Joshua Chapter 7

The people of Israel, had the city of Jericho delivered unto them by the Lord. By following the directions given to Joshua, they brought the walls of the city down. They had been instructed to destroy the city, take the worthy treasures for the Lord, and to leave the forbidden things alone. The Israelites were not a perfect people, however, and this chapter begins with their transgression.

1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: 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.
2 And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth-aven, on the east side of Beth-el, 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.
4 So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai.
5 And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.

A man named Achan, from the tribe of Judah had not followed the commands with strictness, but had taken something forbidden. The manual I am studying teaches that “a possible meaning of “accursed thing” is something God tells us not to do but that we do anyway.” Achan had made a curse come upon Israel, by going against the commandments given to the people. The whole of Israel was held accountable for his actions. Without a knowledge of this thing, Joshua continued to lead the army of Israel. He sent spies to the land of Ai and they returned to tell Joshua that they did not need to send all of their army, because the number of men in Ai was few. Joshua sent 3,000 men, which were defeated and fled from the men of Ai. Some of the Israelites were killed in the fight, and they began to have fear.

Why had the Lord deserted his people at this time? When we make promises or covenants with the Lord, He is held by an eternal law to fulfill his part of that covenant. If however, we choose to break our covenants, as the man Achan did, the Lord does not have to keep his part any longer. This principle is taught to us in Doctrine and Covenants 82:10, which reads, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” The Israelites no longer had the promise that the Lord would be with them.

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.
7 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!
9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?

Joshua mourned and took his questions or complaints to the Lord. He asked why the Lord had brought them there, if they were going to be delivered up for destruction. He said they would have been better off if they had remained on the eastern side of the Jordan. Joshua did not know how to continue to lead the people if they were afraid to face their enemies, and was worried about what the other nations would think of the Israelites and their God.

I find it interesting that the same kind of words are written here from the words of Joshua, which the Israelites had used to earn 40 years of wandering. Joshua had been one of two, who showed faith in God at that time, when the children of Israel felt they would have been better off back in Egypt. The Lord would not punish Joshua for the thought at this time, but would show him why the people had been forsaken during their fight. I think the Lord’s response was different, because he knew the heart of Joshua, just as he had known the heart of those unfaithful Israelites before him.

10 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?
11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.
12 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 destroy the accursed from among you.
13 Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: 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 the accursed thing from among you.
14 In the morning therefore 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 household 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, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel.

The Lord told Joshua to rise, and said that their had been transgression in the law given to Israel. Joshua was told that something forbidden was taken from Jericho and given a place within their stuff. Because of this, they could not stand up against their enemies and God would not be with them unless they destroyed that which was forbidden. The Lord commanded Joshua to sanctify the people and they were to be led to find it among the tribes and families of Israel. When it was found, that person, and all that was his, was to be destroyed by fire.

16 So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken:
17 And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken:
18 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.
19 And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.
20 And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:
21 When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, 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.

Joshua did as he was commanded, and was lead by inspiration to the man Achan, of the family of Zarhites, in the tribe of Judah. Joshua asked Achan to confess his wrong to God by telling Joshua what he had done. Achan confessed that he had taken an item of clothing, some silver and gold. He had hidden them in the ground of his tent, which shows that he knew it had been the wrong thing to do. I think we can be the judge of our own actions, by looking to see if we try to hide them from anyone. Justification is a form of hiding our actions as well, when we know within our hearts and minds that we have done something wrong. The only thing that hiding these things does, is to delay the consequences. There will always be consequences, either in this life or after it, when the opportunity to repent has passed.

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it.
23 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.
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, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.
25 And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.
26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. 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.

Messengers were sent to find the items and bring them to Joshua to be laid before the Lord. The forbidden items, Achan, and all his household and belongings, were taken to the valley of Achor and destroyed for his transgression. The Lord no longer held his anger towards the Israelites.

The natural man in us, assumes that when we sin or transgress the law, we are going to be the only ones affected by that choice. This is simply not true and this idea is one of the tactics that Satan uses to ensnare us, and is entirely selfish. If we had a clear idea the effects of our choices on others, I wonder how often we would choose the right rather than see others suffer for us. Achan’s choice caused some to suffer the consequence of death, some were left to mourn, and others to probably suffer doubt in their faith. These are only the immediate consequences, while there were more lasting ones we couldn’t possibly imagine. I think that it is important for us to try to keep a larger perspective in life, so that we will recognize how our choices could effect our personal eternal outcome, as well as the effects on the lives, mortal and eternal, of others around us.


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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.


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