Thursday, April 22, 2010


Judges 19-21

Judges 19 starts with a Levite taking a concubine from Bethlehem, "but she was unfaithful to him," left and went back to her father's house. After four months, he went to get her, and stayed for a few days at her father's behest. Leaving, and headed towards Jerusalem, he stopped for the night in Gibeah rather than a city of the Jebusites because he said that "we won't go into an alien city, whose people are not Israelites." In Gibeah, an old man welcomed them in to his house, but that night, "some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house" and demanded that the traveler come out so they could "have sex with him." The man sent his concubine out instead "and they raped her and abused her throughout the night" and she was found dead at the door the next morning. He took her body, when he had reached his home, and cut it in to twelve parts "and sent them into all the areas of Israel."

In chapter 20, the Israelites all demanded to know what had happend, and when he told them, "all the people rose as one man," saying that they would "go [against Gibeah] as the lot directs...[to] give them what they deserve for all this vileness done in Israel." The other Israelites sent men amongst the Benjamites demanding that they "surrender those wicked men of Gibeah" but the Benjamites refused. So the Israelites went up to Bethel and asked who should go in first to fight the Benjamites, and God replied "Judah shall go first." When the battle began, the Benjamites killed many Israelites durig two days of battle, so that the Israelites went back to Bethel to ask the LORD whether they should battle them, and the LORD replied that "tomorrow I will give them into your hands." They set up an ambush, and while the Benjamites thought they were winning as before, "the LORD defeated Benjamin before Israel." And the Israelites put all of the towns of Benjamin "to the sword...all the towns they came across they set on fire."

In chapter 21, the Israelites wept at Bethel, for "why should one tribe be missing from Israel today?" They had taken an oath not to any of them give their daughters in marriage to a Benjamite, but decided that they wanted to "provide wives for those who are left." When they realized that none of the people of Jabesh Gilead had come to the camp, they sent twelve thousand warriors to kill all of the men and all of the women who were not virgins in Jabesh Gilead. They brought back four hundred young women to Shiloh in Canaan, then sent an offer of peace to the Benjamites. They returned, but there were not enough women for all of them. So they told the Benjamites that they could kidnap girls dancing in the vineyards at the annual festival of the LORD in Shiloh. They did that, then returned to their inheritance and rebuilt their towns. "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit."

Thoughts, questions, issues

  • The whole book is summarized in the last line - "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit."
  • The language issue is a serious problem here. What, for example, does the word which is translated "concubine" mean? Because the Levite is then referred to as her "husband."
  • I mentioned earlier that I got some time with Dr. Hugenberger last fall about this book. It's this utterly horrifying story of the Levite's concubine which sent me asking questions. What is it doing here? What is the point? His answer made sense, but I don't believe that I can do it justice. Part of it, though, is that he believes that the story was recorded during the time of David and Saul, and that part of the point (and also with Micah's idols) is to praise Judah while condemning Dan and Benjamin and Gibeah, where Saul was from.
  • There's clearly an echo of the angels' visit to Sodom when the Levite reaches Gibeah.
  • The book opens with the Israelites asking who was going to lead into battle and the LORD answering "Judah," so Judah leads Israel against the Canaanites in the conquest. The book ends with Israel asking who is going to go first against the Benjamites, one of their own tribes, and the LORD answering, "Judah." During the reign of the Judges (when "Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit") they moved from attacking the Canaanites and taking the land that God had promised them to attacking one of their own tribes.

Proverbs 27:15-27

Nothing really leaps out of this set of verses at me today.

Proverbs 27:15-27 (New International Version)

15 A quarrelsome wife is like
a constant dripping on a rainy day;

16 restraining her is like restraining the wind
or grasping oil with the hand.

17 As iron sharpens iron,
so one man sharpens another.

18 He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit,
and he who looks after his master will be honored.

19 As water reflects a face,
so a man's heart reflects the man.

20 Death and Destruction are never satisfied,
and neither are the eyes of man.

21 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but man is tested by the praise he receives.

22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar,
grinding him like grain with a pestle,
you will not remove his folly from him.

23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds;

24 for riches do not endure forever,
and a crown is not secure for all generations.

25 When the hay is removed and new growth appears
and the grass from the hills is gathered in,

26 the lambs will provide you with clothing,
and the goats with the price of a field.

27 You will have plenty of goats' milk
to feed you and your family
and to nourish your servant girls.

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