Introduction to the Book of Judges – This covers Israeli’s history from the death of Joshua to the rise of Samuel as a prophet — about 1220 BC to 1050 BC. There was no king raised up or assigned. Instead they were to be ruled by judges. These men (and one woman named Deborah) were also people of action, sometimes preventing heathen nations from taking over territories. Sadly, the Jews failed at devoting themselves to the true God, but each time they were in trouble and cried out to Him, He spared them and helped them. God also sent them another deliverer and all was well until he died. Then they went back to the same old pattern. The names of the judges over the 12 tribes were: Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah along with Barak, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson (yes, that strong guy).

Once again, the Jewish scribes who recorded all this information did not try to candy-coat the Jewish people along with their leaders. Sin, at the personal and national levels, was not covered up. This is unlike any other historical records world-wide. The tendency with historian writers was to make their kings appear good and the nation successful. It indicates to me that there is something contained in these Books that can be trusted.

Application for Today: The Book of Judges helps us realize what a propensity humans have toward sin, even among those who believe in the only true God. It also demonstrates how faithful God is to us.

Judges 1 – More conquests and more driving out of the evil inhabitants. Some areas, however, were not entirely cleaned out of the people. Often, after the Israelis became more numerous and powerful, they put these people into forced labor. At this time in history, the Philistines had a monopoly on iron and so with their iron chariots working for them, the Jews were not able to drive them all out. This, of course, was setting the stage for future conflicts. It may have been the beginning of the so-called “Iron Age” and the Philistines made sure that they were the only people who had this (1 Samuel 13:19-22).

Judges 2 – It Only Takes One Generation

Bad news. God rebukes them for not driving out all of the heathen people from the lands given to the 12 Tribes of Israel. He therefore breaks His covenant with the Jews and would no longer drive those people out, and false gods would become a snare for the them. The people wept loudly. After Joshua’s death, that next generation did not know God. They were not involved with any of the deliverance from Egypt involving miracles. So they served the Baal gods instead.

Application for Today: This demonstrated that the perversion of a culture or a society can occur as quickly as one generation. This is why it is so important for parents to teach the Bible as being factual to their children thus making it real and applicable to their daily lives.

So God gave His rebellious people over to the plunderers and they could no longer stand against their enemies. But when they groaned in agony, God had pity on them and gave them judges as leaders. As soon as the judge died, however, Israel would return to wrong behaviors and gods.

Comment on Baal Worship: People would set up altars to Baal and conduct ritualistic ceremonies honoring this false god. Sometimes priests would cut themselves with knives to excite the attention and compassion from this god. The end results of this form of worship would be the lack moral discipline, ignoring restraint in sexual conduct, and having no regard for accepted rules or standards.

Application for Today: This is a goal of the Deceiver of mankind, for he knows when the true God is not worshiped and served, this kind of conduct will result — whether or not altars to Baal are physically set up. People today, for example, because they have rejected God, tend toward the same attitudes and behavior. Secular rock concerts have achieved the same sin as Baal altars – hedonism (doing what one feels like in the name of freedom). Friedrich Hegel, the famous German philosopher, said, “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” Generations X, Y, and Z are you listening?

Judges 3 – God used the heathen nations to test Israel which now is comprised of men who did not fight in the initial Promised Land attacks. They intermarried with unbelievers and served Baal and Asheroth (female sex deity made of wood). So God allowed their enemies to enslave them, and when they cried to Him, He raised up Othniel to judge and lead them out of captivity. Then they had rest for 40 years. Then the same scenario occurred and their captivity lasted 18 years. Then another judge/leader named Ehud got them out of trouble and they had peace for 80 years.

Judges 4 – This same pattern continued – blessed/protected by God…serve other gods…judgement (lost battles/became slaves for heathens)…a hero is raised up to help them. This time, a woman prophetess named Deborah played a major role. She gained popularity as a judge. She prophesied that Israel should go out to battle and a woman would take down the commander of the army. Deborah went to battle with the men. The enemy was wiped out, but the commander escaped on foot and traveled some distance. He was then fooled by Jael, a woman who invited him into her tent for rest. He accepted because he was exhausted. She killed him while he slept.

