March 25, 2007
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- And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehem-judah.
- And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father's house to Bethlehem-judah, and was there four whole months.
- And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him into her father's house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him.
- And his father-in-law, the damsel's father, retained him; and he abode with him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there.
- And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he rose up to depart: and the damsel's father said unto his son-in-law, Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way.
- And they sat down, and did eat and drink both of them together: for the damsel's father had said unto the man, Be content, I pray thee, and tarry all night, and let thine heart be merry.
- And when the man rose up to depart, his father-in-law urged him: therefore he lodged there again.
- And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart: and the damsel's father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon, and they did eat both of them.
- And when the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father-in-law, the damsel's father, said unto him, Behold, now the day draweth toward evening, I pray you tarry all night: behold, the day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and to morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go home.
- But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him.
- And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.
- And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over to Gibeah.
- And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah.
- And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin.
- And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodging.
- And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites.
- And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou?
- And he said unto him, We are passing from Bethlehem-judah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehem-judah, but I am now going to the house of the LORD; and there is no man that receiveth me to house.
- Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy servants: there is no want of any thing.
- And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.
- So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.
- Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.
- And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly.
- Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.
- But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.
- Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man's house where her lord was, till it was light.
- And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.
- And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.
- And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.
- And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.
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- Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD in Mizpeh.
- And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword.
- (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel were gone up to Mizpeh.) Then said the children of Israel, Tell us, how was this wickedness?
- And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was slain, answered and said, I came into Gibeah that belongeth to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge.
- And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, and thought to have slain me: and my concubine have they forced, that she is dead.
- And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel: for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel.
- Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.
- And all the people arose as one man, saying, We will not any of us go to his tent, neither will we any of us turn into his house.
- But now this shall be the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up by lot against it;
- And we will take ten men of an hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and an hundred of a thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to fetch victual for the people, that they may do, when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have wrought in Israel.
- So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.
- And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness is this that is done among you?
- Now therefore deliver us the men, the children of Belial, which are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel. But the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel:
- But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.
- And the children of Benjamin were numbered at that time out of the cities twenty and six thousand men that drew sword, beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven hundred chosen men.
- Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men left-handed; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.
- And the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew sword: all these were men of war.
- And the children of Israel arose, and went up to the house of God, and asked counsel of God, and said, Which of us shall go up first to the battle against the children of Benjamin? And the LORD said, Judah shall go up first.
- And the children of Israel rose up in the morning, and encamped against Gibeah.
- And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel put themselves in array to fight against them at Gibeah.
- And the children of Benjamin came forth out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to the ground of the Israelites that day twenty and two thousand men.
- And the people the men of Israel encouraged themselves, and set their battle again in array in the place where they put themselves in array the first day.
- (And the children of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until even, and asked counsel of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And the LORD said, Go up against him.)
- And the children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the second day.
- And Benjamin went forth against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed down to the ground of the children of Israel again eighteen thousand men; all these drew the sword.
- Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the LORD, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.
- And the children of Israel enquired of the LORD, (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days,
- And Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days,) saying, Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? And the LORD said, Go up; for to morrow I will deliver them into thine hand.
- And Israel set liers in wait round about Gibeah.
- And the children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day, and put themselves in array against Gibeah, as at other times.
- And the children of Benjamin went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city; and they began to smite of the people, and kill, as at other times, in the highways, of which one goeth up to the house of God, and the other to Gibeah in the field, about thirty men of Israel.
- And the children of Benjamin said, They are smitten down before us, as at the first. But the children of Israel said, Let us flee, and draw them from the city unto the highways.
- And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place, and put themselves in array at Baaltamar: and the liers in wait of Israel came forth out of their places, even out of the meadows of Gibeah.
- And there came against Gibeah ten thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and the battle was sore: but they knew not that evil was near them.
- And the LORD smote Benjamin before Israel: and the children of Israel destroyed of the Benjamites that day twenty and five thousand and an hundred men: all these drew the sword.
- So the children of Benjamin saw that they were smitten: for the men of Israel gave place to the Benjamites, because they trusted unto the liers in wait which they had set beside Gibeah.
- And the liers in wait hasted, and rushed upon Gibeah; and the liers in wait drew themselves along, and smote all the city with the edge of the sword.
- Now there was an appointed sign between the men of Israel and the liers in wait, that they should make a great flame with smoke rise up out of the city.
- And when the men of Israel retired in the battle, Benjamin began to smite and kill of the men of Israel about thirty persons: for they said, Surely they are smitten down before us, as in the first battle.
- But when the flame began to arise up out of the city with a pillar of smoke, the Benjamites looked behind them, and, behold, the flame of the city ascended up to heaven.
- And when the men of Israel turned again, the men of Benjamin were amazed: for they saw that evil was come upon them.
- Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel unto the way of the wilderness; but the battle overtook them; and them which came out of the cities they destroyed in the midst of them.
- Thus they inclosed the Benjamites round about, and chased them, and trode them down with ease over against Gibeah toward the sunrising.
- And there fell of Benjamin eighteen thousand men; all these were men of valour.
- And they turned and fled toward the wilderness unto the rock of Rimmon: and they gleaned of them in the highways five thousand men; and pursued hard after them unto Gidom, and slew two thousand men of them.
- So that all which fell that day of Benjamin were twenty and five thousand men that drew the sword; all these were men of valour.
