Skeptics Annotated Bible A Response

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#9 - Who was Achan's father?

Response by Wendell Leahy

Who Was Achan's father, Carmi or Zerah?

The son of Carmi?
Joshua 7:1: The Israelites, however, were unfaithful regarding the things set apart for destruction. Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi (same as Zimiri), son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of what was set apart, and the Lord's anger burned against the Israelite
The son of Zerah?
Joshua 7:24: And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah ..."

Achan's father was Carmi, his father was Zimri, his father was Zerah, his father was Judah

"Sons of Judah"
Judah ---> Zerah ---> Zimri ---> Carmi ---> Achan

The answer is actually given from the very same verses the Skeptic uses as evidence of a contradiction - but in fact is not a contradiction at all. The reason is because it was typical of Hebrew genealogy to list as son (or daughter) in the lineage of families. Today we would say that Judah, was Achan's great,great,great grandfather. This was standard custom to list "grandfathers (or grandmothers) as son of (or daughters of) and is often noted as such throughout the Bible.

There is no contradiction as both Joshua 7:1 and 7:24 confirm the same names, along with other verses listed below. The skeptic's simply have not understood the usage of "son of" and often make these repeating claims without actually providing additional verses which would verify the genealogies, such as we have done here.

Why SAB continues to question this custom, as contradiction, demonstrates that in fact this is intentional misrepresentation of what the scriptures claim.

"Sons of Judah"
Judah ---> Zerah ---> Zimri ---> Carmi ---> Achan


These are the sons of Israel (re-named from: Jacob) 1Chronicles:1-2
Reuben, Simeon, Levi, *Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.

1 Chronicles 2:3-7
*Sons of Judah
Er, Onan, Shelah, Pharez, *Zerah. The sons of Judah were five.
*The sons of Zerah
*Zimri, Ethan, Heman, Calcol, Dara (five of them in all).
*Sons of Zimri (same as Zabdi)
Camri (Joshua 7:1)
*Son of Camri
Achan (Joshua 22:20)

"Sons of Judah"
Judah ---> Zerah ---> Zimri ---> Carmi ---> Achan
Response by Dave Marr

The skeptics problem:

Achan's father was Carmi.
"For Achan, the son of Carmi ... took of the accursed thing." Jos.7:1

Achan's father is Zerah
"And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah ..." Jos.7:24
"Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel?" Jos.22:20

This is a case where the skeptic did not look at a verse closely enough, specifically Joshua 7:1. Either that, or he is not familiar with the vernacular of the Bible.

The full verse of Joshua 7:1 reads:
“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.”
As we can see in the passage, Carmi is Achan’s father, and Zerah is Achan's great grandfather. Basically, a short genealogy is given of Achan; this practice is very common in Biblical accounts. It stops at Zerah, and then gives the tribe name, Judah. In verse 18, the geneaology is given again, to reinforce the order in the readers mind. Henceforth, when Achan is mentioned, he is referred to as “the son of Zerah”. The reader knows by now that Zerah is Achan’s father’s father's father. Why is the focus on Zerah instead of Carmi? Likely, the account is referring to Zerah, the immediate son of Judah, whose life the Jews were very familiar with. If that is the case, as it most probably is, then the geneaological list skips a number of generations after Zabdi.

A student of the Bible will find that, quite frequently, people are referenced as the “sons” of their famous forefathers. Two notable examples are the Israelites being called “the sons of Abraham”, and our Lord Jesus Christ designated as “the son of David[the King]”.