Judges 5 – After the decisive victory, Deborah and a man named Barak, her co-judge, sang a long song of praise to God, giving Him glory and credit for victories and how he raised up individuals to shine in battle. Israel had peace now for 40 more years.

Application for Today: I’ve wondered if God started with other descendants from another man and tried to make a holy people to serve Him, would they be as unfaithful as these Jews? I tend to think yes. If true, then these chapters reveal God’s unbending patience and love for us (sinful mankind), and though we are unfaithful as these Jews, He remains faithful because He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). It is easy for us with our modern-day, 20/20 hindsight to view these Jews as despicable people. Well…aren’t we all? According to Jesus we are evil (Matthew 7:11). Yes, the Jews were a chosen race, but that does not mean they are better than others. There is no room to be jealous or anti-Semitic if we view God’s bigger picture of His world and what He is accomplishing in such a marvelous manner.

Judges 6 – Laying a Fleece Today?

The sons of Israel returned to evil so they were ruled by the Medians for 7 years and were also relegated to the mountains and the caves for their dwelling. Then God chose Gideon to fight against the suppressors. Gideon was shocked at the call because he was from an insignificant family of the tribe of Manasseh as well as being the youngest child (the custom was to give first-borns more honor). The Lord, however, proclaimed him to be a “valiant warrior.” Despite this experience with God, Gideon had his doubts, so he asked God to wait a while while he got something. God agreed to wait (quite amazing that a human would ask God to wait, and then He does without any problem). Gideon brings back some meat, bread, and broth. God had him place it all on a rock and it was quickly consumed by fire. This was enough proof for Gideon, at least for the time being.

Then God told Gideon to take two bulls, tear down his father’s altar to Baal, cut down the wooden Asherah god beside the Baal, and use one of the bulls for a sacrifice using the chopped up wood from the Asherah. Gideon was too afraid to do this during the day, so he did it at night. The next day the men of the city were furious and were going to kill Gideon. Joash, Gideon’s dad, although he owned the altar to Baal, lashed out against these men challenging and questioning them by saying: “Why does Baal need your help if he is such a great god? You guys are demeaning him! He should be able to take care of himself! If he is real, then let him destroy the person who did this damage.” Apparently this did no good to diffuse their anger and hatred and they organized a great army to fight against Gideon and his men.

Then Gideon, perhaps because of the rising enemies, needed more proof that God was fighting for him and his men. He did what is now called in Christian circles as “laying a fleece before the Lord.” In Gideon’s case, he laid down some wool on a threshing floor and asked God to allow dew to accumulate upon it but not on the surrounding ground. The next morning it was so. Still not convinced (this guy should have been a lawyer or a scientist), Gideon asked God to perform the opposite — have the wool dry and the ground be wet with dew in for the next morning. It was so.

Applications for Today:

1) Anytime God moves through us there will be resistance from this world. Sometimes the source may take us off guard because it may come from close friends or relatives. In any case of the source, resistance or persecution reveals the spirit behind the source – something that we do not always discern and that’s why it may come as a surprise to us. When it is over, however, we will see how God Himself defended and or protected us. In the extreme case of our obedience ending in martyrdom, a tremendous eternal reward awaits us. We never lose when we obey Him.

2) Gideon had doubts about being successful with what God had told him to do, but God told him 3 times that He would be with him and that he would succeed. All we need to know today is that God is with us, and if we do what He says, we will succeed.

3) The question that arises is whether or not Christians should “lay a fleece before the Lord” for guidance. This could involve something like praying, “God, if you want me to move to California, then make it rain hard tomorrow morning but rain-free the rest of the day while the next day have it clear in the morning followed by afternoon rain.” Sometimes the modern-day fleece is as simple as, “Lord just make it rain tomorrow then I will know what you want me to do.” Notice already we have done something quite different than Gideon. What Gideon asked God to do was something beyond logic — supernatural. My “rain fleece” could hardly be in the same category. So by not using a supernatural demand, are we really that committed to an answer?

