Now in those days Israel had no king. There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine.
But she was unfaithful to him and returned to her father's home in Bethlehem. After about four months,
her husband took a servant and an extra donkey to Bethlehem to persuade her to come back. When he arrived at her father's house, she took him inside, and her father welcomed him.
Her father urged him to stay awhile, so he stayed three days, eating, drinking, and sleeping there.
On the fourth day the man was up early, ready to leave, but the woman's father said, "Have something to eat before you go."
So the two of them sat down together and had something to eat and drink. Then the woman's father said, "Please stay the night and enjoy yourself."
The man got up to leave, but his father-in-law kept urging him to stay, so he finally gave in and stayed the night.
On the morning of the fifth day he was up early again, ready to leave, and again the woman's father said, "Have something to eat; then you can leave some time this afternoon." So they had another day of feasting.
That afternoon, as he and his concubine and servant were preparing to leave, his father-in-law said, "Look, it's getting late. Stay the night and enjoy yourself. Tomorrow you can get up early and be on your way."
But this time the man was determined to leave. So he took his two saddled donkeys and his concubine and headed in the direction of Jebus (that is, Jerusalem).
It was late in the day when they reached Jebus, and the man's servant said to him, "It's getting too late to travel; let's stay in this Jebusite city tonight."
"No," his master said, "we can't stay in this foreign city where there are no Israelites. We will go on to Gibeah.
We will find a place to spend the night in either Gibeah or Ramah."
So they went on. The sun was setting as they came to Gibeah, a town in the land of Benjamin,
so they stopped there to spend the night. They rested in the town square, but no one took them in for the night.
That evening an old man came home from his work in the fields. He was from the hill country of Ephraim, but he was living in Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin.
When he saw the travelers sitting in the town square, he asked them where they were from and where they were going.
"We have been in Bethlehem in Judah," the man replied. "We are on our way home to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim, and we're going to the Tabernacle of the LORD. But no one has taken us in for the night,
even though we have everything we need. We have straw and fodder for our donkeys and plenty of bread and wine for ourselves."
"You are welcome to stay with me," the old man said. "I will give you anything you might need. But whatever you do, don't spend the night in the square."
So he took them home with him and fed their donkeys. After they washed their feet, they had supper together.
While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men in the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, "Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him."
The old man stepped outside to talk to them. "No, my brothers, don't do such an evil thing. For this man is my guest, and such a thing would be shameful.
Here, take my virgin daughter and this man's concubine. I will bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you like to them. But don't do such a shameful thing to this man."
But they wouldn't listen to him. Then the Levite took his concubine and pushed her out the door. The men of the town abused her all night, taking turns raping her until morning. Finally, at dawn, they let her go.
At daybreak the woman returned to the house where her husband was staying. She collapsed at the door of the house and lay there until it was light.
When her husband opened the door to leave, he found her there. She was lying face down, with her hands on the threshold.
He said, "Get up! Let's go!" But there was no answer. So he put her body on his donkey and took her home.
When he got home, he took a knife and cut his concubine's body into twelve pieces. Then he sent one piece to each tribe of Israel.
Everyone who saw it said, "Such a horrible crime has not been committed since Israel left Egypt. Shouldn't we speak up and do something about this?"
Then all the Israelites, from Dan to Beersheba and from the land of Gilead, came together in one large assembly and stood in the presence of the LORD at Mizpah.
The leaders of all the people and all the tribes of Israel -- 400,000 warriors armed with swords -- took their positions in the assembly of the people of God.
(Word soon reached the land of Benjamin that the other tribes had gone up to Mizpah.) The Israelites then asked how this terrible crime had happened.
The Levite, the husband of the woman who had been murdered, said, "My concubine and I came to Gibeah, a town in the land of Benjamin, to spend the night.
That night some of the leaders of Gibeah surrounded the house, planning to kill me, and they raped my concubine until she was dead.
So I cut her body into twelve pieces and sent the pieces throughout the land of Israel, for these men have committed this terrible and shameful crime.
Now then, the entire community of Israel must decide what should be done about this!"
And all the people stood up together and replied, "Not one of us will return home.
Instead, we will draw lots to decide who will attack Gibeah.
