The story begins with Joshua sending spies to the land of Ai. The spies return saying Ai would be easy to conquer, requiring only a few thousand men.
Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai … and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said …let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai … for they are but few. Joshua 7.2-3So Joshua sent 3,000 soldiers, but they were defeated by the men of Ai, who killed about 36 of them.
So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men. 7.4-5When Joshua heard what had happened, he tore his clothes, fell on his face, and put dirt on his head, thereby proving that he was a real Bible character.
Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. 7.6He then asked God why they were defeated.
Joshua said, Alas, O LORD God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? 7.7God told Joshua to get up off his face.
The LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? 7.10And then God said that the Israelites were defeated by Ai because someone took an accursed thing during the Jericho Massacre.
Israel hath sinned … for they have even taken of the accursed thing … and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. 7.11-12But God told Joshua what he needed to do to get back to successful genocide: burn to death the man with the accursed thing, along with his family.
He that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath. 7.15God even pointed out the guy. His name was Achan.
In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man. … So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken: And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken: And he brought his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. 7.14-18So Joshua ordered Achan to confess.
Joshua said unto Achan … make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. 7.19And he did.
Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. 7.20-21He then rounded up Achan, his family, his livestock, and all their possessions. "And all Israel stoned them with stones and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones." And that made God less angry.
And Joshua …took Achan … and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep … And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. … So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. 7.24-26Since Achan’s sons and daughters were stoned and burned along with him, there must have been at least 5 victims here. (No mention is made of his wife.)
God's next killing: The Ai massacre