Today we finish the book of Judges!
Today’s readings are Judges 19-21
What a joy today! I’ve got another double header in Rabbit Trails for ya, thanks to our friend, Debbie Ingle! We’ll begin with Debbie’s notes and then finish off with mine.
How I wish this portion of Israel’s history did not happen! I think this is a good time to repeat something that Christy has told us before. Just because people in the Bible did something, does not make it good.
I believe that these final chapters of Judges give us a truthful glimpse into the hearts of the people of Israel during the times of the judges. We have read over and over about their cycles of sin and repentance. As exhausted as I am reading about it, can you imagine how exhausting it must be to The Father to see His people…His special inheritance (Deut 4:20) being so unfaithful!
Notice that, not for the first time, we are reminded that “in those days, there was no king in Israel” (19:1) While there was no human king, YHVH was their king and desired their obedience. Think back to the blessings and curses we recently read in Deuteronomy. If Israel had been obedient, those blessings would have been a guarantee. How incredibly sad to think of that missed opportunity!
As we get into chapter 19, get ready to blush…I sure did when I read it with my teenage daughter this time last year. I really cannot defend much of anything from this portion of scripture until the very end of Judges. Instead, I am just going to give you a few bullet points of things to notice.
- Chapter 19
- Priest has a concubine — already on a slippery slope
- Benjamite men behaved like the men of Sodom
- What a shocking way to spread the word (cutting and sending her body). So…let me get this straight. She was not worth protecting on the night she was mistreated and murdered…but she is worth starting a war and wiping out an entire tribe. Beyond comprehension!
- Chapter 20
- Battle details — YHVH actually sends Judah to lose the first 2 times. Can I explain that? No. YHVH is God, and I am not.
- 25,100 Benjamites are killed — the remaining need wives — why? Because even with all its faults, Israel was a culture that valued children and saw them as a way to grow their population. For this, I applaud them.
- Chapter 21
- Israel had sworn not to allow Benjamin to marry their daughters. (Like most vows, pretty foolish!)
- Israel slaughters Jabesh-Gilead in order to bring virgins to Benjamin…still not enough
- Finally, wives are “carried off” from Shiloh during feast days
- The point here is that the fathers don’t have to break their vow by “giving” their daughters. The daughters will be “taken.”
What a complete MESS Israel has made in The Land! They do not recognize that YHVH desires to be their king, and everyone does what is right in his own eyes.
Now before we have too much fun pretending to be better than them, let’s hold a mirror up to our own lives and see who is reigning, how our obedience is looking, and whether or not we find “right” to be a relative term.
You see, I often hear those of us in the church talking about how “blind” and “sinful” Israel was during the histories. But I rarely hear any of us willing to acknowledge that given the opportunity, many of us would be the exact same. And speaking of blindness, who says we aren’t? Front Porch Family, I challenge you to reject judging Israel. Leave that to The Father. Instead, let us use this time to reflect on and judge our own sin. How can we turn in repentance in order to align our lives in obedience to the straight edge of His Word? How can we avoid the sinful cycle that we keep seeing repeated within these pages? The blessings and curses are still there. May we choose life! (Deut 30:19)
We have been repeatedly met with the sentence “ In those days Israel had no king”. Judges 17:6, Judges 18:1, Judges 19:1, Judges 21:25
There are two places in the book of Judges where this sentence is completed and at the very end we come to one of those where we see the implication of what this sentence is actually telling us. The reason is shown to us in the last verse of Judges where the sentence is complete:
Judges 21:25, the last sentence of this book reads:
“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
And that just sums up so many cultures, so many time frames, and so many people.
We have a shocking story in our reading today so I want to discuss that a bit.
You’ll want to read the passages first before going further
Judges 19 The old man from the hill country of Ephraim: It was custom for the host to protect and defend their guests at all cost, they were treated with the greatest of honor. Why did he offer his daughter and the concubine instead? Up until YHWH, most people (and their gods) viewed women as having little worth. They were expendable.
Note that this is not the way YHWH sees women but this was still a concept that was foreign in many areas. E even if folks were privy to the teachings of YHWH, they still tossed those teachings into their big old religious melting pot along with all the other faiths, beliefs, and gods around them. Clearly, we aren’t dealing with people who considered YHWH’s laws to be of any real authority.
However, It is important to note that the men banging on the door were Benjamites. They were of Israel, and that is what makes this even more shocking. This terrible sin brought shame to all of Israel.
The Levite who decided to cut up his concubines body and send pieces out brought further shame. He showed grave disrespect for her corpse and an indifference towards her where there should have been grief and love. Perhaps there is and we are simply not told about it but that is hard to imagine given his actions. It is important to note, as we saw yesterday, that all of this behavior – both of the Levite and the Benjamites, went against YHWH’s instructions for His people.
This story continues, illustrating further the last statement in Judges and letting us know how far Israel had fallen away from YHWH. The further we get, the steeper and more slippery the slope. The more normal it feels to us, the easier it is to excuse.
That is why it is so important to read the word firsthand, as we are each responsible for our own behavior, actions, and faithfulness to YHWH.
“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”
❤️By His Grace, we DO have a King! Let us do what is right in His eyes.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!