We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine


200 Dancing Girls

I would consider the book of Judges to be the most bizarre book in the Bible. Starting with a king who gets his toes and thumbs cut off, to a left-handed man who knifes a fat king and loses his knife in the king’s belly, to a woman who drives a tent peg through a sleeping man’s skull, to a husband who cuts his wife into twelve pieces, the book of Judges is indeed bizarre!

And like any great book, the meaning is not always clear until you reach the end. So let’s take a look at the end and find its meaning. Unlike chapter one where God answers their prayer, in the last chapter, God is silent. And though God is silent, the people still move forward as if God had given them clear direction. They have sacrificed and they have prayed–what more could God desire? They’ve had their devotions, prayed, and now it’s time to carry out God’s will for the day.

So without hesitation they decide that it’s God’s will for them to kill everyone who didn’t help them fight their battle. Though God hasn’t spoken, what’s wrong with killing a few hundred Jabesh-Gileadites? “Besides, we need 400 of their virgin daughters to fix a little problem of our overaggressive killing of our brother Benjamin.” And that’s not all. They are 200 short on virgin women and in order to fix their earlier mistake of the near extinction of their youngest brother Benjamin’s clan, they move to plan B–kidnapping!

So here’s the plan. “Tonight at Shiloh, a bunch of virgins will be dancing in the fields. (Shiloh is their worship center . . . why 200 virgin girls are out dancing is a mystery! What are their parents thinking?! They aren’t thinking, and that’s the problem!) So when you see them, go out and steal every man a wife and you can then live happily ever after, and our guilty conscience will be at peace for killing too many of you.” Are you getting the feel of the kind of bizarre I’m talking about?

So what can we make of this? The very last verse explains it all. “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” They thought they were serving God. They believed they were zealous to mete out judgment against evil, but failed to judge themselves. They had religion without relationship.

Published in: on February 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm  Leave a Comment