not worthy

Base Scripture Judges  19 -20

Lesson:

Concubines were female slaves who served as a surrogate mother or an extra wife. A man could have as many concubines as he could afford.  A concubine is not an honorable position.

There are only a few reasons a person became a concubine: if you were taken captive in a war or sold by a family member into slave sold in trade. No little girl wants to grow up and become a concubine.

There was a Levite who had a concubine.  The Levite’s concubine left him to go back to her hometown. He went to retrieve her; on their way back to his house, he stopped in a nearby town because it was getting dark. During this time period, there was an understanding among the tribes: if a traveler stood in the town square, he should be offered a place to stay among the people. However, on this evening, no one took the Levite in. Finally, an old man offered him a place to stay for the night.

Later that evening some men pounded on the old man’s door and demanded to have sex with the Levite. The old man offered his daughter and the concubine to the men, but they persisted. They only wanted the Levite. Finally, the Levite threw his concubine out to the men. They raped and tortured her all night. She had just enough strength to return to the old man’s house before collapsing at his door. In the morning the Levite found her at the doorstep unresponsive and took her dead body home. 

The Levite wanted all the tribes to know what happened to him. He cut her body in pieces like a butchered animal then mailed a piece of her to every tribe. This concubine was not even honored in death. Not even worthy of a proper funeral or burial. Just scattered all over the land. This act was also a demand for justice.

The other tribes got together and demanded that the tribe of Benjamin turn over the people that raped her to death to be punished. Not an unreasonable request. But Benjamin refused to comply for some reason. Why protect rapists and murders?  Rather than turn over the rapists of the dead concubine, the tribe of Benjamin got 26,000 swordsmen and 700 young men of fighting age prepared for battle.

The tribes of Israel had 400 swordsmen to fight the battle,

 On the first day of battle 22,000 of these soldiers were killed. This death tole doesn’t include wounded. 22,000 men dead in one day. Over a concubine. Did the men talk to each other about why they were fighting?

On day two of the battle 18,000 Israelites were killed. Over a dead slave. Are you getting me?

The third day immediately resulted in 30 Israelites deaths, the tribe of Benjamin thought they were going to slaughter them like they had the previous two days, but they were in for a surprise.  Israel had prayed for Gods intervention and although they lost heavily the first two days on the third day, God granted them victory.  25,100 Benjamite’s were killed. This was almost every fighting aged male in their tribe. (Again, these numbers do not reflect the wounded) The tribes of Israel also set fire to all of Benjamin’s villages.

In three days, 65,100 men died because of the death of one concubine. 65,100 fathers, brothers, sons, leaders died. There is no record of the men who raped and tortured the concubine being killed or punished for their crimes. Was it worth it? Was the nameless concubine worth kind of battle? This much death? And after the battle, what happened to her body? Was she ever put back together? Was she given proper burial and laid to rest?

Was this reaction justified? Was the high death toll warranted over the rape and murder of a concubine? Is one life worth more than another or more than many others?  How do we assign value to a person?

Applications:

I’ve been asked about the George Floyd reaction. What makes him different from anyone else? Why is his death more important than someone else’s?  What makes him so special, so valued by the Black community? He’s a criminal, why are people making a martyr out of him?

In society, humans put value on things that are flawed. A penny with a spelling error from 1966 is selling for $18,000. A dollar bill with all 9’s for a serial number is on sell for $25,000. The famous stamp with the plane printed upside down. The face value is 24 cents and is now valued at over one and a half million dollars. Items with flaws are worth precious wealth. But people with flaws are what, worth less?

So, what about the flawed George Floyd? The media is quick to assign value to him. People say his death is not worth the Black Lives Matter momentum that followed. But what does God say? His system of value is vastly different from the human perspective. Genesis says, “God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). “The Psalmist writes “[We] are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139). Solomon says, “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Solomon 4:7). In Romans, Paul writes, “none of us is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Man’s righteousness does not determine our value to God. He loves us. Greatly. Deeply. Recklessly. Afterall, for God so valued the world, that He gave His only Son to save us.

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