Judges 19. The second appendix: The Benjamite War.

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


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.


The old  man was a sojourner who had only set up temporary residence in Gibeah, while everyone else was a Benjamite.


The Benjamites are shown to be evil while the old man from Ephraim shows them hospitality.


The Levite points out that he would have not been a burden to anyone since he had his own provisions for him, his servant, his concubine, and his animals. All he needed was a bed and a roof.


"Peace to you." The way of offering hospitality and protection. It is saying, "Do not worry."


The old man exhorts him to not spend the night in the square. This is more advice than it is about comfort. The old man has been there long enough to know that the streets are not safe at night.


Gibeah had progressed to an extent of evil found in Sodom back in the days of Lot. They are about to become guilty of the same sin as the Sodomites.


The Ephraimite man was the only host in a Benjamite city. He took them into his house, provided fodder for the animals, washed their feet, provided food and drink, and provided for their comfort.


The rape of the concubine:


This is a difficult scene. We shake our heads in attempting to understand the actions of such men, but though we do not often see men like this, they have existed in every generation.


When a community of people, a city-state or a nation, allow themselves to fall into such depravity due to their rejection of God and His laws, men such as this find expression without immediate consequence.


Such people are always around, but in decent communities there are dire consequences for their evil actions, and so they are restrained.


The old man and his guests were enjoying each other's company over dinner and wine when the worthless fellows, lawless men, came pounding on the door. Enough of them came so that they could surround the house.


JDG 19:22 While they were making merry, behold, the men of the city, certain worthless fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the house, the old man, saying, "Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have relations with him."


"worthless fellows" - literally "sons of Belial" = sons of worthlessness or nothing good.


The phrase "sons of Belial" is used in different ways in the Hebrew text. It is used for those who are guilty of idolatry; of those guilty of rebellion, of those who are constantly engaging in drunkenness, and of those who are guilty of lewdness and licentiousness, as is the case here.


The verb "pounding" the door is in the hithpael which means they did so with extreme eagerness.


They make the same demand as the men of Sodom who pounded on Lot's door. The clearly want to commit homosexual rape upon the Levite. The reason for this eludes any somewhat sane person, but the men of Benjamin have fallen into Canaanite evil, and the most worthless of them are here at this man's house.


JDG 19:23 Then the man, the owner of the house, went out to them and said to them, "No, my fellows, please do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not commit this act of folly.


In this culture, to give "peace" to guests meant that you had to protect them at all cost, even of his life and his own family.


The only explanation for his offer is that he was sworn to protect his guest at all cost, but he went to an extreme that violated a much greater law.


JDG 19:24 Here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. Please let me bring them out that you may ravish them and do to them whatever you wish. But do not commit such an act of folly against this man."


JDG 19:25 But the men would not listen to him, so the man seized his concubine and brought her out to them. And they raped her and abused her all night until morning, then let her go at the approach of dawn.


The thugs refuse the offer, but then the Levite stepped in and convinced them to take his concubine.


The man who went through so much trouble to get her back, throws her out into the street like garbage when his own life is in danger.


The virgin daughter of the old man was not thrown out, but the gang was seemingly satisfied with the concubine of the Levite. This reveals that this wasn't as much about sexual gratification than it was about humiliating the Levite. They would have known he was a Levite and it may be that these worshippers of Baal, though Jews, saw the priest of Jehovah, though he is not acting like one, as a great enemy, and that to them, rape was the highest form of conquering and humiliating an enemy.


She was not only raped, but so badly beaten that she would die. She was able to crawl back to the threshold of the man's house and die. Hence, on the doorstep the next morning is the glaring testimony to the lack of honor, courage, virtue, and good in the hearts of the Levite or the old man.


JDG 19:26 As the day began to dawn, the woman came and fell down at the doorway of the man's house where her master was, until full daylight.


 The Levite sends a message.


JDG 19:27 When her master arose in the morning and opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, then behold, his concubine was lying at the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold.


She almost made it to knock on the door, not that we are confident that they would have let her in. The Levite was about to prepare to leave the city when he stumbles upon her, but doesn't realize that she is dead.


JDG 19:28 And he said to her, "Get up and let us go," but there was no answer. Then he placed her on the donkey; and the man arose and went to his home.


He put her dead body on the donkey and went to his home in Ephraim.


JDG 19:29 When he entered his house, he took a knife and laid hold of his concubine and cut her in twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout the territory of Israel.


