¶ The first story opens with Micah, a young man, and his theft of a great deal of silver from
his own mother, thus breaking both the Fourth ("Honor thy father and mother.") and the
Seventh ("Thou shalt not steal.") Commandments. His mother curses
the young man. The ancient world understood, as we often fail to understand, the power of words;
this maladiction will do its work and no good will come of the episode, in spite of the mother's
utterance of forgiveness upon the young man after he confesses and restores the wealth.
¶ By fashioning the silver into idols the family violates the First ("Thou shalt have no other gods.") Commandment.
Compounding the felony they break the Second ("Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.")
Commandment by declaring such idolatry is compatible with dedicating the silver to the Lord.
¶ Even a Levite, by birth a true priest of the Lord, is likewise corrupted by money and turned idolator in
the service of this naughty family.
¶ As the story progresses the sins of individuals become the sins of families and tribes.
Thus as mother and son are set against each other by the theft and the curse, only to be reconciled
to each other as sinners together united against God, so the twelve tribes of Israel are at variance
one against and find commonality only in their rejection of the Lord and His commandments.
¶ Although the conquest of the Promised Land was intended to yield each tribe
its own secure territory only after a joint effort (see Numbers Chapter 32),
this passage from the Book of Judges describes a time when eleven tribes are secure in their homelands while the Tribe of Dan
is left alone to fend for itself.
In a parallel to the story (Numbers Chapter 13) in the Fourth Book of Moses where the spies are sent
to reconnoiter the Promised Land on behalf of all the Tribes of Israel, in this passages spies are sent to
search out for the Tribe of Dan solely a settling-down place in the Promised Land. The spies discover Micah's home chapel
and hire away his simonist priest, and, in an echo of the theft that began this episode, steal the idols, leaving Micah
to lament "Ye have taken away my gods which I made" –a stark reminder of the difference between the true God and Savior who created all things
and false man-made gods which cannot even save themselves.
¶ Equipped with false gods and a faithless priest the Danites attacked the defenseless and unsuspecting city of Laish which, having
taken, they establish as the principal Danite city and major center of woship as a rival to the Tabernacle of the Lord and later
the Jerusalem Temple.
And there was a man of
mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah. And he said unto his mother, The
eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from thee, about
which thou cursedst, and spakest of also in mine ears, behold, the silver
is with me; I took it. And his mother said, Blessed be thou of the
LORD, my son. And when he
had restored the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother,
his mother said, I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the LORD from my
hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image: now therefore
I will restore it unto thee. Yet he restored the money unto
his mother; and his mother took two hundred shekels of silver, and
gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten
image: and they were in the house of Micah. And the man Micah had an house of
gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons,
who became his priest.
In those days there was no king in Israel,
but every man did
that which was right in his own eyes.
And there was a young
man out of Bethlehemjudah of the family of Judah, who was a Levite,
and he sojourned there. And the man departed out of the
city from Bethlehemjudah to sojourn where he could find a place:
and he came to mount Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he journeyed.
And Micah said unto him,
Whence comest thou? And he said unto him, I am a Levite of
Bethlehemjudah, and I go to sojourn where I may find a place.
And Micah said unto
him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give
thee ten shekels of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and
thy victuals. So the Levite went in. And the Levite was content to
dwell with the man; and the young man was unto him as one of his sons.
And Micah consecrated
the Levite; and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of
Micah. Then said Micah,
Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to
In those days there was no king in Israel:
and in those days the tribe of the Danites
sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day all their
inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel. And the children of Dan sent of
their family five men from their coasts, men of valour, from Zorah, and
from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to search it; and they said unto
them, Go, search the land: who when they came to mount Ephraim, to the
house of Micah, they lodged there. When they were by the
house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite: and they
turned in thither, and said unto him, Who brought thee hither? and what
makest thou in this place? and what hast thou here? And he said unto them, Thus and
thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his priest.
And they said unto him,
Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way which
we go shall be prosperous. And the priest said unto them, Go
in peace: before the LORD is your way wherein ye go.
Then the five men
departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were therein,
how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and
and there was no magistrate in the land, that might put
them to shame in any thing;
and they were far from
the Zidonians, and had no business with any man. And they came unto their brethren
to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their brethren said unto them, What say
ye? And they said, Arise,
that we may go up against them: for we have seen the land, and, behold, it
is very good: and are ye still? be not slothful to go,
and to enter to possess the land. When ye go, ye shall come unto a
people secure, and to a large land: for God hath given it into your hands;
a place where there is no want of any thing that is in the
And there went from
thence of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six
hundred men appointed with weapons of war. And they went up, and pitched in
Kirjath-jearim, in Judah: wherefore they called that place Mahaneh-dan
unto this day: behold, it is behind Kirjath-jearim. And they passed thence unto
mount Ephraim, and came unto the house of Micah.
