Judges 19-21

These small group studies of Judges contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Judges 19-21 Inductive Bible Study

Outline – Judges 19-21

Chapter 19

  1. The man goes to woo his concubine back (19:1-9)

  2. They leave and arrive at Gibeah (10-15)

  3. An old man from Ephraim takes them in (16-21)

  4. The man shamefully gives his concubine to them and she is raped and killed (22-26)

  5. The Levite radically summons the tribes of Israel together (27-30)

Chapter 20

  1. A council of all Israel is convened to decide what to do (1-7)

  2. The people of Benjamin hardened their hearts and decided to go to war rather than giving up the criminals (8-17)

  3. Two times they failed to defeat Benjamin (18-28)

  4. The final time they defeated and almost wiped out the Benjamite army (29-48)

Chapter 21

  1. Weeping for the lost tribe and deciding how to keep the Benjamites from fading out as a people (1-7)

  2. They attack Jabesh-Gilead and take 400 virgins for the Benjamites from there (8-12)

  3. A bizarre plan to allow some women to be “stolen” instead of actually “giving” them to the Benjamites (13-24)

  4. The conclusion: Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.

Discussion Questions:

What is God’s view towards concubines? Was this an accepted cultural practice?

How does this practice reflect the view of women at the time?

What kinds of things were valued in the culture as seen in these chapters? (Hospitality, tribal unity, bravery)

In 19:12, why do you think the man preferred the people of Israel to foreigners?

What was odd about their experience in Gibeah?

Are there any other stories in the Bible similar to what happens next?

What does this story show about the condition of the people at the time?

Who are the good guys in the story?

Why in the world would the old man offer his daughter instead of a stranger? Why would the Levite offer his concubine?

At the time, the man didn’t seem concerned at all for his concubine. Why the seeming outrage when he got back?

Why would the man send this kind of grotesque message? Did it work?

Did the Levite relate the story exactly as it happened? What fact did he leave out? Why?

Was he right that they committed a disgraceful/lewd act? What fact does he leave out?

What principle does this show about people’s attitudes and standards? (We tend to judge others and notice their sins very easily while excusing ourselves.)

What was the decision of the council? Was this a good decision? Why or why not?

Why would the people of Benjamin risk their lives for a few worthless criminals/murderers? What does this show about their values? What attitude does this show that they were willing to fight about 15 times more men for a few criminals?

What do you think about the motivation of the Israelites in this whole situation? Was it pure and God-centered?

Since they were doing the right action, why did God allow them to lose the battle twice?

How did this change their attitudes? How can you tell?

What strategy do they employ to win the battle?

Why were the people of Israel mourning in chapter 21? Didn’t they accomplish their goal? What value does this show they have? Do you think they are right in this?

What put them into this situation to begin with (a stupid/rash vow).

What do think about their actions to fight against Jabesh-Gilead and kill all the people there because they didn’t help in the battle?

How about the idea of the festival at Shiloh and “accidentally” letting some of their women be stolen?

Teaching Points:

1. Discuss how women were viewed at the time and the proper view of women according to the Bible.

Cross-References

Genesis 1:27 – Male and female were both created by God in His image.

Galatians 3:28 – Neither Jew, nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free.

Mary Magdalene was the first to see the resurrected Jesus.

1 Timothy 2:8-15 – A woman’s role in the church. Different by design.

Genesis 2:24 – God’s standard was always one man, one woman.

1 Timothy 3:2, 12, Titus 1:6 – Leaders in the church must be the husband of one wife.

Teaching Points

1. Discussion the importance of prioritizing values. The old man was great at hospitality, but took his obligation of hospitality way too far, ranking a stranger’s life above his own daughters’.

2. The degenerate state of the culture where there were no actual “good guys.” Every party has some serious problems. The old man was willing to sacrifice his daughter for hospitality. The concubine played the harlot against her husband. The Levite sacrificed his concubine to save himself. The Benjamites were worthless criminals comparable to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. The people of Israel were motivated out of personal anger and outrage. It was a kind of judgmental attack on others. The rest of the Benjamites in pride stood by these criminals instead of turning them over.

Cross-References

Romans 1.

Proverbs 8:13 – To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.

1 Peter 1:15-16 – Be holy as I am holy.

Teaching Point

The Levite was outraged against this act against his concubine and the Israelites were too, but they all committed a lot of serious sins. It is easy to judge others and see the sins in their lives while overlooking one’s own. While some sin was not tolerated, much sin was tolerated in these chapters. And when sin starts to become tolerated an entire culture becomes degenerate, which is what happened. Notice the gross public displays of sin that are going on.

Cross-References

Matthew 7:3-5 – Take the log out of your own eye before the speck out of others.

Psalms 36:1-4 – The wicked do not detect or hate their own sin. They plot evil on their bed and do not reject what is wrong.

Teaching Point

While they performed the right action to punish the sin, the Israelite’s motivation seemed to be personal outrage, rather than humbly following God’s principles. They had too cavalier an approach and were not grieved enough over the actual sin that was occurring. Moreover they didn’t seem to think about the great cost this sin brought, namely the deaths of thousands of people. Although they asked God’s council, they still seemed prideful and self-reliant. Their defeat cost thousands of lives and was a reminder to be humble and not let things degenerate to such a point again in the future. If they had practiced God’s laws faithfully before this, the point of civil war would never have been reached. It’s like parents disciplining children. You can’t wait to only punish the “big” sins or it is almost too late. You have to discipline consistently every sin no matter how big or small or it will spin out of control.

Cross-References

1 Samuel 16:7 – Man looks at the outward appearance; God looks at the heart.

Proverbs 16:2-3 – All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but the Lord weighs the motives.

Jeremiah 11:20 – The Lord tests the heart and mind.

Teaching Points

Sin has consequences. The people of Benjamin had degenerated into despicable acts of sin and pride. God punished them the same as he punished the people of Sodom and Gomorrah half a millennia before. God is consistent. Through all times, all cultures, and all people, sin will be punished. The price of their disobedience was the almost total wiping out of a tribe. As normal, we see that God’s compassion is also right next to his judgment. He once again preserves a remnant and doesn’t totally wipe out even this one group of his people.

They put themselves into a corner by making a rash vow, which they didn’t think through. They could have saved themselves a lot of trouble and additional sin by simply not making this vow to begin with. This is reminiscent of Jepthah’s vow. In both cases, they are seemingly making a vow out of religious fervor, but later regret it. The lesson is very clear. Don’t make rash vows. Think them through first and be sure you won’t be surprised by any situations later.

Judges 11:35 – Jepthah’s foolish vow.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 – Be careful what you vow, but you must fulfill it.

Although their motivation to preserve the Benjamites as a tribe is admirable their methods are not. This is once again of the reflection of the refrain of doing what is right in their own eyes. God never condones their attack and merciless slaughter of the people of Jabesh-Gilead. To save one people, they blotted out another.

They think that they got around lying by setting up this feast and allowing their women to be stolen instead of giving them to the Benjamites. This proves one thing. The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked. They deceived themselves. God knows the heart. Even though they went to such lengths to try to keep a clear conscience and keep their vow, I believe they broke it anyway through this deceptive act. They were condoning kidnapping of people from actual families who loved and cared about them. Once again their values were out of order.

Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked; who can know it?

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