Ruth Chapter 3

Ruth was a young Moabite widow, who had left her family and home, to care for her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. In caring for her, she had gone out to glean from the harvest in the field of a man named Boaz. He had shown kindness to her as she worked in his fields. Boaz was family to Naomi and had the power to redeem them, and so Ruth had been encouraged by Naomi to continue working in his fields.

1 Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?
2 And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor.
3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.
4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.
5 And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.

In an attempt to allow Ruth to have a better life than that of a poor widow, Naomi came up with a plan of marriage for Ruth. She told Ruth, that Boaz would work with the barley that evening. Naomi told her to prepare herself and secretly go to the threshing floor. When he had lied down for the night, she was to uncover his feet and lay at them, until he told her what she should do. Ruth agreed to do as Naomi had instructed her. Ruth honored her mother-in-law, by her service and her willingness to do all that Naomi asked of her.

6 And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her.
7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.

Ruth did as she had been told. I think the reason for laying at his feet, was possibly to make a symbolic gesture of service. I’m not sure if this was an Israelite custom, but I believe that any time one placed themselves at the feet of another, it was a sign of their humility. A servant or even a follower, would place themselves at the feet of their master, to show they were willing to serve or follow them. Ruth, was in a humble position at this time. She was bound to her position in Israel, because of the death of her husband and father-in-law. This seems like a plea to Boaz, to care for her, as a master would care for those willing to serve him. Had she done it publicly, there may have been some other outcome, especially seeing as she was a foreigner. Instead, Naomi suggested to do it privately, and the only way to do this, was to do it secretly in the night.

8 And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet.
9 And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.
10 And he said, Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich.
11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.
12 And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I.
13 Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman’s part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the Lord liveth: lie down until the morning.

Boaz was startled by her, and when he saw that a woman was there, he asked who it was. She told him and asked that he provide for her as her near kinsman, meaning I think, that she asked him to offer her marriage. He called her blessed of the Lord, for her kindness. He told her that he would do all he could for her, because it was known that she was a virtuous woman. He was her near kinsman, but he knew of one who was closer in relation, and he wanted to allow that man the opportunity to do the service of a kinsman to her. If, in the morning, Boaz went to the man and he did not want the responsibility, then Boaz would take care of her as her husband.

14 And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor.
15 Also he said, Bring the veil that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: and she went into the city.
16 And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? And she told her all that the man had done to her.
17 And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law.
18 Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.

Ruth remained with Boaz that night, and she woke early. Boaz asked that she keep her visit to him a secret. He gave her plenty of his harvest of barley and she left with it, to return to Naomi. Ruth told Naomi all that had happened. Naomi told her to patiently wait, because Boaz would not rest until he had done what he had promised her.

Boaz continued to show kindness to Ruth. He gave her a kind compliment, when he said that she was known as a virtuous woman. She was known for her standards or values, even being a foreigner in the Israelite land. I think that he was saying to her, that he would be honored to have her as his wife. Ruth and Boaz are examples of kindness, charity, selflessness, service and loyalty. I am grateful for examples such as these, because it shows that while Israel as a whole, may have been repeatedly turning from righteousness and living unworthy of the blessings of the Lord, there were good individuals among them, who were still striving to do good and live righteously. We may live in a time of great wickedness as well, but there is hope for continued blessings from the Lord, because there are still good, righteous people, who are striving to do what is right.

Ruth Chapter 2

Ruth was the widowed, Moabite daughter-in-law of Naomi, who was an Israelite. She had traveled to Beth-lehem with Naomi, in order to care for her. Ruth had left her family and culture behind, never to return, because she loved Naomi and wanted to remain with her. This next chapter begins:

1 And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.
2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
3 And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.

Ruth went out to see if she could glean corn for Naomi and herself. Gleaning was acceptable under the law of Moses, and the Israelites had been commanded to allow the borders of the fields for this purpose. In so doing, I believe the Lord was allowing for Israelites to care for the poor among them. As it happened, she ended up in the field of Boaz, who was a member of Naomi’s family by marriage.

4 And, behold, Boaz came from Beth-lehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee.
5 Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this?
6 And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab:
7 And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.
8 Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens:
9 Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.
10 Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?
11 And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.
12 The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.
13 Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens.
14 And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.
15 And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not:
16 And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.
17 So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.

