Judges 19. The second appendix: The Benjamite War.

Class Outline:

Title: Judges 19. The second appendix: The Benjamite War.


Some final comments on the first appendix.


The Danite conquest and the making of the Danite temple of idolatry.


This history is being recorded in order to inform us about the spiritual condition of Israel and what men, blessed immeasurably by God, are capable of doing.


JDG 18:27 Then they took what Micah had made and the priest who had belonged to him, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and secure, and struck them with the edge of the sword; and they burned the city with fire.


JDG 18:28 And there was no one to deliver them, because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with anyone, and it was in the valley which is near Beth-rehob [literally - house of the street]. And they rebuilt the city and lived in it.


Laish had been peaceful and secure without threat for a while. This does not mean that they shouldn't have developed an army and a defense.


Earthly peace and security are not lasting in this world. Strong armies and defenses are needed to ensure peace and liberty.


The Sidonians were too far away to call for help and to get there they would have to not only amass an army but they would also have to cross over the Lebanese mountains. Laish had not dealt with anyone, which means two things: they had no treaties with any surrounding people who would come to their aid and they had built no defenses for their city or trained for such an event. They likely believed that things would always go on as they always had.


JDG 18:29 And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father who was born in Israel; however, the name of the city formerly was Laish.


JDG 18:30 And the sons of Dan set up for themselves the graven image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh [Moses], he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.


JDG 18:31 So they set up for themselves Micah's graven image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was at Shiloh.


The Danites build themselves a temple and put the silver calf in it as their representation of Jehovah. They make the Levite (Jonathan) their high priest and they begin the Danite cult.


This is a tragic end of this appendix and a tragic beginning to the tribe of Dan who refused to conquer the land they were given because they refused to trust in Jehovah. They migrated to a land not given to them and they trusted in a silver calf that they called Jehovah. They would not support the legitimate Levitical priesthood, but they hired a Levite, not qualified to be a priest, and made him their high priest.


Yet, before we end this appendix, we find an interesting part. The Levite's name is finally given.


The Levite's name is given as Johnathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses (msh). [not Manasseh (mnsh)]


This seems to be done purposely in order to give us a bit of a surprise ending. This idolater Levite is a son of Moses. Dun, dun, duuuunnnnnnnnn….


The Hebrew text does read Moses [Hebrew: Mosheh], but an edited text has a hanging letter nun [Hebrew letter - n] in the name, which allows for the reading of Manasseh, and so other translations may read Manasseh, but the hanging nun was inserted by a scribe to avoid connecting Moses with idolatry. But he could not change the fact that Moses was the father of Gershom. The Holy Spirit knew they would alter the name of Moses here so He added Moses' son Gershom in order to make it unmistakable, and to reveal that idolatry in the line of Moses is God's way of emphasizing how bad things in Israel had become.  


EXO 2:21-22

He gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses. Then she gave birth to a son, and he named him Gershom.


Plus, being a son of Manasseh would not make Jonathan a Levite, while being a son of Moses would.


What is shown as a surprise ending is that even the line of Moses had been Canaanized.


The phrase son of Moses doesn't mean a son or a grandson, but just that he is in that line directly from Moses.


The descendant of Moses now sets up an idolatrous, priestly dynasty: "he and his sons."


It is a major problem for the rabbis to have a direct descendant of Moses run a cult. Their explanations are convoluted and too long and numerous to recite.


During this whole time, the house of God at Shiloh was ignored. This is the meaning of the last verse.


JDG 18:31 So they set up for themselves Micah's graven image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was at Shiloh.


This is the first time that Shiloh is mentioned in the book of Judges. It was ignored along with the worship of Jehovah. It is almost as if the temple built in Dan was the antithesis to the house of God at Shiloh.


Paganism has largely gone away from many western societies. The spread of Christianity overwhelmed paganism throughout the Roman Empire, even though the church, unfortunately, adopted many pagan themes, which is why some today believe that Christianity evolved from pagan origins. Islam also overwhelmed pagan beliefs in the middle east, while the far east still holds on to some pagan religions. However, paganism never really goes away. Pagan beliefs center around gods that can influence human activity, and can directly control earthly activity, like weather, agriculture, land and sea, etc. Modern paganism is all around us. It is known as evolution. It is known to be science, in which people believe that science holds the key to a perfect future and an explanation of our origins and universe. It is in progressive politics in which powerful people think they can develop structures for society which will make it perfect, as in the book 1984.