Then answered the
five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and said unto their
brethren, Do ye know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim,
and a graven image, and a molten image? now therefore consider what ye
have to do. And they
turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man the Levite,
even unto the house of Micah, and saluted him. And the six hundred men
appointed with their weapons of war, which were of the children of
Dan, stood by the entering of the gate. And the five men that went to
spy out the land went up, and came in thither, and took the
graven image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image: and
the priest stood in the entering of the gate with the six hundred men
that were appointed with weapons of war. And these went into Micah's
house, and fetched the carved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the
molten image. Then said the priest unto them, What do ye? And they said unto him, Hold thy
peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a
father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the
house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in
Israel? And the
priest's heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and
the graven image, and went in the midst of the people.
So they turned and departed, and
put the little ones and the cattle and the carriage before them.
And when they
were a good way from the house of Micah, the men that were in the
houses near to Micah's house were gathered together, and overtook the
children of Dan. And
they cried unto the children of Dan. And they turned their faces, and said
unto Micah, What aileth thee, that thou comest with such a company?
And he said, Ye have
taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and ye are gone away: and
what have I more? and what is this that ye say unto me, What
aileth thee? And the
children of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice be heard among us, lest
angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life, with the lives of thy
household. And the
children of Dan went their way: and when Micah saw that they were
too strong for him, he turned and went back unto his house.
And they took the things
which Micah had made, and the priest which he had, and came unto Laish,
unto a people that were at quiet and secure: and they smote them
with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire.
And there was no
deliverer, because it was far from Zidon, and they had no business
with any man; and it was in the valley that lieth by
Beth-rehob. And they built a city, and dwelt therein.
And they called the name of the
city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel:
howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first.
And the children of
Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of
Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day
of the captivity of the land.
And they set them up Micah's
graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in
¶ As the last episode ended with one tribe of Israel
breaking faith with the Lord, so this episode begins with the infidelity
of the un-named Levite's wife. As the story progresses we shall see how the sin of one
woman leads to general disregard for the natural order and to rape, murder, and
war that is concluded at the cost of all parties acepting injustice
and injury as the cost of living in a society in which "every man did that
which was right in his own eyes."
¶ After reconciling with his wife, the Levite sets forth to go worship
at the house of the Lord. Along the way he stops at the city of Gibeah in the territory
of Benjamin where, seeking a place to lodge for the night, he finds none but one old man will receive him.
In a parallel to the account of the sin of Sodom (Genesis Chapter 19),
a mob of good-for-nothing fellows ("sons of Belial") beset the house and threaten shamefull
violation of the Levite. The householder offers his own daughter and the Levite's wife
to satify the lust of the lawless men. All through the night the gang abuses the Levite's
woman until she is released in the morning to die at the threshold of the house.
¶ The Levite dismembers the corpse of the woman and scatters pieces to the twelve
tribes as witness of the outrage. Presented with evidence of the wickedness of the
men of Gibeah, the rest of Israel calls on Benjamin to surrender the offenders to justice,
but the Benjamites refuse and the other tribes declare war on Benjamin.
¶ Although outnumbered 400,000 to 33,000, Benjamin prevails on the first day of the
fighting, killing 22,000 men of Israel. Again on the second day Israel loses 18,000 fighting
¶ On the third day Israel fasts and offers sacrifices unto the Lord and on that day Israel
prevails, killing 25,000 of Benjamin, over two-thirds of that tribe's fighting force.
¶ The victorious men of Israel swear to not give their daughters to men of Benjamin to wife
but then repent of this rash oath to cut off Benjamin and thus extinguish the tribe. Again,
as in the first story, maladiction has real effects and cannot be recalled.
¶ The men of Israel decide to provide women for Benjamin and yet not break their oath
by attacking the town of Jabesh–Jabesh, they charge, was, of all Israel, the sole town to
not supply men in the war against Benjamin–and there they kill all the men and married women.
Four hundred orphaned maids of Jabesh are preserved as brides for the men of Benjamin. However,
more women are wanted and the men of Israel agree that Benjamite men may carry away such as they desire
of the maids of Shiloh who yearly come to dance at the festival of the Lord. The maids' fathers and
brothers are left no legal redress against these rapes. Such is the state of things when
"there was no king in Israel" and "every man did that which was right in his own eyes."
And it came to pass in
that there was a
certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a
concubine out of Bethlehemjudah.
And his concubine played the
whore against him, and went away from him unto her father's house to
Bethlehemjudah, and was there four whole months.
And her husband arose, and went
after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again,
having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him
into her father's house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he
rejoiced to meet him. And
his father in law, the damsel's father, retained him; and he abode with
him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there.
when there was no king in Israel,
And it came to pass on
the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he rose up to
depart: and the damsel's father said unto his son in law, Comfort thine
heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way.
