Gilbert House Fellowship #342: Judges 19–20

SODOM AND GOMORRAH come to mind when reading the last chapters of the Book of Judges.

The disturbing events recorded in the final chapters of Judges describe a time “when there was no king in Israel.” A Levite from the hill country of Ephraim traveled to Bethlehem to bring home his wayward concubine, probably a secondary wife. On their return journey north, they stopped for the night at Gibeah, a town in the territory of Benjamin about four miles north of Jerusalem.

Then things took a horrifying turn.

The men of the city, like the men of Sodom in the days of Abraham and Lot, demanded that the owner of the home where the Levite and his concubine were staying send out the Levite so that they may “know” him—a euphemism for “have sex with.” The homeowner offered his virgin daughter instead, as Lot did with his daughters to the men of Sodom. The men of Gibeah refused—so the Levite pushed his concubine outside where she was raped so violently that she died.

The area discussed this week. Cities mentioned are marked by red boxes. Click to enlarge.
Map courtesy of Biblemapper.com.

The Levite brought her body home, cut her into twelve pieces and sent them to the tribes of Israel, a shocking bit of propaganda that moved the people to gather at Mizpah, about three miles from Gibeah, and prepare for war.

We discuss the fact that the Levite, who should have known better (he’s a Levite, after all!), never appealed to God for help. Nor did the people of Israel consult God before deciding to go to war with the tribe of Benjamin—who, for their part, refused to give up the guilty men of Gibeah, preferring to fight even though they were outnumbered nearly 20-to-1!

We also look at Hosea chapter 9, which references the incident at Gibeah as part of a longer polemic against Ephraim, meaning the northern tribes. Hosea wrote in the 8th century BC, just before the Assyrian conquest of Samaria, a time when the northern tribes had followed the apostasy of Jeroboam, the rebel who led the northern tribes to declare independence from Solomon’s son Rehoboam. Jeroboam set up the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, worship of the Canaanite creator-god El that was specifically condemned by Hosea (Hos. 8:5–6).

We believe the actions of the men of Gibeah and Sodom are linked to the worship of El and Baal-Peor, which Derek argues in his new book The Second Coming of Saturn are one and the same. It’s connected to the cult of the dead, a practice that was a snare to the Israelites from the time they entered Canaan (see Hosea 9:15; Gilgal was the Israelite camp near Jericho).


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