Thursday, April 7, 2016

Bible Study Notes in Judges- Chapter 19

Judges 19

-The depravity and degradation of the cultural during the period of the judges is chronicled in this extensively morbid chapter in the history of Israel. In those days “there was no king in Israel.” This repeated phrase alerts the reader that something ominous and infuriating is about to be commented on by the historians as they write this inspired text looking back. As the Israelites’ faith in God disintegrated, their unity as a people also collapsed.

-There was another certain Levite, who was staying in the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, that took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. His concubine was unfaithful to him, and she went away from him back to her father’s house in Bethlehem. She had been there for four months when her husband arose and went after her to woo her back with tenderness. This Levite took his servant and a pair of donkeys for the journey. When he arrived, his concubine received him into her father’s house, and her dad was glad to meet him. In fact, he wanted to keep him around and host him for a while. Three days went by as the Levite ate, drank, and lodged there with merriment. On the fourth day, he planned to leave and prepared to go, but the father-in-law detained them longer with more feasting. He convinced them to stay one more night, and would have done it another night. But, the Levite decided it was indeed time to go, and he left in the afternoon heading back north towards Ephraim from Judah. Despite the father-in-law’s pleading to stay, he set out late in the day and came to Jebus (that is, Jerusalem) of the Jebusites. He, his servant, his concubine, and his pair of donkeys approached the city, and the servant implored him to turn aside and stay there for the night. The Levites’ response showed favoritism toward his own people as he rejected staying in the city of foreigners who were not sons of Israel. He wanted to get to either Gibeah or Ramah, which were Israeli areas, to spend the night. So they passed up Jerusalem and got to Gibeah, which belonged to Benjamin, as the sun set on them. They went to the open square of this city as was the custom to find some lodging for the night, but there was no one to take them into their house initially. By and by that evening, an old man came in from his work in the nearby fields. He, like the Levite, was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he got to know the man who was looking for a place to stay the night. The old man asked him, “Where are you going, and where do you come from?” The Levite explained his situation and expressed the fact that he had adequate provisions. He simply wanted a safe place to lodge for the night. The old man offered him “peace,” and generously offered to take care of all his needs for the stay. He didn’t want him to have to stay in the open square, which goes a long way in revealing the climate of that culture at this time in Benjamin. He took him into his house, gave the donkeys’ fodder, washed their feet (according to custom), gave them food, and gave them drink. “While they were celebrating, behold, the men of the city (Benjamites), certain worthless fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the house, the old man, saying, ‘Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have (homosexual) relations with him.’” It was no wonder that the old man came out of the house begging them not to act so wickedly with an act of folly such as this. He only desired to be a proper-protective host, and things were not going well. Much like the episode in ancient Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), the old man offered his virgin daughter as well as the Levite’s concubine to them to do to them as they pleased in ravishing (`anah- humiliate, humble, afflict) them. However, the men would not listen to the old man forcing him to bring out the concubine for them to violate. These despicable men raped and abused this woman made in God’s image all night until morning. Then, they let her go at the approach of dawn. As morning was coming, the woman came and fell down at the doorway dead, with her hands on the threshold. Soon, the Levite, her master, arose and opened the doors of the house to be on his way back home, and he beheld this abused and dead woman lying at the doorway. At first, he did not realize she had died. He told her, “Get up and let us go.” But, there was no answer from the woman. He placed her on his donkey, and contemplated what to do, I suppose, as he journeyed back to his home in the hill country of Ephraim. “When he entered his house, he took a knife and laid hold of his concubine and cut her in twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout the territory of Israel. All who saw it said, ‘Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen from the day when the sons of Israel came up from the land of Egypt to this day. Consider it, take counsel and speak up (Judges 19:1-30)!’”

-*Application* This was the beginning of a civil war in Israel that would claim at least 65,000 lives in a short period of time. A little leaven infects the whole loaf (1 Corinthians 5:6). This mayhem in Gibeah was disastrous for a family, their relatives I’m sure, their tribes, and a whole nation of people in the end. The Levite has much to be at fault with here. He and the old man were not courageous and bold in the face of adversity. In fact, they were the antithesis of the proverbial “knights in shining armor.” But this does not excuse the blatant immorality of these disgusting-violent men in Gibeah. They were worth nothing according to Scripture, and people these days that perpetrate that same kind of spirit are still worthless, corrupt, decrepit, disgraceful, lewd, vulgar, and any other adjective we may want to use. This kind of stuff is sickening and deserves its full punishment. It is the byproduct of a depraved mind that gives itself over to every sort of evil act. Without the grace and transformation of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life, we are all capable of these most horrific crimes against humanity. Let this be a reminder in the day and age in which we live where we are infected by such atrocities. Consider it, take counsel, and speak up with some bravery and resolve to eradicate this kind of stuff whether it’s in your own neighborhood or around the world. It pains me to say but it’s true, we’ve often been too much like the old man and the Levite in this narrative.

Verses to Memorize: Judges 19:22, 30

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