I just read the most disturbing passage my friends. In an effort to show how ruthless the peple are during this time, Judges 19 tells of a random man who takes a concubine. She runs away to her father's house and he goes back and gets her. On his journey back, he and his wife are taken in by a kind man. The village folks (Benjamites) come to this man's house wanting to rape his visitor (the man). The owner of the house tells them that the man is his guest, but they are welcome to rape his virgin daughter or the man's wife. They don't want them, but the man forces his wife outside anyways. The men have their way with her and she crawls her way back to the door of the house when its all done. In the morning, the man gets ready, opens the door, sees his wife laying there and nudges her to "come on". She doesn't move so he throws her on the donkey, takes her home, then cuts her into 12 pieces and send a piece to each area in Israel. I'm sure there is a point to all this.. but what the heck??
The Israelites rise up against the man and ask him to explain himself. He tells the story and they decide the fault lies with the Benjamites who raped and attacked the concubine. Upon asking the city to surrender these men, a great battle ensues because everyone is too stubborn. God blesses Israel before they go into battle and give the Benjamites into their hands. What is sad is that thousands died, when only the men who committed the act would have been harmed had the city just given them over.
Israel made a vow to not let their women marry anyone from Benjamin--they weep over this since a tribe is literally being cut off...its a sad day. The elders are worried that the tribe will eventually disappear without women to carry on heirs. They tell the men to hide in the vineyards during a festival and snatch a wife when the women dance through the fields... so the all snatch a wife and run back to their land.
The reading ends with a perfect verse: "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit." Such a sad and muddy time in history.
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