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JUDGES CHAPTER 17 ~ 21

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JUDGES CHAPTER 17 ~ 21

Post  Jude on Mon 06 May 2013, 01:26

RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS WITHOUT DIVINE GUIDANCE

JUDGES 17


1 Now there was a man from the hills
Of Ephraim, whose name distils
As Micah. 2 He said to his mom,
“The eleven hundred in palm
Of silver stolen from your bin
Which you cursed and spoke of for sin
As I heard also, here they are
With me, I took the silver bar.”
And his mother said “Blessèd are
You of YHWH, my son. 3 And when he
Gave back the one thousand in fee
And one hundred of silver to
His mother, his mother said too,
“I’d dedicated all the gain
Of the silver to YHWH from stain
Of my hand for my son, to make
A graven image for his sake
And a molten image now then
I’ll put it in your hand again.”
4 And he gave back his mom the lot,
And his mom took two hundred spot
Of silver and gave to the founder,
Who made of them a graven bounder
And a molten image and they
Were in Micah’s house for their sway.
5 The man Micah had house of gods
And made an ephod for their prods
And teraphim and consecrated
One of his sons and elevated
Him as his priest. 6 In those days no
King was in Israel, every Joe
Did what was right in his eyes’ show.

It is not silver itself that leads men
And women astray after idols’ yen.
It is the heart of greed that sets apart
Mother and son, and brings them of one heart
To conspire against You, and yet to claim
That what they make in gods is to Your fame.
I laugh and cry to see their honest sort
Take and give back, it really is great sport.
Hand me the kettle, mom, I’ll make a brew
Of silver that when it comes out to you
Will be a god and goddess, and best yet
I’ll save nine hundred weight in silver set.
Beloved, I see the Baptist way of old
Was popular in sheep of Your own fold.

7 A young man from Bethlehem Judah
Of Judah’s folk who was intruder
As a Levite, and he lived there.
8 And the man left the city’s care
Of Bethlehem Judah to dwell
Where he could find a pastorate.
And he came to Mount Ephraim’s well
To Micah’s house while making rate.
9 And Micah told him, “Where have you
Come from?” And he said to him true,
“I am a Levite of the place
Of Bethlehem Judah in race,
And I’m out looking for a post.”
10 And Micah said to him as host,
“Stay with me and be counsellor
And priest and I will give you more,
Ten pieces of silver a year,
And new suit and victuals in gear.”
So the Levite entered that post.
11 And the Levite was happy most
To stay with the man, and the youth
Was to him like a son in truth.
12 And Micah consecrated that
Levite, and the young man who sat
Became his priest, and there he stayed
In Micah’s house, and there he prayed.
13 Then Micah said “Now I know this,
YHWH’ll do me well, since benefice
I’ve given to Levite as priest,
And so my wealth shall be increased.

Beloved, I thank You that You saved me from
Myself and church when I went out like bum
To seek a benefice, a post and living.
No one escapes idolatry so giving.
The chapels that are set up to employ
The minister for pay and price enjoy
Imagination that You bless that house,
When in fact You give it to nibbling mouse
Of deceit and the greed of sacrifice.
Beloved, I thank You that You kept that vice
From me when I was vulnerable to be
A seeker of that way by Galilee.
Beloved, Your reward is the loving heart
That burns in inner temple from the start.

JUDGES 18


1 In those days no king in Israel
Reigned, and in those days the tribe royal
Of Dan sought inheritance spoil
To dwell in, for unto that day
Inheritance had not in sway
Fallen to them among the tribes
Of Israel. 2 And as ascribes,
The folk of Dan sent five men out
From their family from about
Their places, mighty men no doubt
From Zorah, and from Eshtaol,
To spy out the land searching goal,
And they said to them, “Go and see
The land,” and when they came to be
In Mount Ephraim, to Micah’s house,
They lodged there. 3 They heard by the house
The voice of the young man Levite,
And they turned in there for a bite
And said to him, “Who brought you here?
And what are you doing for cheer?
And what do you have for career?”
4 And he said to them, “Micah does
A good deal by me, yes, he does,
And I am his priest and his fuzz.”
5 And they said to him, “Ask of God
Counsel for us to know the sod,
Whether our way which we go shall
Be prosperous or prodigal.”
6 And the priest said to them, “In peace
Go, for YHWH does your way increase.”

Ah, it requires only to be the son
Of a Levite, no matter what the run,
And get a stipend from a wealthy chap
And then set up an oracle to zap.
From Dan at least if not to Beer Sheba,
The populace will come to draw a straw
In divination for both ma and pa.
That is the faith that wields the scepter now,
That was the faith the yielded to the plough
When Micah and the Levite set up shop
To run a temple business mom and pop.
If the State Church is wickedness untold,
The congregational polity bold
Is thing that does or ought to leave You cold.