And they sat down, and did eat
and drink both of them together: for the damsel's father had said unto
the man, Be content, I pray thee, and tarry all night, and let thine heart
be merry. And when the
man rose up to depart, his father in law urged him: therefore he lodged
there again. And he arose
early in the morning on the fifth day to depart: and the damsel's father
said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon,
and they did eat both of them.
And when the man rose up to
depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father in law, the
damsel's father, said unto him, Behold, now the day draweth toward
evening, I pray you tarry all night: behold, the day groweth to an end,
lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and to morrow get you early on
your way, that thou mayest go home.
But the man would not tarry that
night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is
Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine
also was with him.
And when they were
by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master,
Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and
lodge in it. And his
master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a
stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over
to Gibeah. And he said
unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places to
lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah.
And they passed on and went
their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by
Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin.
And they turned aside thither,
to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him
down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them
into his house to lodging.
And, behold, there
came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which was
also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the
place were Benjamites.
And when he had lifted up his
eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man
said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou?
And he said unto him, We
are passing from Bethlehemjudah toward the side of mount Ephraim;
from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehemjudah, but I am now
going to the house of the LORD; and there is no man that receiveth
me to house. Yet there
is both straw and provender for our asses; and there is bread and wine
also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is
with thy servants: there is no want of any thing.
And the old man said, Peace
be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon
me; only lodge not in the street.
So he brought him into his
house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and
did eat and drink.
Now as they
were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons
of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and
spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man
that came into thine house, that we may know him.
And the man, the master of the
house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren,
nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is
come into mine house, do not this folly.
Behold, here is my
daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and
humble ye them,
and do with them what seemeth good unto you:
but unto this
man do not so vile a thing.
But the men would not hearken to
him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and
they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when
the day began to spring, they let her go.
Then came the woman in the
dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man's house where
her lord was, till it was light.
And her lord rose up in the
morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way:
and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of
the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.
And he said unto her, Up, and
let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon
an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.
And when he was come
into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and
divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent
her into all the coasts of Israel.
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.
Then all the children
of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man,
from Dan even to Beer-sheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD in
Mizpeh. And the chief of
all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented
themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand
footmen that drew sword.
(Now the children of Benjamin
heard that the children of Israel were gone up to Mizpeh.) Then said the
children of Israel, Tell us, how was this wickedness?
And the Levite, the husband of
the woman that was slain, answered and said, I came into Gibeah that
belongeth to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge.
And the men of Gibeah rose
against me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, and
thought to have slain me: and my concubine have they forced, that she is
dead. And I took my
concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country
of the inheritance of Israel: for they have committed lewdness and folly
in Israel. Behold, ye
are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.
And all the people
arose as one man, saying, We will not any of us go to his tent,
neither will we any of us turn into his house.
But now this shall be the
thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up by lot against it;
And we will take ten men
of an hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and an hundred of a
thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to fetch victual for the
people, that they may do, when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according
to all the folly that they have wrought in Israel.
So all the men of Israel were
gathered against the city, knit together as one man.
And the tribes of
Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness
is this that is done among you?
Now therefore deliver us
the men, the children of Belial, which are in Gibeah, that we may
put them to death, and put away evil from Israel. But the children of
Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of
Israel: But the children
of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to
go out to battle against the children of Israel.
And the children of Benjamin
were numbered at that time out of the cities twenty and six thousand men
that drew sword, beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered
seven hundred chosen men.
Among all this people there
were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones
at an hair breadth, and not miss.
And the men of Israel, beside
Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew sword: all
these were men of war.
And the children of
Israel arose, and went up to the house of God, and asked counsel of God,
and said, Which of us shall go up first to the battle against the children
of Benjamin? And the LORD said, Judah shall go up first.
And the children of Israel rose
up in the morning, and encamped against Gibeah.
And the men of Israel went out
to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel put themselves in array
to fight against them at Gibeah.
And the children of Benjamin
came forth out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to the ground of the
Israelites that day twenty and two thousand men.
And the people the men of Israel
encouraged themselves, and set their battle again in array in the place
where they put themselves in array the first day.
(And the children of Israel went
up and wept before the LORD until even, and asked counsel of the LORD,
saying, Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my
brother? And the LORD said, Go up against him.)
And the children of Israel came
near against the children of Benjamin the second day.
And Benjamin went forth against
them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed down to the ground of the
children of Israel again eighteen thousand men; all these drew the sword.
Then all the children
of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God,
and wept, and sat there before the LORD, and fasted that day until even,
and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.
And the children of Israel
enquired of the LORD, (for the ark of the covenant of God was there
in those days, And
Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those
days,) saying, Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of
Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? And the LORD said, Go up; for to
morrow I will deliver them into thine hand.