Therefore, we must use caution with “fleeces.” In my young, naive days as a Christian, I did lay a fleece down on two occasions, but have not done so since. We can easily become too accustomed to using them, and over time, we will tend to neglect the New Testament way to find out the will of God for our lives found in Romans Chapter 12:1-2, which states:

“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, THAT YOU MAY PROVE WHAT THE WILL OF GOD IS (my emphasis), that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Now contained in the above passage are many heavy responsibilities laid out for us to follow — 1) being wholly surrendered to God and His will for our lives, 2) not allowing this world to influence our thinking or our behavior, and 3) letting His Word (reading the Bible) renew (or re-program) our mind which is constantly being deadened to Truth by the spirit of this world.

Laying a fleece can easily become a cheap substitute for the more mature, meaty way of discerning God’s will outlined in Romans. Today we have all the New Testament Scriptures to help. We also have church leaders who are responsible for our growth in Christ who can pray for and counsel us. More importantly, we have the Holy Spirit, who was given to earth as a result of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven. This is available to all who ask (Luke 11:9-13). Finally, habitually laying down fleeces is quite similar to the pagan practice of augury – telling the future through signs and omens – which Scripture forbids. I realize that 1 John 4:1 tells us to “test the spirits” but this context strongly indicates that this test is done by using God’s Word because an evil spirit will contain some semblance of error based on the Holy Scriptures. I do not connect laying down a fleece with this passage.

Judges 7 – God anointed Gideon to lead the fight for Israel, but Gideon had too many soldiers (32,000). God told him how to reduce his army down to a smaller size so that no Israeli would think that their victory came from their own power. God also showed Gideon that a soldier in the enemy’s camp had a dream that scared the other soldiers, so Gideon was encouraged that God would indeed cause a victory. Gideon ended up with only 300 men. He gave each a trumpet and a pitcher. In the middle of the night they surrounded the enemy’s camp, blew on the trumpets, smashed the pitchers, and yelled out, “For the Lord and for Gideon.” Despite being severely outnumbered in men and camels, Gideon routed the enemy and evil kings were executed.

Judges 8 – Larry McCall and the Yankees?

Gideon conquered more land and cities and killed more kings — all that God gave to him. Then the men wanted him to rule over them, but he declined saying that God would be their ruler, not him. Now Gideon had 70 sons by many wives. One son was Abimelech. But soon as Gideon died, the people strayed from God.

Application for Today: Never doubt God because of insignificance or smallness (especially as you view yourself). He loves to accomplish BIG things through “small” things because it glorifies Him and rebukes worldly thinking (pride of life). Just think of the little country of Israel – it’s no bigger than Massachusetts! Consider what He has done through that small piece of real estate. Every hair on your head is numbered and you are known by your Creator, and He can do great things through you. Just give Him all your heart and soul and watch Him work!

Learn a lesson from Larry McCall. Even the most avid baseball fan probably has never heard of him. He only pitched a few big league innings back in 1977-1979. But it was in 1978, the year that the Yankees tied Boston for first place, that Mr. McCall got one win to his credit. Had the Yanks not won that game earlier in the season, there never would have been that dramatic Bucky Dent home run that defeated a great Red Sox team in a one-game play-off tie-breaker (alas!). The Yankees went on to win the World Series that year. This never would have happened if Larry McCall had not been born. Ace pitcher Ron Guidry had an outstanding year for NY going 25-3 with an unbelievable E.R.A. of 1.74, so fans easily remember him. But we are more like the Larry McCalls in this life, and if he contributed so heavily with his small 1 win, how much more do you think God can do through you? Just a “simple” word spoken in season to a stranger or friend can make huge differences later in life. We never know when this might happen, so always have your hearts totally in God’s lap.