7 The five men left and they arrived
In Laish and saw undeprived
The people in it carelessly
Living like Zidonians free,
Quiet and in assumed safety,
Without magistrate in the land
To put to shame what was in hand,
And far from the Zidonians,
Without intercourse in their plans.
8 They came back to their brothers in
Zorah and Eshtaol to win
And their brothers said to them then,
“What do you have to say like men?”
9 They said “Get up, and let’s attack
For we have seen the land, no lack,
And indeed it is very good,
And do you sit here still as wood?
Don’t be lazy to go and take
A fruitful land for your own sake.”
10 When you set out you will arrive
At a people secure in hive
And in a broad land Ælohim
Has given you, a land of cream
Where there’s no lack of anything
Existing on the earthly ring.
11 So went from the family of Dan,
Out of Zorah and Eshtaol,
Six hundred men appointed toll
With weapons of war by their plan.
12 And they went up and they encamped
In Kirjath-jearim and revamped
In Judah, which is why they called
That place Mahanehdan installed
To this day, indeed it’s behind
Kirjath-jearim and well defined.
13 From there they passed into the mount
Of Ephraim and made their count
At the house of Micah and fount.

Experiment it seems You may have made
To see how folk would live to whom displayed
Was Your Mount Sinai vision in the glade.
Can people live a life of justice while
No judge or king is over them a while?
They searched out a folk vulnerable to take
And dispossess them of their land and rake.
The implication is that in the case
There is no ruler to impose the place
Of law, that human beings will run wild
And strong oppress the weak unreconciled.
On other hand, You seem to expect Dan
To destroy Canaanite and by a plan
And so carve out a place upon the span.

14 Then the five men that went to spy
Out the country of Laish, why,
They said in answer to their brothers,
“Do you not know what this house smothers?
There is an ephod, teraphim,
And a graven image and grim
A molten image, now therefore
Consider what to do and more.”
15 And they turned that way and they came
To the young man’s house and the claim
Of the Levite, and to the house
Of Micah, greeting him and spouse.
16 And the six hundred man outfit
With their weapons of war and kit
Who were of the children of Dan
Stood by the gate entrance to fan.
17 And the five men that went to spy
Out the land went up on the sly
And came in there and took the things,
The graven image, and the rings
Of the ephod, and teraphim,
And the molten image and grim,
While the priest stood at gate entrance
With the six hundred men in dance
Fitted out with weapons of war.
18 And these went in to Micah’s store
And got the carved image and more
The ephod and the teraphim
And the molten image and grim,
While the priest said to them and asked,
“What are you doing and untasked?”
19 And they said to him, “Shut your mouth
And give your lips for words a drouth,
And come with us, and be a priest
And counsellor with pay increased.
For is it not better for you
To be a priest in a house due
To one man only or be true
A priest to a tribe and a great
Family in Israel and in state?”

From Baptist chapel to be Patriarch
Or Pope as it may seem from where they park,
Is quite a step up, is it not, not just
In salary but appointment in dust.
Who is faithful in small things and bows to
The graven and molten instead of You
Can look forward to fortune in the pew,
A raising of the profile, bigger crew,
And following to ask advice in trust.
Beloved, I pray You save me from the fate
Of those who follow what is soon or late
The common thought and policy the folk
Around consider right under the oak.
I’d rather go unpaid and rot or rust.

20 And the priest’s heart was glad and he
Took the ephod and he made free
To take the teraphim and the
Graven image and went in fee
To serve the people faithfully.
21 So they turned and lit out and put
The little ones from under foot
And the cattle and baggage spoil
And had them before them in toil.

Now what is the first thing the priest will do
In his higher post and chief of the crew?
He takes the property that once belonged
To another thinking not whom he wronged.
As priests jostle for place and power and shove,
They do not care from whom they steal for love
Of gain and career for themselves, oh no.
For them the only law’s the people’s show.
When the raider takes up from feeble hand
The silver and the ephod in the land,
The priest comes then to carry up the lot
Before the raider and the robber’s plot.
Beloved, clear-eyed I see You judge the hope
Of paid pastor, priest, and unholy pope.

