Samson becomes the last judge until Samuel and in-between the two is a pretty rough time of a lot of really bad things happening as well as some interesting things. For the end of Judges the events include – The idolatry of a man named Micah, The Danites expansion of territory that lead to them taking Micah’s idols and Levite priest, another Levite priest has his concubine raped by the same Danites and she dies from her injuries, the Rest of Israel resolves to punish the Danites which leads to a civil war that almost wipes out the Danites as a tribe which leads to provision for their survival through kidnapping women from another town to give to the few surviving Danites as a means of procreation. There is a lot of action here but there is no Judge that rises up and what we see is how Israel dealt with one of their tribes that got out of hand.
The real thing of note for me as an open theist and a believer that God does not use his power coercively is that God is completely absent from these chapters. He says nothing, does nothing and empowers no one. It is purely the people of God facing situations caused by the Danites and bringing a resolution. Whether this solution was approved of by God is also unknown this is simply a recording of the history of events. It shows that God does not always intervene in things and that God’s people have some freedom, at least at this time, to resolve matters according to their own design. Whether these solutions were good ones or bad ones is not even commented on in the text. There is not even an editorial line that these things pleased or displeased God.
The truth is this is God’s people under his Law that was interpreted and arbitrated by the Judges. The problem at this particular time is there is no Judge to arbitrate. Samson’s death was untimely in a sense in that there may have been a possibility that he would have been at these events had he not started down the path that lead to his own death. It left a vacuum of someone standing for the Law of God. The people are thus left free to decide for themselves the best course of action. The result is what they came up with not God’s or even a judge’s.
The real thing to note about the book of Judges is that the last action of God is to empower Samson for one last burst of strength that enables him to destroy the Philistines at the cost of his own life. After that God is not mentioned at all. It is perhaps because God wanted to see how the people would deal with these things without him or a judge around. Could they utilize the tremendous freedom they are given for good and right or would they abuse the privilege?
I know a lot of critics have a lot of problems with the whole Levite’s concubine story and asking what kind of God would sanction that, but the truth is that God had nothing to do with it and they cannot even point to a text or passage in this part of Judges that said He did. The thing is it was a horrible tragedy but the issue is was Israel mature enough as a nation to handle bringing justice to the woman on their own without God’s intervention? The solution they came up with was in its own way horrible and a little bit over kill resulting in their own mishandling of the problem but this is not in any way God’s doing. God is simple watching and evaluating and there is no statement that he approved or disapproved of their solution. It just is what they did. They were free to chose however and I think that is the point.
Next: “There was No King in Those Days”