Verse 25. "Why hast thou troubled us?" - Here is a reference to the meaning of Achan's or Achar's name, wntrk[ hm meh ACHAR- tanu; and as rk[ achar is used here, and not k[ 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 Chron. ii. 7, and in some MSS., and ancient versions. See the note on ver. 17.
"And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned then 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: kai eliqobolhsan auton liqoiv pav israhl, kai epesthsan autw swron liqwn megan: 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, µta otham, two of Deuteronomy Rossi's MSS. read wta 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, Deut. xxiv. 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, ver. 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.
Verse 26. "They raised over him a great heap of stones" - The burial-places, both of heroes and eminent culprits, were anciently thus distinguished; and transactions of this kind gave rise to those great piles of stones called cairns, that are so frequently to be met with, especially in northern countries. FROM the whole of this account we may see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the great danger of not withstanding its first approaches. By covetousness many lives and many souls have been destroyed, and yet the living lay it not to heart! Who fears the love of money, provided he can get riches? Through the intensity of this desire, every part of the surface of the earth, and as far as possible its bowels, are ransacked in order to get wealth; and God alone can tell, who sees all things, to how many private crimes, frauds, and dissimulations, this gives birth; by which the wrath of God is brought down upon the community at large! Who is an enemy to his country? The sinner against his God. An open foe may be resisted and repelled, because he is known; but the covetous man, who, as far as his personal safety will admit, is outraging all the requisitions of justice, is an unseen pestilence, sowing the seeds of desolation and ruin in society. Achan's covetousness, which led him to break the law of God, had nearly proved the destruction of the Israelitish camp, nor would the Lord turn away from his displeasure till the evil was detected, and the criminal punished. Reader, is the face of God turned against thee, because of some private transgression? Are not thy circumstances and family suffering in consequence of something in thy private life? O search and try thy ways, return to God, and humble thyself before him lest thy iniquity instantly find thee out.