22 When they had gone a good way from
The house of Micah, on the hum,
The men from the houses near his,
Near Micah’s house gathered to whiz
After the folk of Dan to quiz.
23 And they shouted to Dan’s folk there.
And they turned around to repair
And said to Micah, “What’s your plaint,
To come after us with such feint?”
24 He said “You took my gods away,
That I made, and the priest to stay,
And you have gone away and what
Have I left? And then have the gut
To say to me, “Why all the rut?”
25 The children of Dan told him then,
“Keep your voice down among our men,
Unless you want some angry blokes
To run on you and give you strokes
And you and your house lose your lives
Before the bees come out of hives.”
26 The children of Dan went their way,
When Micah saw them there that day
Too strong for him, he turned and went
Back to his house not to repent.
27 And they took what Micah had made
And the priest who with him had stayed,
And came to Laish to the folk
Quiet and in safety and broke
Them with the mouth of the sword and
Burnt the city with the fire brand.
28 And there was none to save them for
It was far from Zidon and shore,
And they had no intercourse done
With any other, and they won
The valley by Beth-rehob, and
They built a town, lived in that land.
29 And they called the name of the place
Dan after the name and the race
Of Dan their father, who was born
To Israel, the name of scorn
Of that city was Laish first.
30 And the children of Dan for worst
Set up the graven image and
Jonathan, son of Gershom and
The son of Manasseh, he and
His sons were priests to tribe of Dan
Till the captivity began.
31 They set up there Micah’s idol
The graven one he’d made to roll,
All the time that the house of God
Was in Shiloh, and worshiped pod.

Note well, Beloved, that Your tent in its place
Was torn and pulled and suffered such disgrace
Of Philistine and relocation and
The rise of dynasties and spoiling hand,
While sweet accord and continuity
Marked the idol in Dan’s serenity.
So Your faith is never left on its own
To go in peace beneath Your royal throne,
But goes from one place and name to another
While hordes of hypocrites about it smother.
By contrast the Vatican of Dan’s hill
For centuries quietly fits the bill.
Beloved, I question all establishment
Knowing what is successful and god-sent.

WEEK 51 JUDGES 19


1 It came to pass that in those days,
When no king reigned in Israel’s praise,
That there was a certain Levite
Living in the far mountains’ site
Of Ephraim. A concubine
He took for himself from the vine
Of Bethlehem in Judah’s line.
2 And his concubine played the harlot
Against him, and went like a starlet
Away from him into the house
Of her father at Bethlehem
In Judah, and was there like grouse
For four whole months in stratagem.
3 Then her husband arose and went
After her, to speak kindly bent
To her, bring her back, with servant
And two donkeys with him in cant.
And she brought him to father’s house,
And when the father of his spouse
Saw him, he was glad to meet him.
4 Now his father-in-law, not grim,
The young woman’s father, made him
Stay with him three days. So they ate
And drank and lodged there to their fate.

The law of divorce that requires the time
Of four months spent apart is set in rhyme
In this story of priest from Ephraim’s hills.
His mercy in remarrying instils
An ancient practice which says divorce bills
May not be renewed unless the dame fills
The place of another man’s bed and sills.
So all is lawful by the ancient way
The people saw remarriage in that day.
The feast is happy and each man and wife
Enjoy the sweetness and kindness of life.
Three days is a bare minimum to praise
The marriage reconciled of man that stays
Content on Ephraim’s mountain without strife.

5 And it came to pass the fourth day
That they got up early to play,
And he was there ready to go,
But the young woman’s father said
To his son-in-law, “Wait a show,
Comfort your heart with piece of bread,
And then go on your way well sped.”
6 And they sat down and ate and drank
Both of them together in rank,
And the dame’s father told the man,
“Content you please and stay by plan
The night and let your heart be glad.”
7 When the man rose like Galahad
To leave, his father-in-law urged
Him so he stayed one more night purged.
8 And he got up early on morn
Of the fifth day to leave the bourn
And the dame’s father said “Let be
Your heart content in comfort, see.”
And they stayed there till afternoon,
And they both ate with knife and spoon.
9 And when the man got up to go,
He and his concubine for show
And his servant, then father-in-law
The dame’s father said on the draw
To him, “See now, the day comes near
To evening, I beg you to steer
And stay here for the night, behold,
The day’s toward, and so be bold
To lodge here that your heart may be
Merry, and tomorrow shall be
An early hour to take your way
To go on home another day.”

The father of the concubine I see
Has the heart of best hospitality.
I do not know if concubines back then
Were treated as a lesser breed by men,
Or if all women had a stake to bear
In being mere possessions in men’s care,
Or whether some women rose up in state
To an equality with stodgy mate.
But I see, my Beloved, the loving heart
Of the father, and so I think the part
Of daughter was a willing, righteous one.
Though angels have been guests and unaware,
The human guest is doubtless much more fun
Both in the afternoon and at day done.