Boaz went to his fields and greeted the reapers. He asked the servant of the reapers, who Ruth was. The servant told him that Ruth was the Moabite woman who had returned with Naomi, and that she had asked permission to glean in their field, after the reapers. She had been their all day. Boaz showed kindness towards Ruth, by telling her that she could continue to reap in his field and did not need to go elsewhere for food. He also allowed her to remain with the women of his household. His men were instructed that they were not to stop her from being there, and she was allowed to drink the water with them as well. She respectfully asked him why he would notice her and show kindness to her, when she was a stranger or foreigner. He told her that he had heard the things she had done to care for her widowed mother-in-law, even leaving her own people to be with her in the land of the Israelites. The Lord had reason to bless her for these things. She desired to find favor in the sight of Boaz, and so he told her to join him for a meal with his workers, which she did. When she was finished eating, she returned to glean in his field of Barley. Boaz told his men not only to allow it, but to drop some of the harvest they gathered, so that she could have it.

18 And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed.
19 And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man’s name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz.
20 And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the Lord, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.
21 And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest.
22 And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field.
23 So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law.

Ruth took the food she had gleaned, back to Naomi, and gave it to her. Naomi asked Ruth where she had gleaned. Ruth told her that she had worked with Boaz. Naomi blessed Boaz for his kindness toward Ruth, telling Ruth that he was her kin, or of her family, who had the right or ability to redeem her. Meaning that Boaz had the ability to purchase the land of Naomi’s husband and redeem Naomia and Ruth to the land of their inheritance. Ruth also told Naomi that Boaz had told her to remain with his men throughout the harvest. Naomi felt this would be good for Ruth, and so Ruth continued to glean in the fields of Boaz, until the end of harvest.

I am not absolutely sure what is meant, but I think that in verse 20, Naomi meant that in choosing to be kind to her, Boaz was also extending a kindness to the men in their family who had died. In a recent attempt to better understand how I could keep the commandment to honor my father and mother, I asked my father how he felt I could honor him. One of the answers he gave to me, was to care for my mother after he could was no longer in this life. We can extend kindness to those who have gone on before, by caring for those who they leave behind, especially the widows and fatherless. Throughout time, loving and caring husbands and fathers, pass on and are no longer able to perform their duties to provide and protect the family they love. I can imagine an incredible gratitude expressed in the eternities, to individuals who choose to be kind to the widows and children left behind, when they themselves progress from this life. It takes a compassionate man to assume the role of providing for another such as this. This shows us that Boaz was a very kind and compassionate man, as Naomi describes him to be. This should be an example to us, that there is an important need for us to care for those who are left when a husband and father pass on from this life.

Ruth Chapter 1

The writings in the book of Ruth, took place during the time of the judges, but is an account that is different from those preceding it. In the Bible Dictionary we read, “The book appears to be intended to connect the history of David with the earlier times, and also to form a contrast, in its peaceful and pastoral simplicity, to the disorders of which we read so continually in the Book of Judges.” (see Bible Dictionary:Ruth) The book of Ruth begins:

1 Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Beth-lehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.
2 And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Beth-lehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.
3 And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.
4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.
5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.

There was a famine in the land of Israel, which had become so bad, that a man named Elimelech felt the need to leave and go to the land of Moab. He took his family with him, which consisted of his wife, Naomi, and two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. There is no indication as to whether this famine was this bad all over Israel, but it was bad enough in the area of Beth-lehem-judah, that they needed to leave. While living in Moab, Elimelech died, leaving Naomi and her two sons. Her sons married women of Moab, namely Orpah and Ruth. They lived in Moab for 10 years, during which Mahlon and Chilion also died. They left all three women as widows.

6 Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.
7 Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.
8 And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.
9 The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.
10 And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.
11 And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?
12 Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;
13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.
14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.
15 And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.
16 And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
18 When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.

Naomi had heard that the famine was over in the land of Israel, and she intended to return there, along with her daughters-in-law. They headed for Judah. Naomi told her daughters-in-law, to go back to their parents homes with a blessing from the Lord, and wished them well with their future husbands. She kissed each of them, and they cried at this farewell parting. They both loved her, and did not desire to leave her. They said they would stay with her. Naomi wondered why they would go with her, seeing as she had nothing more to offer her, and had no more sons for them to marry. It was an Israelite custom, for brothers of the deceased, to marry his widow and care for her. Naomi was too old to get married again, and though she hoped for a miracle of sorts, it was unlikely to happen for her. Even if she was married that day, and had sons, these women could not be expected to wait until those sons were old enough to marry them. In those days, life as a widow was hard. Women were supported by the husbands, and once their husbands were gone, they could no longer expect to be sheltered and fed, or loved by a man. If they chose to be with Naomi, they chose this life along side her, which meant they would be far less likely to remarry and live a decent life. Out of love, Naomi desired for these women to have better lives than her own, which was that of a beggar. Orpah chose to return to her family, but Ruth chose to continue with Naomi. Ruth told her not to plead with her to return to her people and their gods. She chose to go with Naomi, to be a part of the people of Israel, and to be converted and follow after the god of Israel.

19 So they two went until they came to Beth-lehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Beth-lehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?
20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
21 I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?
22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Beth-lehem in the beginning of barley harvest.

