Joshua 7:25: The Punishment of Achan and his House, Part 2

Verse 25:[1] And Joshua said, (Josh. 6:18; 1 Chron. 2:7; Gal. 5:12) Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. (Deut. 17:6) And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.

[Because thou hast troubled (thus Munster), מֶ֣ה עֲכַרְתָּ֔נוּ] What hast thou troubled us? (Montanus, Septuagint, Jonathan, Malvenda). Why, or wherefore? (Syriac, Arabic, Pagnine); since (Tigurinus); how! (Junius and Tremellius); o how! (Drusius); O how greatly! Alas, in what ways! Thus it is taken in Ezekiel 16:30;[2] 19:2[3] (Drusius out of Masius).

[The Lord trouble thee] I do not find fault with the rendering, only provided that this be the speech of the Judge pronouncing sentence, not imprecating destruction (Masius, Lapide). Hence it is evident that the work is the Lord’s, when the Magistrate exacts punishment of the guilty, Romans 13:4 (Masius). I would prefer, the Lord shall trouble, rather than, the Lord trouble, lest those things should appear to be done by Joshua in anger. For it is beastly inhumanity to rage against a man bound, unarmed, penitent, and miserable (Masius). He shall trouble thee, that is, He shall exact punishment of thee (Vatablus).

[On this day[4] (thus Jonathan, Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Masius)] Hence the Talmudists gather that he was punished in this life, not likewise in the next. To us this does appear believable, not on account of these words (this is trifling conjecture [Bonfrerius]), but because of his candid confession (Masius). On that day (Syriac, Tigurinus). I think that בַּיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה, on this day, is the same thing as כַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה, as on this day, or, just as that day, as the Septuagint here expresses it. It is a note of affirmation; that is to say, plainly, absolutely, clearly, as certainly as you see the light of the present day which you enjoy (Masius).

[And all Israel stoned him] Question: But for what reason was he stoned, who was commanded by God to be burned, verse 15? Responses: 1. Either that fire in verse 15 is used of the punishment after this life, or stoning is thus called (Augustine in Masius on verse 15). Burning signifies whatever punishment, because pain burns the soul, as it were; or at least it signifies that punishment which cleanses us from sin, as in Numbers 31:23; 1 Corinthians 3 (Augustine in Serarius). 2. Others maintain that he was afflicted with both punishments (thus Cajetan in Serarius, Masius). He was stoned, because he violated the Sabbath (as it is evident from this, that he committed the sacrilege on the day that Jericho was taken, that is, on the day of the Sabbath): he was punished with fireas a robber of God (Munster out of the Hebrews). While he was being led to punishment, stones were cast at him by the people, furious (Drusius out of Masius, Hebrews in Munster), and eager to appease the Deity (Masius). Or, he was first burned alive, and then buried with stones by the people, since the Israelites detested the criminals just like the ashes (Serarius, Bonfrerius). Certain interpreters thus: they burned them with fire, and cast upon them, that is, upon their ashes, a great number of stones (certain interpreters in Vatablus). This opinion is proven: 1. Because this punishment is expressly prescribed in verse 15. 2. Because that stoning, as one may gather out of the following verse, appears to have been added only at the end, so that they might bury under stones the ashes, or remains, of that infamous man, before they were thoroughly consumed (Bonfrerius). And so they maintain that what will be done afterwards is related now, before the burning. This opinion I neither altogether reject, nor completely approve. For that signification of the verb, to stone, appears unusual (Masius). Or, he was first stoned, then burned (Tostatus and Calvin in Serarius). Thus they render the Hebrew words, and they burned them with fire, and they stoned them with stones[5] (Montanus, Arabic, Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals), that is, after they stoned them (Jonathan, Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius, Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals). Among the Hebrews, the copulative ו/and is sometimes ordinative: thus in Job 14:10, man will die and will be debilitated, that is, man will die after he has been debilitated[6] (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:249:543). He was first stoned, according to the law against blasphemers and despisers of the Divine commandment, Leviticus 24:14; Numbers 15:30, 35: afterwards he was consumed with fire (as things devoted to the anathema are wont to be), according to the law in Deuteronomy 13:16 (Junius on verse 15). This opinion does not satisfy. For, 1. it is against the order of the text. For it is said that first they were burned, then stoned. Therefore, the same order is to be understood in the case of Achan, who is not even said here to have been burned, because that is sufficiently understood out of the precept of the Lord previously posited (verse 15) (Serarius). 2. Thus through this adventitious punishment the guilty might be taken away from the principal punishment that God had decreed for him in verse 15, he shall be burned, that is, alive: For it signifies this properly and commonly (Serarius). But it is not absurd, if we should say that the burning commanded by God has regard unto the corpses; otherwise the living bodies were stoned, and at the end the ashes were buried and covered by the accumulation of stones (Masius).

