About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 20

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Israelites Fight The Benjamites (ch. 20:1 - 48)                               


Note in verse 1 that all Israelis from Dan to Beersheba went to Mizpah to discuss the vile act that the men of Gibeah did to the Levites concubine as we saw in the last chapter.  I make note of this because this must have taken place after Dan relocated to the northern end of Canaan, up in the north east corner of Israel today.  Dan was in the far north wile Beersheba  was in the far south. 


Verses 2 through 8 is a hearing of Israel, somewhat like a court case.  The Levite man whose concubine was killed told the court that the men of Gibeah were going to kill him so he allowed his concubine to go out and be raped by the men, but they killed her as well as raped her. 


Some suggest that this Levite was not telling the truth.  They say that the wild gang just wanted to have homosexual sex with the Levite.  They didn't want to kill her.  Other's suggest that the Levite understood that the homosexual sex would eventually lead to his death, as it did with his concubine.  I would tend to think in these terms.


The conclusion to this hearing, and the answer to the question that ended chapter 19, was that the rest of Israel would attack Gibeah.  In one sense of the word, this was civil war.  In another sense of the word, it was merely punishment for the evil doer.


The reason I suggest that the ensuing battle was a civil war is because Israel gave the tribe of Benjamin a way out of battle.  Benjamin could have simply rounded up the men who did the vile act and hand them over to be punished, but they didn't  They decided to fight the rest of Israel instead.  We have a divided kingdom before the kingdom ever got off the ground. Remember, this would have been within 20 to 50 years after Joshua led Israel into the promised land.


Note in verses 17 and 18 that Israel enquired of the Lord who should go first to fight the battle.  The text states that Judah was chosen by the Lord to go first.  How this determination was made, we really don't know.  It might be a matter of using lots, as in, throwing the dice.  That being said, the text does suggest that this was the will of God, so we must believe it was.


From verse 19 to verse 48, the end of the chapter describes the battle between Israel and the tribe of Benjamin.  This was one very bad fight.    


Israel enquired of the Lord to see if they should actually go ahead with the attack.  The Lord told them to go ahead and attack the tribe of Benjamin.  You might wonder if the Lord really told this to them, but I believe He did.  Unlike Micah and his false personal priest who had his own temple, as we saw in chapters 17 and the tribe of Dan who had their own personal priests, Israel was acting according to the Law of Moses.  They prayed, fasted, prepared burnt offerings where the arc of the covenant was.  So, for that reason, I believe that the Lord did answer their prayers by telling them to attack the tribe of Benjamin. 


Note that the first couple of attacks failed, but "on the third day", as seen in verse 29, things began to go Israel's way.  Throughout the Old Testament we see reference to the "third day", and here we see it again.  I'm sure "the third day" has great meaning.  It is the day of victory as seen in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Many Bible teachers say that the number three is the number of completion. 


Concerning such things as the numerous times the "third day" is mentioned in the Old Testament, liberal Bible teachers suggest that much of what we read in the Old Testament are just stories with a moral point to them.  It is too hard to believe that numbers like three, as in the third day, and the numbers like seven, and other numerical significances could have really took place. However, if God is who He says He is, all the numerical so-called coincidences can easily be real historical events.


In verse 47 we see that only 600 men survived the battle.  These 600 men become significant in the next chapter. 



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