Israel's Civil Wars

Bible's First Battles    -    Wilderness Wars
Moses' Last Conflicts    -    Promised Land Wars
Joshua's Greatest Victory   -   Early Civil Wars
Israel Battles the Jews
This sixth timeline in our series discusses the two earliest civil wars that rocked the children of Israel after they entered their inheritance in the Promised Land.

c. 1380 - 1350 B.C.
Tribal annihilation
Judges 19 - 21

Only a few years after the death of Joshua an atrocity takes place that both shocks and angers the first generation to settle in the land of milk and honey. The heinous nature of the crime leads to a civil war that almost wipes out an entire tribe of Israel! The sinful event in question takes place during the time when Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, is High Priest (Judges 20:27 - 28).

One day a man from the priestly tribe of Levi, traveling with his wife, comes to the Benjamite town of Gibeah near Jerusalem (Judges 19:14). Although he is unable to find lodging for the night, an old man coming from the fields spots him and offers his home as a place to stay. The Levite and his wife then follow the man to his home and stays with him.

Did Jephthah sacrifice his child to God?
What is a covenant of salt?
Controversies in the early church!

After sunset, some of the city's homosexuals go to the old man's home and violently beat on his door. They demand (mimicking what happened to Lot in Sodom, see Genesis 19:4 - 5) they be given the Levite so that they can sexually abuse him (Judges 19:22). The Levite gives them his wife after the old man's attempt to appease the sinful men fails.

The Levite's wife is raped and abused all night long. She is ultimately discovered, early in the morning, dead on the doorstep. The husband's quest for justice begins, in a rather unique but gory way (see Judges 19:29 - 30), by calling upon all Israel to respond to this evil.

An army of 400,000 fighting men (Judges 20:2) from eleven of the twelve tribes soon assembles and demands the Benjamites expel the vile murderers in Gibeah for punishment. The tribe's foolish refusal to release the killers leads to a short civil war. Israel ultimately decimates Benjamin, including their deadly accurate left-handed marksmen (Judges 20:14 - 16), leaving only 600 men remaining!

1105 - 1102 B.C.
Judge of Israel starts a war!
Judges 9

Abimelech, after his father Gideon dies in 1105, convinces the people of Shechem that it would be far better for him to rule them than any of his seventy brothers. With money given him by the city he hires a group of criminals to publically slaughter all of Gideon's sons (the youngest, Jotham, escapes). Although the death of his brothers makes Abimelech the Judge of (northern) Israel in 1105, it will eventually lead to a war.

In 1102, the leaders of Shechem start to regret placing Abimelech in a position of power and begin to rebel against him. The city's rebellion is reported to Abimelech who then uses his army to ambush anyone leaving the city to fight him. He then carries out a concerted plan to also ambush and murder anyone in Shechem who leaves the city to work in the fields. His wrath against the city is not quelled until after he destroys it and burns to death 1,000 survivors seeking refuge in a tower (Judges 9:46 - 49).

Greatly desiring to stop the possibility of further rebellion against him, Abimelech continues his civil war by attacking Thebez. Although he captures the city, he soon dies when a woman, from a high tower, drops a millstone on his head!

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Additional Study Materials
Why did man live longer before the flood?
How long did Israel's Judges serve?
How does the Bible define sodomy?
History of the early church

References
Bible Knowledge Commentary
Holman Christian Standard Bible
Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings


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