Deuteronomy 24:16 says “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers; every man shall be put to death for his own sin." Why then did the whole family of Achan have to die by stoning in Joshua 7:24-25, when only Achan took plunder from Jericho?

  • You might also ask why Korach's whole family was killed, and Haman's ten sons. Mar 19, 2014 at 21:15
  • judaism.stackexchange.com/q/15952/759
    – Double AA
    Mar 19, 2014 at 21:32
  • @MonicaCellio re hamaan's sons, e question becomes stronger upon a look at the targum to Esther which has Hamman's sons walking before Mordechai praising him and bemoaning their father.
    – Baby Seal
    Mar 20, 2014 at 12:34

2 Answers 2


According to Rashi they were not killed. In his commentary to Joshua 7:24, Rashi writes that they were taken to see in order that they not copy his actions. Verse 25 says "וירגמו אותו" - they stoned him, in singular. "וישרפו אותם", they burned them, in plural, Rashi says refers to the tent and other property. "ויסלקו אותם" - they stoned them in plural, Rashi says refers to the animals he owned.

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    v 25 says And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies.
    – Shona
    Mar 19, 2014 at 20:43
  • @Shona Rashi says that refers to the tent and property. The hebrew just says "them" which is vague. Mar 19, 2014 at 20:44
  • Thank you. It is clearer in another translation than the one I was reading from.
    – Shona
    Mar 19, 2014 at 20:49
  • @Shona I made it clearer in the answer now. Mar 19, 2014 at 20:49

Gersonides (Ralbag) is puzzled by this. He offers two answers. The first is that the children were minors, and that they consequently came under the category of Achen's property, with regard to the punishment. We must then say that the verse in Deuteronomy takes apllies only once the child becomes an adult by Jewish Law. This would appear consistent with the fate of David's first child with Bathsheba, whom Nathan specifically tells David will die by Gd's will in Samuel II 12:14, due to David's sin.

The second answer mirrors Rashi's.


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