Joshua 7:19: Achan’s Confession, Part 1

Verse 19:[1] And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, (see 1 Sam. 6:5; Jer. 13:16; John 9:24) give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, (Num. 5:6, 7; 2 Chron. 30:22; Ps. 51:3; Dan. 9:4) and make confession unto him; and (1 Sam. 14:43) tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.

[My son] Nothing is more disgraceful in a Prince than unbridled anger; nothing more laudable than lenience and mercy; in which Joshua here imitates Moses, Numbers 12:3 (Masius). He calls him son, because good Princes are fathers to their subjects (Menochius).

He calls him my son, to show that this severe inquisition and sentence did not proceed from any hatred to his person, which he loved as a father doth his son, and as a prince ought to do each of his subjects.

[Give glory to the Lord] The way used by the Hebrews, by which the guilty were wont to be adjured by God, being reminded that they stand before God, etc., lest they should lie (Menochius). A similar formula is used in John 9:24. But, as I am not unwilling entirely to reject or refute this, neither am I quite able to prove it (Masius). Glory is given to God by the confession of the truth, but especially in this place: for he profess that God is, 1. Omniscient, as from whom that sacrilege, perpetrated with the utmost secrecy, was not hidden; 2. Just, who does not without good reason afflict the Israelties with that defeat, and who most justly ordains punishments for wicked acts; 3. True, by whose lot the guilty may be exposed; 4. Most Holy, whose devoted things ought not to be misappropriated by any one; 5. Almighty, whose sentence and punishment no one is able to evade by any power, art, or subterfuge; 6. Much to be revered and feared, since the most hidden things are publicly disclosed at His bidding and because of Him (Bonfrerius, Serarius). It was useful for the truth of the Divine indication to be known upon the best evidence; for by it all were understanding that nothing is able to be committed so secretly by anyone that it might slip past the eyes of God. By this confession he delivers himself from eternal punishment, inasmuch as he becomes his own accuser (Masius). Hence some hope appears rightly to be gathered concerning the continuance of souls after death. For, with what other hope was this man persuaded to confess a capital crime? Now, it is the sentence of the Jews that by confession and death the forgiveness of such crimes is obtained from God. Here we have a formula for the examination of the guilty. In this way witnesses were also interrogated. See what things were noted on John 9:24 (Grotius).

[Give] Hebrew: Posit glory, etc.;[2] it is a Hebraism; that is, Glorify God, at whose nod the lot fell upon thee: and give confession to Him; it is a Hebraism; confess sin unto His praise and glory (Vatablus). Others thus: Confess sin, so that the things stolen might be devoted to the ban according to the precept of the Lord, whence all honor and glory is rendered to God, and His will is fulfilled (Malvenda). The most benign God is worthy to lay claim to His praise, as men ingenuously confess their sins, and study to accommodate themselves to His will (Masius).

Give glory to the Lord God of Israel; as thou hast highly dishonoured him, now take the shame and blame to thyself, and ascribe unto God the glory of his omniscience in knowing thy sin; of his justice in punishing it in thee, and others for thy sake; of his omnipotency, which was obstructed by thee; and of his kindness and faithfulness to his people, which was eclipsed by thy wickedness; all which will now be evident by thy sin confessed and punished.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֜עַ אֶל־עָכָ֗ן בְּנִי֙ שִֽׂים־נָ֣א כָב֗וֹד לַֽיהוָ֛ה אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל וְתֶן־ל֣וֹ תוֹדָ֑ה וְהַגֶּד־נָ֥א לִי֙ מֶ֣ה עָשִׂ֔יתָ אַל־תְּכַחֵ֖ד מִמֶּֽנִּי׃

[2] Hebrew: שִֽׂים־נָ֣א כָב֗וֹד.

4 thoughts on “Joshua 7:19: Achan’s Confession, Part 1

  1. Westminster Confession of Faith 15:6 (Of Repentance unto Life): “As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof [Psalm 51:4, 5, 7, 9, 14; 32:5, 6]; upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy [Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9]; so he that scandalizeth his brother, or the Church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or public confession and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended [James 5:16; Luke 17:3, 4; Joshua 7:19; Psalm 51]; who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him. [2 Corinthians 2:8]”

  2. Thomas Boston, “Complete Body of Divinity”: “We must use God’s name holily and reverently in an oath. When the oath being lawful, and we are called to it by authority, we ‘swear in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness,” Jeremiah 4:2: (1.) In truth… (2.) In judgment… (3.) In righteousness; which implies… That it be for good ends, namely, that God be glorified, Joshua 7:19; our neighbour satisfied, and controversy ended, Hebrews 6:16; our own innocency cleared, Exodus 22:11, etc.”

