Reading 73/341, Judges 17-19

Two stories today. The moral of each is that Israel is as bad as anyone. In the first paragraph there is an oft quoted line from Judges, "In those days there was no king in Israel. Every man did what was right in his own eyes." The second story is to be continued tomorrow.

...Judges...

There was a man of the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Micah. He said to his mother, “The eleven hundred pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, and also spoke it in my ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it.” His mother said, “Blessed be my son by the Lord.” He restored the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother, and his mother said, “I most certainly dedicate the silver to the Lord from my hand for my son, to make an engraved image and a molten image.” “Now therefore I will restore it to you.” When he restored the money to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver, and gave them to the silversmith, who made of it an engraved image and a molten image, and it was in the house of Micah. The man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod, and household gods, and consecrated one of his sons as his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel. Every man did what was right in his own eyes. There was a young man out of Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there. The man departed out of the city, out of Bethlehem in Judah, to sojourn where he could find a place, and he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he traveled. Micah said to him, “Where have you come from?” He said to him, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to sojourn wherever I find a place.” Micah said to him, “Dwell with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver each the year, and a suit of clothing, and your food.” So the Levite went in. The Levite was content to dwell with the man, and the young man was to him as one of his sons. Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. Then said Micah, “Now I know that the Lord will do me good, seeing as I have a Levite as my priest.”

In those days there was no king in Israel, and in those days the tribe of Dan sought an inheritance to dwell in, for to that day their inheritance had not fallen to them from among the tribes of Israel. The children of Dan sent from five men from the whole number of their tribe, men of valor, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to explore it, and they said to them, “Go, explore the land. They came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there. When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite, and they turned aside there, and said to him, “Who brought you here? And what do you in this place? And what do you do here?” He said to them, “Thus and thus has Micah dealt with me, and he has hired me, and I have become his priest.” They said to him, “Inquire of God, we beg you, that we may know whether the way which we go shall be prosperous.” The priest said to them, “Go in peace. The way in which you go is under the eye of the Lord.” Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people who were there, how they lived in security, after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting, lacking nothing that is in the earth, possessing wealth, and they were far from the Sidonians, and had no dealings with any man. They came to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, and their brothers said to them, “What do you say?” They said, “Arise, and let us go up against them, for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. Will you stand still? Do not be slothful to go and to enter in to possess the land. When you go, you shall come to an unsuspecting people, and the land is large, for God has given it into your hand, a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth.” There set forth from there of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men girt with weapons of war. They went up, and encamped in Kiriath-jearim, in Judah. Therefore the place is called Mahaneh-dan [Camp of Dan] to this day; behold, it is west of Kiriath-jearim. They passed there to the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah.

Then the five men who went to spy out the country of Laish answered, and said to their brothers, “Do you know that there is in these houses an ephod, and household gods, and an engraved image, and a molten image? Now therefore consider what you have to do.” They turned aside there, and came to the house of the young man, the Levite, to the house of Micah, and asked him of his welfare. The six hundred men girt with their weapons of war, who were of the children of Dan, stood by the entrance of the gate. The five men who went to spy out the land went up, and came in there, and took the engraved image, and the ephod, and the household gods, and the molten image, and the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men girt with weapons of war. When they went into Micah's house, and fetched the engraved image, the ephod, and the household gods, and the molten image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” They said to him, “Hold your peace. Lay your hand on your mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?” The priest's heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the household gods, and the engraved image, and went in the midst of the people. So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the livestock and the goods before them. When they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men who were in the houses near to Micah's house were gathered together, and overtook the children of Dan. They cried to the children of Dan, who turned their faces, and said to Micah, “What’s the matter, that you come with such a company?” He said, “You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and are gone away, and what else do I have? How dare you say to me, ‘What’s the matter?’” The children of Dan said to him, “Do not let your voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows fall on you, and you lose your life, with the lives of your household.” The children of Dan went their way, and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house. They took what Micah had made, and the priest whom he had, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and secure, and struck them with the edge of the sword, and they burnt the city with fire. There was no deliverer, because it was far from Sidon, and they had no dealings with any man, and it was in the valley that lies by Beth-rehob. They built the city, and lived therein. They called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel, though the name of the city was Laish at the first. The children of Dan set up for themselves the engraved image, and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set up Micah's engraved image which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.

It happened in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the farther side of the hill country of Ephraim, who took for himself a concubine out of Bethlehem in Judah. His concubine was unfaithful to him and went away from him to her father's house in Bethlehem in Judah, and was there for about four months. Her husband arose, and went after her, to speak kindly to her, to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of donkeys, and she brought him into her father's house, and when the father of the young lady saw him, he rejoiced to meet him. His father-in-law, the young lady's father, retained him, and he abode with him three days, so they ate and drink, and lodged there. It happened on the fourth day, that they arose early in the morning, and he rose up to depart, and the young lady's father said to his son-in-law, “Strengthen your heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward you shall go your way.” So they sat down, ate, and drank, both of them together, and the young lady's father said to the man, “Please be pleased to stay all night, and let your heart be merry.” The man rose up to depart, but his father-in-law urged him, and he lodged there again. He arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart, and the young lady's father said, “Please strengthen your heart and stay until the day declines”, and they ate, both of them. When the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father-in-law, the young lady's father, said to him, “Behold, now the day draws toward evening, please stay all night, behold, the day grows to an end, lodge here, that your heart may be merry, and tomorrow get up early and on your way, that you may go home.” But the man would not stay that night, but he rose up and departed, and came opposite Jebus (this is Jerusalem), and there were with him a couple of donkeys saddled; his concubine also was with him. When they were by Jebus, the day was far spent, and the servant said to his master, “Please come and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.” His master said to him, “We will not turn aside into the city of a foreigner who is not of the children of Israel, but we will pass over to Gibeah.” He said to his servant, “Come and let us draw near to one of these places, and we will lodge in Gibeah, or in Ramah.”

So they passed on and went their way, and the sun set on them near to Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin. They turned aside there, to go in to lodge in Gibeah, and he went in, and set down in the street of the city; for there was no man who took them into his house to lodge. Behold, there an old man came from his work in the field at evening. Now the man was of the hill country of Ephraim, and he sojourned in Gibeah, but the men of the place were Benjamites. He lifted up his eyes, and saw the wayfaring man in the street of the city, and the old man said, “Where are you going? And where have you come from?” He said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the farther side of the hill country of Ephraim, where I am from, and I went to Bethlehem in Judah, and I am now going to the house of the Lord, and there is no man who takes me into his house. Yet there is both straw and provender for our donkeys, and there is bread and wine also for me, and for your handmaid, and for the young man who is with your servants, There is no want of anything.” The old man said, “Peace be to you; let all your wants depend on me, but do not lodge in the street.” So he brought him into his house, and gave the donkeys fodder, and they washed their feet, and ate and drank.

As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, worthless fellows, beset the house round about, beating at the door, and they spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring forth the man who came into your house, that we may know him.” The man, the master of the house, went out to them, and said to them, “No, my brothers, please do not act so wickedly; seeing that this man has come into my house, do not do this folly. Behold, here is my daughter a virgin, and his concubine, them I will bring out now. Humble them, and do with them what seems good to you, but to this man do not do any such folly.” But the men would not listen to him, so the man laid hold on his concubine, and sent her out to 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. At the dawning of the day, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man's house where her master was, until it was light. 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, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, “Get up, and let us be going”, but there was no answer, so he took her up on the donkey, and the man rose up, and went to his place. When he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the borders of Israel. It was so, that all who 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 to this day. Consider it, take counsel, and speak.”

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