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After Moses’ death, Joshua took over as leader of Israel. After crossing the Jordan River on dry ground (by a miraculous parting of the waters), the Israelites come to a city called Jericho.
After the Israelites conduct a strange ritual of circling the city, blowing trumpets and shouting, the walls of Jericho fall. Then they rush in and destroy the city, killing everyone inside – except a prostitute (and her family) who had helped them earlier.
Joshua commanded the Israelites not to take any of the precious metals and other valuable things from Jericho. All of it, he said, belonged to the LORD.
But one man didn’t get the memo. His name was Achan.
For some reason, God decides to curse all the Israelites because of Achan’s disobedience. As a result, they lose an important battle against the people of a city called Ai. God lets them know that someone among them has stolen his stuff and he won’t lift the curse until that person is dealt with.
So God has Joshua gather the Israelites together by tribe so that he can pick the culprit. From all the tribes, God picks the tribe of Judah. From that tribe, he picks the Zerahites. From the families of that clan, he picks Zimri’s family. From that family, he finally picks Achan.
Why an omniscient god would go through all this trouble, who knows. Couldn’t he have just said, “Achan did it!”
But hey. Maybe this is how he gets his kicks.
So Achan confesses.
Unfortunately for him, there is no forgiveness this time. He, his family and all his livestock are stoned to death.
And then burned.
What did his family do? If it was Achan who sinned, why was his family punished? And what could the cattle, donkeys and sheep have possibly done?
I suppose his family members could have been complicit in his sin (even if it doesn’t say so), but would that then make such a punishment just? Couldn’t God have just slapped them on the wrist or something?
If God hadn’t cursed the Israelites, the only person who would have been hurt by Achan’s theft is God himself. And isn’t it weird that God would be hurt by such a thing? What does God need with such petty things as gold and silver? Does God value them as much as we do?
Maybe God was just offended by him disobeying orders.
Anyway, God brought a curse on the Israelites because of Achan, then demanded Achan be killed to take away the curse, for the sole purpose of getting his revenge.
Or what in this context may be called “divine justice”.
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