Sunday, April 5, 2009

Debauchery! - Civil War!

Boy! Whoever wanted the "good ole days" to come back certainly never read Judges 19-21. It is one of the grossest stories in the entire Bible. Wish it wasn't there. None of the characters are upstanding.
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Here is the story. 1 -4 "It was an era when there was no king in Israel. A Levite, living as a stranger in the backwoods hill country of Ephraim, got himself a concubine, a woman from Bethlehem in Judah. But she quarreled with him and left, returning to her father's house in Bethlehem in Judah. She was there four months."
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So as a Levite, he was supposed to be somewhat religious, but he does not prove to be godly - not at all. What was the woman like? Was she cantankerous and quarrelsome? Maybe. Or maybe the Levite was an abusive husband? Could be. Whatever it was, they were not getting along. She ran away from him and went back to her father.
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"Then her husband decided to go after her and try to win her back. He had a servant and a pair of donkeys with him. When he arrived at her father's house, the girl's father saw him, welcomed him, and made him feel at home. His father-in-law, the girl's father, pressed him to stay. He stayed with him three days; they feasted and drank and slept."
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So the father treats this man like a friend and a hero. Did they have a relationship? Was the woman truly an irrascible person that the father wanted to get rid of? Doesn't really say. If the Levite was abusive, the father was certainly no protection for his daughter.
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Well, the father carries on this feasting and hospitality day after day. I don't quite get it. Finally the Levite leaves and they travel back toward his town. The woman apparently has no input in the decision for her to stay with her dad, or go with the Levite.
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They leave late, come to a town late, and since there are no hotels yet, they sit in the open town square, hoping someone will take them in. Finally an old man is coming home late from his field and takes them into his house. Here is where it gets ugly.
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20 -21 "The old man said, "It's going to be all right; I'll take care of you. You aren't going to spend the night in the town square." He took them home and fed the donkeys. They washed up and sat down to a good meal. 22 They were relaxed and enjoying themselves when the men of the city, a gang of local hell-raisers all, surrounded the house and started pounding on the door. They yelled for the owner of the house, the old man, "Bring out the man who came to your house. We want to have sex with him."
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So there is no law and order in this town. And they have sunk to such a level of debauchery that when a man comes into town, they want to gang rape him, because he is fresh meat. Disgusting. What follows is even worse.
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23 -24 "He went out and told them, "No, brothers! Don't be obscene—this man is my guest. Don't commit this outrage. Look, my virgin daughter and his concubine are here. I'll bring them out for you. Abuse them if you must, but don't do anything so senselessly vile to this man."
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The old man offers his own virgin daughter and the newly arrived concubine to this mob for their debauched pleasure. The two women, who are offered up so recklessly, apparently have no voice and no say in what happens to them. The mob wants the man.
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25 -26 "But the men wouldn't listen to him. Finally, the Levite pushed his concubine out the door to them. They raped her repeatedly all night long. Just before dawn they let her go. The woman came back and fell at the door of the house where her master was sleeping. When the sun rose, there she was."
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The Levite had taken this entire trip to "win her back." Did he love her? Well, he WANTED her. From what he did here he certainly didn't love her. How much does he care for her? It is pretty bleak. After he pushes her out the door for this lustful mob to do what they will, he - the caring loving concerned man that he is - falls soundly asleep in the comfort of his host's bed.
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Meanwhile, outside, the mob is raping this poor woman all night long. When the sun comes up and the men disperse, the woman staggers back to the house and falls dead in front of the door.
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27 "It was morning. Her master got up and opened the door to continue his journey. There she was, his concubine, crumpled in a heap at the door, her hands on the threshold.
28 "Get up," he said. "Let's get going." There was no answer. " (Because she was dead.)
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The only words spoken to this woman in this entire story are, "Get up. Let's get going." But she can't get up. She is torn, and broken, and bruised - to death.
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The Levite loads her on the donkey and takes her home. He IS outraged, which is good, but not at his own behavior, only at the behavior of the town and the men in it.
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When he gets home, he cuts his concubine into 12 pieces and sends one piece to each of the 12 tribes of Israel. The story is told throughout the land, the entire country is outraged, and they declare war against this town and the entire Tribe of Benjamin.
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The result is civil war. The entire country wages war against the tribe of Benjamin. In one of the battles, 25000 fighting men are killed. By the end of the war, everyone in the tribe of Benjamin is killed, including women and children and the towns are burned to the ground. The only ones to escape are 600 warriors who managed to hide.
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Judges ends with this little statement. 25 "At that time there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing."
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A sad end to a sad story in a sad book.

1 comment:

TPM3 said...

Although, this story is a bloody and horrific tragedy, it is gives us a very clear look at lust uninhibited and lust unrestrained on a personal level, of the sons of belial, and on a local societal level, in the tribe of Benjamin. In that day every man did exactly what He/Her pleased to do. Lust when it is conceived brings forth death. Let everyone ponder this story and judge righteously.

P.S. - I am not surprised at the comments that I have found from God-haters, on the net, about this story. God has given each individual the power to choose what they will do. With this power comes responsibility and ultimately judgement by God, who is the righteous Judge of all the earth.