When the Israelites were unable to conquer Ai because Achan had taken spoil from Jericho, we read that the LORD told Joshua: “In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe that the LORD takes shall come forward clan by clan; the clan that the LORD takes shall come forward family by family; and the family that the LORD takes shall come forward man by man. He who is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD and has done a disgraceful ting in Israel!’ Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was taken. The clans of Judah came forward, and he took the Zerahites. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was taken. Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken” (Jos 7:14-18). Do notice, however, that family doesn’t include all people of common ancestry, but simply from grandfather to grandson.

In the narrative of Gideon, “family” is generally described much more closely to what we think of as the traditional “family.”

  • Jud 6:15: “‘But Lord,’ Gideon asked, ‘How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’”
  • “That same night the LORD said to him, ‘Take the second bull from your father’s heard, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.’ So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime” (Jud 6:25-27). Notice the close connection between family and father.

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