Naomi and Ruth traveled to Beth-lehem at the time of the barley harvest, and the people there remembered Naomi. She told the people to call her Mara, because she was widowed and felt she was being humbled by God through her afflictions.

The book of Ruth begins by showing us the character of Ruth. She had married into a family of a different faith and background. Ruth had come to love her new family, and when the men were no longer with them, she had love and compassion for her mother-in-law. She chose to follow Naomi to the Israelite land and take care of her, rather than leave for what would have seemed to be better chances at a good life. Likewise, we learn that Naomi had a great love for her daughters-in-law. She was willing to live alone and in poverty, so that they could have better chances for a decent future. This love and willingness to sacrifice personal desires, should be a great example to us of how we should feel towards our family, including those whom we are not related to by blood. When we are married, we become one with our spouse and become a part of their family just as much as our own. Our families, especially our parents, deserve our love, compassion, care and companionship. I do not think this kind of love is fostered in many families today, when it should be. I am grateful to feel the love of my own mother-in-law and I have a desire to have a good and loving relationship with her as well.

Judges Chapter 21

At some point in the time of judges, the tribes of Israel had gathered together against the tribe of Benjamin, because of wickedness that had occurred among them. Benjamin put up a good fight, but because the Lord was with the Israelite host, the Benjamites were destroyed, along with all of their cities in the land. A handful of the army of Benjamin had escaped and hidden themselves during the destruction. This experience is referenced a number of times later in the scriptures, so I imagine it was a memorable loss to the Israelite nation, and something they spoke about as an example, for many years afterwards. This chapter begins:

1 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife.
2 And the people came to the house of God, and abode there till even before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore;
3 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?
4 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.
5 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.
6 And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day.
7 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?

The men of the Israelite nation, made a covenant at the tabernacle, that they would not allow their daughters to marry any remaining man of Benjamin. The men of Benjamin had lived wickedly and were no longer living as covenant men of Israel. The Israelites gathered at the tabernacle and mourned the loss of one of their tribes, namely Benjamin. They made sacrifices to the Lord and denounced those remaining of the tribe of Benjamin, having been cut off from the Lord and from Israel. They also decided that they would destroy any who had not stood with them against Benjamin.

8 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.
9 For the people were numbered, and, behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead there.
10 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.
11 And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man.
12 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.
13 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.
14 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.
15 And the people repented them for Benjamin, because that the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.

The Israelites knew that no man of the area of Jabesh-gilead, had joined them to fight Benjamin. A portion of the army was sent to destroy the city and the people there, specifically the men and their wives. They found 400 virgins in the city, which were taken to Shiloh. Then, the Israelites sent men to peacefully speak to the remainder of the tribe of Benjamin, who had escaped the destruction and hidden themselves. The Israelites gave the virgins of Jabesh-gilead, to the remaining men of Benjamin. The Israelites were then at peace with the tribe of Benjamin, because the Lord provided a way for them to do so.

16 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?
17 And they said, There must be an inheritance for them that be escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel.
18 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.
19 Then they said, Behold, there is a feast of the Lord in Shiloh yearly in a place which is on the north side of Beth-el, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Beth-el to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.
20 Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards;
21 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.
22 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.
23 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.
24 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.
25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

There were some men of the tribe of Benjamin, who remained without wives. The leaders of Israel did not know what to do for them, but they did not want to entirely lose a tribe of Israel. They knew they could not give their own daughters, because of the covenant they had made against the tribe. They told the men of Benjamin, of a yearly ritual in Shiloh, where the women would go out to dance. Shiloh was also where they had moved the virgins they had captured. The Benjamites were to go and hide themselves while they waited for this ritual. Then, they were to take their wives from the women of Shiloh. They were to return to the land of Benjamin and explain their situation to any who questioned them. The men of Benjamin went and, after taking wives, they returned to the land of Benjamin and repaired it. The host of Israel dispersed back to their own lands, and returned back to their separate lives.

The men of Benjamin were punished for standing against the host of Israel. They had defended wickedness and suffered greatly for it. Likewise, the people of Jabesh-gilead had chosen not to stand with the Lord in their fight, and were punished for it. The Lord has promised that wickedness will be destroyed, and that those who side with it, will also be destroyed. This promise is still a part of the Lord’s plan in our day. We have a choice to make. That choice is whether we will stand on the Lord’s side, or on the side of the world. If we choose the Lord, He will lead us and great blessings will follow. If we choose to side with the world, our eventual destruction will come. We, like the individual cities of Israel, might think that we can choose to sit out of the battle. If we actively stand aside and try to remain a neutral party, we are in effect choosing the world and wickedness. Blessings will only come to those who take courage and join the battle against the enemies of God.

