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In this chapter the Israelites are defeated at Ai ; Joshua is deefily
concerned on this melancholy occasion, and God instructs him what to do ; Achan is taken by lot, and he and all that belonged to him are destroyed in the valley of Achor. I D UT the children of Israel, that is, one of them, committed
D a trespass in the accursed thing, in some valuable spoils, which by God's command were devoted to destruction ; for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing : and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel. This anger manifested itself in the next expedition, to make
them solicitous to find out the offender, and to be a warning to all 2 others, And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, a city
three miles west from Jericho, which [is] beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up
and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. 3 And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all
the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai ; [and] make not all the people to labour thither ; for they [are but] few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men, and the townsmen were animated by seeing that so few came out against them ; and
they, the Israelites, dispirited by the immediate hand of God, 5 fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of
them about thirty and six men : for they chased them [from] before the gate (even) unto Shebarim, that is, the place of breaches, so called, because here their army was broken and discomfited, and smote them in the going down, from the hill on which Ai stood, toward the plains of Jericho ; wherefore the hearts of the people melted and became as water; the whole body of the people was extremely dismayed at this sign of God's
displeasure. 6 And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his
face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads, showing marks
of the deepest contrition and repentance, as well as sorrow of 7 mind. And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast
thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God
we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan !* 8 O LORD, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies ! Can I suspect thy power, ör fidelity ?
* This was the language, not of passion and unbelief, but of solicitous concern. He could not comprehend the reason of the divine conduct, and wishes they had rather been content with their former conquests, than have suffered such a defeat in their attempt to gain more.
What can I answer to the reproaches of our enemies ? Or what 9 course can I take ? For the Canaanites from the sea coast, and
all the inhabitants of the land shall hear (of it,) and shall en. viron us round, and cut off our name from the earth; they will utterly destroy us all, when they hear that God has forsaken us : but, as if all this was a trifle, he adds, and what wilt thou do unto thy great name ? thou wilt lose the glory of all thy wonders and miracles ; cutting off our name will be no great loss ; but what wilt thou do for thy great name ? A most wise
and devout remonstrance, and the best plea he could make use of. 10 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up ; wherefore
liest thou thus upon thy face? do not continue grieving and 11 afflicting thyself, but use means for relief. Israel hath sinneda
and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put [it] even among their own stuff ; Israel had sinned, transgressed the covenant, taken the devoted thing, stolen it privately, as if the omniscient God could not see. They dissembled, by dea
nying and concealing it ; and have even converted it to their 12 own use, confident it would never be called for. Therefore the
children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, (but] turned (their) backs before their enemies, because they were
accursed : neither will I be with you any more, except ye 13 destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the peo
ple, by washings, and fastings, and prayer, and say, Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow, that the guilt may not lie any longer upon you : for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, [There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel :
thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away 14 the accursed thing from among you. In the morning there
fore ye shall be brought according to your tribes : and it shall be, [that] the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families (thereof ;] and the family which the LORD shall take, shall come by households ; and the houses
hold which the LORD shall take shall come man by man.* 15 And it shall be, [that] he that is taken with the accursed thing
shall be burnt with fire, as the accursed thing itself ought to have been, he and all that he hath : because he hath transgress. ed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel, by violating a precept so lately and 80 solemnly
given, and after so remarkable a miracle as the taking of Jericho, 16 So Joshua, to show his zeal and concern, rose up early in the 17 each tribe ; and the tribe of Judah was taken : And he brought
morning, and brought Israel by their tribes, brought lots for
* This process gave the offender an opportunity of confessing his guilt voluntarily; bat his heart was hardened. Perhaps he thought others were guilty as well as himself, and that de might possibly escape.
the family of Judah , and he took the family of the Zarhites : i and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man :'and 18 Zabdi was taken : And he brought his household man by
man ; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken; and he was
immediately taken into custody, and brought to Joshua, i 29 And Joshua said unto Achan, with the greatest tenderness
and affection, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, whose hand has so remarkably found thee out, and
make confession unto him ; and tell me now what thou hast 20 done ; hide [it] not from me. And Achan answered Joshua,
and said, Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of 21 Israel, and thus and thus have I done : When I saw among
the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment,* and two hundred shekels of silver, worth about twenty three pounds, and a wedge
of gold of fifty shekels weight, worth near an hundred frounds, • then I coveted them, and took them ; and, behold, they (are] 'hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. Achan thought it a great pity that the fine garments should
be destrāyed; and the gold and silver go to the Lord's house. 22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent ; and,
behold, [it was] hid in his tent, and the silver under it ; thus 23 he was convicted by the discovery of the goods. And they took
them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto • Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out
before the LORD, as a convincing evidence of the truth of the discovery, an acknowledgment of the divine omniscience, and
the justice of the execution that was to be done. 24 And Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of
Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold and his sons, and his daughters, who perhaps were privy to what he had done, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheeps (which. shows that he did not steal from want, but merely from covetous.
ness) and his tent, and all that he had : and they brought 25 them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast
thou troubled us ? the LORD shall trouble thee this day : al. luding to his name, which signifies, trouble. And all Israel
stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they 26 had stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a
great heap of stones unto this day, as they used to do over those thatdied ignominiously, that it might be a monument to warn others not to commit the like sin. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called The valley of Achor, unto this day.
