1 But the Israelites did not obey God. There was a man from the tribe of Judah named Achan son of Carmi, grandson of Zimri, great-grandson of Zerah. Achan kept some of the things that should have been destroyed. So the LORD became very angry with the Israelites.
After they defeated Jericho, Joshua sent some men to Ai.*
Ai was near Beth Aven, east of Bethel. He told them, “Go to Ai and look for weaknesses in that area.” So the men went to spy on that land.
3 Later, the men came back to Joshua. They said, “Ai is a weak area. We will not need all of our people to defeat them. Send 2000 or 3000 men to fight there. There is no need to use the whole army. There are only a few men there to fight against us.”
So about 3000 men went to Ai, but the people of Ai killed about 36 men of Israel. And the Israelites ran away. The people of Ai chased them from the city gates all the way to the quarries.†
The people of Ai beat them badly.
When the people from Israel saw this, they became very frightened and lost their courage. 6 When Joshua heard about this, he tore his clothes to show his sadness. He bowed down to the ground before the Holy Box and stayed there until evening. The leaders of Israel did the same thing. They also threw dirt on their heads to show their sadness.
7 Joshua said, “Lord GOD, you brought our people across the Jordan River. Why did you bring us this far and then allow the Amorites to destroy us? We should have been satisfied and stayed on the other side of the Jordan River. 8 I promise by my life, Lord! There is nothing I can say now. Israel has surrendered to the enemy. 9 The Canaanites and all the other people in this country will hear about what happened. Then they will attack us and kill all of us! Then what will you do to protect your great name?”
10 The LORD said to Joshua, “Why are you down there with your face on the ground? Stand up! 11 The Israelites sinned against me. They have broken the agreement that I commanded them to obey. They took some of the things that I commanded them to destroy. They have stolen from me. They have lied. They have taken those things for themselves. 12 That is why the army of Israel turned and ran away from the fight. They did that because they have done wrong. They should be destroyed. I will not continue to help you or be with you unless you destroy everything I commanded you to destroy.
13 “Now go and make the people pure. Tell them, ‘Make yourselves pure. Prepare for tomorrow. The LORD, the God of Israel, says that some people are keeping things that he commanded to be destroyed. You will never be able to defeat your enemies until you throw away those things.
14 “ ‘Tomorrow morning you must all stand before the LORD. All the tribes will stand before the LORD, and he will choose one tribe. Only that tribe will stand before him. Then the LORD will choose one family group from that tribe. Only that family group must stand before him. Then he will look at each family in that family group, and the LORD will choose one family. Then he will look at each man in that family. 15 The man who is keeping those things that we should have destroyed will be caught. Then he will be destroyed by fire, and everything that he owns will be destroyed with him. He broke the agreement with the LORD. He has done a very bad thing to the Israelites!’ ”
16 Early the next morning, Joshua led out all the Israelites. Each tribe came forward to stand before the LORD, and he chose the tribe of Judah. 17 So then all the family groups of Judah stood before the LORD, and he chose the Zerah family group. Then all the families of the Zerah group stood before the LORD, and he chose the family of Zimri. 18 Then Joshua told all the men in that family to come before the LORD. He chose Achan the son of Carmi. (Carmi was the son of Zimri. And Zimri was the son of Zerah.)
19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “Son, you must honor the LORD, the God of Israel. Praise him and confess your sins to him. Tell me what you did, and don’t try to hide anything from me.”
Achan answered, “It is true! I sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I did: 21
In Jericho, I saw a beautiful coat from Babylon, about 5 pounds‡
of silver, and about a pound§
of gold. I wanted these things for myself, so I took them. You will find them buried in the ground under my tent. The silver is under the coat.”
22 So Joshua sent some men to the tent. They ran to the tent and found the things hidden there. The silver was under the coat. 23 The men brought the things out of the tent and took them to Joshua and all the Israelites. They threw them on the ground before the LORD.
Then Joshua and all the people led Achan son of Zerah to the Valley of Achor. They also took the silver, the coat, the gold, Achan’s sons and daughters, his cattle, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and everything he owned. They took all these things to the Valley of Achor with Achan. 25
Then Joshua said, “You caused much trouble for us, but now the LORD will bring trouble to you.” Then all the people threw stones at Achan and his family until they died. Then the people burned them and everything he owned. 26
After they burned Achan, they put many rocks over his body. The rocks are still there today. That is why it is called the Valley of Achor.*
After this the LORD was not angry with the people.