士师记 21

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1 以色列人在米斯巴曾起誓说:我们都不将女儿便雅悯为妻。

2 以色列人伯特利面前直到晚上,放声痛哭,

3 耶和华以色列的啊,为何以色列中有这样缺了支派的事呢?

4 次日清,百姓起来,在那里筑了一座,献燔祭和平安祭。

5 以色列人彼此问以色列各支派中,谁没有同会众上到耶和华面前来呢?先是以色列人起过,凡不上米斯巴到耶和华面前来的,必将他治

6 以色列人为他们的弟兄便雅悯後悔,:如今以色列中绝了个支派了。

7 我们既在耶和华面前起誓说,必不将我们的女儿便雅悯人为妻,现在我们当怎样办理、使他们下的人有妻呢?

8 又彼此问以色列支派中谁没有上米斯巴到耶和华面前呢?他们就查出基列雅比没有人进会众那里;

9 因为百姓被数的时候,没有一个基列雅比在那里。

10 会众就打发一万大勇士,吩咐他们说:你们去用刀将基列雅比妇女带孩子击杀了。

11 所当行的就是这样:要将一切男子和已嫁的女子尽行杀戮。

12 他们在基列雅比中,遇见了个未嫁的处女,就迦南地的示罗里。

13 全会众打发人到临门磐的便雅悯人那里,向他们和睦的话。

14 当时便雅悯人回来了,以色列人就把所存活基列雅比的女子他们为妻,还是不够。

15 百姓为便雅悯人後悔,因为耶和华使以色列人缺了一个支派(原文是使以色列中有了破口)。

16 会中的长老:便雅悯中的女子既然除灭了,我们当怎样办理、使那馀的人有妻呢?

17 :便雅悯逃脱的人当有地业,免得以色列中涂抹了一个支派。

18 只是我们不能将自己的女儿他们为妻;因为以色列人曾起誓,有将女儿便雅悯人为妻的,必受咒诅。

19 他们又:在利波拿以伯特利,在示剑以东的示罗,年年有耶和华的节期;

20 就吩咐便雅悯人:你们去,在葡萄园中埋伏。

21 见示罗的女子出来跳舞,就从葡萄园出来,在示罗的女子中各抢一个为妻,回便雅悯地去。

22 他们的父亲或是弟兄若我们争竞,我们:求你们看我们的情面,施恩这些,因我们在争战的时候没有他们留下女子为妻。这也不是你们将子女他们的;若是你们的,就算有罪。

23 於是便雅悯人照样而行,按着他们的数目从跳舞的女子中抢去为妻,就回自己的地业去,又重修城邑居住

24 当时以色列人离开那里,各归本支派、本宗族、本地业去了。

25 那时,以色列中没有,各任意而行。

  

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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