But the same questions that we asked concerning Micah and his idols arise and go unanswered. If evolution is the key to our future, then how does a fallen man evolve into something better simply by the passage of time? Time goes by without respecting persons. If the answer is then within us, then there must be some latent good in every person just waiting to grow and burst out, but this is clearly not the case. If science is the answer, then how does it show us the way when we are the ones doing the science? It is the same conundrum as the guy to carves his own idol. If we are doing the measuring, the hypothesizing, the concluding, the math, etc. then we are in control of it, and again, as with evolution, there has to be some latent genius in us to use the tool of science to make things right. But this is also clearly not the case. Plus, science lacks any morality or good. All science can do is give us data about things that lack souls like atoms, forces, or materials.


Anything that comes from man and is labeled hope, future, change, good, or perfect is the emptiness of paganism. It is a god of our own making. When we separate from our Creator, we are doomed.


Second Appendix: The Benjamite War


As with the first appendix there is a background story that leads to the main story and within it, a Levite also plays a major role.


Let's first just read through the introduction.


JDG 19:1 Now it came about in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, who took a concubine for himself from Bethlehem in Judah.


JDG 19:2 But his concubine played the harlot against him, and she went away from him to her father's house in Bethlehem in Judah, and was there for a period of four months.


In some texts she only "became angry with him". The Masoretic Text states "harlot," which deserved death under the Law. 


In the Masoretic Text she played the "harlot". In the Septuagint, the Targumim (Aramaic version), and old Latin texts she "became angry with him." The first one deserves the death penalty under the Mosaic law.


The reason this happened is because the Hebrew word for harlot is zanah and "angry" is zanach (their root words are exactly the same), and such similarities can result in scribal error. It only raises the question of whether she deserves death or not, but the result is the same, she left him; either out of adultery or because they had a fight.


JDG 19:3 Then her husband arose and went after her to speak tenderly to her in order to bring her back, taking with him his servant and a pair of donkeys. So she brought him into her father's house, and when the girl's father saw him, he was glad to meet him.


JDG 19:4 And his father-in-law, the girl's father, detained him; and he remained with him three days. So they ate and drank and lodged there.


JDG 19:5 Now it came about on the fourth day that they got up early in the morning, and he prepared to go; and the girl's father said to his son-in-law, "Sustain yourself with a piece of bread, and afterward you may go."


JDG 19:6 So both of them sat down and ate and drank together; and the girl's father said to the man, "Please be willing to spend the night, and let your heart be merry."


JDG 19:7 Then the man arose to go, but his father-in-law urged him so that he spent the night there again.


JDG 19:8 And on the fifth day he arose to go early in the morning, and the girl's father said, "Please sustain yourself, and wait until afternoon"; so both of them ate.


JDG 19:9 When the man arose to go along with his concubine and servant, his father-in-law, the girl's father, said to him, "Behold now, the day has drawn to a close; please spend the night. Lo, the day is coming to an end; spend the night here that your heart may be merry. Then tomorrow you may arise early for your journey so that you may go home."


JDG 19:10 But the man was not willing to spend the night, so he arose and departed and came to a place opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). And there were with him a pair of saddled donkeys; his concubine also was with him.


Verse one again states the theme of the appendices, "there was no king in Israel." There was no king to bring law and order in the land, and the people wouldn't freely put Jehovah as King in their hearts.


In the first appendix, the syncretism of law and paganism was rampant because the people would not sanctify Jehovah in their hearts, nor was there a virtuous human king who might stamp out things like the Danite migration.


In this story the issue will be the criminal behavior of a certain tribe due to the same issue of not having Jehovah or a good man as king.


The episode described takes place much earlier in the chronology of the Book of Judges since Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, is still alive.


Also, the Philistines are not a threat; they are not even mentioned. And we will also see the tribes come together to fight Benjamin, which shows that there was still a league among them, which was only true very early on.


The Levite and the concubine are not named.


The Levite is sojourning as was Jonathan in the first appendix and both Ephraim and Bethlehem are involved as they were in the first one as well. The Levite should be in a Levitical city ministering to the people, but like Jonathan, he is on the move, likely looking for employment as a priest. This shows us that at least some of the Levitical priesthood were not following the Law early in the time of the Judges.


The concubine left the Levite and after a period of four months he arose to go after her. The Hebrew says that he went "to speak to her heart," which is to speak tenderly and try to win her over. He traveled with his servant and two donkeys, which were likely laden with gifts.


It would seem that this was the first time that the girl's father had met the man who made her his concubine, which was quite unusual for that day. In any case, the man detains the Levite quite aggressively.