Judges 9 – Another rare glimpse into the demonic realm.

Unfortunately, Abimelech had ambition and an evil heart. He convinced his uncles to make him the ruler. The uncles persuaded the leaders of Shechem to give money in order to support Abimelech’s cause. He then hired some worthless and reckless men to fight with him. The first act he did with these men was to murder all his brothers (the sons of Gideon). Only Jotham, the youngest, hid and escaped the slaughter. Now Abimelech was hailed as king. But Jotham would not idly stand by. He made a speech to the men of Shechem revealing how they have dishonored Gideon by killing his sons, especially after all that Gideon had done for them. He calls upon God to destroy Abimelech and the men of Shechem for what they had done, then he fled for his life.

After 3 years of Abimelech ruling, God sent an evil spirit between him and the rest of the men of Shechem, so they dealt treacherously with him. Eventually, all perished as God answered Jotham’s prayer. Interesting note: Of all ways to die, Abimelech came near to death from a stone dropped onto his head by a woman. Embarrassed to be killed by a woman (a strong cultural attitude in those days), Abimelech asked his armor bearer to finish the job, which he did.

Applications for Today:

1) God continually intervenes throughout mankind’s history with deliverances, blessings, or punishments.

2) If you live by the sword, as Abimelech did, you will die by the sword (or stone in this case).

3) We were blessed with another brief glimpse into the spiritual realm and discover that God sometimes sends evil spirits to accomplish His work. Do evil spirits automatically do evil despite accomplishing something for God? We do not know if they even realize what God’s mission is when He employs them. I view evil spirits as forces that can do nothing but evil, so I wonder whether or not it would make any difference if they knew God’s will. I also view their fallen natures as hate and violence, and when unrestrained by God, they demonstrate those evils…I doubt whether they have any “self-restraint.” Their only restraint, I think, comes from God.

Judges 10 – After 45 years of peace, Israel went to other gods again. Consequently, the Ammonites afflicted them for 18 years. When the people of Israel cried out to God, this time He said no. But when they put away their false gods and turned toward Him, He could not bear their misery any longer. So Israel started to look for a deliverer.

Judges 11 – Jephthah was a son of Gilead but his mom was a prostitute, so his half-brothers drove him away. In his new residence, a bunch of worthless men gathered around him and became his men. When the Ammonites were fighting hard against Gilead, the leaders sent for Jephthah promising him the headship of Gilead if he fights for them and wins. He was bitter but the reward offered put him in a fighting mood. So before going up against the Ammonites, he never sought the voice of God but rather asked them why they wanted to fight. They said because the Jews stole their land. Jephthah said it wasn’t quite that simple. Those people refused to allow the Jews to pass through their land so they had to travel way out of their way only to ask permission to pass through another section of their land.

This request was also refused. He concludes by saying that his God drove out the people because of their refusal to let the Jews pass, and whatever land He drives people out of the Jews possess. He further stated that since the Ammonites have Chemosh as a god, let HIM give them land, but the Israelis will dwell in land that the true God makes available. Jephthah was also miffed at the fact that 300 hundred years had passed since the Israeli takeover, and the Ammonites had done nothing. So why now? The king of Ammon disregarded all of this.

Then Jephthah promised God to offer a burnt offering of whatever comes out of the door to his house to greet him upon his return from battle. He won, but his only child, a daughter, came out first. He mourns and told her the bad news. Surprisingly, she agrees to it claiming that he should not take back a vow to the Lord. She must have had great respect for God. Her biggest concern seemed to be that she was still a virgin. He gave her permission to mourn in the mountains for 2 months with friends, then return to him.

