After Israel’s victory at Jericho, they failed completely and lost 36 men in trying to take the village of Ai. The text tells the reason for their loss:
Josh 7:1“But the sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of the LORD burned against the sons of Israel.”
We think (depending on conversion of shekels to ounces) Achan took about a pound of gold and 4 lbs. of silver [50 shekels of gold and 400 of silver], along with a what he viewed as an extremely beautiful cloak from Bablylon. (7:20,21) This wasn’t a huge heist, but it was certainly enough to be tempting, and his covetous mind thought it worth taking. The instruction of God was that the gold and silver should have been dedicated to God’s house (6:17-19), and the clothing destroyed as all the city was under a ban from personal looting. When God gives you the victory by having the walls fall down before you, its not your place to rush in a pick up gain for yourself.
Achan never got to use his haul. He was exposed by God before he got to wear the cloak or spend the money. His sin didn’t even give the partial, temporary reward that sin sometimes gives — knowing that sins rewards are never more than partial or temporary. All he was able to do with his loot was sneak it home and hide it, let the consequences of it weigh on his conscience (I wonder how heavy that pound of gold felt then?) and then have it kill him. Such is the heavy, deceitful weight of sin.