And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds. — Judges 19:30
We will not forget 9/11 — the shock, the horror that swept across the United States and the world. The Al Braca family remembers more vividly than most of us — Al worked for Cantor Fitzgerald in Tower One on the 105th floor. He did not like his job because his godly values were so foreign to those around him; in fact, his co-workers called him “The Rev,” but Al felt it was God’s plan for him to continue working there, “to be a light in the darkness.” He witnessed at every opportunity.
By piecing together information from the relatives of other victims in the weeks after 9/11, Al’s family learned that when he realized he and his fellow employees were trapped, he witnessed to fifty people and led them in prayer. More than a month after 9/11, an MCI operator found out how to reach Al’s family and deliver his last message to them, “Tell them that I love them.” Al Braca faced evil and tragedy and used it for the glory of God.(1)
Today’s text is a horrific account specifically mentioned to illustrate the awfulness of the conditions in Israel at that time. Both the World Trade Center collapse and this incident in Israel show how urgently the human family needs God’s help. It is wonderful when the national momentum is going in the direction of God, but more often it is the opposite. This chapter, as well as the entire Book of Judges, reveals how important individuals are who purpose to serve God and be true to Him and His Word.
The evil of man is ever-present, and maybe you feel alone in the midst of a world of sin. Yet, we do not have to live with fear or feel vulnerable if we have the peace of God in our hearts. Remember that even one godly life can make a difference. Perhaps you think that your life and purpose to stand for God are insignificant compared to the evils of your coworkers or classmates. Take heart! God is depending on you. Perhaps He is using your life to teach someone else about salvation. Keep on serving Him!
Most Bible commentators believe that three of the last five chapters of Judges are not in chronological sequence, but took place earlier in the time of the judges. The events in these chapters were recorded as illustrations of the degenerate moral state of Israel. Today’s text is the second of those three chapters. This chapter again points out that there was no king in Israel. God wanted to be their king, but the people were going their own ways.
Concubines carried most of the same responsibilities as a wife, but they received only some of the benefits. Even though the attachment to their husbands was socially legal, concubines and their children did not usually receive part of the inheritance. Often, they were prisoners of war from other countries, although the concubine in this text was probably an Israelite. She was unfaithful to her husband, and went to her father’s home. After four months, the Levite went to Bethlehem, and they were reconciled.
The father-in-law had no apparent ill intent in doing all he could to delay the man’s departure. The fact that his son-in-law was a Levite may have added to his delight in having him in his home. He was probably joyful that the couple was reunited. All of this would have made it more difficult for the Levite to finally insist on departing.
Gibeah was a city of the tribe of Benjamin. From Bethlehem to Gibeah was about ten miles. Travel was dangerous particularly at night (Judges 5:6), and Jerusalem was closer. However, the area was still in the possession of the Jebusites, who were descendants of Canaan and later driven out by David and his men.
Extending hospitality to strangers and travelers was a sacred responsibility in the East, however no Gibeonites offered the travelers a place to stay. Instead, an older man from the tribe of Ephraim took them in. The men of Gibeah were homosexuals and were acting as Sodomites. Incredibly, the Levite gave his concubine to this crowd, and their abuse killed her while he slept!
The actions the Levite took with her body were intended to obtain attention and shock Israel into action. He wanted punishment and justice, but his own acts and negligence had contributed to the woman’s death.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
B. Moral decline during the time of the judges
1. The crime at Gibeah (19:1-30)
a. The Levite’s unfaithful concubine (19:1-2)
b. The Levite’s trip to recover his concubine (19:3-9)
c. The Levite’s journey to Gibeah (19:10)
d. The immorality of the men of Gibeah (19:11-30)
(1) The provisions of the host (19:11-15)
(2) The alerting of the tribes of the action (19:16-21)
(3) The murder-rape of the concubine (19:22-30)
Sin seemingly has no limits in how far it will take us once we begin to allow God’s truth to slip away from our grasp. May we always properly recognize, appreciate, and hold fast to God’s great love and His Word.
1. Christin Ditchfield, “A Light in the Darkness,” Focus on the Family.