10 But the man would not stay again
That night, but got up and left then,
And came near to Jebus, which is
Jerusalem, and with him his
Two donkeys saddled, concubine
Also with him, everything fine.
11 When they were by Jebus, the day
Was far spent, the servant would say
To his master, “Come now, I pray,
And let us go into the town
Of Jebusites and there lie down.”
12 His master told him, “We will not
Turn aside here into a plot
Of strangers, that are not the folk
Of Israel, we’ll go a stroke
On to Gibeah.” 13 And he said
To his servant, ”Come, let us draw
Near one of these places to that
All night in Gibeah or Ramah.”
14 And they went on and took their way,
And the sun went down on their stay
By Gibeah of Benjamin.
15 So they turned toward the place, went in
To spend the night in Gibeah’s inn,
And when he went in, he sat down
In a street of the darkening town,
Since no one took them under roof
To spend the night there waterproof.

To be in a strange place by day or night
Is dangerous now as it was in sight
Of Jebus some millennia ago.
With care one must decide to trust the glow
Of the town lights. For myself darkened woods
Are safer bet, I do not fear the hoods
Of beast and serpent as much as the kind
Friendship of my own species on the wind.
But even so, I might have made mistake
As did those three in Gibeah, for the sake
Of hospitality. Perhaps he should
Have let the concubine stay where she could
In the house of her dad. No need to make
A trip for women who invite the rake.

16 Indeed, there came an old man from
His work in the fields at the hum
Of evening, and he also was
From Mount Ephraim, but as does
Was living in Gibeah’s sites,
But the folk there were Benjamites.
17 Raising his eyes he saw a man,
A wayfarer upon the plan
Of the city street, and the old
Man said “Where are you going bold?
And where is it that you come from?”
18 And he told him, ”We’re passing from
Bethlehem Judah toward the side
Of Mount Ephraim, I abide
There, and then went to Bethlehem
In Judah, but my stratagem
Is to go to YHWH’s house and there
Is no one to receive me fair.
19 “But there is straw and provender
For our donkeys, and bread to share
With wine for me and your handmaid,
And for the young man with us stayed,
We have no lack of anything.”
20 And the old man said ”Peace to you,
However let all your wants due
Be mine, only do not lie here
Upon the street, for it is drear.”
21 So he brought him into his house,
And gave food for his donkeys’ browse,
And they washed their feet there and drank
And ate what he gave with a thank.

Beloved, I have come to a strange town in
The Middle East, and knowing none within
Have found lodging by offers on the street,
And entered homes to eat and wash my feet,
And bow in prayer before You when we meet.
The stranger in some places may find rest,
Although it is rare in the West at best.
I’m sad to think that in Gibeah’s night
The only one to treat a stranger right
Was distant relative, who saw as kin
Another Ephraimite and took him in.
I’ve taken strangers in who were not mine
In blood or language, and made them to dine,
And so I’ve lived to entertain You fine.

22 As they enjoyed the entertainment,
Behold the city’s men’s profanement,
Certain sons of Belial, came
Around the house and without shame
Beat at the door, and told the host
Of the house, the old man, in boast,
“Bring out the man that came to your
House, so we can corn-hole his chore.”
23 But the man, the host of the house,
Went out to them and showed his blouse,
And told them “No, my brothers, please
Don’t do so wickedly with sleaze,
Since this man has come to my home,
Do no such folly under dome.
24 “Look, my daughter’s a maid, and his
Concubine, I’ll bring them for fizz,
And do with them what you think best,
But do no vile thing to my guest.”
25 But the men would not hear a word,
So the man took his concubird,
And brought her out to them and they
Fornicated with her till day,
Abusing her all night until
The morning peeked over the hill,
And let her go having their fill.
26 The woman came at dawn of day,
Fell at the man’s house’s door’s way
Where her husband was till light’s sway.
27 And her husband got up at morn
And opened door of house of scorn,
And went out to go on his way,
And see the wife, his concubine
Had fallen down there on her spine
At the door of the house and her
Hands were upon the threshold’s burr.

The raped, assaulted and abused to death
Crept back to give up the last sigh and breath
Beside the door, with hand on threshold kept.
I too have been caught in the night and wept.
I too have turned this way and that to find
The darkened streets of love sightless, unkind,
And seen the trusted kinsmen of the night
Flit like the bat across the threshold’s blight.
The threshold is the Kaaba, says the word
That I have found by Turkish hearth and stirred,
And with hand on the Kaaba and in sight,
Robbed, raped and shorn of hope and every right,
I pray the last breath of a fleeting bird.

28 And he told her, “Get up and let
Us be going.” He did not get
An answer. Then the man took her
Up on a donkey and to stir
Got up and went back to his place.
29 And when he got there to his trace,
He took a knife and grabbed hold of
His concubine he had for love,
And cut her up in pieces all
With her bones into twelve in all
And sent her into all the land
Of Israel as witness stand.
30 So it happened that all who saw
The thing said as they stood in awe,
“There was no such deed done nor seen
From the day Israel’s folk convene
To come up out of Egypt’s land
To this day, consider the stand,
Take counsel and speak the command.”