This is bothersome. What really happened here? It may be that Jephthah had little knowledge of what God was like. He was not like the heathen gods who convinced people to sacrifice humans. If this was done in ignorance, then both he and his daughter had great faith and respect for God. His name is even mentioned in Hebrews 11:32 as one having great faith. Still, what bothers me is that if God spoke to Jewish leaders about whether or not to go into battle, then why did He not prevent this daughter’s death like he did with Isaac? I noticed that God never directly spoke anything to Jephthah, so he did indeed do everything on faith in God. Maybe the whole scenario reflects how dark and complete the Jewish state of falling away was at that time. It is stories such as this that give Bible critics and enemies of Christ ammo.

So, in defense of this passage, it is important to realize 5 things: 1) the spirit of the Lord never told Jephthah to do this, 2) Jephthah did not know that the first thing coming out of the door would be human (there was a good chance it would be an animal because of the way houses and stockyards were together in those days), 3) his use of the phrase “burnt offering” indicates he was thinking animal, 4) a burnt offering had to be male, and 5) it is also possible that she was not killed but rather put into “temple service” for the rest of her life where she would be isolated from the world and certainly never marry a man or have children.

After reading much on this story, it makes more sense to me that Jephthah’s “burnt offering” vow meant that he would totally dedicate something or someone to the Lord. If a male animal, then it would be killed. If it was a person, he or she would lead a celibate life. I’m not sure what he would have done if it was a female animal (keep it in a separate pen and never be allowed to mate?). He seemed to be aware of Jewish history when he sent messages to the Ammonites, so he may have been aware of the taboo against human sacrifice.

I wish this entire passage was “black and white clear” but it is not. At least, this sheds more insight than a brief read would do.

Judges 12 – Jephthah’s men killed 42,000 more men and he judged for 6 years and then died. Three more other judges came and died over the next 25 years.

Judges 13 – Enter Samson. The sons of Israel returned to evil and were put into the hands of the Philistines for 40 years. An angel appeared and spoke to the wife of Manoah and prophesied that she would conceive and have a son. When Manoah finally had an opportunity to meet this angel, he asked what kind of work would his son do, but the angel simply reinforced what he said about Manoah’s wife’s prenatal care. She was ordered to not drink wine or eat any unclean food during her pregnancy. Note: Science now knows that drinking any amount of alcohol can be risky to the unborn. I wonder if this woman had a drinking habit and ate unclean food as the norm and this was God’s way of protecting Israel’s next deliverer? Anyway, Samson was born healthy and he grew up with the spirit of the Lord stirring within him.

Judges 14 – With the Philistines still ruling over Israel, Samson liked the way a Philistine woman looked and wanted to marry her. But his parents wanted him to marry from among his people (like God had said to do). But actually, the Lord was involved with this “mixed marriage” and he would use it to get at the Philistines. Samson kills a young lion with his bare hands and later finds bees within its carcass, so he scooped a bunch of honey out of it and ate it, but saved some for his parents. He never told others about killing that lion or where he got the honey. During a 7-day wedding celebration, Samson makes a bet with some men concerning a riddle based on that lion and honey experience. They accepted but couldn’t solve it. Rather than lose the bet, they pressured Samson’s new wife to find out the answer or they would destroy her dad’s house. She tried for 6 days without success. Finally on the 7th and last day of the party, he told her and she told the men. Samson was furious and disowned the wife, so her father allowed her to marry one of Samson’s best friends without him realizing it. This all seems odd, but God was setting the stage for the Philistine’s rule over Israel to end. It also seemed to foreshadow Samson’s later escapade with Delilah.

Judges 15 – Despite being married to the Philistine woman, Samson did not yet have sexual relations with her due to the abrupt parting of their ways when he discovered that she told those men the solution to his riddle. Over some time, he decided to go to her again to consummate the marriage, but her father would not let him into their house and told Samson that he gave her in marriage to one of Samson’s friends because he thought Samson hated her and wanted to lesson her embarrassment. This set off Samson against the Philistines and he set fire to their crops and plants and grains. The Philistines found out why Samson was mad and killed the woman and her father. This angered Samson all the more and he killed many of those men. So the Philistines lined up to attack all the Jews. But the Jews bound Samson with rope and turned him over to them so that they would not destroy all of them. As the bound up Samson approached the cheering heathens, his bonds loosened and fell off. He then grabbed a jawbone of a donkey and killed a thousand Philistines with it. Afterward he was very thirsty with no water in sight, but God opened up the ground and water flowed out and Samson was refreshed. He ended up judging Israel for 20 years during the days of the Philistines.

