Role of:

In those days Israel had no king.

Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. – Judges 19:1

Having concubines was an accepted part of Israelites society although this is not what God intended (Genesis 2:24). A concubine had most of the duties but only some of the privileges of a wife.  Although she was legally attached to one man, she and her children did not usually have the inheritance rights of the legal wife and legitimate children.  Her primary purpose was giving the man sexual pleasure, bearing additional children, and contributing more help to the household or estate.  Concubines were often foreign prisoners of war.  But they could also be Israelites, as was probably the case in this story.

[They continued to use the idols Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.  – Judges 18:31.  The true worship of God should have been maintained through the Levitical priests scattered throughout the land and the influence of the tabernacle in Shiloh.  This story shows how pagan influences and moral depravity had crept into every corner of Israelite culture.  Although 300 years had passed since they entered the promised land, they had still not destroyed the idolatry and evil practices within it.]

[There may be a tendency in your life to allow “harmless” habits to have their own small corners, but they can become dominating forces. The values, attitudes, and practices you have adopted from the world’s system can be exposed by applying the light of God’s truth to them.  Once you see them for what they are, you can begin to uproot them.]

[Judges 19:1-21:25.  What is the significance of this tragic story?  When the Israelites’ faith in God disintegrated, their unity as a nation also disintegrated.  They could have taken complete possession of the land if they had obeyed God and trusted him to keep his promises.  But when they forgot him, they lost their purpose, and soon “everyone did as he saw fit” (21:25).  When they stopped letting God lead them, they became no better than the evil people around them.  When they made laws for their own benefit, they set standards far below God’s.  When you leave God out of your life you may be shocked at what you are capable of doing (19:30).]

[Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish.  But to this man, don’t do such a disgraceful thing.”  – Judges 19:24.  Nowhere is the unwritten law of hospitality stronger than in the Middle East.  Protecting a guest at any cost ranked at the top of a man’s code of honour.  But here the hospitality code turned to fanaticism.  The rape and abuse of a daughter and companion was preferable to the possibility of a conflict between a guest and a neighbor.  The two men were selfish (they didn’t want to get hurt themselves); they lacked courage (they didn’t want to face a conflict even when lives were at stake); and they disobeyed God’s law (they allowed deliberate abuse and murder).  What drastic consequences can result when social protocol carries more authority than moral convictions!]

[When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel. Everyone who saw it said, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt.  Think about it!  Consider it!  Tell us what to do!”  – Judges 19:29, 30.  Although this was a terrible way to spread the news, it effectively communicated the horror of the crime and called the people to action.  Saul used a similar method in 1 Samuel 11:7.  Ironically, the man who alerted Israel to the murder of his concubine was just as guilty for her death as the men who actually killed her.]

[The horrible crime described in this chapter wasn’t Israel’s worse offence.  Even worse was the nation’s failure to establish a government based upon God’s moral principles, where the law of God was the law of the land. As a result, laws were usually unenforced and crime was ignored.  Sexual perversion and lawlessness were a by-product of Israel’s disobedience to God. The Israelites weren’t willing to speak up until events had gone too far.]

[Whenever we get away from God and his word, all sorts of evil can follow. Our drifting away from God may be slow and almost imperceptible, with the ultimate results affecting a future generation.  We must continually call our nation back to God and work towards the establishment of God’s moral and spiritual reign in the heart of every person.]

[Then all the Israelites from Dan to Beersheba and from the land of Gilead came out as one man and assembled before the LORD in Mizpah. – Judges 20:1. Dan was the northernmost city in Israel, and Beersheba, the southernmost.  The two were often mentioned together as a reference to the entire nation.]


Consequences of Gideon’s relationship with:

His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also bore him a son, whom he named Abimelech. – JUDGES 8:31

This relationship between Gideon and a concubine produced a son who tore apart Gideon’s family and caused tragedy for the nation. Gideon’s story illustrates the fact that heroes in battle are not always heroes in daily life.  Gideon led the nation but could not lead his family.  No matter who you are, moral laxness will cause problems.  Just because you have won a single battle with temptation does not mean you will automatically win the next one.  We need to be constantly watchful against temptation.  Sometimes Satan’s strongest attacks come after a victory.

[But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.” – Judges 8:23.  The people wanted to make Gideon their king, but Gideon stressed that the Lord was to rule over them.  Despite his inconsistencies, Gideon never lost sight of the importance, for both nation and an individual, of putting God first.  Is God first in your life?  If he is, he must affect every dimension of your life, not just what you do in church.]

[The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks. Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town.  All Israel prostituted themselves by worshipping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family. – Judges 8:26, 27. Those who were very wealthy put ornaments on their camels as a way of displaying their riches.  Women wore vast amounts of jewellery as well, often up to 15 pairs of earrings.  Jewellery was also worn for good luck.  After Gideon’s rise to power, he seems to have become carried away with this accumulation of wealth.  Eventually it led the Israelites to idolatry.]

[No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god and – Judges 8:33.  Baal-Berith means “Baal (lord) of the covenant”.  Worship of the idol may have combined elements of both the Israelites’ and Canaan religions.]

Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelech had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. God also made the men of Shechem pay for all their wickedness.  The curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal came on them. – JUDGES 9:56-57

Gideon, Abimelech’s father, succeeded in military battles, but sometimes failed in his personal struggles. Gideon was not condemned for taking a concubine (8:31), but the family problems that resulted from this relationship are clearly stated.

