Saturday 07 September 2013

Bible Book:

Joshua 7:1-15 Saturday 7 September 2013


The "ban" as it is called, by which every person and object inJericho was to be 'devoted to destruction' as an offering to Godprovides the background to this story. The only exceptions to theban were that silver, gold and other metal vessels were to be keptfor religious occasions (Joshua6:19), and Rahab and her family were spared slaughter becauseshe had aided the spies Joshua sent to Jericho ahead of theassault. However a man called Achan, out of personal greed, tooksome of the plunder for himself. In the later part of the chapter(verses 16-26), Achan's rebellion against God'sorders resulted in his execution along with his family, even thoughthey may have had no knowledge of his actions.

Verse 1 strongly states that the sin of one man has implicationsfor all the people. They are said to break faith, and the Lord isangry with them all. This comes to light in the way in which whatshould have been an easy military action against the town of Aiturned out as disaster for Israel with considerable loss of life(verse 5). Probably we should read the account in a way that showsAchan as representative of a general tendency of the people toautonomy rather than obedience to God. There is no reference toJoshua consulting God about the size of the force needed to attackAi, and indeed no suggestion that God commands that campaign in theway he did the capture of Jericho.

Joshua's pleading with God after the defeat, with his apparentconcern for God's honour, is reminiscent of Moses's intercession inthe case of the golden calf (Exodus32:11-14). God's response first requires that Joshua change hisstance from humble pleading with God to standing ready to listen(verse 10). God then explains that by breaking the ban the peoplehave become themselves subject to it and 'devoted to destruction',but goes on to outline a procedure whereby the appropriaterepresentative individual, along with his family, will pay theprice for them all.

To Ponder

  • If Rahab's family were saved through her right actions (Joshua 6:25), isit perfectly proper that Achan's family should all pay the price ofhis wrong ones (verse 15)? Why might some people want to take issuewith this understanding of justice?
  • To what extent would you agree with the assertion that we aretoo individualistic in our understanding of sin, refusing to acceptthat our connectedness with others implicates them in our actions,and in the guilt and further consequences that follow?
  • In what ways are you and other people today tempted to greedand to the taking of that to which there is no personal right, andexpecting to get away with it? How may we avoid the temptations ofmaterialism overpowering us?

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