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Grandfather. Then you will both be much surprised to hear that the Benjamites were victorious, and that they slew twenty-two thousand of the Israelites in the battle.
George. That was very strange; the other tribes must have been very cowardly to allow themselves to be beaten by so few men.
Marianne. Perhaps the Israelites had not prayed for the assistance of God.
Grandfather. They had not; they were too confident in the goodness of their cause, and in the superiority of their numbers. Before going to battle they went up to the house of God, but it was only to ask which tribe should lead. The Lord replied that Judah was to have the leadership. This honour was given to the tribe of Judah because from it our blessed Lord was to descend. After their defeat the children of Israel again went up to the house of the Lord, and with more humility than before. They feared that they had done wrong in fighting against their brethren, and they asked of the Lord, “ Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin, my brother ?” The reply of the Lord was, “ Go up against him.” A second time, therefore, the children of Israel went against the children of Benjamin. The Benjamites sallied out of Gibeah, and a second time they repulsed the Israelites with loss; they slew of the children of Israel eighteen thousand men.
Marianne. Why was that, grandfather ? surely the Benjamites did not deserve to win.
Grandfather. Nor did the Israelites. They had suffered the gross idolatry of Micah, and of the Danites, to pass unpunished, though the Lord had commanded them to put idolaters to death. By permitting these defeats to come upon them, the Lord graciously designed to bring them to consider their ways, and to put away evil from among them. Benjamin was used as an instrument to humble his brothers. When they were hum bled, then he was to meet with the punishment his sins deserved. After their second defeat, the children of Israel went up to the house of the Lord, and wept, and fasted until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings there. Again they asked of the Lord if they should go up to battle against their brethren any more. Again the reply of the Lord was, “Go up," and the promise was added, “To-morrow I will deliver them into thine hand.” Encouraged by this promise, they vigorously exerted themselves to win success. They followed the plan that had been put in execution so successfully against Ai. Men in ambush were placed round about Gibeah, while the body of the army advanced against the city, engaged the Benjamites in battle, and fled before them. The men of Benjamin, emboldened by their former success, rushed eagerly on, thinking that the day was their own. The Israelites who were in ambush entered the city and set it on fire. The Benjamites turned, saw the smoke and the flames ascending, and knew that they were conquered. Their confidence forsook them, and they fled to the wilderness.
On all the roads they encountered enemies, who gave no quarter, so that twenty-five thousand fell that day of the children of Benjamin. Only six hundred men escaped, who took refuge in the rock Rimmon, where they remained four months.
George. So the Israelites conquered them completely at last?
Grandfather. The Israelites conquered when they gave up all confidence in their own strength, and trusted only in the Lord. Their superior numbers made them too secure of victory. The Lord shewed them that the battle is not always to the strong. When they were brought to see that they could do nothing without help from him, then “the Lord smote Benjamin before Israel.”
George. Was that the end of the Benjamite war, grandfather?
Grandfather. Justice was satisfied with regard to the Benjamites ; nothing more was done against them. The Israelites made a treaty with the six hundred who remained, and shewed kindness to them. But justice required to be executed upon other offenders. None of the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead had gone to assist in the war against Benjamin. For this neglect of duty they were all slain--twelve thousand Israelites marched against them, and smote them with the edge of the sword. Jabesh-Gilead was a city in the tribe of Gad, on the east of the Jordan. It is late now, my children. See, poor Johnnie is falling asleep; he must go to bed before the questions are asked.
Judah and Simeon mutually assisted each other in fighting against the heathen,—What do we learn from this?
Of what are the upper and nether springs types ?
We have little temptation to the worshipping of images,--In what way are we tempted to idolatry ?
In what ought we to follow the example of the Danites?
Who are most easily overcome by others ?
“ Every man did that which was right in his own eyes,"—How does this prove the wickedness of the human heart?
In the Benjamite war why were the Israelites twice defeated ?
When were they successful ?
THE JUDGES OF ISRAEL. .
“ Israel, a name divinely blest,
“No sun shall smite thy head by day,
“ Should earth and hell with malice burn,
Still thou shalt go, and still return,
THE next evening, after we had assembled as usual, grandfather told us that he was to give us an account of some of the judges who at different times ruled the people of Israel. George asked if they were warriors as well as judges ?
Grandfather. They were, and brave warriors too. The Israelites were very wicked ; the worship of false gods was general among them. They forgot the Lord, who had cast out the heathen to make room for them ; they united themselves with those very heathen, even so far as to serve their gods. Their temples were groves