Monday, October 09, 2006

Achan is a Scapegoat

I don't understand how one can defend and justify the murder/lynching of Achan. Achan was a scapegoat. Achan was killed for the sins/shortcomings of Joshua. It defies understanding how people can believe that Achan by allegedly hoarding plunder can have brought about the defeat at Ai. It is superstition to believe that Achan somehow caused the defeat at Ai.

It's funny that immediately after the brutal lynching and homicide of Achan and his family that Joshua lifts the ban. (Joshua 8:2 and 8:27)

The atonement ritual in Joshua 7 only needed to identify one victim, that is why they drew lots. Why didn't Joshua just look for the ban? Everybody had the ban. Joshua needed someone to take his place in the atonement ritual and this someone was Achan. Joshua knew Achan would make the perfect scapegoat. Achan wasn't liked, the people resented him. If Achan was chosen, no one would defend him.

The story of Achan is a story about lynch mob murder. Achan is the hero of the story. He takes the sins of the people upon himself and bears them away. Like the servant in Isaiah 53, he is the bond of the community. His death and destruction holds the community to together. Achan is the atonement sacrifice. He could point the finger at all the others who have hoarded plunder. He could have pointed fingers at Joshua, who is the true villain in this story. Joshua's pride and hubris was what actually caused the defeat at Ai.

Achan by accepting death and bearing the sins of his accusers displays the love of God. Achan is similar to the servant, he has poured his soul out as a sin offering for Joshua and the people of Israel. Upon Achan was the chastisement that made the people whole. The people laid all their frustrations and sins upon Achan. The people healed themselves by throwing stones at Achan. By collectively stoning Achan the people stopped fighting amongst themselves and united around the shared murder of Achan. The people became good, while they made Achan into evil. Achan apparently accepted this, in similar fashion as the servant and subsequently Jesus did.

To believe that Achan caused the defeat at Ai is to believe in a pagan god. It is to believe in a god similar to the Greek god Dionysus. It is to believe in a god that takes great joy in murder and hatred. It is to believe in a god that only hates certain sins, and a god that makes the innocent pay for the sins of the strong and the many. Achan is innocent of causing the defeat at Ai. It is quite ludicrous to argue that Achan had anything, at all, to do with the defeat atAi. Achan is a classic scapegoat. Achan was a human sacrifice.

We must remember that Yahweh is Jesus. Jesus died in a similar fashion to the way Achan died. Joshua was not a true leader/king. Jesus/Yahweh would not have murdered Achan. Jesus/Yahweh was standing beside Achan while he was being murdered by an angry, vengeful and sin-filled mob.
Jesus/Yahweh is light/life and in Him is no darkness/death at all. Jesus bears the consequence of our sin. The tough thing is that he asks us to bear the sin and consequences of the sin for others. Jesus is love. He doesn't want to kill you. He doesn't want you to kill yourself, but if you don't want to love your neighbor this is what will happen. Your sin has consequence. Sin has its own consequences. Sin is its own punishment. God's wrath is the giving up of people to the consequences of their own sins.

Why can't we love and bear the sin of our neighbor? Why do we keep looking for an Achan or a Jesus to murder.


graham old said...

Great post! Are these thoughts from Girard, or original to you?

Either way, cheers.

Buck Eschaton said...

Thanks!!! They're definitely inspired by Rene Girard. I've also been reading a lot of Margaret Barker's work re the atonement.(pdf)

I also have several other posts re Achan.