Wednesday, October 31, 2012

LXXXI - Judges 17 - 21 - Micah, the Levite Priest, and the Benjamites

 Judges 17 - 21

You need to take a few moments and read these chapters in a single sitting.  It is one continuous story, beginning with Micah and growing to a war within the nation Israel, almost resulting in genocide of one of the twelve tribes.  I will paraphrase an overview of these chapters and then expound on a number of passages.

Note that several times in these five chapters will be the phrase, "There was no king in Israel at this time, and people did as they saw fit".

   i.  Micah, an Ephraimite takes his mother's silver
  ii.  Micah and his mother has a silversmith melt down the silver and make idols
 iii.  A young Levite leaves home in Bethleham Judah
 iv.  Micah hires Levite to be his own personal priest
  v.  The tribe of Dan searched for land they could settle in because they lost theirs
  vi.  Band of Danites came upon Micah's house, plundered it, and hired away the Levite priest
 vii.  The Danites liked the city of Laish and conquered it for their own, burning it to the ground
viii.  Danites rebuilt the city and called it Dan and settled there, making many idols to worship
 ix.  The Levite from Bethleham Judah takes a concubine
  x.  Benjamin has turned into Sodom
 xi.  Benjamite men want to rape the Levite, but rapes the concubine instead and kills her
xii.  The Levite cuts up her body and sends the pieces to each of the twelve tribes of Israel
xiii.  All of Israel is enraged and wages war against the Benjamites
xiv.  Israel destroys the entire tribe of Benjamin except a small remnance
 xv.  Israel repents wiping out an entire tribe
xvi.  Israel provides wives for the remaining Benjamites to replenish the twelfth tribe

That sure is a lot happening.  But there is more than meets the eye in this overview.  The story in these five chapters is full of clues as to just how far from Godliness Israel had come, without a leader or a judge to lead them and show them the way.

Starting in the seventeenth chapter, Micah steals from his mother.  {That doesn't say much for his character, but I think the whole nation has abandoned its righteousness.}  He returned the silver and his mother gave silver to a silversmith and had him make an idol from it.  So in the first five verses we already have theft, dishonoring parents (stole from his own mother), making an idol, (remember the golden calf at the bottom of Mt. Sinai), and of course the worshipping of that idol, making a special place for it in Micah's house, and making one of his sons a priest, disrespecting the instructions God sent down concerning the priesthood (Micah and his family were Ephraimites, not Levites).  {Just in those first five verses we see this great nation of Israel going the way of the pagens.  God's heart must be broken.  These are His chosen people.}   Next, in verse 7, we see how a Levite decides to run away from his family in their designated city, and actually SELLS his priestly services to Micah and becomes Micah's personal priest.  {How easy is it for a society to go astray!}  Micah (vs 13) feels pretty good about himself now that he has a Levite as his own personal priest.  He is sure God is going to shower him with blessings.

Chapter 18 - This is rather sad about the Danites having no homeland any more, but they must have squandered it and allowed the Canaanites to take it from them.  {Remember, God told all of the tribes through both Moses and Joshua that they must rid their land of the Canaanites if they were to enjoy the fruits of the land in peace for all generations to come.}  They sent out quite a large band of men to search for a place for their entire tribe to claim as their own and settle in.  {One problem I see here is that there was no organizatin in Israel.  If there was, the Danites could have met with all the tribes and something could have been worked out, but instead they planned to find a piece of territory and take it by force.  But that begs the question of why didn't they take back their own land by force instead of warring with their cousins.  When ungodliness sets in, everything goes haywird.}  The Danites dealt harshly with Micah (he probably deserved it) and they were harsh with the citizens of Laish, as they killed everybody and burned down the city.   They stole everything Micah had, including his priest.
Chapter 19  -  {Note the first verse.  All of us need organization and leadership.}  This chapter deal with a different Levite than the one in the previous two chapters.  This Levite traveled with a concubine (mistress).  He goes to the city of Gibeah in Benjamin and when he was spending the night with a kind man of the city, the men of that city behaved exactly like the men of Sodom in Abraham's day.  As you read this chapter you will see that the evil men of the city were satisfied only after they were given the concubine, raped her repeatedly and left her dying on the doorstep of the Levite's host.  The Levite sees that she is dead, so he cut her up into twelve pieces and sent a pieces to every tribe in Israel, to show Israel what the Benjamites did.

Chapter 20 - All of Israel was outraged of what the Benjamites did to that woman.  So angry with Benjamin were they, that they gathered together a tremendous army (400,000 soldiers).  Although these Israelite cousins were timid about attacking Benjamin, they did so anyway.  It took three separate battles, but Israel's united army finally defeated the Benjamites, killing all but six hundred men.  {I would think it would be a sad thing for God to see Israel warring against itself.  He wanted them to war against the Canaanites and purge the Promised Land.  This has still yet to happen.}
In the final chapter of Judges we see that the nation Israel is very repentant that they have all but wiped out the entire tribe of Benjamin.  They realized they must somehow make it so that the Benjamites could rebuild their tribe, which would of course require many wives for those remaining six hundred men.  You need to read this chapter to see just how they were able to provide wives for the Benjamites, without breaking any laws or previous commitments.  The fact that they were burdened in their hearts to accomplish this was one of the few bright moments in this section of Judges.

To me, Judges has been a good book to read and study closely.  So much in this one single book.

Next post - The Book of Ruth.  You will find Ruth very refreshing.

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