Study Notes

Judges 19:1-21:25

19:1 A Levite With A Concubine

This final piece of history covered in the book of Judges is truly tragic. It all begins with a sinful relationship: a Levite has a concubine, a mistress. Living together without being bound in the bonds of marriage.

God's will is that you must not enjoy the act of sex without first committing to the institution of marriage. Sex outside of marriage is licentiousness - you don't have a marriage license, you're committing sin when you're having sex. It's that simple, it's that sinful.

The book of 1Corinthians states,

1Cor. 6:15-20 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says, "THE TWO WILL BECOME ONE FLESH." But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

You belong to God, the Holy Spirit lives in your body - sex outside of marriage is sin against yourself, your partner, and your God.

19:2 The Concubine Leaves

Their sinful relationship enters into its inevitable difficulties. She played the harlot against him, meaning that she found someone else to have sex with as well. She leaves him and moves back to her father's house in Bethlehem.

19:3 Time To Make Up

After four months, the Levite decides that he wants her back. He and his servant rode two donkeys to Bethlehem. They made up, and even her father was happy to meet him.

19:4-10 Stick Around

The girl's father really wanted him to stick around. He tried to leave on day four of their stay, but convinced him to stay another night. This happened again and again until he finally said, "I'm leaving." They end up at a place opposite Jerusalem, or Yeb-OOS as it was called then.

19:11-14 Where To Stay?

Unwilling to stay among the foreigners, the Levite felt it would be safer among the people of Israel. It will turn out that he was dreadfully wrong.

He decided to go on another 5 miles to Ghib-AW or Raw-MAW, to feel safer among his own people, the Israelites. They end up in Ghib-AW, a city in Israel belonging to the tribe of Benjamin.

19:15 Hospitality

In our society, it has become outrageous even to think about taking a stranger into our house. But in the culture of that day, it was a common, and expected, way of life.

But even today, the New Testament commands us to be hospitable. The word hospitable in Greek is "fil-OX-en-os." The word comes from combining "FEE-los" with "XEN-os." FEE-los means friend, and XEN-os means stranger. To be hospitable means to be a friend to strangers. Not just friendly to strangers, but being a friend to them.

Hebr. 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Gen. 18:1-5 ...He was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. And when he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw {them,} he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth, and said, "My lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by. Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant." And they said, "So do, as you have said."

It turned out that this was the Lord and two angels that Abraham showed hospitality to. And notice that it cost him - time, effort, and food. We must be hospitable.

The people of Ghib-AW showed no hospitality - this is the first indication that the men of this city are evil.

19:16-21 An Old Man Takes Them In

This old man was not a Benjamite, but was staying in Ghib-AW. He inquired about their situation. The Levite explained that even though they had enough provisions, no one had offered them a place to stay. Knowing that this was not a safe city, the old man said, "Don't spend the night in the town square, come to my house."

19:22-25 The Sin Of The Benjamites

Like the city of Sodom years before, the Benjamites' sin has taken them down the path of immorality towards homosexuality. They demanded that the old man give them the Levite for their sexual satisfaction.

And in the same response that Lot had in Genesis 19, the old man offers them the women from the household, rather than the men. Culturally, a host had to protect any man that had been invited to stay under his roof, even if it cost him his life. There was no such obligation regarding women. In his thinking, offering the women to the crowd was the lesser of two evils, and fulfilled his cultural obligation to protect the Levite.

The result of this confrontation was one of the worst things recorded in all of Scripture - the gang rape of a woman, resulting in her death.

The Law of God says that rapists are to be killed. Not prison time, not community service, but death.

Deut. 22:25-26 "...the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case.

God does not condemn the victim - she is innocent. The man is to be killed. He is guilty of a violent crime akin to murder in God's eyes. And every one of these Benjamites who committed this atrocity should be killed for their crime.

19:26-30 The Concubine Dies

The woman, after being released, died from the injuries sustained in the attack.

The Levite in an almost indescribable way, calls for justice from the tribes of Israel.

20:1-7 Israel Gathers At Mizpah

The message was loud and clear, and 400,000 Israelites gathered together at Mits-PAW.

20:8-11 Israel Sends An Army To Gibeah

Instead of seeking the Lord, the men of Israel immediately jump into action.

20:12-14 Investigating The Crime

They gathered against Ghib-AW and sent men through the land saying,

Judg. 20:13 "...Deliver up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove {this} wickedness from Israel."

But instead of agreeing that the crime was awful and that the men should be killed, the Benjamites defended the men, and armed themselves to fight against the rest of Israel.

20:15-17 Benjamin A Powerful Opponent

Twenty-six thousand Benjamites came to the aid of the 700 Benjamite warriors that lived in Ghib-AW.