The man was a carouser, that is plain,
And perhaps thought a little tail not vain.
But just because a man drinks on the top
And wanders round the country like a fop
Does not mean he has no right to expect
To be treated and his with due respect.
The woman may well have been tipsy yet,
She may have been free and loose when well met,
But still she had a right to life and limb,
A right although no virgin to tell him
No thank you for the pleasure of the romp.
The world is still evil despite its pomp,
And young girls and boys still cannot say no
To those here in the West who run the show.

JUDGES 20


1 And all of Israel’s folk came out,
From Dan to Beer Sheba about,
Also from land of Gilead,
And so the congregation had
Gathered as one man before YHWH
At Mizpeh. 2 And the leaders crew
Of all the people, all the tribes
Of Israel, came without bribes
In the assembly of the folk
Of Ælohim, four hundred full
Thousand foot soldiers who could pull
The sword. 3 Now Benjamin’s folk heard
The folk of Israel as the word
Had gone up to Mizpeh. And so
The folk of Israel said, “Now show
How did this wickedness take place?”
4 And the Levite, husband to trace
Of the woman who was killed, said
In answer, “I came as I sped
To Gibeah of Benjamin,
My concubine and I towing
A place to lodge. 5 And Gibeah’s men
Attacked me, surrounding again
The house at night and tried to kill
Me, and my concubine with will
They forced and so she died. 6 And I
Took my concubine, and cut her
In pieces, and then I sent her
Through all the land of Israel’s plot,
Since they committed lewd and sot
Acts in Israel. 7 Now see, all you
Folk of Israel, think what to do.”

A cunning trick it was no doubt to get
The truth before the people and so met
To incite them to war and riot set.
The implication is that had there been
A king or judge to whom he could show sin,
Then justice might be had at hand of one
Instead of at the hand of battle done
By all the mob in thousands gathered there.
As I tell the truth day to day let me
Not tell it in a way to treachery.
To kill a woman is not errand that
Requires the life of thousands in the vat.
Beloved, let my words limit violence
And bring peace and to You obedience.

8 All the folk got up as one man,
Saying “We’ll not any by plan
Go back to his tent or to house.
9 “Now this shall be the thing in blouse
That we’ll do against Gibeah,
Going by lottery with claw.
10 “And we’ll take of a hundred men
Ten from all tribes of Israel’s glen,
And of a thousand one hundred,
And of ten thousand to be fed
With victual for the folk well-bred
A thousand, that they may bring justice
To Gibeah of Benjamin,
For all they’ve done and not to trust us,
In their committing such a sin.”
11 So all the men of Israel went
Against the town in agreement
As one man. 12 And then Israel’s tribes
Sent men through all the tribe conscribes
Of Benjamin, saying “What’s this
Wickedness done for cowardice?
13 “Bring out the men, Belial’s sons,
Which are in Gibeah by tonnes,
That we may put the men to death,
And extirpate the evil breath
From Israel.” But the folk of
Benjamin for money or love
Would not listen to the voice of
Their brothers, folk of Israel.
14 The folk of Benjamin in swell
Came together to Gibeah
From their cities by hand and claw,
To go out to battle the folk
Of Israel gathered for broke.

Beloved, I list the errors of the folk.
The first was to be in the wrong place stroke
At the wrong time, instead of thinking well
To do the journey in the daytime spell.
And that error came from drinking too much.
The second error was in lacking touch
Of hospitality. Third error’s crutch
Was the night attack on the stranger’s clutch.
The fourth error was incitement to riot.
The fifth error was demanding unquiet
Instead of diplomatic recognition
That Benjamin’s folk could with kind petition
Take care of their own criminals when caught.
Beloved, these five errors remain in plot.

15 The number of Benjamin’s folk
At that time out of cities’ stroke
Was twenty-six thousand men that
Wielded the sword from where they sat
Besides Gibeah’s citizens,
Who amounted to denizens
Seven hundred well-trained in glens.
16 Of all these people there were found
Seven hundred chosen men ground
To sling stones with the left hand to
A hair’s breadth and not miss the view.
17 Other than Benjamin the folk
Of Israel numbered in the yoke
Were four hundred thousand men that
Wielded the sword, warriors down pat.
18 The folk of Israel arose,
Went up to God’s house to propose,
And asked counsel of Ælohim,
And said “Which of us shall you deem
To go up first to battle there
Against Benjamin’s people fair?”
And YHWH said “Judah first, beware.”
19 And Israel’s people rose at dawn
And camped against Gibeah’s lawn.
20 The men of Israel went out
To fight against Benjamin stout,
And Israel’s men stood in array
To fight Gibeah’s men that day.
21 And Benjamin’s folk came out from
Gibeah and destroyed each bum
Of Israelites that day in score
Twenty-two thousand men and more.