Judges 16 – Samson’s weakness for women continued. He went to a Philistine city and had sex with a harlot. People found out he was there and surrounded the place during the night and waited until morning to attack him. They must have fallen asleep because Samson left the place around midnight and ripped out the city gates and carried them off to a mountain. Strange. Later he met and “fell in love with” Delilah. Five leaders of the Philistines then offered her about $5,000 to find out what makes this man so strong. Each time he told her a lie and each time she tried to use those lies to weaken him, but all attempts failed. You would think by now that he would have realized she cannot be trusted and does not love him, but when a man has a weakness for “a sexy beauty,” he becomes as a fool. Her tactic was to claim that he really did not love her because he was so deceitful.

Finally, being annoyed to death by her persistence, he told her the true source of his strength. Predictably, she cut off his hair that night and the spirit of the Lord departed from him without him realizing it right away. So the men came and gouged out his eyes and threw him into their prison. Over time, his hair grew back and so did his strength. Now the Philistines were celebrating before their false god named Dagon and thought it would be good entertainment to bring out a bound up Samson so they could mock him. When the people saw him in that seemingly weakened state, they gave praise to their god for delivering him to them.

The house was large with big supporting pillars. As they made sport of him, he stood between two of those main pillars. The house was full of men and women and there were about 3,000 more on the roof top. Samson prayed to God for strength and he pushed down the pillars collapsing the entire house. He was willing to give up his life to destroy the enemies of Israel. In his death he killed more enemies than he did during his life. His family found his body and buried it in his father’s tomb. Now we can see why God allowed Samson to marry that Philistine woman, even though there was never a good relationship between them. It was the inroad that eventually led to the destruction of a pagan nation that was bent on destroying God’s people.

Applications for Today: Warnings to Males and Females

1) We can be assured that God is in control of situations even though everything does not make sense to us. This is comforting to us and will reduce anxiety and stress.
2) Men (and boys) need to be trained to early recognize self-centered beauty queens that have seducing powers. Just as women (and girls) need to be taught that some men are out just for sexual pleasure rather than a love commitment, so too do men need to be “inoculated” against “loose women.”
3) God can work through people’s sinful activities and desires toward His goals. Nothing can stop Him.

Judges 17 – Since there was no king over the Twelve Tribes of Israel, everyone did what was right in their own eyes. This is not a healthy situation. A man named Micah (not the OT prophet who wrote the Book of Micah) had a house with idols and he invited a traveling Levite to stay on as a priest for him. Micah thought that he would be made prosperous having a real priest in the house. The Levite agreed.

Judges 18 – The tribe of Dan had not yet claimed any land for their inheritance. They sent spies to evaluate land possibilities. They then asked the Levite if the Lord would bless their search and he replied that he would. So they continued on to the city of Laish. Here they found a quiet people who had no ruler exploiting them for they were living far from any significant population, and therefore weren’t attached to anyone. So they later brought over 600 armed warriors, came to Micah’s house while Micah was not home and took all the valuable idols and the Levite who was happy to go them. While proceeding to Laish, Micah and some of his neighbors caught up with them and demanded the return of his stolen property. When the leader of the men of Dan threatened to kill Micah, Micah and his friends who were grossly outnumbered, simply returned to their homes. As the army approached the city, there were no guards. Their victory was swift and violent. All the people were killed and the city burned. They rebuilt it and renamed it Dan, after their ancestor. Finally, they appointed Moses’ grandson named Jonathan as priest along with his sons. They continued in this position and had the idols set up in a tabernacle to be worshiped. They were finally conquered by enemies.

