The Gift of Love
“So that is what the Benjamites did. While the girls were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them.” Judges 21:23
I find the book of Judges to be a fascinating book. We can read about such brave leaders of Israel as Othniel, who won the hand of Caleb’s daughter by capturing the city of Debir. We read about the left-handed Ehud, who tricked the grossly obese king, Eglon, of Moab and plunged his sword through the king. We read about Shamgar, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad, which was a traditional farming implement used to spur or guide livestrock. We read about Deborah, Gideon, and Samson, who all courageously led Israel after Joshua died.
In the latter part of Judges, the Benjamites have such a strong disagreement with the other tribes of Israel that they engage in a civil war. After the valiant Benjamites prevail during the first couple days of fighting, the Israelites eventually defeat the Benjamites and decimate the Benjamite towns, killing everything in them. However, six hundred Benjamite men escape into the desert to the rock of Rimmon, where they stay for four months.
Since the Israelite men had taken an oath at Mizpah that not one of them would give his daughter in marriage to a Benjamite, the Israelites were caught in a dilemma. They now wept because they didn’t want to break their oath, but they also didn’t want a whole tribe of Benjamin to vanish from the face of the earth. What were they to do?
The Israelites discovered that no one from Jabesh Gilead had come to their camp for the assembly, apparently a VERY IMPORTANT MEETING. Because no one from Jabesh Gilead had come to the camp meeting, the Israelites sent 12,000 soldiers to kill every man, woman, and child there except for virgin women. The Israelites captured 400 virgin women and took them to the camp at Shiloh in Canaan. As the Israelites fretted and grieved about the possible disappearance of the tribe of Benjamin, someone came up with a brilliant (?) solution to the dilemma.
“There is the annual festival of the Lord in Shiloh, to the north of Bethel, and east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem and to the south of Lebonah.” So the Israelites instructed the Benjamites with these words, “Go and hide in the vineyards and watch. When the girls of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing, then rush from the vineyards and each of you seize a wife from the girls of Shiloh and go the land of Benjamin. When their fathers or brothers complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Do us a kindness by helping them, because we did not get wives for them during the war, and you are innocent, since you did not give your daughters to them.’”
And that brings us back to the text verse at the top of this devotion. Verse 24 states, “At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance.”
The Prince of Peace pastors recently preached about “How Not to Read the Bible.” We need to consider the above story from Judges in the context of the Old Testament times. Match.com did not exist back then, and obviously the Israelites had very strict laws and regulations. We thank God for the gift of marriage and pray that our Prince of Peace couples continue to love each other and honor the sanctity of marriage.
Almighty God, we thank You for the church leaders that you have placed in our lives. We also thank You for the loved ones that you’ve given us. Please help us to love others as unconditionally as You love us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
~ Jim Essig | Assistant to the Pastors
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