So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the LORD. Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today.” Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since. – Joshua 7:22-26
The passage never mentions Achan’s wife. Given that she would be the person closest to him, it is like that she had already died. There is an ambiguity in the Hebrew text as to whether or not Achan’s sons and daughters were stoned on account of his rebellion, it is possible that they were called out as witnesses to the execution of their father – we simply can’t know for certain. I lean in the direction that they were also put to death because the family of Achan and the family of Rahab would be complete counterparts. Rahab’s family was delivered by grace through her faith while Achan’s family was destroyed due to his sin.
Nevertheless, if my reading is correct, we must suppose that Achan’s sons and daughters new about his rebellion and therefore were participating in his cover-up. For the Law of God in Deuteronomy 24:16 explicitly says: “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.”
The contrast between the LORD’s remarkable grace in sparing a Canaanite harlot’s family, and even grafting her into the line of the coming Messiah, and the judgment the LORD brings on a rebellious child of the covenant is important for every one of us to bear in mind. As Adolph Harstad puts it:
What the LORD promises (inheriting the land) will come to pass. What the LORD threatens (judgment upon transgressors) will also take place, and indeed here it already has. This applies to the present life of the Christian church as we wait in hope for the glorious second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will conduct His faithful people into their promised inheritance but will execute eternal damnation upon all who do not believe in Him.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 40
Q. 40. What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
A. The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience was the moral law.