士師記 21

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1 為便雅憫娶妻以色列人在米斯巴曾經起誓說:“我們中間不可有把自己的女兒便雅憫妻子。”

2 眾人伯特利,在那裡面前直到晚上,放聲哭,

3 :“耶和華以色列的啊,今日以色列中缺少了個支派,為甚麼在以色列中發生這事呢?”

4 次日,眾人清起來,在那裡築了一座祭壇,獻上燔祭和平安祭。

5 以色列人彼此:“以色列各支派中,誰沒有與會眾上到耶和華面前來呢?”因為他們曾經起過很嚴厲的誓,:“不上米斯巴到耶和華面前的,必把他處。”

6 以色列人為他們的兄弟便雅憫難過,:“今天以色列中有個支派被剪除了。

7 我們曾經指著耶和華起過誓,必不把我們的女兒便雅憫人作妻子,那麼現在我們當怎樣辦理,使他們下的人有妻子呢?”

8 他們又彼此問:“以色列各支派中,有誰沒有上米斯巴到耶和華面前的呢?”他們就發現基列.雅比中沒有人去到會眾那裡。

9 被數點的時候,就發現基列.雅比的居民中沒有一在那裡。

10 因此會眾從勇士中差派一萬到那裡去,吩咐他們說:“你們去用刀擊殺基列.雅比的居民,連婦女與孩子要殺。

11 你們要這樣行,你們要把所有的男子,和所有與男子同過房的女子,完全毀滅。”

12 他們在基列.雅比的居民中,到了個未曾與同房,也未曾與子同寢的年輕少女,就把她們迦南地的示羅那裡。

13 全體會眾又派人到臨門的磐石那裡,對便雅憫人說話,向他們宣告和平。

14 那時便雅憫人回來了,以色列人就把他們保留的基列.雅比的女子他們作妻子,但還是不夠。

15 眾人為便雅憫人難過,因為耶和華使以色列眾支派中有了缺口。

16 會眾中的長老:“便雅憫的女子既然都被除滅了,我們應怎樣行,使那些下的人有妻子呢?”

17 :“便雅憫逃脫的人應有地業,免得有個支派從以色列中被消滅。

18 但是我們不能把我們自己的女兒他們作妻子。”因為以色列人曾經起誓:“把女兒便雅憫人作妻子的,是可咒詛的。”

19 他們又:“看哪,每年在示羅都舉行耶和華的節期;示羅就是在伯特利面,從伯特利示劍的的東面,在利波拿的面。”

20 於是他們吩咐便雅憫人:“你們去在葡萄園中設下埋伏;

21 在那裡觀,示羅的女子出來跳舞的時候,你們就從葡萄園出來,從示羅的女子中,各搶一個作妻子,然後回便雅憫地去。

22 如果她們的父親或是兄弟我們爭論,我們就對他們:‘求你們恩待他們吧,因為我們在戰場上沒有他們留下女子作妻子,而且這又不是你們把女兒他們;若是你們的,你們就有罪了。’”

23 於是便雅憫人照樣行了:按著他們的數目,從跳舞的女子中強搶她們作妻子,然後離開那裡,回到自己的地業去,重建城市在其中。

24 那時,以色列人離開那裡,各回到自己的支派和自己的家族去;他們離開那裡,各回到自己的地業去。

25 在那些日子,以色列中沒有,各都行自己看為對的事。

  

Exploring the Meaning of 士師記 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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