Levites and Benjaminites Locations of judges of Israel

Day 96 (April 6): Levite and his concubine, evil of Gibeah, Israel wars against Benjamin, Benjamin defeated, Israel scrambles to find new wives for Benjamin

David P. Barrett/Biblemapper.com

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Judges 19-21  
(1375 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Judges 19:1, 21:25): This story begins and ends with “Now in those days Israel had no king.”  Is this just a historical marker?

A. It is.  It is also a way of saying, “look how bad it was before Israel had a king.  They did stuff like…”

Q. Wow, I thought I was understanding most everything until this reading.  There are always surprises.  In this story, my heart goes out to the Levite’s concubine.  First, why don’t we know the Levite’s name and his concubine’s name?  Second, the tribe of Benjamin is being justly punished for these evildoers.  But, giving his wife up to men who wanted to have sex with him seems heinous, to say the least.  Why would he do this?  And, are the Levites still supposed to be working with the priests?  And, the man who he stayed with was going to give his virgin daughter to the evil men.  I don’t understand how women were viewed.  Here we see that the wimpy men were giving up a wife and daughter so they wouldn’t be hurt.  Then, at the end of the story, there were other men who were told not to be upset about their daughters being nabbed by the remaining men of Benjamin.  So, one man is willing to give up his daughter to rapists, while the others have a hard time letting their daughters go.  Admittedly, I am reading this from today’s perspective where, in the U.S. anyway, women have nearly equal status with men, or at least growing.  We learn from this text that concubines can be bought.  It’s mind-boggling.

A. There is nothing commendable about this story, which is a big part of what the author wants you to know: there are no winners here — not the Levite, not the Benjaminites, etc.  I don’t really know why the people are not named, but I would imagine it was not information they really wanted to remember, especially among the tribe of Benjamin, which of course the story tells us barely survived this incident.  The story just reinforces all of the problems of this era: ignoring God’s law about care and respect for women — not giving them over to rape (!) or letting them be murdered — not defending the actions of those who do such things as the tribe of Benjamin does, etc.  The story is meant to shock us, and show us how evil this era was.

Q. On the other side of the story, we have the Levite.  He is obviously upset that his concubine was treated this way, but what was he to expect when he gave her to the crazed men?  And, what a horrendous act to cut her body into 12 pieces.  To me, this act shows that she was thought of more as property than a person.  And, when the Levite saw her lying in front of the house, knowing what she had probably been through, he said, “Get up! Let’s Go!”?  That’s nuts!  Rob, the way it reads, the fault of this act seems to be with the crazed men of Benjamin.  Why isn’t the Levite responsible for any of this?

A. There certainly is no defense of his actions.  I think he was responsible for some of the actions that take place, and his sacrificing his concubine to save his own skin is surely a despicable act.

Q. And, we can’t forget about the concubine’s father.  Did he keep asking them to stay knowing that the travel is dangerous.  He did comment on it being late.  After dark is when more bad things can happen, so was he trying to save his daughter?

A. It does appear so.

Q.  We do see how the leaders are distressed about having a tribe die out.  I guess this is a message that immoral acts will not be tolerated in Israel and a wake-up call that they all need to improve their morals.  It is nice to see them unite and scramble to find Benjamin’s men some wives.  Again, though, it doesn’t seem like the women have much say in anything, just, “here’s your husband.”

A. They do indeed seem concerned, but again, even their solution is not that such a wholesome one for the women involved.  It is probably best if we just keep moving along and put this horrific story behind us.

For further study: A positive takeaway from this gruesome story, https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/war-with-benjamin

Shop: Let’s end this day with some good thoughts! https://livinlight.org/product/all-good-thoughts/

Tomorrow’s reading: Ruth 1-4:12

Samson and Delilah Samson asks for God to regain his strength one last time. He pushed the pillars down killing all the Philistines, including rulers when he caused it to crumble.

Day 95 (April 5): Samson takes off Gaza’s gates, deceptive Delilah, Samson asks God for help one last time, Micah’s twisted religion, Dan attacks Micah

Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Judges 16-18
(1375, 1075 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Judges 16:1): Samson seems to have a thing for Philistine women.  The Philistines were ruling, so maybe they wore beautiful clothes and nice perfume?  They may have been more attractive than Israelite women?  But, this was part of God’s plan for Samson?

A. I do not think that Samson’s lusting after Philistine women (for whatever reason) is something that God desired, but he did use it to bring down the rulers of the Philistines.