Beloved, I know that war’s a foolish thing,
But notice how foolish it stays in ring.
Down to this day attackers meet to spoil
The homeland set all in array to toil,
While the defender, lying on his turf,
Supplied with deft guerrillas meets the surf.
Indeed, the attacker may often find
A victory ahead in future blind,
But always at the cost uncounted of
Thousands of lives intended not to shove.
The frontal attack made in such array
Lost Britain her colonies and the sway
Of Viet Nam, and how many more, I say.
Beloved, I know that war’s no thing to sing.

22 And the male folk of Israel
Encouraged themselves with a spell
To set their battle in array
In the same place in the same way
As they had done on the first day.
23 And Israel’s folk went up and wept
Before YHWH until evening swept,
And asked counsel from YHWH saying
“Shall I go up once more in fling
Of battle on Benjamin’s folk,
My brother to battle convoke?”
YHWH said “Go up against the bloke.”
24 And the children of Israel came
Near Benjamin’s folk for the claim
Of the second day. 25 Benjamin
Went out against them from the bin
Of Gibeah the second day,
And ground them to the earth for pay,
The folk of Israel once again
Eighteen thousand of their swordsmen.
26 Then all the folk of Israel and
All the people went up to stand
And came to house of Ælohim,
And wept and sat there before YHWH,
And fasted that day till the rim
Of evening, and offered as due
Burnt offerings and peace offerings there
Before YHWH and before His share.

The fast that Israel in ancient times
Proposed, the one that gathered at Your rhymes,
Was to refrain from eat and drink until
The sun went down beyond the sea and hill.
The fast the good Christian proposes still
Is to reduce the fat to flowered gill,
And eat the fish and fruit, but not the flesh
Whether baisted or dried or served up fresh.
The fast that You propose no doubt is sure
In being in the heart and hand that’s pure,
And in the soul that fasts from everything
That is prohibited servant and king.
Let me fast till the evening and be done
With everything there is that must be won.

27 And Israel’s folk inquired of YHWH,
For the ark of the covenant
Of Ælohim was there in view
In those days, 28 Phinehas askant,
The son of Eleazar, son
Of Aaron, stood before in done
In those days, saying, “Shall I yet
Once more go out to battle met
Against the folk of Benjamin
My brother, or cease from the sin?”
And YHWH said “Go up, for the day
That dawns I will give you the sway.”

I note, Beloved, that when they asked You first,
They asked who should go up to make the burst
Of the attack, not if they should go up.
Now they are drinking from another cup.
Now they ask should they go again at all.
It seems they’ve got the questions mixed with ball,
The heart before the course, as it may be.
They should have asked first should they go in spree
To fight at all, and then only ask who
Should lead the army into battle’s view.
But no, they assumed first it was Your will
That they fight on the plain and on the hill.
The cry of justice seems enough to make
A case today to unleash war’s mistake.

29 And Israel set liers in wait
Around about Gibeah’s gate.
30 The children of Israel went out
Against Benjamin’s people stout
On the third day, and put themselves
In array against Gibeah’s elves
As they had done at other times.
31 And the fold of Benjamin went
Out against the people to rout
And were drawn away from the town,
And they began attacking crown
To kill as at other times’ crimes,
In the highways up towards the tent
Of Ælohim, the other went
To Gibeah in the field spent,
And killed of Israel’s men thirty.
32. And Benjamin’s folk said “They be
Smitten down before us as then.
But the folk of Israel again
Said “Let’s flee and draw them out from
The city to the highways come.”
33 And all the men of Israel got
Up out of their place and their plot
And put themselves in array at
Baal-tamar, the liers sat
In wait of Israel then came out
Of their hiding places with shout
From Gibeah’s meadows round about.
34 So there came against Gibeah ten
Thousand of Israel’s chosen men,
And the battle was hard, but they
Did not know evil was in sway.
35 And YHWH struck Benjamin a blow
Before Israel and Israel’s show
Of folk destroyed the Benjamites
That day twenty-five thousand wights
And a hundred men all who drew
The sword, and the whole army’s crew.

Beloved, did You really give them the go
To fight a day and fall before the foe?
You say that You were there to give the blow
That struck down Benjamin, and yet I see
The strategy got them the victory,
When they planted guerrilla’s on the lee.
I look upon tangled reality
Of the earth and dare then to say in plea
What is an act of God and what the fate
Man brings upon himself and while You wait.
But this I know, standing before Your gate,
That Your commandment given once of late
Forbids killing, and so I shed the weight
Of violence to see Your coals on pate.