One tenth of the men from each tribe will be chosen to supply the warriors with food, and the rest of us will take revenge on Gibeah for this shameful thing they have done in Israel."
So all the Israelites were united, and they gathered together to attack the town.
The Israelites sent messengers to the tribe of Benjamin, saying, "What a terrible thing has been done among you!
Give up these evil men from Gibeah so we can execute them and purge Israel of this evil."But the people of Benjamin would not listen.
Instead, they came from their towns and gathered at Gibeah to fight the Israelites.
Twenty-six thousand of their warriors armed with swords arrived in Gibeah to join the seven hundred warriors who lived there.
Seven hundred of Benjamin's warriors were left-handed, each of whom could sling a rock and hit a target within a hairsbreadth, without missing.
Israel had 400,000 warriors armed with swords, not counting Benjamin's warriors.
Before the battle the Israelites went to Bethel and asked God, "Which tribe should lead the attack against the people of Benjamin?"The LORD answered, "Judah is to go first."
So the Israelites left early the next morning and camped near Gibeah.
Then they advanced toward Gibeah to attack the men of Benjamin.
But Benjamin's warriors, who were defending the town, came out and killed twenty-two thousand Israelites in the field that day.
But the Israelites took courage and assembled at the same place they had fought the previous day.
(For they had gone up to Bethel and wept in the presence of the LORD until evening. Then they asked the LORD, "Should we fight against our relatives from Benjamin again?" And the LORD said, "Go out and fight against them.")
So they went out to fight against the warriors of Benjamin,
but the men of Benjamin killed another eighteen thousand Israelites, all of whom were experienced with a sword.
Then all the Israelites went up to Bethel and wept in the presence of the LORD and fasted until evening. They also brought burnt offerings and peace offerings to the LORD.
And the Israelites went up seeking direction from the LORD. (In those days the Ark of the Covenant of God was in Bethel,
and Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron was the priest.) The Israelites asked the LORD, "Should we fight against our relatives from Benjamin again or should we stop?"The LORD said, "Go! Tomorrow I will give you victory over them."
So the Israelites set an ambush all around Gibeah.
They went out on the third day and assembled at the same place as before.
When the warriors of Benjamin came out to attack, they were drawn away from the town. And as they had done before, they began to kill the Israelites. About thirty Israelites died in the open fields and along the roads leading to Bethel and Gibeah.
Then the warriors of Benjamin shouted, "We're defeating them as we did in the first battle!" But the Israelites had agreed in advance to run away so that the men of Benjamin would chase them along the roads and be drawn away from the town.
When the main group of Israelite warriors reached Baal-tamar, they turned and prepared to attack. Then the Israelites hiding in ambush west of Gibeah jumped up from where they were
and advanced against Benjamin from behind. The fighting was so heavy that Benjamin didn't realize the impending disaster.
So the LORD helped Israel defeat Benjamin, and that day the Israelites killed 25,100 of Benjamin's warriors, all of whom were experienced with a sword.
Then the men of Benjamin saw that they were beaten.The Israelites had retreated from Benjamin's warriors in order to give those hiding in ambush more room to maneuver.
Then those who were in hiding rushed in from all sides and killed everyone in the town.
They sent up a large cloud of smoke from the town,
which was the signal for the Israelites to turn and attack Benjamin's warriors.By that time Benjamin's warriors had killed about thirty Israelites, and they shouted, "We're defeating them as we did in the first battle!"
But when the warriors of Benjamin looked behind them and saw the smoke rising into the sky from every part of the town,
the Israelites turned and attacked. At this point Benjamin's warriors realized disaster was near and became terrified.
So they ran toward the wilderness, but the Israelites chased after them and killed them.
The Israelites surrounded the men of Benjamin and were relentless in chasing them down, finally overtaking them east of Gibeah.
Eighteen thousand of Benjamin's greatest warriors died in that day's battle.
The survivors fled into the wilderness toward the rock of Rimmon, but Israel killed five thousand of them along the road. They continued the chase until they had killed another two thousand near Gidom.
So the tribe of Benjamin lost twenty-five thousand brave warriors that day,
leaving only six hundred men who escaped to the rock of Rimmon, where they lived for four months.
