Once upon a time, a Levite had a concubine. While coming back home, he stayed with a kind man who allowed him to stay in his home in Gibeah. While there, the residents demanded that the host send out the Levite so they could rape him. But the host sought to protect the Levite, and instead he offered his daugther and concubine. When they people refused, the Levite turned over his own concubine and allowed them to rape and abuse her all night. The next morning, the concubine was found by the Levite dead.
Upset with the results, he took her home, cut her to pieces, and sent them out to each of the Tribes of Israel. Israel came together and determined of their own will that they would go against Gibeah drawing lots.
At first, Israel tried to give the Benjaminites a chance, by insisting they give up the people responsible for what happened to the concubine. But the Benjaminites refused. So Israel had no further choice but to turn to God for advice. In the beginning, Israel looked like they couldn’t win. But God kept telling them to go at it, until finally they saw their breakthrough, and God struck Gibeah Himself.
Israel, shortly after, was torn. They suddenly realized what havoc they had reigned upon a fellow family member. And over what? A concubine? So they sought to remedy the situation and gave them wives to replenish.
This story (Judges 19-21 if you want to read it in full) has some real aggravating elements to it. The Levite and the host (assuming you believe they have two separate origins, some believe they are the same story told differently) took a cue from Lot’s story in Sodom and Gomorrah. But missed the key fact that the 2 angels protected Lot’s daughters. To the angels, the women weren’t “just women”, they were God’s creation and worthy of just as much protection as any man. Even if the Levite was upset that his concubine seems to have played the role of a whore, that doesn’t negate his responsibility to her. Not once in this story, does the host or the Levite turn to God for help to prevent the sons of Belial from committing an unspeakable crime.
Another aggravation is that God seems to punish everyone in this story, but there isn’t a clear understanding as to why. We could come up with theories about why Israel didn’t prevail in the beginning, but none of those justifications can be solidified as fact.
The War against the Benjaminites wasn’t for nothing. It sent a strong message that Israel wouldn’t stand for this kind of evil in its land. And they wouldn’t allow for systematic protection of such evil.
Per the title, you’re probably wondering how this has anything to do with what happened last week and this past weekend.
I respect many of our men and women serving the Blue Line, but I’m not so niave as to believe that there isn’t a tribal problem along that line. The Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd (and similar) cases are clear evidence that there are problems. Being a part of any group (be it career, cultural or otherwise) is just like being a Benjaminite in this story. They feel a sense of duty to protect the sanctity of whatever it is they stand for. That’s just another feature of this story in Judges that is so aggrevating…we don’t get to hear what Benjamin was actually doing to rectify the situation. Had they launched their own internal investigation? Were they really just responding to what looked like a real threat and figured Israel was so out of their minds that they wouldn’t actually be satisfied by fulfilling their request?
Without information, we can’t know enough to formulate an opinion. But with what little information we have, there’s something to be learned in the aftermath of the war against the Benjaminites. Something applicable today. After all this rioting and looting against civilian targets (don’t confuse my words as condemning everything, a police precinct was a perfectly valid target- private businesses/property are not), those who committed such crimes against their fellow American brothers and sisters, should consider what they can do to rectify the situation and restore what they have taken from those that were innocent in all of this.
If you are amongst those who participated in the looting and rioting against private businesses/properties, and claim to be a follower of Christ, you should feel the same shame as the Israelites did- because this isn’t who we are called to be.