  3. Stephen Charnock, “Nature and Attributes of God”: “[The omniscience of God] is wronged by a practical denial of it…. It appears in partial confessions of sin before God. As by a free, full, and ingenious confession, we offer a due glory to this attribute, so by a feigned and curtailed confession, we deny him the honor of it: for, though by any confession we in part own him to be a Sovereign and Judge, yet by a half and pared acknowledgment, we own him to be no more than a humane and ignorant one. Achan’s full confession gave God the glory of his omniscience, manifested in the discovery of his secret crime. ‘And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him’ (Joshua 7:19). And so (Psalm 50:23): ‘Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me,’ or confession, as the word signifieth, in which sense I would rather take it, referring to this attribute, which God seems to tax sinners with the denial of (Psalm 50:21), telling them that he would open the records of their sins before them, and indict them particularly for every one. If, therefore, you would glorify this attribute, which shall one day break open your consciences, offer to me a sincere confession. When David speaks of the happiness of a pardoned man, he adds, ‘in whose spirit there is no guile,’ not meaning a sincerity in general, but an ingenuity in confessing. To excuse, or extenuate sin, is to deny God the knowledge of the depths of our deceitful hearts: when we will mince it rather than aggravate it; lay it upon the inducements of others, when it was the free act of our own wills, study shifts to deceive our Judge; this is to speak lies of him, as the expression is (Hosea 7:13), as though he were a God easy to be cheated, and knew no more than we were willing to declare. What did Saul’s transferring his sin from himself to the people (1 Samuel 15:15), but charge God with a defect in this attribute? When man could not be like God, in his knowledge, he would fancy a God like to him in his ignorance, and imagine a possibility of hiding himself from his knowledge. And all men tread, more or less, in their father’s steps, and are fruitful to devise distinctions to disguise errors in doctrine, and excuses to palliate errors in practice: this crime Job removes from himself, when he speaks of several acts of his sincerity (Job 31:33): ‘If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding my iniquity in my bosom:’ I hid not any of my sins in my own conscience, but acknowledged God a witness to them, and gave him the glory of his knowledge by a free confession. I did not conceal it from God as Adam did, or as men ordinarily do; as if God could understand no more of their secret crimes than they will let him, and had no more sense of their faults than they would furnish him with. As the first rise of confession is the owning of this attribute (for the justice of God would not scare men, nor the holiness of God awe them, without a sense of his knowledge of their iniquities), so to drop out some fragments of confession, discover some sins, and conceal others, is a plain denial of the extensiveness of the Divine knowledge.”

  4. Matthew Henry: “His arraignment and examination, Joshua 7:19. Joshua sits judge, and, though abundantly satisfied of his guilt by the determination of the lot, yet urges him to make a penitent confession, that his soul might be saved by it in the other world, though he could not give him any encouragement to hope that he should save his life by it. Observe, 1. How He accosts him with the greatest mildness and tenderness that could be, like a true disciple of Moses. He might justly have called him ‘thief,’ and ‘rebel,’ ‘Raca,’ and ‘thou fool,’ but he call him ‘son;’ he might have adjured him to confess, as the high priest did our blessed Saviour, or threatened him with the torture to extort a confession, but for love’s sake he rather beseeches him: I pray thee make confession. This is an example to all not to insult over those that are in misery, though they have brought themselves into it by their own wickedness, but to treat even offenders with the spirit of meekness, not knowing, what we ourselves should have been and done if God had put us into the hands of our own counsels. It is likewise an example to magistrates, in executing justice, to govern their own passions with a strict and prudent hand, and never suffer themselves to be transported by them into any indecencies of behaviour or language, no, not towards those that have given the greatest provocations. The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Let them remember the judgment is God’s, who is Lord of his anger. This is the likeliest method of bringing offenders to repentance. 2. What he wishes him to do, to confess the fact, to confess it to God, the party offended by the crime; Joshua was to him in God’s stead, so that in confessing to him he confessed to God. Hereby he would satisfy Joshua and the congregation concerning that which was laid to his charge; his confession would also be an evidence of his repentance, and a warning to others to take heed of sinning after the similitude of his transgression: but that which Joshua aims at herein is that God might be honoured by it, as the Lord, the God of infinite knowledge and power, from whom no secrets are hid; and as the God of Israel, who, as he does particularly resent affronts given to his Israel, so he does the affronts given him by Israel. Note, In confessing sin, as we take shame to ourselves, so we give glory to God as righteous God, owning him justly displeased with us, and as a good God, who will not improve our confessions as evidences against us, but is faithful and just to forgive when we are brought to own that he would be faithful and just if he should punish. By sin we have injured God in his honour. Christ by his death has made satisfaction for the injury; but it is required that we by repentance show our good will to his honour, and, as far as in us lies, give glory to him. Bishop Patrick quotes the Samaritan chronicle, making Joshua to say here to Achan, Lift up thy eyes to the king of heaven and earth, and acknowledge that nothing can be hidden from him who knoweth the greatest secrets.”

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