Day 95 – The Sin of Benjamin

Thoughts and Reflection

Today in the readings we read some of the darkest stories to date. A Levite priest takes a concubine. This goes against what God told us in Genesis 2. The men of Gibeah kill the concubine. Her body is then cut up into twelve pieces and sent to the twelve tribes of Israel. As a consequence, the other tribes fight against the tribe of Benjamin and kill them. they then go to Jabesh-gilead and kill many. There was no king in Israel and every man did what was right in their own eyes.

This does parallel today’s society in many ways. Everyone has their own truth and does what is right in their eyes. But we need to look at a higher power for truth – God.

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

Daily Readings

Judges 19

1 In those days, when there was no king in Israel, there was a man, a Levite, whose home was deep in the highlands of Ephraim. He took as concubine a woman from Bethlehem in Judah.

2 In a fit of anger his concubine left him and went back to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah, and she stayed there for some time— four months.

3 Her husband then set out after her, to appeal to her affections and fetch her back; he had his servant and two donkeys with him. As he was arriving at the house of the girl’s father, the father saw him and came happily to meet him.

4 His father-in-law, the girl’s father, kept him there; and he stayed with him for three days; they ate and drank and spent the nights there.

5 On the fourth day they got up early, and the Levite was preparing to leave when the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, ‘Have something to eat to gather strength; you can leave later.’

6 So they sat down and began eating and drinking, the two of them together; then the girl’s father said to the young man, ‘Please agree to spend tonight here too and enjoy yourself.’

7 And when the man got up to leave, the father-in-law pressed him again, and he spent another night there.

8 On the fifth day, the Levite got up early to leave, but the girl’s father said to him, ‘Please gather strength first!’ So they stayed on until the sun began to go down, and the two men had a meal together.

9 The husband was getting up to leave with his concubine and his servant when his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said, ‘Look, day is fading into evening. Please spend the night here. Look, the day is nearly over. Spend the night here and enjoy yourself. Then, early tomorrow, you can leave on your journey and go back home.’ 

10 But the man, refusing to stay the night, got up and went on his way, until he arrived within sight of Jebus — that is, Jerusalem. He had with him two donkeys saddled, his concubine and his servant.

11 By the time they were near Jebus, the light was going fast. The servant said to his master, ‘Come on, please, let us turn off into this Jebusite town and spend the night there.’

12 His master replied, ‘We shall not turn off into a town of foreigners, of people who are not Israelites; we shall go on to Gibeah.’

13 He then said to his servant, ‘Come on, we shall try to reach one or other of those places, either Gibeah or Ramah, and spend the night there.’

14 So they kept going and went on with their journey. As they approached Gibeah in Benjamin, the sun was setting.

15 So they turned that way to spend the night in Gibeah. Once inside, the Levite sat down in the town square, but no one offered to take them in for the night.

16 Eventually, an old man came along at nightfall from his work in the fields. He too was from the highlands of Ephraim, although he was living in Gibeah; the people of the place, however, were Benjaminites.

17 Looking up, he saw the traveller in the town square. ‘Where are you going?’ said the old man, ‘And where have you come from?’

18 ‘We are on our way’, the other replied, ‘from Bethlehem in Judah to a place deep in the highlands of Ephraim. That is where I come from. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going home, but no one has offered to take me into his house,

19 although we have straw and provender for our donkeys, and I also have bread and wine for myself, and this maidservant and the young man who is travelling with your servant; we are short of nothing.’

20 ‘Welcome,’ said the old man. ‘I shall see that you have all you want. You cannot spend the night in the square.’

21 So he took him into his house and gave the donkeys provender. The travellers washed their feet, then ate and drank.

22 While they were enjoying themselves, some townsmen, scoundrels, came crowding round the house; they battered on the door and said to the old man, master of the house, ‘Send out the man who went into your house, we should like to have intercourse with him!’

23 The master of the house went out to them and said, ‘No, brothers, please, do not be so wicked. Since this man is now under my roof, do not commit such an infamy.

24 Here is my daughter; she is a virgin; I shall bring her out to you. Ill-treat her, do what you please with her, but do not commit such an infamy against this man.’

25 But the men would not listen to him. So the Levite took hold of his concubine and brought her out to them. They had intercourse with her and ill-treated her all night till morning; when dawn was breaking they let her go.

26 At daybreak the girl came and fell on the threshold of her husband’s host, and she stayed there until it was light.

27 In the morning her husband got up and, opening the door of the house, was going out to continue his journey when he saw the woman, his concubine, lying at the door of the house with her hands on the threshold.

28 ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘we must leave!’ There was no answer. He then loaded her on his donkey and began the journey home.

29 Having reached his house, he took his knife, took hold of his concubine and cut her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces; he then sent her throughout the territory of Israel.

30 He gave instructions to his messengers, ‘This is what you are to say to all the Israelites, “Has anything like this been done since the day when the Israelites came out of Egypt until today? Take this to heart, discuss it; then give your verdict.” ‘ And all who saw it declared, ‘Never has such a thing been done or been seen since the Israelites came out of Egypt until today.’

