And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.
The first attempt by Israel to take Ai involved two to three thousand men and resulted not only in their defeat but the loss of thirty-six lives. That's approximately 1-2% and would probably be considered an acceptable loss in most operations of combat.
It was obviously not acceptable to Joshua. It was not acceptable to those families most closely affected. These thirty-six had:
- brothers and
They very probably had
- wives and
They were not only soldiers but
- citizens of Israel
- members of their tribe in Israel and
- relatives of their family in that tribe
With their loss came the loss of hopes, futures and industry. Their wives would need comfort. Their children would need instruction. They would not be there to claim their portion of the Promised Land. They would not be there to help increase their tribes opportunities in the Land.
They are lost.
All because one man chose disobedience, selfishness and covetousness.
Some would accuse Achan's punishment of being harsh. Why death? Why his family? Why his goods with him? Because this one man's actions, and his family's decision to help him in the act, stole all these and more:
- from the thirty-six
- from their families and
- from the promises of God