[And they stoned them] That is, his sons; or those things; that is, they buried the remaining things under stones (Bonfrerius).

Stoned him with stones, and burned him with fire; which is easily understood, both out of the following words, and from God’s command to do so, verse 15, which doubtless was here executed.

Question. How could both these deaths be inflicted upon them? Answer. It seems they were stoned to death, which was the punishment of such offenders, Numbers 15:35, and not burned to death; and therefore the stoning only of Achan is mentioned here, and not his burning; and God would have their dead carcasses burned to show his utmost detestation of such persons as break forth into sins of such a public scandal and mischief. And for the burning of Achan, commanded Joshua 7:15, it seems not likely to be meant of his burning alive, because that burning is common to him, and all that he hath, as is there expressed; but of the burning of his dead carcass, and other lifeless things, as the manner was with accursed things, Deuteronomy 13:16.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ֙ מֶ֣ה עֲכַרְתָּ֔נוּ יַעְכֳּרְךָ֥ יְהוָ֖ה בַּיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה וַיִּרְגְּמ֙וּ אֹת֤וֹ כָל־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֶ֔בֶן וַיִּשְׂרְפ֤וּ אֹתָם֙ בָּאֵ֔שׁ וַיִּסְקְל֥וּ אֹתָ֖ם בָּאֲבָנִֽים׃

[2] Ezekiel 16:30:  “How weak is (מָ֤ה אֲמֻלָה֙) thine heart, saith the Lord God, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman…”

[3] Ezekiel 19:2:  “And say, What is thy mother (מָ֤ה אִמְּךָ֙)?  A lioness:  she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions.”

[4] Hebrew: בַּיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה.

[5] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׂרְפ֤וּ אֹתָם֙ בָּאֵ֔שׁ וַיִּסְקְל֥וּ אֹתָ֖ם בָּאֲבָנִֽים׃.

[6] Job 14:10:  “But man dieth, and wasteth away (וְגֶ֣בֶר יָ֭מוּת וַֽיֶּחֱלָ֑שׁ):  yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?”

1 thought on “Joshua 7:25: The Punishment of Achan and his House, Part 2

  1. Matthew Henry: “[Achan’s] condemnation. Joshua passes sentence upon him (Joshua 7:25): Why hast thou troubled us? There is the ground of the sentence. O, how much hast thou troubled us! so some read it. He refers to what was said when the warning was given not to meddle with the accursed thing (Joshua 6:18), lest you make the camp of Israel a curse and trouble it. Note, Sin is a very troublesome thing, not only to the sinner himself, but to all about him. He that is greedy of gain, as Achan was, troubles his own house (Proverbs 15:27) and all the communities he belongs to. Now (says Joshua) God shall trouble thee. See why Achan was so severely dealt with, not only because he had robbed God, but because he had troubled Israel; over his head he had (as it were) this accusation written, ‘Achan, the troubler of Israel,’ as Ahab, 1 Kings 18:18. This therefore is his doom: God shall trouble thee. Note, the righteous God will certainly recompense tribulation to those that trouble his people, 2 Thessalonians 1:6. Those that are troublesome shall be troubled. Some of the Jewish doctors, from that word which determines the troubling of him to this day, infer that therefore he should not be troubled in the world to come; the flesh was destroyed that spirit might be saved, and, if so, the dispensation was really less severe than it seemed. In the description both of his sin and of his punishment, by the trouble that was in both, there is a plain allusion to his name Achan, or, as he is called, 1 Chronicles 2:7, Achar, which signifies trouble. He did too much answer his name.

    [Achan’s] execution. No reprieve could be obtained; a gangrened member must be cut off immediately. When he is proved to be an anathema, and the troubler of the camp, we may suppose all the people cry out against him, Away with him, away with him! Stone him, stone him! Here is…

    The punishment itself that was inflicted on him. He was stoned (some think as a sabbath breaker, supposing that the sacrilege was committed on the sabbath day), and then his dead body was burnt, as an accursed thing, of which there should be no remainder left. The concurrence of all the people in this execution teaches us how much it is the interest of a nation that all in it should contribute what they can, in their places, to the suppression of vice and profaneness, and the reformation of manners; sin is a reproach to any people, and therefore every Israelite indeed will have a stone to throw at it.”

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