Joshua 7 – 8
Before conquering Jericho, Joshua had made it clear to the people, “Be careful! Don’t take anything that is set aside for the Lord, or you will be set aside for destruction.”
One of the soldiers that went into Jericho that day was a man named Achan. There he saw a bag of silver coins, a bar of gold, and a beautiful coat from Babylon. He took them and hid them inside his tent. This angered the Lord.
After the victory at Jericho, Joshua sent scouts to spy out a city called Ai. They came back and said, “There are only a few people at Ai. We won’t need to send our full force there, possibly only two or three thousand men.
So Joshua sent 3,000 men to conquer Ai. To their surprise, the men of the city won the battle! They killed thirty-six Israelites and chased away the rest of them.
The people were horrified at this defeat. Joshua tore his clothes. He and the elders fell down before the Ark of God with their faces to the ground. They put dust on their heads and stayed there all day.
Joshua said, “Oh Lord! Why did you bring us across the river? The Canaanites will hear about this defeat. They’ll surround us and wipe us off the earth. Then what will happen to your great name?”
The Lord said, “Get off the ground and stand up! Israel lost today because there’s sin in the camp. They disobeyed my command and took what was to be set apart. As long as you have those things, you’ll lose every battle because I’ll no longer be with you.”
The next morning, Joshua had all of Israel stand before him. Each tribe passed in front of him. The Lord selected the tribe of Judah. All the clans of Judah passed in front of him. The Lord selected one of them. All the families of that clan passed in front of him. The Lord selected one of them. From that family, Achan was selected.
Joshua said to him, “Son, what have you done. Don’t hide anything from me.”
Achan broke down and said, “It’s true. I sinned against the Lord. I saw a bag of silver coins, a bar of gold, and a beautiful coat from Babylon. I wanted them, so I took them and hid them in my tent.”
Joshua sent men to Achan’s tent to get the things he took. He then spread them out before the Lord and all of Israel.
The people then gathered everything that belonged to Achan; his sons and daughters, his livestock, his tent, and the things he took from Jericho. They stoned them until they were dead, and then burnt their bodies. They put a pile of stones on top of their ashes.
The Lord was no longer angry with his people. So he said to Joshua, “Take your entire army and attack Ai. I’ve given them to you. Once you conquer them, the people may keep whatever they find there.”
Joshua sent a group of men out at night. He said, “Go behind the city and hide.” He gave them exact instructions of what to do.
The next morning, he sent a troop to fight Ai. The men of the city saw them coming and went out to fight them. In the heat of battle, Israel started to run away, as they had done before. The men of Ai chased after them, leaving the city unprotected.
Once the men were away from the city, the Israelite soldiers came out of hiding and went into Ai and set it on fire. The men of Ai turned and saw their city on fire. They realized they were now between two parts of the Israelite army. They tried to escape, but couldn’t. All of them were killed in the battle.
The people were allowed to keep everything they found in the city, including the livestock. Then they destroyed the city.
After all of this, the people sacrificed to the Lord. Afterward, Joshua read the entire Law to all the people, including the men, the women and the children.