- Judg. 19:1-21:25
There was a certain Levite who had a concubine (a woman that is like a wife, but with lesser status in the home) who was unfaithful to him, leaving him and returning to her parents’ home. The Levite went to her parents’ home to persuade her to return home with him. The man’s father-in-law welcomed him and persuaded him to stay there several days. Finally, the Levite decided it was time to return home. He left late in the day and, on his way home, determined to stay the night in the city of Gibeah, in the tribe of Benjamin.
They arrived in Gibeah’s city square (the center of town) and no one volunteered for them to come stay the night. Finally an old man who was returning from working in the fields offered for the Levite and his wife to stay with him. The Levite accepted. At night, evil Israelites from the city pounded on the old man’s door demanding they send the Levite out so that they could mistreat him. The old man refused and, instead, sent his daughter and the Levite’s wife out to them. The evil men mistreated the Levite’s wife so badly that she died.
The Levite was furious. He placed his wife’s body on his donkey and took her home. When he got home he cut her body into twelve pieces and sent a piece to each of the tribes of Israel. All the Israelites came together before the LORD at Mizpah. Then the Levite told what happened to his wife. The Israelites were furious at this disgraceful act and they sent messengers throughout the tribe of Benjamin, saying:
What is this wickedness that has occurred among you? Now therefore, deliver up the men, the perverted men who are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove the evil from Israel!
(Judg. 20:12-13 NKJV)
But the children of Benjamin would not listen. Instead the tribe of Benjamin gathered 26,000 swordsmen plus 700 who lived in the town of Gibeah where the crime was committed. 700 of these soldiers were left-handed and could sling a stone at a hair without missing (Judg. 20:16)! The other tribes of Israel gathered 400,000 swordsmen to meet Benjamin in battle. Twice Benjamin defeated Israel. The first day 22,000 Israelites died and the second day 18,000 more died. Finally, the third day Israel defeated Benjamin, killing 25,100 Benjamites.
It is obvious how Israel’s morality has declined after years of idolatry. They are reaping the rewards of every man doing what seemed right in their own eyes as opposed to following GOD’s way. The period of the Judges is summarized in one verse:
In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.
(Judg. 21:25 NKJV)