The Levite, having been trained in the art of dividing sacrifices according to their bones would have had the proper knife and expert skill for this dissection.


The Levite used her body to call all of the tribes to action against Benjamin for this never seen before atrocity. Saul did a similar thing later on.


Later on, Saul did a similar thing for a similar reason, using the body of an animal.


1SA 11:1 Now Nahash the Ammonite came up and besieged Jabesh-gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, "Make a covenant with us and we will serve you."


1SA 11:2 But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, "I will make it with you on this condition, that I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you, thus I will make it a reproach on all Israel."


1SA 11:3 And the elders of Jabesh said to him, "Let us alone for seven days, that we may send messengers throughout the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to deliver us, we will come out to you."


1Sa 11: 4 Then the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and spoke these words in the hearing of the people, and all the people lifted up their voices and wept.


1SA 11:5 Now behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen; and he said, "What is the matter with the people that they weep?" So they related to him the words of the men of Jabesh.


1SA 11:6 Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul mightily when he heard these words, and he became very angry.


1SA 11:7 And he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout the territory of Israel by the hand of messengers, saying, "Whoever does not come out after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen." Then the dread of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out as one man.


1SA 11:8 And he numbered them in Bezek; and the sons of Israel were 300,000, and the men of Judah 30,000.


JDG 19:30 And it came about that all who saw it said, "Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen from the day when the sons of Israel came up from the land of Egypt to this day. Consider it, take counsel and speak up!"


JDG 19:29 When he entered his house, he took a knife and laid hold of his concubine and cut her in twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout the territory of Israel.


Jdg 19 shares many similarities with Gen 19.

Demand for homosexual rape, two daughters offered, mob surrounding the house, exactly 69 words each, 16 words and 24 expressions are identical.


There are many similarities between this chapter and Gen 19 concerned with the similar circumstances surrounding Lot. In both there is a demand for homosexual rape, two daughters are offered as consolation, and a mob is banging on the door of the house containing the guests. Further, even the number of Hebrew words in each chapter is exactly the same - exactly sixty-nine words and of these, sixteen of them are the same words and twenty-four expressions are the same. The author of Judges certainly wanted to draw a close parallel to Gen 19 in order to show the enormity of the immorality of the Benjamites.


The tribes war against Benjamin, Jdg 20.


JDG 20:1 Then all the sons of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead, came out, and the congregation assembled as one man to the Lord at Mizpah.


Dan (in the north) to Beersheba (in the south) is a short-hand way of including everything in between, which is called a merism, like "high and low". Though at this time Dan had not yet migrated to the northern city of Laish, when the historian records this years later, the Jews only know the northernmost city under the name Dan.


JDG 20:2 And the chiefs of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, took their stand in the assembly of the people of God, 400,000 foot soldiers who drew the sword.


No one in Benjamin was a part of the assembly.

"all the sons of Israel" … "as one man" - they are unified in the early years of Judges, but never will be again.


Tribes fought against each other later on, as in the case of Jephthah and the Ephraimites. Samson was not in agreement with Judah, who submitted to the Philistines. In the reign of Saul and David there were tribal jealousies and then finally, after the reign of Solomon the kingdom will split in a civil war into Israel and Judah and would never be reunited.


Unity is a major emphasis in both Testaments. It is based on spirituality and maturity in love that sets aside pettiness concerning personality, racial, and cultural differences.


JOH 17:22 "And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one;


JOH 17:23 I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me.


When we understand and envelop ourselves in the very glory of God, then the things that cause division in fallen men seem very insignificant.


EPH 4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,


EPH 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,


Php 2:3

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself


EPH 4:3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


EPH 4:11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,


EPH 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;


EPH 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.


"unity of the faith, and of the (full)knowledge of the Son of God" - there is only one faith and knowledge. As we each have them as our life-blood we have unity.


COL 3:12 And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;


COL 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.


COL 3:14 And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.


COL 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.


JDG 20:1 Then all the sons of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead, came out, and the congregation assembled as one man to the Lord at Mizpah.


JDG 20:2 And the chiefs of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, took their stand in the assembly of the people of God, 400,000 foot soldiers who drew the sword.


The people gathered for holy war. "Congregation" - kahal, which is used in the Torah for gathering to worship God.


This shows that it was out of love for the spiritual that so many men of all eleven tribes gathered to enact justice upon the tribe of Benjamin, who did nothing to prevent the attack and seems also to have done nothing to punish the criminals, who deserved the death penalty.


"one man" - echad = unity out of several components.