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Judges Chapter Twenty（ESV）
18 The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel and inquired of God, “Who shall go up first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin?” And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up first.”
19 Then the people of Israel rose in the morning and encamped against Gibeah. 20 And the men of Israel went out to fight against Benjamin, and the men of Israel drew up the battle line against them at Gibeah. 21 The people of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and destroyed on that day 22,000 men of the Israelites. 22 But the people, the men of Israel, took courage, and again formed the battle line in the same place where they had formed it on the first day. 23 And the people of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until the evening. And they inquired of the Lord, “Shall we again draw near to fight against our brothers, the people of Benjamin?” And the Lord said, “Go up against them.”
24 So the people of Israel came near against the people of Benjamin the second day. 25 And Benjamin went against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed 18,000 men of the people of Israel. All these were men who drew the sword.
- This Levite made the crime committed by the men of Gibeah into a communal matter (vv1-7). His motives however are suspected. His testimony (vv4-7) omitted any mention of his own complicity in his concubine’s death, and he showed no compassion for her at all. The dismemberment of her body is excessively brutal. Therefore, it seems the Levite is more upset about being personally insulted than he is about the death of his concubine.
- The community’s response is equally preposterous. Although the law permits retribution, it suggested that the punishment should fit the crime, i.e. No more than an eye for an eye. But here, the punishment is all out of proportion. Not only is Gibeah destroyed, but also the whole tribe of Benjamin is nearly wiped out.
- Although “God defeated Benjamin before Israel” (v35), the excessively violent chaos is further evidence that everyone was doing “what was right in their own eyes”.
Lord, help me to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”(James 1:19-20)