These last 3 chapters are rough!!
Chapter 19. A Levite and his Concubine. This story is crystal clear and does not need a recap. This story is parallel to Sodom in Genesis 19. The moral deterioration of Israel is exactly as it was before. Actually worse! There is an unwritten law of hospitality in the Middle East that is strong BUT it should never be stronger than God’s Law. Chapter 19 ends with the Levite chopping up her broken, raped body into 12 pieces and sends it Fed Ex to the tribes as a “call to action” for revenge.
This horrible event occurred in Gibeah. As you can see it happened in the land of Benjamin. So Chapter 20 now begins a civil war when the Benjaminites side with the offenders. I am not sure why, as you can see the “story” is already being falsely told on the Levite’s side so I assume the Gibeah side is too. Or it could be that the Benjaminites don’t want to fight their own land. Either way, you can see this civil war is 11 tribes against 1. When the 11 inquire to the Lord “Who should fight first?”, the Lord sends Judah but never promises victory. The second time they ask “should we fight them?” and the Lord says “yes”. See, the Israelites needed their discipline for fighting against their own tribe, the Benjaminites. However, on the 3rd request, the 11 show repentance by fasting and offering a burnt offering, so this time the Lord grants them permission to fight again, promising them victory. The Lord now will discipline the Benjaminites for siding with the offenders.
Chapter 21: What a hot mess!! So the men of Israel had taken an oath NOT to intermarry with the Benjaminites. (Ummmm…God’s Law said not to intermarry with NON-Israelites) So because of this oath, the Tribe of Benjamin will dwindle out! Well, we know this can’t happen because we need to have the first king Saul, Queen Esther, and the apostle Paul, who were all Benjaminites.
So these Einsteins come up with a plan.
- “Let’s find anyone who did not participate on our side in this civil war, we will kill them and their wives and just steal the virgins”.
- What in Sam Hill! So they did that and pocketed 400 virgins.
- “Shoot! We are still 200 short, what shall we do??”
- “Oh I know….there is an annual festival in this place called Shiloh, during the festival we can hide in the bushes and the old men can each steal for themselves a woman”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! Why is there an annual festival in this little place called SHILOH?????
Can you see the magnitude of the whole scene?? Why are they not commemorating the annual feast as mandated? Do they even know what the feasts commemorate?
So what started as avenging the rape of 1 woman, ended with the rape of 600 women and many many deaths.
And the final verse in Judges could not be more fitting to the tragic ending
In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.