Q. (16:4-19): So, up until 16:21, Samson thought that Delilah was just playing a lover’s game?  Surely, he didn’t realize that she was trying to trap him or he wouldn’t have played along.  Samson really didn’t take heed to his parents warning about getting involved with a Philistine woman when he was courting his first wife.  But, like it says, in 13:5, Samson will begin to deliver Israelites from Philistine rule.  So, how do we know when to break societal rules — like not marrying the enemy — and know that it is God’s plan?   Maybe they didn’t know it then and didn’t need to know it, but it’s important for readers now?

A. I think the implication of the story is that Samson got by for a long time on his immense strength, but he abused the privilege and violated his Nazirite vows.  If you note the sequence of the story, he has touched the lion corpse, consumed alcohol at his wedding, and now in this story has his hair cut, which wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t reveal it — making it ultimately his fault.  These were the exact things that the Nazirite vows said he couldn’t do (Numbers 6:1-8).  Samson was clearly aware of what he was doing; he refers to himself as a Nazirite in 16:17, so he is taking for granted that the blessing of his strength will always be there.  But, oops, he pays dearly for his pride and is forced into slave labor for the amusement of the Philistines.  That doesn’t exactly ring true for me as a message of “sometimes it’s ok to violate what God has made perfectly clear.”  It seems more like, “you reap what you sow,” which comes for scripture as well (Galatians 6:7).

I knew a minister in college that memorably told me that you never grow closer to God by sinning, and I think that it is good advice.  This is not to say, as we see in this story, that God cannot redeem a man even as prideful as Samson, but who knows how God might have better used Samson if he had been more faithful and less self-serving.

O. (16:22): So we can see here that God is not done with Samson yet.  His hair is growing back.

Q. (16:30): Why did Samson want to die with the Philistines?  He did cross the Philistine/Israel line a lot.  Did he feel like he just needed to go down with them?  I wish we could known more about Samson.  We don’t know much about his heart.  We just know that he liked Philistine women and that got him into trouble.  But in the end, God was victorious via Samson.  Something great can come from suffering.  This copies Christ’s death to some degree.

A. Samson’s death was redemptive to a degree.  It certainly points to the idea that Samson turned to God when he had LITERALLY nothing left, but he did turn to Him.  I don’t really know why Samson wanted to die with the Philistines.  He certainly hated them, and I don’t think he, in any way, thought of himself as “like them,” he just was attracted to their women for some reason.  I think it ultimately was his understanding that he was never going to get such an opportunity again to take out so many important Philistines at once, so he acted on it even though he understood it would cost him his life.

Q. (Judges 17-18): Is this a “stay-tuned” passage?  Micah and his mother sound like they have heard parts of how to properly worship God, but they have obviously missed the bulk of God’s guidance.  Micah steals, his mother says it’s OK sense he admitted it, and from that point on, the story is lacking God.  I need some closure here.

A. Nope.  No “stay tuned,” no other resolution, just some powerful irony, and a whole lot of no God.  This passage — and the one for our reading tomorrow — is an epilogue on the story of Judges that is basically a late way of saying, “how did the Israelites reject God in the Promised Land?”  This story is a powerful indictment of the way that some of the people strayed, and traded in God for false idols.

But for the sake of some closure, let’s do a little summary shall we?  This silver idol that Micah sets up has its origins in his STEALING FROM HIS MOTHER.  From here, rather than using this ill-gotten gain to provide for the poor or donate it to God, he MAKES a god of his own, and SETS UP A HOUSE OF WORSHIP for his idol.  Then, he “ordains” his own son to be the priest of this idol.  If you’re following, what Micah has done is setup a rival religion against God, right in the Promised Land.  Then, he gets a corrupt Levite to run his little house of worship, and he thinks he is all set — that God will actually bless him for what he has done (17:12).

But then, oh irony.  He has his idols, wealth, and his Levite stolen from him by a corrupt group from the tribe of Dan.  Don’t miss this: Micah attempts to chase down and rescue his idols — these same “gods” that he likely turned to for protection.  So not only do we have the almost karmic punishment of Micah having stolen from him what he stole from his mother, but now his own gods need “rescuing,” and in the end, he has nothing.  On top of all of this, the religion and priest that he set up are now leading the entire tribe of Dan away from God.  Frankly, I think that this is exactly what the storyteller intended for us to understand about Micah and this corrupt tribe.  The people were lawless: rejecting God and setting up gods for themselves, and living not by the Law of Moses, but rather by “might makes right.”  And that, I think, is all the closure this story needs.

For more reading: A comprehensive look into the whole Samson and Delilah story, https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-stories/samson-and-delilah.html

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Tomorrow’s reading: Judges 19-21