Story Three

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
WHILE the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes at God's word were destroying the city of Jĕŕ ĭ-chŏ there was one man who disobeyed God's command. A man named Ā́ chăn, of the tribe of Judah, saw in one house a beautiful garment that had come from Băb́ y̆-lon, and a wedge-shaped piece of gold and some silver. He looked at it, longed to have it for his own, took it secretly to his tent, and hid it. He thought that no one had seen him do this thing. But God saw it all; and Ā́ chăn's robbery of God, to whom everything belonged that was in Jĕŕ ĭ-chō, brought great trouble to Ĭś̝ ra-el.
From Jĕŕ ĭ-chō there was a road up the ravines and valleys leading to the mountain country. On one of the hills above the plain stood a little city called Jŏsh́ u-ȧ did not think it needful for all the army to go and take Ā́ ī because it was a small place. So he sent a small army of three thousand men. But the men of Ā́ ī came out against them, and killed a number of them, and drove them away, so that they failed to take the city.
And when the rest of the people heard of this defeat they were filled with fear. Jŏsh́ u-ȧ was alarmed, not because he was afraid of the Cā́ năan-ītes, but because he knew that God was not with the men who went against Ā́ ī And Jŏsh́ u-ȧ fell on his face before the Lord, and said:
"O Lord God, why hast thou led us across Jôŕ dan only to let us fall before our enemies? What shall I say, O Lord, now that the men of Ĭś̝ ra-el have been beaten and driven away?”
And God said to Jŏsh́ u-ȧ:
"Ĭś̝ ra-el has sinned. They have disobeyed my words, and have broken their promise. They have taken the treasure that belongs to me, and have kept it. And that is the reason why I have left them to suffer from their enemies. My curse shall rest on the people until they bring back that which is stolen, and punish the man who robbed me." And God told Jŏsh́ u-ȧ how to find the man who had done this evil thing.
The next morning, very early, Jŏsh́ u-ȧ called all the tribes of Ĭś̝ ra-el to come before him. When the tribe of Jū́ dah came near God showed to Jŏsh́ u-ȧ, that this was the tribe. Then as the divisions of Jū́ dah came by God pointed out one division; and in that division one family, and in that family one household, and A in that household one man. Ā́ chăn was singled out as the man who had robbed God.
And Jŏsh́ u-ȧ said to Ā́ chăn, "My son, give honor to the Lord God, and confess your sin to him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not try to hide it from me.”
And Ā́ chăn said, "I have sinned against the Lord. I saw in Jĕŕ ĭ-chō a garment from Băb́ y̆-lon, and a wedge of gold, and some pieces of silver, and I hid them in my tent." Then Jŏsh́ u-ȧ sent messengers, who ran to the tent of Ā́ chăn, and found the hidden things, and brought them out before all the people.
Then, because Ā́ chăn's crime had harmed all the people, and because his children were with him in the crime, they took them all, Ā́ chăn, and his sons and his daughters, and the treasure that had been stolen, and even his sheep and his oxen, and his tent, and all that was in it. And the people threw stones upon them until all were dead; then they burned their bodies and all the things in the tent. And over the ashes they piled up a heap of stones, so that all who saw it would remember what came to Ā́ chăn for his sin.
Thus did God show to his people how careful they must be to obey his commands, if they would have God with them. After this Jŏsh́ u-ȧ sent another army, larger than before, against Ā́ ī. And they took the city, and destroyed it, as they had destroyed Jĕŕ ĭ-chō. But God allowed the people to take for themselves what they found in the city of Ā́ ī.
Then they marched on over the mountains, until they came near to the city of Shḗ chem, in the middle of the land of Cā́ năan. The people of the land were so filled with fear that none of them resisted the march of the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes. Near Shḗ chem are the two mountains, Ḗ bal on the north, and Ḡĕŕ ĭ-zĭm on the south. Between these is a great hollow place, like a vast bowl. There Jŏsh́ u-ȧ gathered all the people of Ĭś̝ ra-el, with their wives and their children.
In the midst of this place they built an altar of unhewn stones heaped up, for they had left the Tabernacle and the brazen altar standing in the camp at by Ḡĭĺ găl Jôŕ dan. On this new altar they gave offerings to the Lord and worshipped.
Then before all the people Jŏsh́ u-ȧ read the law which Mṓ s̝es̝ had written. And all the people, with their wives, and even the little children, listened to the law of the Lord. Half of the tribes stood on the slope of Mount Ḗ bal on the north, and these, as Jŏsh́ u-ȧ read the words of warning which God had given to those who should disobey, all answered with one voice "Amen." And the other half of the tribes stood on the slope of Mount Ḡĕŕ ĭ-zĭm on the south; and as Jŏsh́ u-ȧ read God's words of blessing to those who should obey the law, these answered "Amen.”
When they had done all this, and thus given the land to the Lord and pledged themselves to serve God, they marched again down the mountains, past the smoldering ruins of Ā́ ī, past the heap of stones that covered Ā́ chăn, and past the broken walls of Jĕŕ ĭ-chō, back to the camp at Ḡĭĺ găl beside the river.