Deuteronomy 24:16 says, “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin” (NKJV). Now let’s read Joshua 7:24-25, “Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of god, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and ALL THAT HE HAD, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, ‘Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day.’ So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they BURNED THEM WITH FIRE after they had STONED THEM with stones.”

The most logical solution to this seeming contradiction is that “the whole family must have been complicit in Achan’s crimes”; in other words, they knew about Achan’s sin and they said nothing about it and perhaps they even helped to cover up Achan’s sin. If we were to read the whole account, we would see that Achan was indeed the one who committed the initial act that brought judgment upon him and his family, for we read “Achan the son of Carmi…took the accursed things” (verse 1). In verses 10-15, the Lord informs Joshua of this sin and commands him to tell all the children of Israel to search every tribe and family to FIND THE ONE WHO DID THIS and to DESTROY HIM AND ALL THAT BELONGS TO HIM. Note especially verse 15, “Then it shall be that he who is taken with the accursed thing shall be burned with fire, HE AND ALL THAT HE HAS, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has done a disgraceful thing in Israel.” Joshua and the people obeyed by bringing all the tribes together and they discovered it was Achan who had stolen the forbidden goods (verses 16-19). Achan then confessed his sin (verses 20-21) and God’s judgment was then carried out by Joshua and all the children of Israel (as we saw in verses 24-25). Again, it would SEEM that Achan’s family was also guilty to some degree and thus there is no contradiction between this account and what we read in Deuteronomy 24:16. So, even though they didn’t participant in the initial act of stealing the forbidden spoils of war, they were guilty of helping Achan “cover up the crime” by “hiding the spoils of war in the earth.” Sadly, they then “reaped what they had sown” by being stoned and burned along with Achan.

Before we close this short meditation, it is important to see that until Achan and his family were “found out,” God looked upon the WHOLE NATION as guilty. We see this solemn truth in verses 10-11, “So the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? ISRAEL HAS SINNED, and THEY HAVE TRANSGRESSED My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff.” Why would God link the whole nation together with one man’s/family’s sin? The answer is simple; Israel was looked upon as being “ONE PEOPLE in the Lord,” not just a company of individual tribes and families (see Exodus 19:5-6). In view of this truth, the sin of Achan affected ALL, and until the actual guilty party was discovered God viewed the WHOLE NATION AS GUILTY. It is the same today in the Church of God, for although it is made up of “many members,” God sees us as “one body in Christ” (see 1st Corinthians 12:12). If one member of the body of Christ sins, the whole body is looked upon as defiled until the guilty party is judged by all and disciplined according to their sin. I would encourage you to read 1st Corinthians chapter 5 to see this truth illustrated, for there one man committed a sin (verse 1) yet the whole assembly at Corinth was considered defiled (verse 6) until the offending party was put out of fellowship (verses 3-5, 11-13).  (347.1)  (DO)