Judges Chapter 20

The men of Gibeah, which was a city within the land of Benjamin, had wickedly caused the death of a Levite’s concubine. (see Judges Chapter 19) As a result, the Levite had sent pieces of her to every tribe in Israel and made all known of what had happened against him. This chapter continues by telling what happened to the people after this had occurred. It begins:

1 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.
2 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.
3 (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?
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.

400,000 Israelites from across the nation, gathered together as one against the tribe of Benjamin. The Israelite army desired to know what had happened, and the Levite told them his story against the men of Gibeah. He told them he sent her pieces throughout the tribes of Israel, because these men had committed lewdness and folly, or wickedness against him and disgrace to Israel. He asked them what was to be done.

8 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.
9 But now this shall be the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up by lot against it;
10 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.
11 So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.

The Israelites would not do anything to the Levite, but they decided to take their army towards Gibeah and stand united against the wickedness there.

12 And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness is this that is done among you?
13 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:
14 But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.
15 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.
16 Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.
17 And the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew sword: all these were men of war.

The tribes of Israel sent men through the land of Benjamin to learn what they were doing about the wickedness there. They wanted the men of Belial in Gibeah, to be delivered for punishment for their wickedness. The tribe of Benjamin would not deliver the men of Gibeah, and instead they gathered together to protect Gibeah and fight the the Israelite army. Benjamin had 26,700 men to fight, among whom were many who could use the sling with precision and accuracy. The Israelites had 400,000 men who were men of the army with swords.

18 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.
19 And the children of Israel rose up in the morning, and encamped against Gibeah.
20 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.
21 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.
22 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.
23 (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.)
24 And the children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the second day.
25 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.

The Israelite sought the wisdom of God, as to whom should fight first of their men. The tribe of Judah was called to go first. 22,000 men of Israel were destroyed by the men of Gibeah. The Israelites gained courage the second day, after praying to the Lord to know if they should return to fight, and went back to fight the men of Benjamin. Again, the Israelites were beaten and lost 18,000 men.

26 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.
27 And the children of Israel inquired of the Lord, (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days,
28 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.
29 And Israel set liers in wait round about Gibeah.
30 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.
31 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.
32 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.
33 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.
34 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.
35 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.
36 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.
37 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.
38 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.
39 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.
40 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.
41 And when the men of Israel turned again, the men of Benjamin were amazed: for they saw that evil was come upon them.
42 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.
43 Thus they inclosed the Benjamites round about, and chased them, and trode them down with ease over against Gibeah toward the sunrising.
44 And there fell of Benjamin eighteen thousand men; all these were men of valour.
45 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.
46 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.
47 But six hundred men turned and fled to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon, and abode in the rock Rimmon four months.
48 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 came to.

The Israelites returned to the tabernacle to plead with the Lord. They fasted, prayed and made sacrifices to the Lord. They prayed to know if they should return again to fight the tribe of Benjamin. The Lord promised them that the Benjamites would be delivered into their hands that next day. The army of Israel surrounded Gibeah with men waiting to attack. On the third day, they gathered against Gibeah and the army of Benjamin. The men of Benjamin went out to fight them, killing about thirty of the Israelite army. In the process, they were drawn out away from the city of Gibeah. The men of Benjamin felt that they were defeating the Israelites again. The Israelites began to flee, to draw them away from the city. Then, the 10,000 Israelites that were hiding, went against the city of Gibeah, and after a difficult fight, they destroyed the city. The Israelites defeated 25,000 men of the tribe of Bejamin, because the Lord was with them. The Israelites had chosen a sign between the army and those that were hidden, which was that a large flame would rise from the city. The Israelites had stopped fighting the men of Benjamin, which caused the Benjamites to feel they were defeating them. The men of Benjamin attacked the Israelites, killing about 30 more men. Then, they saw that the city was on fire behind them. The Israelites knew it was time, and turned against the men of Benjamin. The Benjamites were surprised and knew they had been outwitted. They tried to run away into the wilderness, but they could not get away. 18,000 men of Benjamin were killed in that part of the battle. Then 5,000 more were killed as they tried to escape to the highways. Also, 2,000 more who fled towards Gidom. 25,000 Benjamites had fallen that day. 600 of their men escaped and hid in the rock Rimmon for 4 months. The Israelites turned and destroyed all the cities of Benjamin.

This battle was a loss to the tribes of Israel. How hard it must have been to fight against fellow Israelites, whose ancestors had fought with their own, to gain the land of promise. However, the Lord had given commandments, that they were to remove wickedness from among them, and so the rest of Israel was doing their duty by standing against the men of Gibeah. The Benjamites aligned themselves with the men who had brought disgrace to their nation, and became the enemy of righteousness. The Israelites aligned themselves with the Lord. They fasted, prayed and gave sacrifice to the Lord, for His support in their fight. The Lord was there for them, and they were victorious in this battle against wickedness. We can look to the example of the Israelites, and know that if we will turn to the Lord and stand against those things that are wicked in our own lives, He will be there for us and help us to withstand the blows of our enemies. Those things that will draw us to God and show Him that we desire his help, are the same for us as for the Israelites, even prayer, fasting, and sacrifice of those things that the Lord has asked of us in our day.