Judges 20

1 The Israelites then all turned out and, as one man, the entire community from Dan to Beersheba, including Gilead, assembled in Yahweh’s presence at Mizpah.

2 The leaders of the entire people, of all the tribes of Israel, were present at this assembly of God’s people, four hundred thousand trained infantry.

3 The Benjaminites heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah. The Israelites then said, ‘Tell us how this crime was committed.’

4 The Levite, husband of the murdered woman, spoke in reply and said,

5 ‘The men of Gibeah ganged up against me and, during the night, surrounded the house where I was lodging. They intended to murderme. They raped my concubine to death.

6 I then took my concubine, cut her up and sent her throughout the entire territory of the heritage of Israel, since these men had committed a shameful act, an infamy, in Israel.

7 Now, all you Israelites, discuss the matter and give your decision here and now.’

8 The whole people stood up as one man and said, ‘None of us will go home, none of us will go back to his house!

9 And this is what we are now going to do to Gibeah. We shall draw lots

10 and, throughout the tribes of Israel, select ten men out of a hundred, a hundred out of a thousand and a thousand out of ten thousand to collect food for the people, so that, on their arrival, the latter may treat Gibeah in Benjamin as this infamy perpetrated in Israel deserves.’

11 Thus, as one man, all the men of Israel mustered against the town.

12 The tribes of Israel sent messengers throughout the tribe of Benjamin to say, ‘What is this crime which has been committed in your territory?

13 Now, give up these men, these scoundrels, living in Gibeah, so that we can put them to death and wipe out this evil from Israel.’ The Benjaminites, however, would not listen to their brother Israelites.

14 The Benjaminites left their towns and mustered at Gibeah to fight the Israelites.

15 At the time, a count was made of the Benjaminites from the various towns: there were twenty-six thousand swordsmen; and the count excluded the inhabitants of Gibeah.

16 In this great army there were seven hundred first-rate left-handers, every man of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss it.

17 A count was also held of the men of Israel, excluding Benjamin: there were four hundred thousand men, all experienced swordsmen.

18 They moved off, up to Bethel, to consult God. The Israelites put the question, ‘Which of us is to go first into battle against the Benjaminites?’ And Yahweh replied, ‘Judah is to go first.’

19 In the morning, the Israelites moved off and pitched their camp over against Gibeah.

20 The men of Israel advanced to do battle with Benjamin; they drew up their battle line in front of Gibeah.

21 But the Benjaminites sallied out from Gibeah and that day massacred twenty-two thousand Israelites.

22 The army of the men of Israel then took fresh heart and again drew up their battle line in the same place as the day before.

23 The Israelites went and wept before Yahweh until evening; they then consulted Yahweh; they asked, ‘Shall we join battle again with the sons of our brother Benjamin?’ Yahweh replied, ‘March against him!’

24 This second day, the Israelites advanced against the Benjaminites,

25 and, this second day, Benjamin sallied out from Gibeah to meet them and massacred another eighteen thousand Israelites, all experienced swordsmen.

26 Then all the Israelites and the whole people went off to Bethel; they wept and sat in Yahweh’s presence; they fasted all day till the evening and presented burnt offerings and communion sacrifices before Yahweh.

27 The Israelites then consulted Yahweh. In those days, the ark of the covenant of God was there,

28 and Phinehas son of Eleazer, son of Aaron was its minister at the time. They said, ‘Ought I to go into battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin again, or should I stop?’ Yahweh replied, ‘March! For tomorrow I shall deliver him into your hands.’

29 Israel then positioned troops in ambush all round Gibeah.

30 On the third day the Israelites marched against the Benjaminites and, as before, drew up their line in front of Gibeah.

31 The Benjaminites sallied out to engage the people and let themselves be drawn away from the town. As before, they began by killing those of the people who were on the roads, one of which runs up to Bethel, and the other to Gibeah through open country: some thirty men of Israel.

32 The Benjaminites thought, ‘We have beaten them, as we did the first time,’ but the Israelites had decided, ‘We shall run away and draw them away from the town along the roads.’

33 All the Israelites then retreated and reformed at Baal-Tamar, while the Israelite troops in ambush surged from their positions to the west of Gibeah.

34 Ten thousand picked men, chosen from the whole of Israel, launched their attack on Gibeah. The battle was fierce; and the others knew nothing of the disaster impending.

35 Yahweh defeated Benjamin before Israel and that day the Israelites killed twenty-five thousand one hundred men of Benjamin, all of them trained swordsmen.

36 The Benjaminites saw that they were beaten. The Israelites had given ground to Benjamin, since they were relying on the ambush which they had positioned close to Gibeah.

37 The troops in ambush threw themselves against Gibeah at top speed; fanning out, they put the whole town to the sword.

38 Now it had been agreed between the Israelites and those of the ambush that the latter should raise a smoke signal from the town,

39 whereupon the Israelites in the thick of the battle would turn about. Benjamin began by killing some of the Israelites, about thirty men, and thought, ‘We have certainly beaten them, as we did in the first battle.’

