Epistles of Thomas

May 15, 2009

Judges 19-21

Filed under: Old Testament — Thomas @ 15:53
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Chapter 19 relates the horrific story of the rape and murder of a Levite’s concubine. The actions of the Levite are almost as reprehensible as those of the wicked men and one can see why she left him to return to her father’s house. The Levite cut up her body and sent the pieces to every tribe. The tribes gathered together against Gibeah but the Benjamite army came to their defence. Judah led the Israelites into battle the first day and Israel lost 22,000 men. The second day they cut their losses to 18,000 men. They inquired of the Lord and were reassured that they would be victorious on the third day. That day they used a stratagem to draw the Benjamite warriors away from Gibeah and killed 25,100 of them. The Israelites put all the Benjamite towns to the sword and had made a pact never to marry their daughters to a Benjamite. They soon realised that this meant the tribe of Benjamin would be wiped out since only 600 men remained and they had no one to marry. Israel discovered that Jabesh Gilead had not fought with them so they wiped out that town and gave the 400 unmarried women to the Benjamites but that still left about 200 single men. They gave it some thought and remembered that there would be many single women at the festival in Shiloh and they instructed the Benjamites to each kidnap a wife from the gathering and they would explain things to the women’s fathers (no doubt through force if necessary). Judges concludes with the previously mentioned refrain: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Many have condemned the treatment of women during the period of the judges but there isn’t much that can’t be condemned. This was a lawless free-for-all period during which the strongest won and the weakest were victimised. It is against this backdrop that the following book of Ruth breathes such fresh air.

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