Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Judges 19 - 21: Concubine Atrocity and the War with the Tribe of Benjamin

LINK: Judges 19-21  


BACKGROUND


Here is our second story in the appendix to Judges. I wish I had a "dislike" button for you to press for it. In these chapters, the bottom line is that there was no central authority like a king and everyone did what was right in his own eyes (21:25). This led to gross injustice (the concubine rape and murder) and anarchy (war on Benjamin).

Concubines were not according to God's will (Genesis 2:24), but they were an accepted part of Israelite society. They were considered a "lawful" wife who was only guaranteed food, clothing, and marital privileges (Exodus 21:7-11; Deuteronomy 21:10-14). They were there to provide sexual pleasure, help in the household, and provide more children who would not be part of the inheritance. They were nothing more than "chattel."  Sometimes they were taken if the legitimate wife was barren.

Treating guests in the Middle East was part of a man's honor.  That is why the man in Ephraim was willing to give the Levite's concubine and his virgin daughter away to the wicked men in the town. The man of Ephraim and the Levite were just as wicked for allowing abuse and murder to occur. This story is so sick, but it puts an exclamation point on how far God's chosen people had fallen!

Cutting up the concubine was the Levite's call for action against the town of Gibeah, but he was just as guilty of murder as the men of the town! After a victory on Benjamin's side, the LORD told the Israelites to go up against them again, but they were defeated. This caused the Israelites to weep and fast and present burnt and fellowship offerings to the Lord (20:26), and the LORD told them to go out and that this time they would win. Consequently, they defeated the Benjamites (20:35).

The men of Israel realized that almost all from the tribe of Benjamin had been eliminated. There were still 600 soldiers hiding in Rimmon (20:47), but where would the wives come from since the men of Israel had sworn to not give them wives? Instead of seeking the Lord, they killed the men of Jabesh-gilead since they did not participate in the oath. This freed up 400 virgins to give to the remaining Benjamites. The remaining 200 Benjamites were left to kidnap women at Shiloh. This way the remaining tribes would not be violating their oath, and the tribe of Benjamin would go on, but at what cost? Double DISLIKE!

I do not like these stories because the treatment of women is atrocious! The Levite should not have treated his concubine this way. As goes the home, so goes the nation!

It is amazing that the beautiful love story of Ruth took place during this same time of moral degradation! It is a redemption story of light and hope in a world of darkness and despair just like Jesus is light and hope in our world of darkness and despair! Stay tuned. Persevere through this story, and you will be rewarded. Weeping may last for a night, but there will be shout of joy in the morning (Psalm 30:5).

REFLECTION/APPLICATION


As horrible as this story may sound, atrocities like this happen every day in our world today. Women, especially, are "chattel" in many countries. We need to open our eyes and pray for the Prince of Peace to reign in the hearts and lives of all peoples. He is our only hope.

Pray for the oppressed women of the world. 

PRAYER


Jesus, reign. Protect the innocent. Thank You for being our hope and light in this dark world. Amen.
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