses to the people of Ai, and Joshua responds by  telling God it would have been better if they were back wandering in the wilderness. God clearly responds by telling Joshua that His people are suffering the consequences of their sin and disobedience. There are consequences to sin. Achan was the one who stole from what was dedicated to the Lord, yet the entire people paid the price for this sin. His actions provide a great reminder for us today that when we sin, there are consequences that we face and sometimes that others must face as well.

It’s easy to look back at the Israelites and scratch our heads and wonder how they could be so fickle and sinful. Yet we do the same today. We know it’s sin to look at another person with lustful intent (Matthew 5:27-28), yet we still gratify our selfish pleasures. We know it’s sin to get drunk because it leads to debauchery (Ephesians 5:18), yet we still choose to ignore the counsel of the Lord. We know it’s sinful to store up treasures on earth and love both God and money (Matthew 6:24), yet we still make poor financial decisions because we think stuff will satisfy. 

Let’s thank God today for the reminder and the warning we get from Joshua 7. God is good, He never makes mistakes, and He’s always worthy of our trust.


  1. Why did the sin of one person/family cause the whole nation to be defeated?
  2. What lesson(s) do you think God’s people learned from the example of Achan?
  3. What do you need to confess today to your Life Group, spouse, or co-worker? As you read Joshua 7, does any struggle or sin come to mind that needs to be confessed?

Did You Know?

Achan’s family, along with Achan, was probably stoned to death with him because they were more than likely involved in the burial of the stolen goods beneath their family’s tent. This was not the sin of just one person.

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3 thoughts on “Joshua 7”

  1. Right on the heels of 2 amazing miracles, the crossing of the Jordan & the walls of Jericho crumbling, tragedy strikes the Israelite camp. God’s specific instruction for the spoils of war from Jericho have been ignored by Achan, all in the name of covetousness. He saw, he took, he hid! His direct disobedience bleeds his family and costs the Israelites to be routed by an easy enemy being made a laughingstock, while 36 men lose their lives. Sin is costly, it will ALWAYS require more than we will ever want to pay. Today I want the gravity of sin to sink into my head & heart. I want to take God completely at his word and perfectly obey, no if’s, and’s or but’s. Sin separates and removes God’s presence from our lives. Let’s pre-decide today to turn away from sin, for surely we will be tempted. Let’s crave his presence more than any THING.

  2. I completely agree with Ella!

    One other part that caught my attention in the passage was how quick the Israelites were to assume that God had forsaken them or somehow “messed up”. Our first response needs to be an examination of our own hearts, thoughts, actions with humility and openness. Oh how important it is to trust in Him and His goodness.

    1. And perfectly timed on the heels of JP teaching from Philippians 2:12-18 – do all things without grumbling or complaining. Yet how quickly they (and I) fall into partners of complaining and whining.

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