Micah’s Idols (Chapter 17)
“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Judges 17:6
Micah recovers silver for his mother (a LOT of silver), so she sees fit to have an idol created for Micah (along with other household gods). It seems Micah has some recollection about setting up a shrine, installing a priest, etc., so he appoints one of his sons as priest. Voila! He’s in business! Even better, a Levite was passing through, so Micah hired him to be the priest, “Now I know that the Lord will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest.” (Judges 17:13)
The Danites Settle in Laish (Chapter 18)
The Danites were looking for a place to settle, so they sent 5 men out to “spy out the land” and find a suitable area. They stumbled upon Micah and his priest, so they asked for God’s favor. The priest said, “sure!” (ok, that shouldn’t be in quotes). The spies went home, provided their report and mustered 600 men to capture the land. The Danites force, along with the spies, returned to Micah’s house, took the idols and promoted the priest to be a tribal priest (rather than just one family). “The priest was very pleased” (Judges 18:20). Micah confronted them as they departed with his stuff and priest, but they looked fierce, so he “turned around and went back home.” The Danites attacked and burned down Laish, then rebuilt and renamed the town Dan.
A Levite and His Concubine (Chapter 19)
This is a sad story, like many, that begins with unfaithfulness and ends in a Sodom and Gomorrah like episode where the lewd men of Gibeah (Benjamites) rape and kill the Levite’s concubine. The Levite cuts her into 12 pieces and sends a message to each of the tribes.
Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Just imagine! We must do something! So speak up! Judges 19:30
No kidding, something must be done! What does it take to wake you from your slumber? From complacency? This kind of story MUST raise your blood pressure. Like many stories in modern times, do we react when we hear these?
The Israelites Punish the Benjamites (Chapter 20)
Israel (sans Benjamin) gathered to attack Gibeah. Thousands attacked, thousands died. Ultimately, Gibeah was destroyed to avenge the rape and murder of the concubine. Thousands. Bloodshed doesn’t create happiness.
Wives for the Benjamites (Chapter 21)
The Israelites grieved for the tribe of Benjamin, “Today one tribe is cut off from Israel,” they said. “How can we provide wives for those who are left, since we have taken an other by the Lord not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?” Judges 21:7
The leaders come up with a couple of plans to secure virgins for the Benjamites and thus keep the tribe alive. First they killed every man and non-virgin in Jabesh Gilead and gave the virgins to the tribe. When that wasn’t enough, they devised a scheme to ambush virgins and haul them away. I’m just going to leave that alone. The last words in Judges capture the sentiment well:
In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. Judges 21:25