Daily Tanach, Wednesday: Yehoshua Chapter 7-Part 1: The sin of Achan and failed battle of Aiy


Chapter 7: The sin of Achan and failed battle of Aiy

1.      Someone secretly takes plunder from Jericho:

  • The Jewish people betrayed their pledge to abide by the prohibition against taking any of the possessions of the city.
  • Achan, the son of Karmi, the son of Zavdi, the son of Zerach from the tribe of Judah is the one who took from the consecrated possessions, and as a result, G-d was very angry with the Jewish people.

2.      Sending spies to the city of Aiy:

  • Yehoshua sent people from Jericho to Aiy for the sake of spying the city.
  • The spies return and inform Yehoshua of the potential easy conquest of the city: The spies returned and told Yehoshua that there is no need to send out many soldiers to conquest the city, as their inhabitants are few. They suggested to send between 2000 to 3000 soldiers and there is no need to trouble anyone else to come.

3.      The small army of soldier’s battle Aiy and fall in battle:

  • Approximately 3000 soldiers went to battle Aiy and they fled from before the soldiers of Aiy. The army of Aiy killed 36 Jewish soldiers and chased after them from before the city gates until the area called Shevarim, and there they smote [the 36 soldiers] on the descending hill.
  • The heart of the nation melted like water [becoming fearful that they could not be victorious].
  • Yehoshua’s reaction: Yehoshua and the elders of Israel tore their garments and fell onto their faces to the ground before the Aron of Hashem. They placed earth on their heads.

4.      Yehoshua confronts Hashem about the failed battle and Hashem explains the sin that caused it:

  • Yehoshua said to Hashem: “Why did you take us past the Jordon to deliver us into the hands of the Amorite and to destroy us. It would have been better if we would have remained on the other side of the Jordon [in the land of Sichon and Og that we already conquered[1]]. What can I say after we saw the Jewish people flee before their enemies? The Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear about this and surround us and cut our name off from the earth, and what will become of Your great name?”
  • Hashem replies to Yehoshua: Hashem told Yehoshua to get up from his falling position [and that it is his fault that the soldiers fell in battle, as Hashem told Yehoshua that he will be successful if he leads the battle, and here Yehoshua remained in the camp. In addition, Hashem never instructed Yehoshua to sanctify the plunder of the city, and it is his actions that caused the sin to take place[2]]. Hashem told Yehoshua that the Jewish people have sinned and transgressed the covenant, by stealing from the consecrated plunder and lying about it. The Jewish people were not able to stand before their enemies, and they fled from before them due to the stealing of the consecrated item. Hashem warned Yehoshua that He cannot be with them unless they destroy the consecrated item from within their midst. “Go sanctify the nation and let them be prepared for tomorrow [for the consecrated item to be found and removed], as so says Hashem the G-d of Israel, that they will not be able to stand before their enemies until the consecrated item is removed from amongst you.”

[1] Rashi 7:7

[2] Rashi 7:10; Rav Yosef Karo 7:10

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