36 The folk of Benjamin then saw
That they were beaten by the paw
Of Israel’s men who would withdraw
Trusting their liers in the draw
Waiting set up by Gibeah’s craw.
37 And the liers in wait with speed
Rushed upon Gibeah indeed,
And the liers in wait drew near
And attacked all the town in fear
With the mouth of the sword drawn sheer.
38 For they had agreed on a sign
Between Israel’s men in design
And ambuscade, that they should make
A great fire with smoke in its wake
Go up from the city at stake.
39 And Israel’s men were on retreat
In the battle before the feet
Of Benjamin who started fighting
To kill the men of Israel flighting
About thirty persons in all,
For they said “Surely now they fall
Down before us as at the first.”
40 But when the fire started to flame
Up out of the city with frame
Of smoke, the Benjamites looked back
Behind them to see and alack
The flame of the city went up
Into the sky as in a cup.
41 And when the men of Israel turned
Back, Benjamin’s men were amazed,
For they saw that the evil blazed
On them and that their city burned.
42 So they retreated before men
Of Israel the way again
Into the wilderness, but there
The battle overtook their bare,
And those who came out of the cities
They destroyed with them without pities.

Beloved, could You not answer at the sound
Of oracle upon the promised ground
Not to kill brother’s brother in the light
Of Your holy day and Your sacred night?
When they asked who should go, could You not say
“Let no man friend or brother in the way
Kill, no nor enemy nor even foe
Be slain before the burning city’s glow?”
Would not the world be quite a different place,
Beloved, if gathered here before Your face,
All men could hear Your voice again to trace
The command not to kill? Now they are sure
That what they do is at Your command pure,
Because they made istahara endure.

43 So they surrounded Benjamites
And chased them and trod on their rights
From Gibeah to the sunrise sights.
44 And there fell of Benjamin then
Eighteen thousand of their best men,
All men of might. 45 They turned and fled
Toward the desert where they bled
At the rock of Rimmon, and they
Picked off the stragglers from highway
Five thousand men, and pursued hard
After them to Gidom in guard
And killed two thousand men ill-starred.
46 So that all those who fell that day
Of Benjamin and in the way
Were twenty-five thousand men that
Drew the sword, all mighty and fat.
47 But six hundred men turned and fled
To the desert to the rock led
Of Rimmon, and lived in the rock
Rimmon four months without their stock.
48 And Israel’s men turned again on
The folk of Benjamin out drawn
And stuck them with the mouth of sword,
As well the men of every ward,
As the beast and what came to hand,
And every city to firebrand.

Beloved, it may be well to kill the folk
Who admire rape and torture at a stroke
And defend killing the weak when the night
Falls to hide their actions from every sight.
Beloved, it may be well, since all these sought
To hide the guilty with their horrors taught,
And yet I cannot help but think Your grace
Sufficient to change look on human face,
And make them bear the shame and the disgrace
For what was done, without this slaughter race.
Solution now is quite a simple thing:
Let all children be taught before the sting
That killing’s always wrong, it’s not recourse
First or last. But that’s our job, not Your horse.

WEEK 52 JUDGES 21


1 The men of Israel had then sworn
In Mizpeh, saying “Let none born
Among us give his daughter to
A Benjamite as wife in crew.”
2 The folk came to Ælohim’s tent,
And stayed there till the daylight went
Before Ælohim, lifting voice
And weeping greatly at the choice.
3 And said “O YHWH Ælohim of
Israel, why has this come to shove
Today that there should be one tribe
In Israel not to describe?”
4 It happened on the next day that
The folk got up early and sat
To make a place of slaughter there
And offered burnt offerings with care
And peace offerings for every share.
5 And Israel’s folk said “Who among
All the tribes of Israel unsung
Did not come up to assembly
To YHWH? For they came to agree
To put to death by oath those who
Did not come to Mizpeh and YHWH,
Saying “He shall surely be put
To death and trampled under foot.”
6 And Israel’s folk repented that
They’d done so to Benjamin’s fat,
Their brother, and said “There is one
Tribe lacking from Israel when done.”
7 How shall we do for wives for those
That are left, since we swore and chose
By YHWH that we will not give them
Our daughters as wives in their hem?”

First off, if what they’d done was righteous deed,
They had no call to help them in their need.
Let them find wives where they might for their seed.
The second thing is, if a wicked thing
It was to war against Benjamin’s sting,
Then instead of killing the ones who stayed
Away from evil party on parade,
They ought to praise them for cool-headed raid.
But no, always following hot desires
Instead of justice, on they go with fires,
Not only of the sacrifice but more
To aid and abet Benjamin in score.
When any guilt appears in humankind
All rush to join in it burning, resigned.