Of the 26,700 men, 700 were left-handed men that were masters of the sling. Of course, with 400,000 Israelites, you would think that this is going to be a short battle. But remember, they haven't sought the Lord's guidance yet.

20:18-21 Giving The Lord A Choice

At this point, the Israelites pray and pray,

Judg. 20:18 ..."Who shall go up first for us to battle...?"

God's response is puzzling. He tells them to send Judah, but Judah gets wiped out in the war. Why did God lead them into this? Wait - remember what they asked. They prayed and said, "We're going to war, sending in a tribe. Which one should we send." In other words, "God, we've got our plan established. It's set in stone. We're just asking for your help in this minor detail."

It reminds me of Simon Peter's mistake in the book of Acts. They were told by the Lord to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit was poured out on them. But Peter got anxious, and decided something had to be done. There were supposed to be 12 apostles, but since Judas had betrayed Jesus and killed himself, there needed to be another.

Acts 1:23-26 And they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, "Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two Thou hast chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place." And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

"Lord, we're not praying about whether there should be twelve. Lord, we're not even praying to ask you to select candidates. We've got this all taken care of. No, Lord, what we're praying today is for you to pick from these two. You can have any apostle you want as long as it's one of these two guys."

Too many Christians live their lives like this. We make our decisions, we go about our lives, and suddenly we decide that we need God's direction. But often, because we haven't let God lead us to this point, we're asking Him for direction from a place He didn't want us in in the first place!

Jeremiah wrote,

Jer. 10:23 I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself; Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.

We need the Lord to direct all of our steps, not to walk where we want and then ask for help when we get there. Twenty-two thousand men of Judah died as a result of this misconception.

20:22-25 Determined To Go

Israel asks, "Should we battle the Benjamites again?" But they are asking the Lord a question that they have already answered. They have already arrayed themselves for battle again. They are determined to go to war. Too often we ask God for an answer that we've already given ourselves.

We've looked for the house, we've placed a bid, we've applied for the loan, we've filled out the paperwork, and then, right before signing our name, we say, "Lord is this the house You want me to buy? If it's not, then close the door." Oh come on! How can we expect the Lord to answer that prayer in that context?

Once again the Benjamites defeat the rest of the Israelites, and 18,000 of them died.

20:26-28 Fasting And Seeking

Now they're getting the idea. "Lord, we're not going to make You make a choice. We're not going to get arrayed for battle. We're going to weep and pray and fast and sacrifice and find out what Your plan is, where Your heart is."

It is then that the Lord gives them direction with the promise of victory.

20:29-48 Victory Over Benjamin

Though the Benjamites thought they were winning as they had in the past, they fell into an ambush at BAH-al Taw-MAWR and Mah-ar-EH GHEH-bah.

Even most of the ones who fled to the rock of Rim-MONE were caught and killed. Almost every one of Benjamin's warriors was wiped out.

21:1-3 Why Has This Come About?

Back when Israel had heard about the crime and gathered at Mits-PAW, they took an oath, saying,

Judg. 21:1 ..."None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin in marriage."

But now that most of Benjamin was gone, it looked like the entire tribe might become extinct.

Amazingly, they cry out to God, saying,

Judg. 21:3 And they said, "Why, O LORD, God of Israel, has this come about in Israel, so that one tribe should be {missing} today in Israel?"

"Isn't this just like us? We violate the precepts of God; we ignore the statutes of God; we don't listen to the leading of God... and then we say, 'thanks a lot, Lord. My life is a mess.'" (Courson)

21:4-15 Virgin Wives For Benjamin

Instead of waiting for the Lord to answer, they come up with their own plan. "Remember, there was another oath we took at Mits-PAW! We said that whoever didn't assemble with us there would be put to death! So who didn't assemble at Mits-PAW with us?"

After investigating, they realized that no one from Yaw-BASHE-ghil-AWD has gone up to Mits-PAW. So they destroyed the people of that place - everyone but the virgin women. The 400 of them were given to the 600 Benjamites that remained at the rock of Rim-MONE. This way, they would procreate and the tribe of Benjamin would one day be large and strong again.

Of course, 400 women wasn't enough, so they had to come up with yet another plan.

21:16-24 Stolen Wives For Benjamin

Although they had sworn not to GIVE their daughters as wives to the Benjamites, they had not said anything about the Benjamites TAKING their daughters as wives.

So they told the Benjamites to hide in the vineyards of Shiloh and kidnap the daughters that danced during the feast in Shiloh on the south side of Leb-o-NAW.

21:25 Right In His Own Eyes

This is a good summation of the entire book, and especially the three chapters we've read tonight. When God is only given lip service, when religion replaces relationship, and when wickedness is allowed to prevail, this is the situation we find ourselves in - both nationally and individually.

May God grant our own nation and our own selves hearts of repentance to once again do what is right in His eyes.

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