士師記 21

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1 以色列人在米斯巴曾起誓說:我們都不將女兒便雅憫為妻。

2 以色列人伯特利面前直到晚上,放聲痛哭,

3 耶和華以色列的啊,為何以色列中有這樣缺了支派的事呢?

4 次日清,百姓起來,在那裡築了一座,獻燔祭和平安祭。

5 以色列人彼此問以色列各支派中,誰沒有同會眾上到耶和華面前來呢?先是以色列人起過,凡不上米斯巴到耶和華面前來的,必將他治

6 以色列人為他們的弟兄便雅憫後悔,:如今以色列中絕了個支派了。

7 我們既在耶和華面前起誓說,必不將我們的女兒便雅憫人為妻,現在我們當怎樣辦理、使他們下的人有妻呢?

8 又彼此問以色列支派中誰沒有上米斯巴到耶和華面前呢?他們就查出基列雅比沒有人進會眾那裡;

9 因為百姓被數的時候,沒有一個基列雅比在那裡。

10 會眾就打發一萬大勇士,吩咐他們說:你們去用刀將基列雅比連婦女帶孩子擊殺了。

11 所當行的就是這樣:要將一切男子和已嫁的女子盡行殺戮。

12 他們在基列雅比中,遇見了個未嫁的處女,就迦南地的示羅裡。

13 全會眾打發人到臨門磐的便雅憫人那裡,向他們和睦的話。

14 當時便雅憫人回來了,以色列人就把所存活基列雅比的女子他們為妻,還是不夠。

15 百姓為便雅憫人後悔,因為耶和華使以色列人缺了一個支派(原文是使以色列中有了破口)。

16 會中的長老:便雅憫中的女子既然除滅了,我們當怎樣辦理、使那的人有妻呢?

17 :便雅憫逃脫的人當有地業,免得以色列中塗抹了一個支派。

18 只是我們不能將自己的女兒他們為妻;因為以色列人曾起誓,有將女兒便雅憫人為妻的,必受咒詛。

19 他們又:在利波拿以伯特利,在示劍以東的示羅,年年有耶和華的節期;

20 就吩咐便雅憫人:你們去,在葡萄園中埋伏。

21 見示羅的女子出來跳舞,就從葡萄園出來,在示羅的女子中各搶一個為妻,回便雅憫地去。

22 他們的父親或是弟兄若我們爭競,我們:求你們看我們的情面,施恩這些,因我們在爭戰的時候沒有他們留下女子為妻。這也不是你們將子女他們的;若是你們的,就算有罪。

23 於是便雅憫人照樣而行,按著他們的數目從跳舞的女子中搶去為妻,就回自己的地業去,又重修城邑居住

24 當時以色列人離開那裡,各歸本支派、本宗族、本地業去了。

25 那時,以色列中沒有,各任意而行。

  

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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