Then the Israelites returned and slaughtered every living thing in all the towns -- the people, the cattle -- everything. They also burned down every town they came to.
The Israelites had vowed at Mizpah never to give their daughters in marriage to a man from the tribe of Benjamin.
And the people went to Bethel and sat in the presence of God until evening, raising their voices and weeping bitterly.
"O LORD, God of Israel," they cried out, "why has this happened? Now one of our tribes is missing!"
Early the next morning the people built an altar and presented their burnt offerings and peace offerings on it.
Then they said, "Was any tribe of Israel not represented when we held our council in the presence of the LORD at Mizpah?" At that time they had taken a solemn oath in the LORD's presence, vowing that anyone who refused to come must die.
The Israelites felt deep sadness for Benjamin and said, "Today we have lost one of the tribes from our family; it is nearly wiped out.
How can we find wives for the few who remain, since we have sworn by the LORD not to give them our daughters in marriage?"
So they asked, "Was anyone absent when we presented ourselves to the LORD at Mizpah?" And they discovered that no one from Jabesh-gilead had attended.
For after they counted all the people, no one from Jabesh-gilead was present.
So they sent twelve thousand warriors to Jabesh-gilead with orders to kill everyone there, including women and children.
"This is what you are to do," they said. "Completely destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin."
Among the residents of Jabesh-gilead they found four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan.
The Israelite assembly sent a peace delegation to the little remnant of Benjamin who were living at the rock of Rimmon.
Then the men of Benjamin returned to their homes, and the four hundred women of Jabesh-gilead who were spared were given to them as wives. But there were not enough women for all of them.
The people felt sorry for Benjamin because the LORD had left this gap in the tribes of Israel.
So the Israelite leaders asked, "How can we find wives for the few who remain, since all the women of the tribe of Benjamin are dead?
There must be heirs for the survivors so that an entire tribe of Israel will not be lost forever.
But we cannot give them our own daughters in marriage because we have sworn with a solemn oath that anyone who does this will fall under God's curse."
Then they thought of the annual festival of the LORD held in Shiloh, between Lebonah and Bethel, along the east side of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem.
They told the men of Benjamin who still needed wives, "Go and hide in the vineyards.
When the women of Shiloh come out for their dances, rush out from the vineyards, and each of you can take one of them home to be your wife!
And when their fathers and brothers come to us in protest, we will tell them, 'Please be understanding. Let them have your daughters, for we didn't find enough wives for them when we destroyed Jabesh-gilead. And you are not guilty of breaking the vow since you did not give your daughters in marriage to them.'"
So the men of Benjamin did as they were told. They kidnapped the women who took part in the celebration and carried them off to the land of their own inheritance. Then they rebuilt their towns and lived in them.
So the assembly of Israel departed by tribes and families, and they returned to their own homes.
In those days Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.
31"How shall I describe this generation?" Jesus asked. "With what will I compare them? 32They are like a group of children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends, 'We played wedding songs, and you weren't happy, so we played funeral songs, but you weren't sad.' 33For John the Baptist didn't drink wine and he often fasted, and you say, 'He's demon possessed.' 34And I, the Son of Man, feast and drink, and you say, 'He's a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of the worst sort of sinners!' 35But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it. "36
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to come to his home for a meal, so Jesus accepted the invitation and sat down to eat.
A certain immoral woman heard he was there and brought a beautiful jar filled with expensive perfume.
Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who was the host saw what was happening and who the woman was, he said to himself, "This proves that Jesus is no prophet. If God had really sent him, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She's a sinner!"
Then Jesus spoke up and answered his thoughts. "Simon," he said to the Pharisee, "I have something to say to you." "All right, Teacher," Simon replied, "go ahead."
Then Jesus told him this story: "A man loaned money to two people -- five hundred pieces of silver to one and fifty pieces to the other. 42But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?"43
Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt." "That's right," Jesus said.
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn't offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You didn't give me a kiss of greeting, but she has kissed my feet again and again from the time I first came in. 46You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. 47I tell you, her sins -- and they are many -- have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love." 48
Then Jesus said to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven."49
The men at the table said among themselves, "Who does this man think he is, going around forgiving sins?"
And Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)