8 And they said “What tribe is there sat
And did not come among the fat
Tribes of Israel up to Mizpeh
To YHWH? And indeed in the way
There came none to the camp in sway
From Jabesh-Gilead that day
To the assembly. 9 For the folk
Were counted and indeed no bloke
Of the inhabitants was there
From Jabesh-gildead in share.
10 And the assembly sent out there
Twelve thousand men chosen with care
And commanded them, saying “Go
And strike inhabitants a blow
In Jabesh-gildead with mouth
Of the sword turning north and south
Both women and their children there.
11 And this is the thing that you’ll do,
You shall completely kill the crew
Of males, and every woman that
Has lain with a man to get fat.
12 They found among inhabitants
Of Jabesh-gilead to dance
Four hundred young virgins, that had
Known no man lying with the glad
Male, and they brought them to the camp
To Shiloh, which is to revamp
The land of Canaan. 13 And the whole
Congregation sent some in toll
To speak to Benjamin’s folk there
In the rock Rimmon to repair,
And to call peacefully to them.
14 And Benjamin came from their stem
At that time, and they gave them wives
Of those they saved and kept their lives
Of Jabesh-gilead’s folk bred,
Yet there were not enough in stead.

The innocent who withheld from the fray
Are made to pay the last debt of the day.
If this is how folk act who have no king
Or ruler to encourage such a thing
And lead them into war, just think what kind
Of situation we now have in bind,
Where so many lobbies of power are bound
To trample the innocent in the ground
To further their interests compounded by
Association of wealth on the sly.
Beloved, this story’s not proof that such men
As have no ruler are evil again,
But that evil is limited then to
What such a rabble is able to do.

15 And the people repented for
Benjamin, because on that shore
YHWH had made a breach in the door
Of the tribes of Israel on score.
16 The elders of the congregation
Said “How shall we make reparation
In wives for those remaining here
Seeing the women and their gear
Are all destroyed from Benjamin?”
17 And they said “Let there be a bin
For those escaped in Benjamin,
That a tribe not be destroyed all
Out of Israel and Israel’s wall.
18 Yet we may not give to them wives
From our daughters, for on our lives
The folk of Israel have all sworn,
Saying “Cursed is the man that’s born
To give a wife to Benjamin.”
19 Then they said “See, a feast to YHWH
In Shiloh yearly which is due
On the north side of Bethel, on
The east side of the highway drawn
That goes up from Bethel and on
To Shechem, and on the south side
Of Lebonah, as one can ride.”
20 They ordered Benjamin’s folk, saying
“Go and lie in wait not delaying
In the vineyards, 21 and see indeed
If Shiloh’s daughters come from steed
To dance in dances, then come out
Of the vineyards and with a shout
Catch you every man his wife out
Of the daughters of Shiloh, and
Go then back to Benjamin’s land.

The whole thing started when Benjamin’s blokes
Came out to catch one woman on the stokes
And used her against her will for their pokes.
Now this is the solution to the thing,
Encouraging their brothers to join ring
And make an institution of the rite
Of catching women and poking for spite.
The oath not to give daughters in their right
Is more sacred than Your command that none
Should kill or commit crime under the sun.
So humankind is quick to invent duty
And religions above, beyond the beauty
Of simple obedience and clinging to
The Decalogue to know what’s right to do.

22 And it shall be when their fathers
Or their brothers come to us fers
To complain, that we will tell them
‘Be favourable, don’t condemn,
For our sakes, because we in hem
Did not reserve to each man his
Wife in the war and in the whiz,
For you did not give by free will
To them this time, guilty of pill.’”
23 And the children of Benjamin
Did so, and took wives from the bin
According to their number’s din,
Of those that danced, and whom they caught,
And they went and returned to plot,
Repaired the cities to live in.
24 And Israel’s folk all went back home,
Everyone to his tribe and loam,
To family, and they went out
From there each one to his own grout.
25 In those days no king ruled the folk
Of Israel, and no king spoke,
Every man did what he thought right,
A democratic way to fight.

At the end of the anarchic squall all
Is at peace for who knows how long and tall.
So anarchy explodes from time to time
In bloodshed and in hateful, horrid crime
Of slaughter and of superstitious rhyme.
A ruler is not better in the spree.
A ruler manipulates violence
Of the people to maintain the suspense,
And with controlled violence keeps the folk
Cowered and submissive before the stroke.
And with controlled violence gets up to
Make bedlam on any neighbouring crew.
The sum of violence is always greater
The more rulers have in stake soon or later.


AUTHOR: THOMAS G. MCELWAIN

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