Daily Tanach, Thursday: Yehoshua Chapter 7-Part 2: The sin of Achan and failed battle of Aiy


1.      Hashem instructs Yehoshua how to find the perpetrator:

  • Hashem instructed Yehoshua as follows: In the morning, all the tribes shall gather [and pass before the Aron[1]]. The tribe that will be captured [and freeze] in front of [the Aron of] Hashem [being unable to move[2]] is to be singled out. [In addition, the tribes stood in front of the Urim Vetumim, and the tribes stone that shined was singled out.[3]] The [male[4]] family leaders [i.e. oldest living ancestor of a family[5]] of that tribe are then to pass by [the Aron of Hashem] and the family leader who is captured [and frozen] before Hashem is to have the various family descendants [i.e. male leaders of the families of his descendants] pass before Hashem. The male family leader who is captured [and frozen] before the Aron of Hashem is then to have the men of that family pass forward.
  • The punishment for the guilty individual: The person who is discovered to be guilty of stealing the consecrated item is to be burnt in the fire, him and all his belongings [including his tent, livestock[6] and children, but not his wife[7]].

2.      Yehoshua gathers the tribes and performs G-d’s instructed selection process:

  • Yehoshua woke early in the morning and gathered the tribes.
  • The perpetrator is caught: The tribe of Yehuda was selected [as their stone lit up when they passed before the Choshen[8], and they froze as they passed the Aron of Hashem]. The tribe of Yehuda was brought forward and [a lottery was made between the family leaders[9] until] the family of Zarchi was selected. The many branches of the Zarchi family were brought forward and amongst them the Zavdi family was selected. All the men of the Zarchi family were brought forward and Achan, the son of Karmi, the son of Zavdi, the son of Zerach, of the tribe of Yehuda, was selected.
  • Achan is pressed to confess: Yehoshua confronted Achan and pressed upon him to confess his sin [after he began attacking the validity of the selection process through a lottery system under the claim that someone had to be chosen[10]]. Achan indeed confessed saying that he sinned to Hashem [not only with the stealing of these consecrated items, but also with stealing many other consecrated items in the times of Moshe.[11] He confessed only after seeing that his tribe, Yehuda, was preparing to wage war against the rest of Bnei Yisrael, and many thousands would be killed.[12]]

3.      The confession of Achan:

  • Achan confessed that he coveted and stole from the plunder, a king’s garment from Babylon called “Aderet”, and two hundred silver Shekalim, and one bar of gold which weighed 50 Shekalim. Achan stated that the stolen items are buried in his tent, [with the gold buried under the Aderet garment[13]].
  • Yehoshua retrieves the items: Yehoshua sent messengers to retrieve the stolen items and they ran to the tent [of Achan due to joy of the items being found[14] as well as to prevent the tribe of Judah or family of Achan from taking the items before they would arrive[15]]. The items were removed from the tent and placed before Yehoshua and the entire Jewish people, and they were thrown before Hashem.

4.      Achan, his family, and possessions are burnt at the stake:

  • Yehoshua took Achan the son of Zerach, and the Aderet garment, the bar of gold, his sons and daughters, his ox, donkeys, and sheep, his tent and all his belongings. He brought them, together with the entire Israel to the valley of Achor. Yehoshua said to Achan, “Just as you have caused us to become smitten, so too Hashem will smite you on this day.”
  • All the Jewish people stoned him and burnt them in a fire and stoned them.[16] They then established a stone mound over them, which remains there until this day. This place was named Emek Achor until this day.
  • After the above events, Hashem rescinded His anger.

[1] Metzudos David 6:13; Radak 6:14

[2] Radak 6:14

[3] Radak 6:14

[4] Radak 6:14

[5] See Rashi 6:14

[6] Rashi 6:15

[7] Radak 6:15

[8] Rashi 7:16

[9] Rashi 7:17; Radak 7:19

[10] See Rashi and Radak 7:19

[11] Rashi and Radak and Metzudos David 7:20; Sanhedrin 42b

[12] Rashi 7:20

[13] Radak and Metzudos David 7:21

[14] Radak 7:22

[15] Rashi and Metzudos David 7:22

[16] Who was killed and why is the stoning repeated? According to Rashi 7:25 only Achan and the animals were killed and not the rest of his family. [See Sanhedrin 44a] The family simply watched the stoning. [Ralbag 7:24] Achan was stoned to death for desecrating Shabbos. Likewise, the animals were stoned, and the belongings were burnt. However, according to other Mefarshim, they were all stoned. [See Metzudos David 7:25; Ralbag ibid; Radak 7:15]

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