Family conflict may be the hardest to deal with because it can be very personal. Some family conflicts go on for years, even decades or entire lifetimes. In some instances, conflicts are generational and resolution seems impossible. The Israelites’ family conflict centered around the fact that Jacob had two wives, one that he loved and one that he didn’t. The wife that Jacob loved, Rachel had two sons, Joseph and Benjamin.
When Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, Jacob became so attached to Benjamin that he wouldn’t let him out of his sight. Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin, so his father became his primary parent and no doubt had a strong influence on his personality and character.
The tribe of Benjamin grew very strong in the Promised Land. His favored status in the family may have caused Benjamin’s descendants to become prideful and what my grandma used to call, a little too big for his britches. The men who raped the Levite’s concubine were from the tribe of Benjamin and so there was a confrontation to have the men handed over so they could be punished, but the Benjamites wouldn’t do it and decided to go to war instead.
The children of Benjamin had 26,000 men in their army and “among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded: every one could sling stones at a hair breadth, and not miss” (Judges 20:16). The men of the tribe of Benjamin’s army are described as men of valour, which means they were very powerful. They were probably not only physically strong, but smart and able to conduct themselves well in battle. They must have been very confident because “the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew the sword: all these were men of war” (Judges 20:17).
The battle between Benjamin and the rest of the children of Israel lasted three days. The first two days, the Benjamites had the upper hand and killed 40,000 of their brethren. On the third day, God delivered the children of Benjamin into the hands of their brothers, 25,000 men were killed and their cities were set on fire.
The result was the purging of sin from among God’s people. The cost of the battle, 65,000 lives for the rape of one woman, seems rather high, but it demonstrates the importance of holiness to God. It is not surprising then that he gave his only begotten son to cleanse the entire world of all sin. Thank you Jesus!