And Israel set liers in wait
round about Gibeah. And
the children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the
third day, and put themselves in array against Gibeah, as at other times.
And the children of
Benjamin went out against the people, and were drawn away from the
city; and they began to smite of the people, and kill, as at other
times, in the highways, of which one goeth up to the house of God, and the
other to Gibeah in the field, about thirty men of Israel.
And the children of Benjamin
said, They are smitten down before us, as at the first. But the
children of Israel said, Let us flee, and draw them from the city unto the
highways. And all the
men of Israel rose up out of their place, and put themselves in array at
Baal-tamar: and the liers in wait of Israel came forth out of their
places, even out of the meadows of Gibeah.
And there came against Gibeah
ten thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and the battle was sore: but
they knew not that evil was near them.
And the LORD smote Benjamin
before Israel: and the children of Israel destroyed of the Benjamites that
day twenty and five thousand and an hundred men: all these drew the sword.
So the children of
Benjamin saw that they were smitten: for the men of Israel gave place to
the Benjamites, because they trusted unto the liers in wait which they had
set beside Gibeah. And
the liers in wait hasted, and rushed upon Gibeah; and the liers in wait
drew themselves along, and smote all the city with the edge of the
sword. Now there was an
appointed sign between the men of Israel and the liers in wait, that they
should make a great flame with smoke rise up out of the city.
And when the men of Israel
retired in the battle, Benjamin began to smite and kill of the men
of Israel about thirty persons: for they said, Surely they are smitten
down before us, as in the first battle.
But when the flame began to
arise up out of the city with a pillar of smoke, the Benjamites looked
behind them, and, behold, the flame of the city ascended up to heaven.
And when the men of
Israel turned again, the men of Benjamin were amazed: for they saw that
evil was come upon them.
Therefore they turned their
backs before the men of Israel unto the way of the wilderness; but the
battle overtook them; and them which came out of the cities they
destroyed in the midst of them.
Thus they inclosed the
Benjamites round about, and chased them, and trode them down
with ease over against Gibeah toward the sunrising.
And there fell of Benjamin
eighteen thousand men; all these were men of valour.
And they turned and fled toward
the wilderness unto the rock of Rimmon: and they gleaned of them in the
highways five thousand men; and pursued hard after them unto Gidom, and
slew two thousand men of them.
So that all which fell that day
of Benjamin were twenty and five thousand men that drew the sword; all
these were men of valour.
But six hundred men turned and
fled to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon, and abode in the rock Rimmon
four months. And the men
of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with
the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast,
and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that they
Now the men of Israel
had sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter
unto Benjamin to wife.
And the people came to the house
of God, and abode there till even before God, and lifted up their voices,
and wept sore; And said,
O LORD God of Israel, why is this come to pass in Israel, that there
should be to day one tribe lacking in Israel?
And it came to pass on the
morrow, that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered
burnt offerings and peace offerings.
And the children of Israel said,
Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up with
the congregation unto the LORD? For they had made a great oath concerning
him that came not up to the LORD to Mizpeh, saying, He shall surely be put
to death. And the
children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said,
There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day.
How shall we do for wives for
them that remain, seeing we have sworn by the LORD that we will not give
them of our daughters to wives?
And they said, What
one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up to Mizpeh to
the LORD? And, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to
the assembly. For the
people were numbered, and, behold, there were none of the
inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead there.
And the congregation sent
thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying,
Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword,
with the women and the children.
And this is the thing
that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman
that hath lain by man.
And they found among the
inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no
man by lying with any male: and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh,
which is in the land of Canaan.
And the whole congregation sent
some to speak to the children of Benjamin that were in the
rock Rimmon, and to call peaceably unto them.
And Benjamin came again at that
time; and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of
Jabesh- gilead: and yet so they sufficed them not.
And the people repented them for
Benjamin, because that the LORD had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
Then the elders of
the congregation said, How shall we do for wives for them that remain,
seeing the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?
And they said, There must
be an inheritance for them that be escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe
be not destroyed out of Israel.
Howbeit we may not give them
wives of our daughters: for the children of Israel have sworn, saying,
Cursed be he that giveth a wife to Benjamin.
Then they said, Behold, there
is a feast of the LORD in Shiloh yearly in a place which
is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway
that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.
Therefore they commanded the
children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards;
And see, and, behold, if the
daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the
vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh,
and go to the land of Benjamin.
And it shall be, when their
fathers or their brethren come unto us to complain, that we will say unto
them, Be favourable unto them for our sakes: because we reserved not to
each man his wife in the war: for ye did not give unto them at this time,
that ye should be guilty.
And the children of Benjamin did
so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that
danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned unto their
inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them.
And the children of Israel
departed thence at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family,
and they went out from thence every man to his inheritance.
In those days there was no king in Israel:
every man did
that which was right in his own eyes.