Judges Chapter 19

During the period of judges in Israel, the people were without kings and generally without prophets. As the Lord’s people, they were expected to live righteously by following the laws given to them by God. If they would follow God’s law, they would receive blessings and protection. If they did not, the Lord would allow bondage and greater trials to come upon them. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Beth-lehem-judah.
2 And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father’s house to Beth-lehem-judah, and was there four whole months.
3 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.
4 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.

A Levite, who was from the side of mount Ephraim, had a concubine. His concubine left her husband and committed adultery. She went to the home of her father and lived there for four months. The Levite went to her father’s house to bring her back, and when he arrived there, his father-in-law was pleased to see him. The father-in-law kept him there as a guest for three days.

5 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.
6 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.
7 And when the man rose up to depart, his father in law urged him: therefore he lodged there again.
8 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.
9 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.
10 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.
11 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.
12 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.
13 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.
14 And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin.
15 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.

They stayed for a meal on the forth day, because the father begged him to stay. Then the father-in-law asked him to stay again, because he wanted the Levite to be content. He asked him to remain again on the fifth day, so they stayed for a good part of the day. The father-in-law asked him to stay again, but the man refused and went on his way. They stopped in Jebus, but the Levite would not stay there because it was not an Israelite city. The Levite decided they would continue on to Gibeah, of the tribe of Benjamin, and stay there. When they arrived, they did not have a place to stay, so they sat in the street.

16 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.
17 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?
18 And he said unto him, We are passing from Beth-lehem-judah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Beth-lehem-judah, but I am now going to the house of the Lord; and there is no man that receiveth me to house.
19 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.
20 And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.
21 So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.

An old man, who was also from mount Ephraim, but lived in Gibeah, saw the man in the street and asked him where he was coming from and where he was going. The Levite told him they were returning to mount Ephraim, where they were from, from Beth-lehem-judah. The Levite was returning to the house of the Lord. He told him that no one would give them a place to stay for the night. The man asked them to stay with him for the night.

22 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.
23 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.
24 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.
25 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.
26 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.
27 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.
28 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.

As they were in the home, merrily eating and drinking, the sons of Belial encircled the house and came asking for the man that had entered the old man’s home. They planned to abuse the man. The old man begged for the men not to do this wicked thing to his guest. Instead, the old man offered his daughter and the Levite’s concubine to the men. The men would not listen to the old man, so the Levite gave them his concubine. The men of the city abused the concubine all night and then let her go the next morning. She went back to the old man’s house, to her husband. When the Levite went to leave, he saw her on the ground. He told her to get up, but she did not answer him, because she had died. He lifted her body onto a donkey and he left with her.

29 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.
30 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.

He brought her to his home, cut her into twelve pieces and sent them to each of the tribes of Israel. Those who witnessed it, said that nothing like it had been done in Israel since they had come out of Egypt.

The people of Benjamin, specifically in the city of Gibeah, had become a wicked and perverse people. This way of coming after a visitor or stranger, to abuse them and have their way with them, was truly wicked. It reminds me of the things that happened to Lot in the city of Sodom, just before the Lord destroyed the entire city for its wickedness. I think that the wickedness of the people of Gibeah, was likely the result of allowing other nations to remain in the area of Benjamin when they had been given instruction to destroy the nations in the land. This is quite possibly the outcome of other nations being an influence on the Israelites.

There are places in the world today, which are set apart by the world for unrighteous and unholy activities. There are men and women in the world who are like the men of Gibeah and Sodom, who sought wicked ways to find pleasure. These types of places and people can influence our own lives in negative ways. This is why we need to be watchful always. I don’t think that the men of Gibeah were influenced to do this wickedness over night, but that over time they were lulled into this behavior. At one time, the men of Gibeah had been blessed people of the Lord. The world had influenced them. The idea that the righteous of the world need to change their ways to be more accepting of the behavior of others, is how this influence starts. If, at first, we think that the choices of others will never effect us and we begin to allow things to happen willingly around us, it will not be long before we are expected to accept that wickedness as a way of life, to condone it in the lives of others, and then even begin to allow it into our own lives. Those who desire to be disciples of Christ and righteous people of God, must stand for what is right and shun those things they know to be against the commandments of God. Our covenants and promises to God, are more important than pleasing men.

