Israel defeated at Ai
2 Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven to the east of Bethel. He said to them, “Go up. Scout out the land.”
So the men went up and scouted out Ai. 3 They came back to Joshua and said to him, “There is no need for all of the people to go up. Two or three thousand men could go up and strike Ai. Don’t make all of the people bother going there. There are just a few of them.” 4 So about three thousand men from the people went up in that direction. But they fled from the men of Ai. 5 The men of Ai struck down approximately thirty-six of them. They chased them from outside the gate as far as Shebarim. They struck them down on the slope. Then the hearts of the people melted and turned to water.
Cause of Israel’s defeat6 Joshua ripped open his clothes. He, along with the elders of Israel, lay flat on their faces before the Lord’s chest until evening. They put dust on their heads. 7 Then Joshua said, “Oh no, Lord God! Why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan? Was it to hand us over to the power of the Amorites, to destroy us? If only we had been prepared to live on the other side of the Jordan! 8 Please forgive me, Lord. What can I say now that Israel has retreated before its enemies? 9 The Canaanites and the whole population of the land will hear of it. They will surround us and make our name disappear from the earth. What will you do about your great name then?”
10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why do you lie flat on your face like this? 11 Israel has sinned. They have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the things reserved for me and put them with their own things. They have stolen and kept it a secret. 12 The Israelites can’t stand up to their enemies. They retreat before their enemies because they themselves have become a doomed thing reserved for me. I will no longer be with you unless you destroy the things reserved for me that are present among you. 13 Go and make the people holy. Say, ‘Get ready for tomorrow by making yourselves holy. This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “Israel! Things reserved for me are present among you. You won’t be able to stand up to your enemies until you remove from your presence the things reserved for me.”’ 14 In the morning, come forward tribe by tribe. Whichever tribe the Lord selects must come forward clan by clan. Whichever clan the Lord selects must come forward family by family. Whichever family the Lord selects will come forward by individual soldiers. 15 The person selected, who has the things reserved for God, must be put to death by burning. Burn everything that belongs to him too. This is because he has violated the Lord’s covenant and has committed an outrage in Israel.”
Achan discovered and punished16 Joshua got up early in the morning. He made Israel come forward tribe by tribe. The tribe of Judah was selected. 17 He made the clans of Judah come forward. He selected the clan of Zerah. He made the clan of Zerah come forward as individual soldiers. Zabdi was selected. 18 He made each soldier of his family come forward. Achan was selected. He was a son of Carmi, grandson of Zabdi, great-grandson of Zerah, and of the tribe of Judah. 19 Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord the God of Israel. Tell me what you have done. Don’t hide anything from me.”
20 Achan answered Joshua, “It’s true. I’ve sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 Among the booty I saw a single beautiful robe in the Babylonian style, two hundred shekels of silver, and a single gold bar weighing fifty shekels. I desired them and took them. Now they are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver on the bottom.”
22 Then Joshua sent messengers. They ran to the tent. There it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver on the bottom. 23 They took the things from inside the tent. They brought them to Joshua and to all the Israelites and emptied them out before the Lord. 24 Then Joshua seized Achan, Zerah’s son, along with the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys, flocks, tent, and everything that belonged to him. All Israel joined Joshua. They brought them up to Achor Valley. 25 Joshua said, “You have brought disaster to us! May the Lord bring disaster to you today!” Then all Israel stoned him. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. 26 They raised over him a great pile of stones that is still there today. Then the Lord turned away from his fury. So he named that place Achor Valley.[a] It is still called that today.
- Joshua 7:26 Or Calamity Valley