on Joshua 7 :25
Why hast thou troubled us? - Here is a reference to the meaning of Achan's or Achar's name, מה עכרתנו meh Achar-tanu; and as עכר achar is used here, and not עכן achan, and the valley is called the valley of Achor, and not the valley of Achan, hence some have supposed that Achar was his proper name, as it is read 1 Chronicles 2:7, and in some MSS., and ancient versions. See the note on Joshua 7:17.
And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones - With great deference to the judgment of others, I ask, Can it be fairly proved from the text that the sons and daughters of Achan were stoned to death and burnt as well as their father? The text certainly leaves it doubtful, but seems rather to intimate that Achan alone was stoned, and that his substance was burnt with fire. The reading of the present Hebrew text is, They stoned Him with stones, and burnt Them with fire, after they had stoned Them with stones. The singular number being used in the first clause of the verse, and the plural in the last, leaves the matter doubtful. The Vulgate is very clear: Lapidavitque Eum omnis Israel; et cuncta quae illius erant, igne consumpta sunt, "All Israel stoned him; and all that he had was consumed with fire." The Septuagint add this and the first clause of the next verse together: Και ελιθοβολησαν αυτον λιθοις πας Ισραηλ, και επεστησαν αυτῳ σωρον λιθων μεγαν: And all Israel stoned Him with stones, and raised over Him a great heap of stones. The Syriac says simply, They stoned Him with stones, and burned what pertained to Him with fire. The Targum is the same as the Hebrew. The Anglo-Saxon seems to refer the whole to Achan and his Goods: And Him they stoned there, and burnt his goods. The Arabic version alone says, They stoned Him and his Children, and his goods. Instead of burnt Them, אתם otham, two of De Rossi's MSS. read אתו otho, Him; which reading, if genuine, would make the different members of the verse agree better. It is possible that Achan, his oxen, asses, sheep, tent, and all his household goods, were destroyed, but his sons and daughters left uninjured. But it may be asked, Why are they brought out into the valley with the rest? Why, that they might see and fear, and be for ever deterred by their father's punishment from imitating his example. I have gone thus far into this important transaction, in which the justice and mercy of God are so much concerned, that I might be able to assign to each its due. That Achan's life was forfeited to justice by his transgression, no one doubts: he sinned against a known and positive law. His children could not suffer with him, because of the law, Deuteronomy 24:16, unless they had been accomplices in his guilt: of this there is no evidence; and the text in question, which speaks of Achan's punishment, is extremely dubious, as far as it relates to this point. One circumstance that strengthens the supposition that the children were not included, is the command of the Lord, Joshua 7:15 : "He that is taken with the accursed thing, shall be burnt with fire; he, and all that he hath." Now, all that he hath may certainly refer to his goods, and not to his children; and his punishment, and the destruction of his property would answer every purpose of public justice, both as a punishment and preventive of the crime; and both mercy and justice require that the innocent shall not suffer with the guilty, unless in very extraordinary cases, where God may permit the righteous or the innocent to be involved in those public calamities by which the ungodly are swept away from the face of the earth: but in the case before us, no necessity of this kind urged it, and therefore I conclude that Achan alone suffered, and that his repentance and confession were genuine and sincere; and that, while Justice required his life, Mercy was extended to the salvation of his soul.
on Joshua 7 :25
on Joshua 7 :25