- But six hundred men turned and fled to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon, and abode in the rock Rimmon four months.
- And the men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that they came to.
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- Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife.
- And the people came to the house of God, and abode there till even before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore;
- And said, O LORD God of Israel, why is this come to pass in Israel, that there should be to day one tribe lacking in Israel?
- And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.
- And the children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up with the congregation unto the LORD? For they had made a great oath concerning him that came not up to the LORD to Mizpeh, saying, He shall surely be put to death.
- And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day.
- How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing we have sworn by the LORD that we will not give them of our daughters to wives?
- And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up to Mizpeh to the LORD? And, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly.
- For the people were numbered, and, behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead there.
- And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children.
- And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man.
- And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying with any male: and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
- And the whole congregation sent some to speak to the children of Benjamin that were in the rock Rimmon, and to call peaceably unto them.
- And Benjamin came again at that time; and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead: and yet so they sufficed them not.
- And the people repented them for Benjamin, because that the LORD had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
- Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?
- And they said, There must be an inheritance for them that be escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel.
- Howbeit we may not give them wives of our daughters: for the children of Israel have sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife to Benjamin.
- Then they said, Behold, there is a feast of the LORD in Shiloh yearly in a place which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.
- Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards;
- And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
- And it shall be, when their fathers or their brethren come unto us to complain, that we will say unto them, Be favourable unto them for our sakes: because we reserved not to each man his wife in the war: for ye did not give unto them at this time, that ye should be guilty.
- And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned unto their inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them.
- And the children of Israel departed thence at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from thence every man to his inheritance.
- In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
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Thought for the day:
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final three chapters of Judges give insight into just how low the spiritual level of the Israelites had sunk. The
final verse of the passage sums up the situation,
"In those days [there was] no king in Israel: every man did [that which was] right in his own eyes."
Men were doing whatever they pleased with no consideration of man nor God. It is interesting to note that the verse seems to indicate that the situation was exacerbated by the fact that there was no human leadership available to keep the people in line. Apparently, neither the love nor the fear of the Lord was a sufficient motivation. How similar this is to today. Unbelieving men are completely disinterested in what God thinks. They have been trained to believe that their own minds are sufficient determiners of right and wrong, and thus they answer only to their own flesh and emotion. Unfortunately, some Christians fall into the same pattern. They do not seek the face of God when it is time to make a decision, but rather look to their own feelings. They may be enticed to obey if there is an authority figure standing over them and watching their every step, but when left to themselves, they never consider the Lord's will. How many young people conform to their parent's standards of behavior while they are at home, and yet abandon them as soon as they are out on their own? How many church members rely on the pastor or some other church leader for their spirituality? While not on the same level, it is undeniably true that many believers are unable to make a spiritual decision without consulting with their pastor. While I commend the idea of wanting to get an opinion from a spiritual brother, I find it troubling that so many Christians, particularly those who have been saved for a length of time, seem unable to figure make correct choices on their own without having a "king" to direct them. King Jesus should be sufficient, for He and His Word contain "all things that pertain unto life and godliness", (
II Peter 1:3).
The story contained in
chapters 19 and 20 seems to be the pinnacle of Israel's depravity. The adulterous concubine, having been reunited with her husband, is brutally murdered by other Jews whose only goal is the satisfaction of their carnal desires. These Jews are referred to as "sons of Belial". Belial, in addition to being used as a term for Satan in the New Testament, means "yokeless". These Benjaminites, while claiming to be children of God, were following Satan's pathway, and behaving as those that had no restraints. They were doing "that which was right in their own eyes." Note how similar their request of
19:22 was to the perverted request of the Sodomites in
"Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him."
These who had experienced first hand the blessings of God were acting in a manner associated with the vilest of pagans. Upon failing to get the man out of the house, they satisfied themselves with the abuse of the concubine. When she is discovered the next morning, the Levite takes her body, cuts it into twelve pieces, and sends a piece to each of the tribes, giving tangible proof of the depths of Benjamin's depravity. The lesson that we can learn from this is that once a man has determined that his guides are his own feelings, opinions, and desires, then there is no limit to how far he can sink. He may not start off at the level that the Benjaminites reached, but he is heading in that direction. If a man determines to always follow the Lord, he will never find himself in the degradation of the men of Gibeah.
Upon receiving the Levite's macabre package, Israel responds, and calls upon the Benjaminites to surrender the men of Gibeah who had done this horrendous deed. However, the Benjaminites, in their pride and wickedness, refuse to acknowledge that any evil has been committed. Warfare commences, and God instructs the rest of Israel to attack. They are repelled twice, suffering great losses, but finally on the third day they win the victory, and practically wipe out the entire tribe. The question here is, why was Israel defeated for two days when they were carrying out the will of God? Though the Bible is silent, I believe that it is because the sin of Gibeah was not confined to the tribe of Benjamin, but was prevalent throughout Israel. The condemnation of
21:25 speaks not of Benjamin only, but of the entire nation. God wanted to show His displeasure with Gibeah, and used the other tribes to chasten them. However, He also wanted all of Israel to know that He was aware of all their sin, and that they all deserved chastisement. The lesson for us is that sometimes we see the fault in others, but neglect to see our own sinful condition. May God help us to examine our own lives in the light of the Scriptures.
Pastor Dr. Mark J Montgomery