士师记 21

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1 为便雅悯娶妻

2 众人伯特利,在那里面前直到晚上,放声哭,

3 :“耶和华以色列的啊,今日以色列中缺少了个支派,为什么在以色列中发生这事呢?”

4 次日,众人清起来,在那里筑了一座祭坛,献上燔祭和平安祭。

5 以色列人彼此:“以色列各支派中,谁没有与会众上到耶和华面前来呢?”因为他们曾经起过很严厉的誓,:“不上米斯巴到耶和华面前的,必把他处。”

6 以色列人为他们的兄弟便雅悯难过,:“今天以色列中有个支派被剪除了。

7 我们曾经指着耶和华起过誓,必不把我们的女儿便雅悯人作妻子,那么现在我们当怎样办理,使他们下的人有妻子呢?”

8 他们又彼此问:“以色列各支派中,有谁没有上米斯巴到耶和华面前的呢?”他们就发现基列.雅比中没有人去到会众那里。

9 被数点的时候,就发现基列.雅比的居民中没有一在那里。

10 因此会众从勇士中差派一万到那里去,吩咐他们说:“你们去用刀击杀基列.雅比的居民,连妇女与孩子要杀。

11 你们要这样行,你们要把所有的男子,和所有与男子同过房的女子,完全毁灭。”

12 他们在基列.雅比的居民中,到了个未曾与同房,也未曾与子同寝的年轻少女,就把她们迦南地的示罗那里。

13 全体会众又派人到临门的磐石那里,对便雅悯人说话,向他们宣告和平。

14 那时便雅悯人回来了,以色列人就把他们保留的基列.雅比的女子他们作妻子,但还是不够。

15 众人为便雅悯人难过,因为耶和华使以色列众支派中有了缺口。

16 会众中的长老:“便雅悯的女子既然都被除灭了,我们应怎样行,使那些下的人有妻子呢?”

17 :“便雅悯逃脱的人应有地业,免得有个支派从以色列中被消灭。

18 但是我们不能把我们自己的女儿他们作妻子。”因为以色列人曾经起誓:“把女儿便雅悯人作妻子的,是可咒诅的。”

19 他们又:“看哪,每年在示罗都举行耶和华的节期;示罗就是在伯特利面,从伯特利示剑的的东面,在利波拿的面。”

20 于是他们吩咐便雅悯人:“你们去在葡萄园中设下埋伏;

21 在那里观,示罗的女子出来跳舞的时候,你们就从葡萄园出来,从示罗的女子中,各抢一个作妻子,然后回便雅悯地去。

22 如果她们的父亲或是兄弟我们争论,我们就对他们:‘求你们恩待他们吧,因为我们在战场上没有他们留下女子作妻子,而且这又不是你们把女儿他们;若是你们的,你们就有罪了。’”

23 于是便雅悯人照样行了:按着他们的数目,从跳舞的女子中强抢她们作妻子,然后离开那里,回到自己的地业去,重建城市在其中。

24 那时,以色列人离开那里,各回到自己的支派和自己的家族去;他们离开那里,各回到自己的地业去。

25 在那些日子,以色列中没有,各都行自己看为对的事。

  

Exploring the Meaning of 士师记 21      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Wives Provided for the Men of Benjamin

This final chapter of the book of Judges deals with the wish of Israel to provide the remaining men of Benjamin with wives so that the tribe would not die out, since it was one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Yet the men of Israel had made a vow at Mizpah not to give their daughters to any men of Benjamin.

Providing wives means to add either truth or good to a situation. “In the Word, when ‘husband’ is mentioned, then ‘wife’ stands for truth. But when the husband is called ‘the man’, then ‘wife’ stands for good. This is the way it gets continually used in the Word.” (Arcana Caelestia 1468) In this chapter the men are called ‘the men of Benjamin’ or the Benjamites, so wives stand for good being joined to truth.

The men of Israel wondered who had not come to the gathering at Mizpah and recalled that no one from Jabesh Gilead had come. This meant that they were not under the obligation of the vow. The men of Israel told men to go and kill every man in that city and also any woman who was not a virgin. They found four hundred young virgins and brought them up to the camp at Shiloh.

The name Jabesh-Gilead means ‘arid’ and its spiritual meaning is in this city’s non-participation in dealing with the problem of the tribe of Benjamin. It stands for our refusal and disinclination to act to progress the spiritual life of the Word and our obedience to it.
But in it are four hundred young virgins who are not part of this non-participation and they can be taken to be wives for the men of Benjamin, to provide a future and an offspring.

“Virgins stand for the Lord’s kingdom, for everyone who is a kingdom of the Lord or a ‘church’, those who love the Lord, those who are in the affection for good, in charity to their neighbour, and those who love what is true. All of this is from the conjugial love which is there in chaste virgins.” (Arcana Caelestia 3081)

But even so, this is not enough to provide sufficient wives for the men of Benjamin. They recall that there is a yearly feast at Shiloh at which the young daughters of Shiloh dance. They tell the men of Benjamin to go there at the time of the feast and when the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance, to each seize a girl and take her away to Benjamin. And if anyone complains about breaking the vow made at Mizpah, it will be told them that this does not apply to the men of Benjamin and to be kind to this taking of wives.

The spiritual meaning of this is that it is essential that the tribe of Benjamin who stand for the link or connection between internal and external states, should have a full complement of wives so that truth and good can be together in producing and preserving this connection for our spiritual wholeness and its life. (Arcana Caelestia 5411)

The final verse of the book of Judges, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes”, very much describes the sequence of the stories in Judges to the point where good and truth, love for the Lord and obedience to the Word, are marginalised, and replaced by one wrong action after another, through to the very end.

The spiritual meaning in these wrong doings can be seen to show their purpose in terms of our spiritual life and regeneration. This is the purpose of them being included in the Word, and while the text is at times harrowing, it contains the basis for giving us the truths which lead to eternal life and the Lord.

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