Apostasy of the Period of the Judges Judges 17:1-21:25,
Judges 19:1-21:25 Seen in the Nation (war with Benjamin), cont’d.
Judges 20:1-48-The tribes gathered to decide what to do. They demanded that the Benjamites deliver over the men of Gibeah who had raped the woman, but they refused to do so. The Benjamites went to battle against the rest of Israel. The Benjamites defeated Israel in the first two battles. Then Israel went to Bethel (the ark was there, :27) and Phinehas, the son of Eleazar asked the LORD whether they were to fight again and God told him that they would be successful this third time. They killed 25,100 (:35) of the 26,000 (:15) Benjamites.
Judges 21:1-25-Eventually, all but 600 men from the tribe of Benjamin were killed. Not only that…all of the women had been killed. Now the 11 tribes feel bad. They had gotten carried away in the process of war and had virtually destroyed one of the tribes. Now, without wives…the tribe would certainly die out for lack of a next generation of children. They decide to get wives for the 600 Benjamites who were still alive by attacking the city of Jabesh-gilead…the one city which had sent no soldiers to help in the war (20:1). All of its inhabitants, except 400 virgins, were killed. This still left 200 soldiers without wives. Part of the problem was that earlier, the 11 tribes had taken an oath that they would not let their daughters marry a Benjamite (21:1). Where would the remaining 200 Benjamites get a wife? They came up with a plan. Each year there was a celebration at Shiloh. This year, they would allow the Benjamites to hide in the vineyards. When a young virgin just happened to wander into the vineyard…the Benjamites could kidnap her for a wife. In this way, the 11 tribes did not break their oaths by giving their daughters to the Benjamites in marriage. But, through some backroom diplomacy they would allow their daughters to be kidnapped. It would have been a lot easier to confess their sin, repent, and recognize that they had created an unnecessary problem. But…when you consider everything that took place in this story…you realize the depth of depravity that Israel had sunk into…and you’re not surprised that they didn’t think of that option.
Prayer: Lord, the people tried to blame You for what they had done. It seems almost beyond reason for them to think that way. And yet, being unwilling to accept responsibility for their own behavior, the only one they think they can blame is You. How sad. At any point they could have repented…and the downward spiral of sin would have stopped. But they didn’t. And it went from a man offering his wife to be raped in order to save himself. To a tribe being unwilling for some of their own to face judgment for their sin. To the other tribes becoming malicious in their harsh punishment. To slaughtering an entire city to make up for their previous blunder. To kidnapping innocent girls. Lord, please…stop me at the moment of temptation…deliver me from evil before it even begins.