9 June Judges 21:1-23

9 June. The Israelites slaughter the men of Jabesh Gilead

“At Mizpah, the men of Israel had sworn, ‘Not one of us will let his daughter marry a man from the tribe of Benjamin.’ The people went to the city of Bethel and sat before God until evening, crying loudly. They said, ‘LORD, God of Israel, why has this terrible thing happened to us so that one tribe of Israel is missing today?’”

“Early the next day the people built an altar and put burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to God on it. Then the Israelites asked, ‘Did any tribe of Israel not come here to meet with us in the presence of the LORD?’ They asked this question because they had sworn that anyone who did not meet with them at Mizpah would be killed.”

“The Israelites felt sorry for their relatives, the Benjaminites. They said, ‘Today one tribe has been cut off from Israel. We swore before the LORD that we would not allow our daughters to marry a Benjaminite. How can we make sure that the remaining men of Benjamin will have wives?’”

“Then they asked, ‘Which one of the tribes of Israel did not come her to Mizpah?’ They found that no one from the city of Jabesh Gilead had come. The people of Israel counted everyone, but there was no one from Jabesh Gilead.”

“So the whole group of Israelites sent 12,000 soldiers to Jabesh Gilead to kill the people with their swords, even the women and children. ‘This is what you must do,’ they said. ‘Kill every man in Jabesh Gilead and every married woman.’ The soldiers found 400 young unmarried women in Jabesh Gilead, so they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in Canaan.”

“Then the whole group of Israelites sent a message to the men of Benjamin, who were at the rock of Rimmon, offering to make peace with them. So the men of Benjamin came back at that time. The Israelites gave them the women from Jabesh Gilead who had not been killed, but there were not enough women…”

“So the elders told the men of Benjamin, ‘Go and hide in the vineyards. Watch for the young women from Shiloh to come out to join the dancing [at the yearly festival of the LORD at Shiloh]. Then run out from the vineyards and take one of the young Shiloh women and return to the land of Benjamin.'"

"'If their fathers or brothers come to us and complain, we will say, "Be kind to the men of Benjamin. We did not get wives for Benjamin during the war, and you did not give the women to the men from Benjamin. So you are not guilty.'" So this is what the Benjaminites did.”

          (Judges 21:1-23)

 


 

Today’s passage brings us to the end of the Book of Judges, and we finish at a very low point in the life of the Israelites.

Not content with having killed over 25,000 Benjaminites in the civil war caused by the rape and murder of a Levite’s slave girl, the Israelites went on to further satisfy their blood lust by massacring the entire adult population of the city of Jabesh Gilead (see 4 on the map on 7 June) simply because they failed to turn up to take part in the previous slaughter.

Not satisfied with the bloodshed of thousands of innocent men and women, they then trafficked the young girls of Jabesh Gilead to provide sexual partners for the Benjaminite men who had recently been found guilty of rape and murder.

Discovering that there still weren’t enough girls to satisfy the sexual needs of the Benjaminite men, they instructed them - with their full approval - to abduct young women from the dancing festivities that took place at the annual festival at the religious sanctuary at Shiloh (probably the Feast of Ingathering or ‘Tabernacles’ - see Exodus 23:16 & 5), where the Ark of the Covenant rested, symbolising the presence of the LORD God Almighty himself (see 5 on the map).

Sadly, we're lost for words to express the depths of depravity to which the Israelites stooped during the period of the ‘judges’ when “everyone did what seemed right” (Judges 21:25).

The photo (by Deg777) shows the site of the settlement at Shiloh, with Tel Shiloh in the foreground and the round visitor centre on top of the settlement mound.

You can read the whole of the Book of Judges starting @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/28-the-israelites-face-continuing-opposition/the-israelites-fight-the-remaining-canaanites/


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