Judges Chapter 18

In the last chapter of Judges, we read about a man named Micah, who had a house of idols. He had also consecrated his own priests, including his son and a Levite. The book of Judges continues as follows:

1 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.
2 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.
3 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?
4 And he said unto them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his priest.
5 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.
6 And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the Lord is your way wherein ye go.

At this point in time, the tribe of Dan had need of an inheritance in Israel. Since there was no king in Israel for them to approach about it, they went seeking for their inheritance on their own. Five men of valor eventually came to mount Ephraim where Micah lived. They found the Levite there, and recognized him. They asked how he came to be there and he told them that Micah had made him his priest. Being a priest, they asked him to ask God where they could find land. He told them to go on in peace, possibly directing them, and it sounds like he gave them the blessing of the Lord.

7 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 secure; 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.
8 And they came unto their brethren to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their brethren said unto them, What say ye?
9 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.
10 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 earth.

The men went to Laish, where the people lived a separated, quiet life, without a magistrate to lead them and tell them if how they lived was right or wrong. They went back to their tribe in Zorah and Eshtaol and told them to come with them to take the good land and possess it. They told them that they would find a good land where they would not want for anything in the earth.

11 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.
12 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.
13 And they passed thence unto mount Ephraim, and came unto the house of Micah.

The Danites sent out 600 men of war and went to mount Ephraim, to the house of Micah.

14 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.
15 And they turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted him.
16 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.
17 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.
18 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?
19 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?
20 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.
21 So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the carriage before them.

The five who had seen the land already, told their brothers that Micah had treasures and idols. The army went to the house of Micah and waited at the gate. The five spies took the treasures and idols. The priest came to the Danites and asked what they were doing, and they told him to quietly go with them to be the priest to the entire tribe of Dan instead of being the priest to one man. He was glad for their offer and went with them.

22 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.
23 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?
24 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?
25 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.
26 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.
27 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.
28 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.
29 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.

After the priest had left with men of their tribe, the neighbors of Micah gathered together and caught the men of Dan. The men of Dan asked why Micah brought the gathering after them. Micah said they had taken his idols and his priests, which were all he had. They warned Micah that if he did not remain quiet, he might be killed by angry men, along with his household. The men of Dan continued their leave, and Micah, knowing that they were greater in power than he was, returned to his house. The men of Dan went on to the land of Laish and destroyed the city. Because the people there had separated themselves, they had no rescue. This became the city of Dan.

30 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.
31 And they set them up Micah’s graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.

The Danites set up idolatry in the city of Dan, with the idols they had taken from Micah. They also set up the sons of Jonathan as the priests. These remained during the time that the tabernacle remained in Shiloh.

The thing that I think about the most in this chapter, and the previous chapter, is the description of the time they lived in. It was a time without a king. It was a time when each man, or each family, did what was best for themselves, with no one to lead them. It seems that in addition to it being a time without a king, it was possibly a time without a prophet. I wonder if the reason that the Lord left them without a prophet or king, for so long, was because the people had their hearts drawn so far from him. The Israelites had been promised great blessings if they would remember the Lord and keep His commandments. They had become a wicked and idolatrous people. In general, the traditions of their fathers had led them away from the Lord. I can’t help but imagine that a time without leadership and without the blessings of the Lord, would have been a confusing time. I am very grateful to live in a time when the gospel is available on the earth. I am grateful to live in circumstances where the commandments of God can be known and followed. I feel so blessed to have a prophet of God on the earth today. I know that following guidance and commandments from the Lord, through His holy prophets, I can be truly happy and my family will be blessed.

Judges Chapter 17

There had been several judges who had led Israel since the time of Joshua’s death. The Israelites were in bondage to the Philistines. They had been led by Samson, who sacrificed his own life in captivity among the Philistine leaders, in order to destroy them. The time of Israelite judges continues with the following:

1 And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 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.
6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Micah was an Ephraimite, who had taken silver shekels from his mother. He repented and returned them to her. She told him that she had wanted to dedicate them to the Lord for Micah, and had the plan to make an image with them. She tried to give it to him, but he returned it to her. She took them and had them made into a graven image for their household. Micah had a house of false gods and consecrated his own priests, including his son.

At this time, all of Israel was living according to their own desires. They did right by themselves and did not live under one ruler. A nation does not become unified by this kind of lawlessness. If they had lived as a nation devoted to the Lord, they would have been given the direction needed to be one and do what was right by God; not that which was right according to individual men.

7 And there was a young man out of Beth-lehem-judah of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there.
8 And the man departed out of the city from Beth-lehem-judah to sojourn where he could find a place: and he came to mount Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he journeyed.
9 And Micah said unto him, Whence comest thou? And he said unto him, I am a Levite of Beth-lehem-judah, and I go to sojourn where I may find a place.
10 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.
11 And the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man was unto him as one of his sons.
12 And Micah consecrated the Levite; and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah.
13 Then said Micah, Now know I that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.

