Judges 20:12-18

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 7, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“The tribes of Israel sent messengers throughout the tribe of Benjamin, saying, 'What about this awful crime that was committed among you? Now turn those wicked men of Gibeah over to us so that we may put them to death and purge the evil from Israel.'
But the Benjamites would not listen to their fellow Israelites. From their towns they came together at Gibeah to fight against the Israelites. At once the Benjamites mobilized twenty-six thousand swordsmen from their towns, in addition to seven hundred able young men from those living in Gibeah. Among all these soldiers there were seven hundred select troops who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.
Israel, apart from Benjamin, mustered four hundred thousand swordsmen, all of them fit for battle. The Israelites went up to Bethel and inquired of God. They said, 'Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Benjamites?'
The Lord replied, 'Judah shall go first.'” (Judges 20:12-18)

This passage definitely needs context, and this story actually goes all the way back to the beginning of Judges 19. The short version is that a Levite and his concubine were traveling, and they stopped for the night at Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. While there, the concubine was killed by the immorality of the men of Gibeah. To avenge her death, Israel banded together against the Benjamites and was seeking to get rid of the immorality at Gibeah.

Naturally, the tribe of Benjamin didn’t band together with the rest of Israel, because Gibeah was in their territory. But was it right for Israel to fight against their own people? In this circumstance, yes. Deuteronomy 13:5 and 21:21 clearly command Israel that rebellious parts of the nation must be purged: “You must purge the evil from among you.” This is similar to the saying about how one bad apple spoils the whole bunch; just one evil town can spread that evil and immorality throughout the entire nation, if it’s not taken care of.

The leaders of the tribe of Benjamin could have simply turned over the town of Gibeah to be punished by the nation as a whole, but instead they chose to fight. What began as simply trying to rid the nation of one evil town now because a civil war. The other 11 tribes were fighting against Benjamin.

In Genesis 49:27, it was predicted that the Benjamites would be good warriors, and this held true. We see in this passage in Judges that they were so good with the bow and slingshot that they could use it with either hand! So if some of the men from Gibeah were among these skilled fighters, it’s understandable that Benjamin would be reluctant to hand them over to be punished and likely killed. So, the rest of Israel came with a huge army of 400,000 men, to fight against Benjamin’s 26,000 men.

But rather than rushing into battle, Israel inquired of God as to how to proceed. “The Israelites went up to Bethel and inquired of God” (verse 18). This was a big deal for Israel to be fighting against herself, so fortunately they did involve God in this matter.

Do you apply this idea in your own life? Do you inquire of God before making big decisions in your life, or even small decisions? Or do you just rush in, thinking you can handle it yourself? Israel’s 400,000 men versus Benjamin’s 26,000 sounded like good odds for them to just rush in and start fighting, but instead they set a good example for us and turned to God first. They asked God, and then actually listened to and followed His answer. I encourage you to do the same in your life.

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