40 But the signal, a column of smoke, began to rise from the town, and the Benjaminites looking back saw the whole town going up in flames to the sky.

41 The Israelites then turned about, and the Benjaminites were seized with terror, for they saw that disaster had struck them.

42 They broke before the Israelite onslaught and made for the desert, but the fighters pressed them hard, while the others coming out of the town took and slaughtered them from the rear.

43 They hemmed in the Benjaminites, pursued them relentlessly, crushing them opposite Gibeah on the east.

44 Of Benjamin, eighteen thousand men fell, all of them brave men.

45 They then turned tail and fled into the desert, towards the Rock of Rimmon. Five thousand of them were picked off on the roads, and the rest were relentlessly pursued as far as Gideon, two thousand of them being killed.

46 The total number of Benjaminites who fell that day was twenty-five thousand swordsmen, all of them brave men.

47 Six hundred men, however, turned tail and escaped into the desert, to the Rock of Rimmon, and there they stayed for four months.

48 The men of Israel then went back to the Benjaminites, and put them to the sword-people, livestock and everything else that came their way in the town. And they fired all the towns involved.

Judges 21

1 The men of Israel had sworn this oath at Mizpah, ‘None of us is to give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin.’

2 The people went to Bethel and stayed there until evening, sitting before God and raising their voices, made a great lament,

3 and exclaiming, ‘Yahweh, God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel that a tribe should be missing from Israel today?

4 The next day the people got up early and built an altar there; they presented burnt offerings and communion sacrifices.

5 The Israelites then said, ‘Out of all the tribes of Israel, who has not come to Yahweh, to the assembly?’ — for they had sworn a solemn oath that anyone who did not come to Yahweh at Mizpah would certainly die.

6 Now the Israelites felt sorry about Benjamin their brother. ‘Today’, they said, ‘a tribe has been amputated from Israel.

7 What shall we do to provide wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by Yahweh not to give them any of our own daughters in marriage?’

8 They then asked, ‘Out of the tribes of Israel, who is it that has not come to Yahweh at Mizpah?’ It was discovered that no one from Jabesh in Gilead had come to the camp for the assembly;

9 for, a muster having been called of the people, none of the inhabitants of Jabesh in Gilead was present.

10 The community then despatched twelve thousand of their bravest men there, with these orders: ‘Go and slaughter all the inhabitants of Jabesh in Gilead, including the women and children.

11 This is what you are to do. All males and all those women who have ever slept with a man, you will put under the curse of destruction, but the lives of the virgins you will spare.’ And this they did.

12 Among the inhabitants of Jabesh in Gilead they found four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man, and brought them to the camp (to Shiloh in the territory of Canaan).

13 The whole community then sent messengers to offer peace to the Benjaminites who were at the Rock of Rimmon.

14 Benjamin then came home: they were given those of the women of Jabesh in Gilead whose lives had been spared, but there were not enough for all.

15 The people felt sorry about Benjamin, Yahweh having made a breach in the tribes of Israel.

16 And the elders of the community said, ‘What shall we do to provide wives for the survivors, since the women of Benjamin have been wiped out?’

17 They went on, ‘How can we preserve a remnant for Benjamin so that a tribe may not be lost to Israel?

18 We cannot give them our own daughters in marriage’ — for the Israelites had taken an oath, ‘Accursed be the man who gives a wife to Benjamin!’

19 ‘However,’ they said, ‘there is the feast of Yahweh, held every year at Shiloh.’ (The town lies north of Bethel, east of the highway that runs from Bethel up to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.)

20 So they told the Benjaminites to do as follows, ‘Put yourselves in ambush in the vineyards.

21 Keep watch: when the girls of Shiloh come out in groups to dance, you then come out of the vineyards, each of you seize a wife from the girls of Shiloh and make for Benjaminite territory.

22 If their fathers or brothers come and complain to us, we shall say, “Let us have them, since we could not take wives for everyone in the battle; and you could not give them to them, or you would then have been guilty.” ‘

23 The Benjaminites did this and, from the dancers whom they caught, took as many wives as there were men and then, setting off, went back to their heritage, rebuilt the towns and settled down in them.

24 The Israelites then dispersed, each man to rejoin his tribe and clan, each leaving that place for his own heritage.

25 In those days there was no king in Israel, and everyone did as he saw fit.

Psalm 148

1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh from the heavens, praise him in the heights.

2 Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!

3 Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all shining stars,

4 praise him, highest heavens, praise him, waters above the heavens.

5 Let them praise the name of Yahweh at whose command they were made;

6 he established them for ever and ever by an unchanging decree.

7 Praise Yahweh from the earth, sea-monsters and all the depths,

8 fire and hail, snow and mist, storm-winds that obey his word,

9 mountains and every hill, orchards and every cedar,

10 wild animals and all cattle, reptiles and winged birds,

11 kings of the earth and all nations, princes and all judges on earth,

12 young men and girls, old people and children together.

13 Let them praise the name of Yahweh, for his name alone is sublime, his splendour transcends earth and heaven.

14 For he heightens the strength of his people, to the praise of all his faithful, the children of Israel, the people close to him.

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