A Levite of the tribe of Judah, journeyed to the house of Micah from Beth-lehem-judah. As a Levite, he had no inheritance, and he was looking for a place to live. Micah offered his home if he would be his priest. Micah offered to pay him and provide food and clothing to him. The Levite accepted and was content living there. Michah treated him as family and consecrated him as a priest for his family. Micah felt he would please the Lord, by having a Levite for his priest.

The Levites had a right and obligation to become priests in Israel, though I think if he had been living as a priest to the Lord, he would have been serving in the tabernacle. It appears to me, to be an issue of consecrating false priests for his worship of false gods. This is a case of one trying to do what was right, in all the wrong ways. The Lord had established one way with many specific rules and great blessings connected with that singular plan. This path that Micah had chosen, was not going to bring him the blessings of the Lord. In our day, there is also only one path that the Lord has given us. We are to follow the example and teachings of the Son of God, even Jesus, and that is the one path that will bring us closer to God. There will be many other ways that we could choose to live and many that may seem good on the surface, but only the one path will lead us to return to live with God and receive of the greatest blessings he has to offer.

Judges Chapter 16

Samson was a judge in Israel, who had been raised by his parents, as a Nazarite. He had made covenants with God, and had been blessed with mighty strength as a gift of the spirit. His strength had already brought Israel, the beginnings of deliverance from the bondage of the Philistines. However, Samson had broken most of his covenants with the unrighteous choices he had made. The story of Samson continues:

1 Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.
2 And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.
3 And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.

Samson saw a harlot in Gaza, and went to be with her. Again, his weaknesses got the better of him, and he went against his covenants by doing this. The people of Gaza learned that Samson was there, and encompassed him in the city, with the intent to kill him the next morning. Samson got up at midnight, and carried away the doors of the gate of Gaza, carrying them up the hill.

4 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
5 And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.

Samson came to love a woman named Delilah, and when the Philistine lords learned of it, they went to her and told her to entice him into telling them how he had his strength. They wanted to be able to take him, bind him and afflict him, which I’m guessing would have been to torture him. For her part, they were willing to pay Delilah 1,100 pieces of silver each.

6 And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.
7 And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.
9 Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.
10 And Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound.
11 And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
12 Delilah therefore took new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And there were liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And he brake them from off his arms like a thread.
13 And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.
14 And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web.

Delilah asked Samson straight out, what his weakness in his strength was, so that they could bind him. Samson lied and said that he would be weak if he was bound with seven green undried withs, or new cords. She told the Philistines and the lords brought her the withs to bind him. The men waited to grab him, and she told him that the Philistines were there to take him. He broke the bands, so they did not truly know where his strength was. Delilah asked again, and he lied again by saying that he would be weak if they used new ropes to bind him. She tied him with new ropes and told him the men were there to attack him. Once again, he broke the ropes without any difficulty. For a third time, she asked how he had his strength, and he lied again and told her he would be weak if sheave weaved a web, of the loom, into seven locks of his hair. She did it and once it was fastened, she told him the Philistines were there, and he left with his hair still fastened.

15 And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.
16 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;
17 That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
18 And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.
19 And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.
20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.

Delilah enticed Samson by telling him if he loved her, he would tell her instead of not being honest with her. Finally, he gave in, just as he had with his first wife, and he told her that his strength would be gone if his head was shaved, because he was a Nazarite. She could tell that he was being honest with her this time. She told the Philistines and then made Samson fall asleep on her lap. As he slept, a man shaved seven locks of his hair. He became weak and she woke him with news of the Philistines again. He thought he would be able to escape them as he had before because he had not realized that his gift of strength had left him.

I get the impression that Samsom may have thought his strength had more to do with himself then strictly with the Lord and his covenant. It is as if he knew in his mind that he was to keep his hair for his covenant, but he did not understand in his heart, that his strength truly came from the Lord.

21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.
22 Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.
23 Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.
24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.
25 And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.
26 And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.
27 Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.
28 And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.
30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
31 Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.

The Philistines grabbed him and blinded him, then they took him to Gaza, bound him and put him in prison. His hair began to grow again. When the Philistines gathered together to sacrifice to their god and celebrate that Samson had been captured, they brought him out of the prison to mock him. They put him between the pillars. Samson asked the boy who brought him there, to allow him to feel the pillars of the house. The house was full of 3,000 Philistines there, including the lords. Samson prayed to the Lord, that he might be avenged for loosing his sight, by regaining his strength for just that one moment. He grabbed the two pillars, one in each hand and then pulled on them with all his might. The Lord gave him strength and the house fell on all who were inside, killing himself and 3,000 others. His family went down to gaza and took his body to bury him. He had judged Israel for 22 years.