In the end, Abimelech killed 69 of his 70 half brothers, tore apart a nation, and then was killed himself. Fro Gideon’s life we learn that no matter how much good we do for God’s kingdom, sin in our lives will still produce powerful, damaging consequences.

(Jotham’s curse is found in 9:16-20.)

[a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull.  – Judges 9:53.  In times of battle, women were sometimes asked to join the men at the city wall to drop heavy objects on the soldiers below.  A millstone would have been an ideal object for this purpose.  It was a round stone about 18 inches in diameter with a hole in the centre.  Millstones were used to grind into flour.  The grain was placed between two millstones.  The tope millstone was turned, crushing the grain.  –  Abimelech’s death was especially humiliating: he was killed by a woman, not by fighting; and he was killed by a farm implement instead of a weapon.  Abimelech therefore asked his amour-bearer to stab him with his sword before he died from the blow of the millstone.]

[After the time of Abimelech a man of Issachar, Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo, rose to save Israel. He lived in Shamir, in the hill country of Ephraim.  He led Israel for twenty-three years; then he died, and was buried in Shamir.  He was followed by Jair of Gilead, who led Israel for twenty-two years.  He had thirty sons, who rode thirty donkeys.  They controlled thirty towns in Gilead, which to this day are called Havvoth Jair.  When Jair died, he was buried in Kamon.Judges 10:1-5.  In five verses we read about two men who judged Israel for a total of 45 years, yet all we know about them besides the length of their rules is that one had 30 sons who rode around on 30 donkeys.  What are you doing for God that is worth noting?  When your life is over, will people remember more than just what was in your bank account or the number of years you lived?]

[Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD. They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines.  And because the Israelites forsook the LORD and no longer served himJudges 10:6.  Baal and Ashtoreth are explained in the notes on 2:11-15 and 3:7.  The gods of Aram and Sidon are very similar.  The gods of Moab and Ammon were Chemosh and Moelch.  The Philistine gods were Dagon, Ashtoreth, Asherah, and Baal-Zebul.]

[The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah, Benjamin and the house of Ephraim; and Israel was in great destress. Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD, “We have sinned against you, forsaking our God and serving the Baals.” – Judges 10:9, 10.  Once again the Israelites suffered for many years before they gave up their sinful ways and called out to God for help (see 4:1-3; 6:1-7). Notice that when the Israelites were at the end of their tether they did not look to their pagan gods for help, but to the only One who was really able to help.  –  Is God your last resort? So much unnecessary suffering takes place because we don’t call on God until we’ve used up all other resources.  Rather than waiting until the situation becomes desperate, turn to God first.  He has the necessary resources to meet every kind of problem.]


Sleeping with the king’s:

During the war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner had been strengthening his own position in the house of Saul. Now Saul had had a concubine named Rizpah daughter of Aiah.  And Ish-Bosheth said to Abner, “Why did you sleep with my father’s concubine?”  – 2 Samuel 3:6-7

To sleep with any of the king’s wives or concubines was to make a claim to the throne, and it was considered treason. Because Ish-Bosheth was a weak ruler, Abner was running the country; thus he may have felt justifiedin sleeping with Saul’s concubine.  Ish-Bosheth, however, saw that Abner’s power was becoming too great.

(Ish-Bosheth may have been right to speak out against Abner’s behaviour, but he didn’t have the moral strength to maintain his authority (3:11). Lack of moral strength to maintain his authority (3:11).  Lack of moral backbone became the root of Israel’s troubles over the next four centuries.  Only 4 of the next 40 kings of Israel were called “good”.  It takes courage and strength to stand firm in your convictions and to confront wrongdoing in the face of opposition.  When you believe something is wrong, do not let yourself be talked out of your position.  Firmly attack the wrong and uphold the right.)

[Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon the son of Ahinoam of Jezreel; his second, Kileab the son of Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream the son of David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.2 Samuel 3:2-5.  David suffered much heartache because of his many wives.  Polygamy was a socially acceptable practice for kings at this time, although God specifically warned against it (Deuteronomy 17:14-17).  Sadly, the numerous sons born to David’s wives caused him great trouble.  Rape (13:14), murder (13:28), rebellion (15:13), and greed (1 Kings 1:5, 6) all resulted from the jealous rivalries among the half brothers.  Solomon, one of David’s sons and his successor to the throne, also took many wives who eventually turned him away from God (1 Kings 11:3, 4).]

[Abner was very angry because of what Ish-Bosheth said and he answered, “Am I a dog’s head – on Judah’s side? This very day I am loyal to the house of your father Saul and to his family and friends.  I haven’t handed you over to David.  Yet now you accuse me of an offence involving this woman!  – 2 Samuel 3:8.  By saying, “Am I a dog’s head?”  Abner meant, “Am I a traitor for Judah?”  He may have been refuting the accusations that he was trying to take over the throne, or he may have been angry that Ish-Bosheth scolded him after.  Abner had helped put him on the throne in the first place.  Prior to his conversation, Abner realized that he could not keep David from eventually taking over Israel.  Because he was angry at Ish-Bosheth, Abner devised a plan to turn over the kingdom of Israel to David.]


©KingsWay, St. Barnabas 1973.

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