This is a classic example of what happens when God’s Word is not respected and obeyed. The only alternative is to do what civil law says or do whatever you think is right (or whatever you can get away with). Those idols of Micah led to those men not seeking God’s will which, in turn, led to their demise. God warned them explicitly about this cause and effect.

Application for Today: Too many people now live and thrive in our country that are also blind to this cause and effect that history demonstrates. This is a scary state to be living in.

Judges 19 – X-Rated & Gross!

Still no king in Israel, and people were doing whatever they wanted to do. A certain Levite was traveling with his concubine and needed to bed down somewhere, but he refused to stay with “foreigners.” Instead he opted for the town of Gibeah which belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. He probably thought it was not only proper to do so, but also safer. He couldn’t have been more wrong. No one would take them in so they planned to spend the night in the open square. But a nice fellow found them and brought them to his house for the night taking care of the animals as well. Then a “deja vu” experience right out of Genesis Chapter 19 occurs — wicked men surrounded the house and demanded to have sex with the male visitor. The “nice” owner of the house pleads with the wicked men to not do it and he offers his own virgin daughter and the visitor’s concubine to them. When that did not work, the visitor shoved his concubine out the door and they raped and abused her all night long and let her go near dawn. At dawn she returned to the house and collapsed at the doorway. After arising from his sleep (how could he sleep knowing what what happening to this woman?!), he found her and told her to get up and get going with him, but she was dead. Enraged, he cut her into 12 pieces and put one piece on each of 12 donkeys and sent them to all twelve tribes of Israel proclaiming that no such horrible deed has ever been done among the sons of Israel since they arrived in the promised land (as if he had nothing to do with it). Hence, he aroused a passion of vengeance among the Jews against the men of Benjamin who did this. Civil war was looming.

This is one of the grossest accounts in the entire Bible. I cringe and get angry every time I read it. There seemed to be so little regard for females in those days. Whether or not she was a concubine* or had wife status, she was still a human being. Even though this concubine had previously run away from the Levite who took her (he got her back later), she did not deserve this fate. His seeming callous attitude upon finding her at the doorway in the morning is appalling!

*Concubine = a lawful wife but was guaranteed only food, clothing, and marital privileges (Ex 21:7-11; Deut. 21:10-14). Any children she bore would be considered legitimate, but because of her second-class status, they wouldn’t necessarily share in the family inheritance (Gen 25:1-6).

Application for Today: Since this passage parallels Genesis 19, it indicates that human corruption had hit another all-time low. What made this worse to me is the fact that these people were not that far removed from Moses and all those who received The Law. We learn that moral deterioration occurs faster than most realize. It only takes one generation of time in some cases. Therefore, let us be fervent in teaching our younger generation the greatness, the reality, the goodness, and the trustworthiness in God’s Word, the Bible and in Jesus Christ Himself.

Judges 20 – The sons of Israel rallied themselves against the sons of Benjamin and asked the leaders of Benjamin to hand over the men who raped and killed that woman. When they refused, the sons of Israel attacked. It took them three separate attacks to finally rout all the sons of Benjamin. They also killed women, children, livestock, and burned their cities.

Judges 21 – The sons of Israel lamented the loss of Benjamin. They did not want to have one of the twelve tribes eradicated from the earth. So they allowed some remaining men from Benjamin to steal some wives from Shiloh (not a very nice method) in order to keep the tribe alive for posterity.

Quick vows and violence clouded the behavior of the sons of Israel, but this is what happens when everyone does what is right in their own eyes. Absolute truth is lost and carnal desires become justified…it kind of sounds like secular humanism to me. Anytime our actions are dictated by emotions rather than absolute moral principles, there is evil.

I can’t say, “Well, I hope you enjoyed the study of the Book of Judges,” because it was gross and tragic. I certainly hope, however, that it makes us all appreciate the grace and insight that God has bestowed upon us today.