A Brick in the Valley

The Principle of the Rope in the Negative (Achan’s Sin)
May 24, 2008, 10:01 am
Filed under: Principle of the Rope

Scot McKnight (The Jesus Creed) has an interesting thread going on Achan’s sin (Joshua 7).  A mother asked Scot how she should respond to her eleven year old daughter who asked her mother, “How can it be fair that Achan’s family died because of his sin?”

24 And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor.  25 And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones.  (Joshua 7:24-25, ESV).

You can read the Jesus Creed blog herePay special attention to comment #43.  I didn’t read it until late in the game!

The bottom line is, we are not the isolated individuals that Western Culture teaches we are.  While, each of us does bear individual responsibility (Ezekiel 18), if we choose to jump off a moral cliff, then we pull others over the side with us.  I call this, “The Principle of the Rope.”

In his book, Corporate Responsibility and the Hebrew Bible, Joel S. Kaminsky relates this story:

Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai taught: There is a story about men who were sitting on a ship, one of them lifted up a borer and began boring a hole beneath his seat.  His companions said to him: ‘What are you sitting and doing?’  He replied to them: ‘What concern is it of yours, I am drilling under my seat?’  They said to him: ‘But the water will come up and flood the ship for all of us.’  Lev. R. 4.6.

Achan drilled a giant hole in the bottom of his bottom.  And, his family was all on board with him.

But, remember, the Principle of the Rope works in the positive direction as well as the negative — and the positive sense is far stronger than the negative (Romans 5:18-19). . . For just as through the disobedience of the one man, the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man, the many were made righteous . . .

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My friend was reading Achan’s story to her little girls, and she anticipated this sort of response, questioning the fairness of the punishment. But rather, her five year old said, “That Daddy did not do a good job of making wise choices for his family.” I think she gets the principle of the rope!

Comment by shanpopkin

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