The time of the Judges was not a good time for Israel.
By the end of the book, things get about as bad as things can get: Civil War.
The tribes of Israel have decided that it is better to take up swords against one another than it is to repent of their awful behavior. How did it come to this?
I’m sad as I read these chapters. My heart breaks for these people. I want so bad for them to get it; to do something right and good. I wanted to be able to say, “Yes! Look how Israel blessed the world!”
Nope. Not here. Not now.
The rape and murder of the woman from chapter 19 has not gone unnoticed. In fact, it angers Israel enough that they send out a giant army against the tribe of Benjamin to make them pay for that very act.
They call it “criminal,” a “vile outrage,” and a “disgrace.”
Well, that’s good!
And rather than rushing off to slaughter everyone, the first thing Israel does is demand that Benjamin hand over the perpetrators.
That’s good too! It didn’t have to turn into a full-blown war.
But Benjamin decided they would rather go to war than hand over rapist murderers. Ugh.
Inquiring of the LORD
Judges 20 is the first time since we met Samson’s mom that someone has asked God what they should do.
That is a long time.
It’s a shame that it takes a looming civil war to make it happen. It’s even more a shame that the first thing they as is not whether they should go to war, but who should go first.
They want a fight and I can’t blame them.
Have you ever had someone in your life, work, church, that you just wanted to see go? Their behavior was so poisonous that they just needed to leave?
This is one of those situations. And apparently God understands. He doesn’t tell them not to fight. He lets them do what they want to do. He even helps them succeed.
I guess He isn’t too thrilled about having murderous rapists around either.
That’s What You Get
When the war (and by war, I mean “three-day conflict”) is over, Israel has lost 40,000 soldiers. Benjamin has lost 25,000.
Too bad Benjamin started with only 26,000.
This tribe has been virtually wiped out. All because they wouldn’t turn in the perpetrators.
This makes me so mad! It didn’t have to be like this! I want to root for these people but I can’t! I want their story to be better but it isn’t. I want God to intervene but he won’t.
And at the same time I don’t feel sorry for Benjamin at all. They got what was coming to them. If they want to gang rape women until they die then they have to know that sooner or later it will catch up with them. If they want to be a tribe known for harboring people who do that, they have to know it will come back around.
I’m starting to wish they had a king . . .