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thing, Joshun, early the next morning, assembled the tribes together before the tabernacle, where, by casting the lot, first upon the tribes, and so proceeding from tribe to family, from family to household, and from household to particular persons, the criminal was at length discovered to be Achan.
Achan, instead of confessing his crime immediately, suffered this exact scrutiny to be made; and it is not unlikely, that those Israelites, who fell before Ai, connived at his offence, perhaps with a view of experiencing, whether the Lord would execute vengeance against him, or not.
Joshua then conjured Achan to give glory to the Lord. When Achan found that his crime could be no longer concealed, he confessed that he had taken a royal robe, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge - of gold of fifty shekels weight, and hid them in the earth in the midst of Ins tent. Search was made, and < they were found in this place. It was highly necessary, for this honour of the Lord, thnt an example should be made of such an offender, because the Lor H had given an express command, that a pretumpttious sinner should be put to death* ; and the Mosaic law did not admit of atonement for indmiduals, who committed this crime; they were doomed to fall as a sacrifice of atonement for that nation, which was separated as a peculiar people to the Lord, and whose privileges as such, were suspended, till the sacrilegious member was cut off. Achan, therefore, with his whole family, were condemned to be stoned to death, which sentence was executed in the valley of Achor; they were afterwards burned, and a heap of stones raised over their ashes, as A monument of this dreadful judgment.
* Numb, xv,
'I 2 Though
. Though we are not expressly told so, there is reason to think, that Achan's family were accomplices with him, or at least privy to his crime, for he could not well have concealed these things in the midst of his tent without their knowledge. Achan had a very proper sense of his sin, and died penitent; we may therefore hope that he and his family were pardoned, and received to mercy.
It is very probable that those people who fled before Ai were elated with their success against Jericho, and imputed it to the personal valour of Israel, not to the miraculous power of the Lord.
The Lord certainly could have pointed out the sinner at once, but he chose to let the discovery be made by lot, in a solemn manner, in order to deter the people from such sacrilegous crimes for the future; that when they saw they could not conceal any thing from the knowledge of the Lord, they might fear to disobey him. And this part of Sacred History affords a very striking warning to all persons who dare to practise wickedness in secret, as it proves that there is no concealing any thing from that great Being, who is present in all places.
Soon after the death of Achan, Joshua was commanded to go, without fear or dismay, and attack the city of Ai, and the Lord gave the people pel.mission to exert their own skill and courage on this occasion, and to appropriate the spoil to themselves. Joshua immediately selected 80,000 men, and proceeded with his army agreeably to the directions which the Lo R D had given him, and gained a complete victory ; the whole army of the enemy was destroyed, the city of Ai burnt and made a heap of rubbish, all the inh abitants of it were put to the sword, and the king who was taken prisoner, was ordered to be hanged upon a gibbet till sun-set,
.*hen be was taken down, thrown in at a gate of the city, and a heap of stones raised over him. The cattle and the spoil of the city the Israelites took as a piey for themselves.
As Joshua was now not far distant from the mountains Gerizim and Ebal, he resolved to obey the command which he had received from Moses, respecting the reading the law, and propounding the blessings and curses to the people; he therefore caused an altar to be built and all the people, men, women, and children, assembled t the law was read according to the form prescribed; and we are told, that there was not a word, of all that Moses commanded Which Joshua read not before the whole congregation of Israel..S
i. .. . • . 'i
THE GIBE0N1TES DECEIVE JOSHUA AND THE
It haa: been already observed, that the land of Ca« naan Wrs inhabited by the descendants of Canaan the son of Ham. Canaan had eleven sons, who were the heads of • as many tribes or nations: five of them, from whom the different kingdoms of the Canaanites pro* ceeded, were named, Hetb, Jebusi, Amori, Gergashi, Hivi: from them their tribes were called the Hittites, Jebnsites, Amorites, Gergashites, and Hivites. The people that are particularly called the Canaanites, art supposed, as well as the Perizzites, t6 have consisted of the mingled tribes of the Canaanites, who had been engaged in fierce wars with the Egyptians, and were pointed out for destruction because they were the most * See Joshua, Chap. ix.
I 3 warlike,
warlike, and on that account likely to intimidate the Israelites.
The people of Israel, by the Lord's assistance, had advanced so rapidly towards Jericho and Ai, that a general consternation spread itself throughout the idolatrous nations: but whilst the Israelites were sacrificing, to God, and war was suspended, the Canaanites, instead of repenting of their abominable sins, hardened their hearts, like Pharaoh, resolving to make resistance, though the miracles that had been performed at Jordan and Jericho were sufficient, one would have supposed, to convince them that the Israelites were assisted and protected by an Almighty Being.
Four cities only among the Gibeonites feared the power of God, and seemed to have understood that .the Canaanites would be extirpated without reserve, but that the Israelites might make a league with distant nations: this circumstance shews, that the laws of Moses were known in the world. The ambassadors of the Gibeonites managed their business with great artfulness, pretending to come from a very distant country, and shewing their old shoes and mouldy bread as proofs of.their assertions; and they effectually deceived not only the princes of Israel, but Joshua himself, who inconsiderately concluded a treaty with them, and ratified it with a solemn oath, without enquiring of God whether he ought to do so or not. ... , )
After the death of Moses,. Joshua, as the Leader and General of God's people, was commanded in all important concerns to have recourse to the High Priest, who put on his robes and breast plate, and presented himself in the Holy Place, and there, standing with his face towards the Ark or Mercy-Seat where the Divine Presence was manifest between the Cherubims, he asked counsel of the Lord, by Ukim and Thummim, -," . which which he communicated to the person in whose name he made the enquiry. The answer so given is in many parts of Scripture styled the Oracle or God.
Joshua certainly was very blameable, in not having recourse to such an infallible mean of directing his judgment in respect to his league with the Gibconites, and (as is usually the case in all important matters which are precipitately determined) he committed great errors, for he had received a strict injunction not to make a league or covenant with any Canaanitish na- . tion; it appears to have been an inconsiderate, and not a presumptuous act; therefore Go D pardoned him and the princes, and allowed them to fulfil the league, which they had solemnly entered into in His holy name: so they spared the lives of the people of those four cities, notwithstanding they were Cunaamtes; but to punish the Gibeonites for their deceit, God condemned them to servile employments. The nature of their punishment was this: a great quantity of wood was required for the altar of burnt offerings, and of water for the frequent washings which made a part of the Jewish purifications j these and other slavish works of the same kind, such as washing the vessels, carrying out ashes, sweeping the courts, &c. which otherwise the Levites must have performed, were required of the Gibeonites.
The Gibeonites were very blameable for telling such falsities, though they were very . commendable in respect to their faith and submission to God. Their fraud was soon discovered, and for that they were condemned to slavery; but it was of an honourable kind, and such as gave them an opportunity of improving in that holy religion to which they were become proselytes, and "prevented their returning to their former idolatries. Now was fulfilled the curse of Canaan the son of Ham, I * from