Then Joshua charged then at that time, saying, “Cursed be the man before the LORD who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.”
So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout all the country.
But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the LORD burned against the children of Israel.
Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, “Go up and spy out the country.” So the men went up and spied out Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the people there, for the people of Ai are few.” So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.
Joshua now adds to the command to devote everything (the accursed things) in Jericho to destruction. The city of Jericho is accursed itself and must never be rebuilt. Joshua even lays out a strikingly extreme punishment that will befall anyone who rebuilds the city. It’s a permanent curse.
But then Achan violates the original command to devote everything to destruction. He takes some of the accursed things from Jericho.
And the punishment for this is strikingly extreme. Israel loses a battle—and many men.
Even worse, their courage melts. While the text doesn’t say that all their enemies were encouraged by Israel’s defeat at Ai, how could they not be? Suddenly, they see that Israel isn’t invincible.
The psychological advantage Israel had over their enemies is shot. As was pointed out earlier, this advantage is immensely valuable.
Now it’s gone.
The book of Joshua keeps getting back to the same lesson—we don’t get to define right and wrong; God does.
Here we see a minor theft lead to monstrous consequences for an entire nation. People who don’t even know about the theft are killed.
This is going to get worse before it gets better.
These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.