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Joshua 7:1 -



Committed a trespass in the accursed thing. The word מָעַל , here used, signifies originally to cover, whence מְעִיל a garment. Hence it comes to mean to act deceitfully, or perhaps to steal (cf. the LXX . ἐνοσφίσαντο , a translation rendered remarkable by the fact that it is the very word used by St. Luke in regard to the transgression of Ananias and Sapphira. But the LXX . is hare rather a paraphrase than a translation). It is clearly used here of some secret act. But in Le Joshua 5:15 it is used of an unwitting trespass, committed בִּשְׁגָגָה , in error of fact, but not of intention. Achan . Called Achar in 1 Chronicles 2:7 , no doubt from a reference to the results of his conduct. He had "troubled Israel" ( עָכַר ), 1 Chronicles 2:25 , and the valley which witnessed his punishment obtained the name of Achor. The copies of the LXX . vary between the two forms, the Vatican Codex having Achar; the Alexandrian, Achan. Zabdi . Zimri in 1 Chronicles 2:6 . Such variations of reading are extremely common, and are increased in our version by the varieties of English spelling adopted among our translators (see Shemuel for Samuel in 1 Chronicles 6:33 ). The LXX . has Zambri here. Took of the accursed thing. Commentators have largely discussed the question how the sin of Achan could be held to extend to the whole people. But it seems sufficient to reply by pointing out the organic unity of the Israelitish nation. They were then, as Christians are now, the Church of the living God. And if one single member of the community violated the laws which God imposed on them, the whole body was liable for his sin, until it had purged itself by a public act of restitution (see Deuteronomy 21:1-8 ). So St. Paul regards the Corinthian Church as polluted by the presence of one single offender, until he was publicly expelled from its communion (see 1 Corinthians 5:2 , 1 Corinthians 5:6 , 1 Corinthians 5:7 ). The very words "body politic" applied to a state imply the same idea—that of a connection so intimate between the members of a community that the act of one affects the whole. And if this be admitted to be the case in ordinary societies, how much more so in the people of God, who were under His special protection, and had been specially set apart to His service? In the history of Achan, moreover, we read the history of secret sin, which, though unseen by any earthly eye, does nevertheless pollute the offender, and through him the Church of God, by lowering his general standard of thought and action, enfeebling his moral sense, checking the growth of his inner and devotional life, until, by a resolute act of repentance and restitution towards God, the sin is finally acknowledged and put away. "A lewd man is a pernicious creature. That he damnes his own soule is the least part of his misehiefe; he commonly drawes vengeance upon a thousand, either by the desert of his sinne, or by the infection" (Bp. Hall).

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