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sent thein to take possession of the city of Laish; but in their way through mount Ephraim, they called at Mical’s house, and in his absence seized the ephod, the teraphim, and other images, that Micah had made; and silenced the remonstrances of the Levite, by representing to him the advantage of being priest to a whole tribe, rather than to any one family, upon which he readily accompanied them. Micah returning home, and finding that his priest and images were gone, assembled his friends and pursued the Danites; but when he came up with the hindmost of them, they advised him to retreat, as they would certainly lose their lives in the contest; he therefore submitted to his loss, and the Danites on the third day came to Laish, burnt the city, destroyed the inhabitants, and took possession of the country
“They rebuilt the city, calling it after their father Dan, and here setting up the image they had stolen, they made the Levite their priest; and in this state of idolatrous worship those Danites continued for about 300 years.”
A certain Levite, whose wife had eloped from him to her father's house, being willing to be reconciled to her, he went to bring her home; but in their return, being benighted, they were obliged to stop at Gibeah, “which belonged to Benjamin, and would have been destitute of lodging, had not a man, who did not properly be. long to the place, offered them one, which they gladly accepted. Scarcely were they retired to rest when the house was beset, and many outrages committed, which ended in a most cruel murder of the Levite's wife. Agitated (as we may suppose) with the most violent emotions, and thirsting for revenge, he thought of a strange expedient to attract the attention of the whole pation, which was to cut his wife into twelve parts,
and send one part to each tribe, with an account of the inhospitable treatment he had met with at Gibeah, in order that it might be resolved in a general assembly of Israel, what step would be most proper to take on this dismal occasion.
The assembly agreed that such an inhuman act was deserving of the most condign punishment; they therefore sent messengers to Gibeal to demand the offenders, but they refused to deliver them, and mustered all their force to protect the criminals.
The army of the Benjamites contained only 26,000 men, that of Israel amounted to 400,000, yet the Benjamites obtained two victories ; for the Israelites, confident of their own strength, placed no dependence on the aid of the ALMIGHTY: but ill fortune made them sensible of their presumption, and they humbled themselves to God, who then encouraged them to attack the Benjamites again, and their victory was complete; for they slew * 25,100, set fire to their city, and destroyed all that belonged to them. It so happened that 600 men, who were all that remained of the tribe, made their escape, and sheltered themselves in the fortress of Rimmon; had it not been for this remnant, the tribe of Benjamin would have been extirpated.
From these two events we may discover, that there was at that time great confusion in the land of Israel; and that the excellent form of goveroment which had been ordained by Moses, at the command of God, was corrupted and disregarded.
In the war between the Benjamites and the other tribes, great losses were sustained on both sides ; nei. ther party had any reason to hope for the protection and assistance of God, and they were made instruments of punishment to each other, * 25,100, Judges xx, 35.-25,000, Judges, xx. 45.
This and the foregoing story seem to have been inserted principally to shew, what a variety of ill effects. were produced in Israel for want of a regular settled government; as it is repeatedly said, that they happened when there was no king in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes. The Israelites had broken their covenant with God, and He had left them to themselves without any governor at all, to feel the sad effects of their presumption and self-dependance.
How thankful should those he who live in a kinga dom blessed with laws calculated to defend the weak, protect the innocent, and punish injustice and violence; who have a good king, and magistrates of various ranke to put them in execution ! Never should people in so happy a case indulge a wish to be at liberty to do every thing that may appear right in their own eyes; lest, enticed by faction, impelled by mistaken zeal, or hurried on by tumultuous passions, they should be led to break the command of Gov, subvert His holy religion, and infringe the peace of that society, of which they are members, for they may assure themselves that they will by such wickedness bring down God's judgments upon
themselves.—War with a foreign enemy is a great evil, but lawless riot and intestine division are productive of the greatest misfortunes that can happen to any country, of which may we never be even spectators!
ISRAEL DELIVERED BY THEIR JUDGES.
In the days of Balaam the prophet, the Moabites were restrained by God, even from pronouncing curses on Israel *, but at length the Israelites committed so * See Section xiii,
many abominations that the LORD was provoked to strengthen that very nation against them! They were now obliged to pay a yearly tribute (a sum of
money, or a certain portion of the product of the land) as an acknowledgment of submission to the king of Moab, and this for eighteen years together. The Israelites then returned to their duty, and God once more raised them up a deliverer in Ehud, whose errand it was to carry the annual present to Eglon, king of Moab.
Ehud provided himself with a dagger, and having obtained a private audience, he stabbed the king of Moab, and made his escape. When Ehud arrived at Mount Ephraim, he blew a truinpet, and assembled the Israelites, and said, Follow me, for the Lord hath delivered your enemies, the Moabites, into your hands; and they went down after him, and slew of the Moabites about ten thousand of their inost valiant men, So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel, and the land had rest fourscore years *.
There is an appearance of great treachery in Ehud's proceedings in respect to the king of Moab, which no. thing could justify, but his having received a com. mand from God to destroy Eglon, in order to set Israel free; therefore his example is not to be imitated in this particular.
We must remember that the Moabites practised open idolatry, and that Israel again obeyed the LORD; as a reward for which, they had received repeated promises that their enemies should fall before them.
It is said that Ehud was of the tribe of Benjamin, and that he was left-handed; therefore, in all probabi. lity, he was no expert warrior till strengthened of Gon, who chose a weak instrument in order to shew his own ALMIGHTY power. * Judges, Chap. iii.
We may suppose that the king of Moab had triumphed over Israel, and exulted with pride at having subdued those who called themselves the people of God; and perhaps he imputed his success to the aid of the false deities he worshipped ; at least we may be certain that he was guilty of presumptuous sin, or he would not have had such an exemplary punishment; and in respect to the Moabites, success was given to them for the punishment of Israel ; when that purpose was com, pleted, they were again exposed to the wrath of God, which had only been suspended, because those who were appointed to execute it had forsaken the Lord, The curse still remained in force against idolatry; and it was the peculiar service of the Israelites (when they were faithful to GOD) to punish those who acted in defiance of His ALMIGHTY power.
Ehud was succeeded by Shamgar, of whom little is said, but that he gained a very complete victory over the Philistines : this might happen during the life of Ehud, perhaps when he was too old for service, or in a different part of the territories of Israel.
It is said that he slew 600 men with an ox-goad ; from which we may conjecture, that Shamgar and his men, bei g suddenly attacked, secured all the rustical instruments they had at hand, and without the usual arms (through the power of the LORD) defeated their enemies.
To what a deplorable sitaation had the Israelites reduced themselves by following false gods; they had no trade; and robbery was so frequent, that travellers were obliged to avoid the public road. The art of
was in a manner forgotten; and it is probable they had been deprived of all their spears and shields by the Philistines. Then did they call to mind the