The girl's father, living in Bethlehem, shows gracious hospitality to the Levite. This will be contrasted with the lack of hospitality in Gibeah of Benjamin, birthplace of king Saul.


It may have been that the man desired for the Levite to stay as his house priest, i.e. good luck charm as in the case of Micah in the first appendix, but it is far more likely that his hospitality is great, as it is contrasted with the city they will travel to, Gibeah. The evil of that city will cost the concubine her life.


LEV 19:33 'When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.


LEV 19:34 'The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.


HEB 13:2

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers [philoxenia: love of strangers], for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.


The Greek word of hospitality is philoxenia [philos = love; xenos = stranger], which literally means "love of strangers."


As a side note, the interesting fact that some have entertained angels, could refer to Abraham who did so, and so possibly this could happen again, but it could also refer to human messengers of God, as the word aggelos means messenger.


Hospitality is love and graciousness overcoming the uncomfortable feeling of having a stranger in your house, i.e. a person's needs superseding your own desires. 


JDG 19:10 But the man was not willing to spend the night, so he arose and departed and came to a place opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). And there were with him a pair of saddled donkeys; his concubine also was with him.


JDG 19:11 When they were near Jebus [Jerusalem], the day was almost gone; and the servant said to his master, "Please come, and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites and spend the night in it."


JDG 19:12 However, his master said to him, "We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners who are not of the sons of Israel; but we will go on as far as Gibeah."


JDG 19:13 And he said to his servant, "Come and let us approach one of these places; and we will spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah."


JDG 19:14 So they passed along and went their way, and the sun set on them near Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin.


JDG 19:15 And they turned aside there in order to enter and lodge in Gibeah. When they entered, they sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night.


Jerusalem (Jebus) is only six miles north of Bethlehem, but the Levite would not stop there since the city was still in the hands of the Jebusites. At the time of writing Judges, the city had been given the name Jerusalem by the Jews, but he uses the Canaanite name since it was still in their hands.


The Levite thought he would be safer in a Jewish city, but he was very wrong.


Gibeah is another four miles north of Jerusalem and they chose to stop here rather than continue another 2 miles north to Ramah.


Gibeah belongs to Benjamin, but it is far more Canaanite in character than it is of the Law, and this points out the character of Israel.


We remember that Israel was supposed to destroy the Canaanites in the land lest they become Canaanized themselves. They refused the first and indeed became like Canaanites. The lesson here cannot be repeated enough. In following God's commands we live sanctified unto Him and are influenced by Him in all His good. To reject His commands is to be set apart from Him unto the world and be influenced by the world for its evil.


Gibeah, sinful, is the birthplace of Saul, Israel's first king. Subsequently, the book of Ruth centers on Bethlehem, good, the birthplace of Israel's second king David.


In ancient times, the book of Ruth was considered the third appendix of the book of Judges. The first and second appendix show something negative, especially this one, Gibeah of the Benjamites, where Saul came from, which was sinful, immoral, inhospitable, and violating the Law of Moses, while Ruth, the third appendix, focuses on Bethlehem where good things were happening, where one had hospitality so that even a Gentile was welcomed. In the Book of Ruth, people are going out of their way to maintain and keep the Mosaic Law. And of course, from

The party sat down in the main square of the city, which would have been just inside the city gate. They would have been noticeable to all who were going out and coming into the city. The custom and indeed the Mosaic Law entreated the citizens to offer lodging to them since they were obviously in need of it. But Gibeah is noticed only as evil.


Canaanitish Gibeah is contrary to the law of hospitality, which is in stark contrast to the concubine's father in Bethlehem.


This is further proof that this takes place in the early history of Judges since Canaanization has not spread everywhere.


JDG 19:16 Then behold, an old man was coming out of the field from his work at evening. Now the man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was staying in Gibeah, but the men of the place were Benjamites.


JDG 19:17 And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city; and the old man said, "Where are you going, and where do you come from?"


JDG 19:18 And he said to him, "We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, for I am from there, and I went to Bethlehem in Judah. But I am now going to my house, and no man will take me into his house.


JDG 19:19 Yet there is both straw and fodder for our donkeys, and also bread and wine for me, your maidservant, and the young man who is with your servants; there is no lack of anything."


JDG 19:20 And the old man said, "Peace to you. Only let me take care of all your needs; however, do not spend the night in the open square."


JDG 19:21 So he took him into his house and gave the donkeys fodder, and they washed their feet and ate and drank.


The old man came upon the travelers in the evening, which is a dangerous time to be out if you were a stranger. This speaks of the conditions in Israel.