. It was richly embroidered with gold and silver, and a variety of colours, as the word signifies. A plain proof, by the way, that there was commerce carried on between the Car naanites and the Babylonians.
1. LIERE we may learn the evil tendency of sin : what
11 disgrace and ruin it brings upon a nation ! Societies often suffer for the sins of individuals. We should guard against it in ourselves, and, as much as in us lieth, prevent it in others, and do nothing to be accessary to the guilt of others. Stand in awe, and sin not. We learn,
2. That good governors are greatly affected with the calamity, and misery of their people ; Joshua's distress was a sign of great generosity and benevolence, of tenderness and compassion. He lays to heart the distresses of the people. It is a good example when princes and magistrates are zealous for the Lord of hosts. They should be concerned for the prosperity of the nation ; should lead the way in public humiliations, and every thing that has a tendency to promote reforination and the public happiness. It is not sufficient for them to punish public vices, but they must also labour tó reform them.
3. The glory of God ought to be our chief concern and main plea. No matter what becomes of us and our name, if thine be glorified, if thy perfections are seen and adored, and a tribute of praise and homage be paid to thee. It will grieve every good man that God's name is dishonoured. Our great concern should be, that God in all things should be glorified. It should be the matter of our prayers and endeavours ; and we may take encouragement from that regard which God has, and still shows for it.
4. We should consider the omniscience of God as a motive to avoid sin. Achan was ready to think that the Lord could not see ; when so much gold was saved for the tabernacle, a little could not be missed. But he was wretchedly mistaken. Thus sinners flatter themselves in their own eyes that God will not know; that their sin will not be discovered ; and therefore promise themselves security : but this is great folly. They may be sure their sin will find them out. Among the many thousands of Israelites, God saw the offender, though hid in the tent. He distinguishes between the precious and the vile. The lot was cast into the lap, and separated one out of all the tribes of Israel. Let us reverence this omniscient Being. In him is no darkness at all. Treible for fear of him ; labour to be approved of him ; and let our conduct be such, as to have no reason to be ashamed that God or men should know it.
5. Humble confession of sin is giving glory to God. Let us give glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him. It gives glory to his justice, and to the holiness of his law, which is broken ; it gives him the glory of his omniscience, by which he sees us, and finds us out. In order to this, it is necessary to be VOL. II.
full and circumstantial in our confessions of sin : not only to say, • I acknowledge I have sinned ;' but add particularly, thus and thus have I done. Reflect with sorrow on the several steps which led us to sin, and own, as Achan here does, all the aggravating circumstances. It was committed against precepts, motives, &c. Achan had no hope of escape, but we have. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves ; but if we confess our sin, he is faitliful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
6. The love of money is the root of all evil : Achan's covetous mind seduced him. He thought it an easy way of growing rich, and providing for his family; but it ruined him and his family too. Ill gotten gain will prove bitterness in the end. It is very ill husbandry to get rich, if not done by right, honest, and honourable ways. Let us, therefore, keep the world at a proper distance, and moderate our affections to it. The language of this story is, Take heed, and beware of covetousness, which is idolatry.
7. The public execution of notorious offenders, is necessary to the welfare of society. It is necessary, to deter others from sin, to remove offenders out of the way, who are plagues to society; and thereby avert those judgments with which they would be otherwise visited. Wicked men are the troublers of Israel, and bring guilt and ruin upon it. It is the will of God that such should be troubled ; he has ordained magistrates to be his ministers of terror to evil doers ; and not to bear the sword in vain. All private persons should join to discover and bring to punishment the workers of iniquity. This is the way to have tranquillity lengthened, and calamities removed. According to the beautiful words of the prophet Hosea; ch. ii. 15. in which he alludes to this story, The valley of Achor, or trouble, is a door of hope,
İsrael having put away the accursed thing, God rettiris unto themi in mercy. We have here the method to be used for taking the city Ai ; the success of the stratagem ; and the solemn reading of the law, and writing it on stones, according to the words of Moses, Deut. xxvii. 5. 1 AND the LORD said unto Joshua, who had been greatly dis
I couraged and discomposed by what had happened, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed : take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai : see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land :
thus God assures him of complete victory, and then directs him 2 what to do: And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou