But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.
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Aurelius Prudentius Clemens
And Jericho had seen in her own ruin
Our hand’s control, when conquering Achan fell.
Renowned for bloodshed, proud of leveling walls,
He fell a victim to the enemy’s gold
When from the dust he gleaned the stuff accursed
And snatched the mournful plunder from the ruins.
His tribe did not avail, nor his descent
From Judah, founder of the race of Christ
And patriarch blessed in his noble scion.
Let those who imitate his race accept
A similar form of death and punishment.
- "The Spiritual Combat 536.46" ...
Children. Achan was guilty of theft: some of the rest might have connived at his fault. He had taken what was reserved for the Lord. The offender was discovered, to inspire all with a horror for his conduct. Some of his brethren were punished, (ver. 5,) but they suffered for their own secret transgressions, or death might be no real punishment to them; while the Israelites were awakened to a sense of their own inability to conquer without the divine protection, and were forced to humble themselves. (Haydock)
Chastisements are the marks of God's displeasure, though they frequently proceed also from his clemency.
Achan is called Achar, 1 Paralipomenon ii. 7. These five persons occupy the space of 265 years; so that they must have been 50 or 55 years old, when they had children. ...
Look, did not Achan the son of Zerah dishonestly steal from the devoted things, and wrath came upon the whole people of Israel? And he alone sinned, but he was not the only one to die in his sin. Now to us, in the present circumstance every asset which does not belong to us but to someone else should be regarded as “the devoted things.” For he, Achan, took as spoil, and these men now have taken “as spoil”; but he took what belonged to the enemy, while these now have taken what belonged to their brothers, making for themselves a deadly profit. - "Canonical Epistle 3" ...
Suppose any one should carefully examine all the communicants in the world, what kind of transgression is there which he would not detect? And what if he examined those in authority? Would he not find them eagerly bent upon gain? Making traffic of high places? Envious, malignant, vainglorious, gluttonous and slaves to money?
Where then there is such impiety as this going on, what dreadful calamity must we not expect? And to be assured how severe vengeance they incur who are guilty of such sins as these, consider the examples of old. One single man, a common soldier, stole the sacred property, and all were struck. You know, doubtless, the history I mean? I am speaking of Achan the son of Carmi, the man who stole the consecrated spoil.…
On account of all these things, let us take heed to ourselves. Do you not see these wars? Do you not hear of these disasters? Do you learn no lesson from these things? Nations and whole cities are swallowed up and destroyed, and myriads as many again are ...
You say these were the disgraceful acts of a few men and what was not done by all could not injure all. Indeed, I have said above quite often that the crime of one man was the destruction of many among the people of God, just as the people were ruined by Achan’s theft, just as pestilence arose from Saul’s jealousy, just as death came from the counting of the people by the holy David. The church of God is as the eye. As a speck of dirt, even though small, which falls into the eye blinds the sight completely, in the same way, if some, even though they are a few in the body of the church, commit filthy acts, they block almost all the light of the splendor of the church. - "The Governance of God 7.19" ...