This story is not far from reality for the life of anyone who would choose to make covenants with the Lord. Whether we choose to believe it or not, the moment we step foot on the path of discipleship, we begin to have an enemy who desires to bind us. There are many who lie in wait, for us to make a mistake. The army of the adversary encircles our homes and sends things in to entice us. They will never tire, but will be persistent in their attempts to reveal our weaknesses. We must remain strong, and when we make mistakes, we need to be quick to repent and rely on the strength of the Lord.

It is interesting to see that over the course of his adult life, Samson did several things to go against the covenant of a Nazarite, but it was not until he had gone against the entire covenant, that his strength was removed from him. He had been blessed with physical strength, but did not seem to be strong in character. I wonder, if he had been faithful to his covenants, would he have been a man of character strength as well? Samson’s weakness was not loosing his strength, but giving in to the temptations of his life, including finally, giving in to the enticements of Delilah, when I am sure he knew it might put him against the standards of the Lord. In Doctrine and Covenants 3:4, we read, “For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.” The Lord blesses each of us with talents and gifts, just as He blessed Samson. If we live up to the promises and covenants we make with the Lord, we will be blessed with greater gifts as well. If we choose to live only a portion of our covenants, or if we choose not recognize the hand of the Lord in our ability to use those gifts, we will be missing out on the full measure of blessings that the Lord has in store for us. There will eventually come a time, when those who choose the path of disobedience, as Samson did, will indeed receive justice for their choices.

Judges Chapter 15

Samson had been raised as a Nazarite by his parents, with the hopes in helping to deliver Israel from bondage. This was the promise from the Lord, before he had been born, if he would remain faithful to his covenants. After he was married out of the covenant, he was deceived by his philistine wife, and had left her. His story continues:

1 But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her father would not suffer him to go in.
2 And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister fairer than she? take her, I pray thee, instead of her.

Samson returned to his wife some time later, but her father had given her to the old companion of Samson. His father-in-law offered his younger daughter to Samson.

3 And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure.
4 And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails.
5 And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.

Samson felt he could go against the Philistines, with reason, and would be blameless in his retribution. He burned the crops of the Philistines. I don’t think that he would have truly been blameless here. He was angry at what had been done to him, so he destroyed their property out of vengeance.

6 Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son in law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire.

The Philistines worked out that Samson had burned their crops, because his father-in-law had given his wife away. They took the wife of Samson, and her father, or her father’s house, and burned them with fire.

7 And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.
8 And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.

Samson declared to them that he would avenge them, and it sounds like he destroyed the Philistines who had killed his wife. Then he went to the rock Etam to dwell. I don’t think Samson was going to hold on to any additional grudges against the Philistines, but did what he thought was fair retribution for what was taken from him.

9 Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi.
10 And the men of Judah said, Why are ye come up against us? And they answered, To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us.
11 Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.
12 And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines. And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves.
13 And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand: but surely we will not kill thee. And they bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the rock.

The Philistines gathered in the land of Judah, to go against Samson for what he had done to their people. 3,000 men of Judah went to Samson in Etam, asking why he had gone against the Philistines who ruled over them. He told them that he had reason to, after what the Philistines had done to him. The men of Judah told Samson that they intended on taking him, bound, to the Philistines. Samson had the men swear that they would not attack him or kill him themselves. They agreed and took Samson down from Etam, bound with new cords.

14 And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.
15 And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.
16 And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.
17 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand, and called that place Ramath-lehi.

As he was brought into Lehi, where the Philistines waited, the Philistines shouted at him. The gift of strength from the Spirit of the Lord gave Samson the ability to loose himself from the bands. He found the jawbone of an ass and used it to kill a thousand Philistines. When he was done, he threw the jawbone away from himself. Considering his vow as a nazarite, which included not touching any carcass, I wonder about the choice in his weapon. Additionally, he was not told by the Lord to go and kill these Philistine men. Rather, he killed them for what had been done to him before. I think it might have been another case of not really living the covenant.

18 And he was sore athirst, and called on the Lord, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?
19 But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof En-hakkore, which is in Lehi unto this day.
20 And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.

Samson felt he would die from thirst, so he pleaded with the Lord to help him so that he would fall into the hands of his enemies. God split a hollow, or a basin as the footnote says, and water came out for Samson to drink. Then he was no longer weak from thirst. He became the judge of Israel for twenty years, during the time when the Philistines ruled over them.

Even with the many times that Samson had not lived up to a lot of the covenant of a nazarite, the Lord continued to allow him to have the gift of strength. The Lord is long-suffering with our choices of disobedience. He will give us the opportunities we need to repent and return to Him, but eventually there will come a time, when the Lord will have to let the consequences of our own actions determine the blessings we have. This time for Samson, would come in the next chapter.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.

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