A Reminder of ‘Rightly Dividing’

May 11, 2006 at 10:01 pm (Religion)

During my study recently, I got stuck on a particular passage, had to really dig and pray to settle it.

The passage begins in Judges 19:1 and goes through the end of the book.  Briefly, a Levite's concubine is unfaithful to him.  He goes to her father's house to get her and bring her back.  He and the father spend several late nights partying and finally late one evening he and his concubine leave.  They travel to a town but have no place to stay.  A man invites them in, but the men of the town want to 'know' the visitor.  The man offers his daughter & the Levite's concubine but they are declined.  The Levite grabs his concubine and throws her outside.  She is abused all night and dies on the doorstep the next morning.  The Levite is displeased, hauls her home, cuts her into pieces and sends the pieces throughout Israel.  This angers Israel, and a war between Israel and the tribe of Benjamin start.  Many on both sides are killed.

The troubling part for me was that I was trying to find a 'deeper' meaning or application for this passage.  As is my habit, when something troubles me, I read and prayed over the passage for several days.  I felt led to continue to investigate, so I began consulting commentaries.  NONE of them had the 'ring of truth' to them.  Most suggested that the woman was being punished for her sin, and that it was divine judgement.  Some suggested that she probably 'volunteered' for this to protect her husband.  Others didn't claim to understand, but chalked it up to a difference in customs.

The TRUTH is actually much plainer than that.  As always, we must interpret scripture with scripture, and take passages literally.  This story is a literal truth.  Not an example for us to follow or a passage for us to glean pearls of wisdom from, but an accurate description of an actual incident.  The greater lesson is that Israel (at least the tribe of Benjamin) had degraded to the same level that caused God to destroy Sodom & Gomorrah.  Levites were specifically instructed as to the women they were to marry, and this Levite didn't follow it.  Man's counsel is taken (Judges 20:7) when God's counsel should have been sought.  When God's counsel is sought, it is not 'What is your will?' but which one of us gets to go first.  God uses this civil war to severely punish Israel for their corruption, and (in my opinion) teaches them to have compassion later.

I'll post more on how to study later.

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