Rowina (23 July 2011)
"The Strange strange story of Tu b'Av"


 
Tu b'Av this year is on August 15, if I have my dates correct, and I am pretty sure I have.

It is a little known feast in the gentile world, but is celebrated as a romantic pairing day in
Israel, like our Valentine's.  It is based on a wretched story which I think is in Judges 19,
which I reread very recently.

Someone had told me that my main duty in life is to give glory to God.  So I asked the
Lord how I could do that, beyond the obvious praise and service.  I asked Him to show me
in the Bible how to do this.  Usually I come up with easily recognizable instructions if I
ask for advice like this, one of the things I'm most grateful for.

But this time!  How could this awful story give glory to God?

the story is a complex one.  A Benjamite had a concubine who "escaped" and went to
stay with her father in Bethlehem.  The Benjamite went to retrieve her.  Obviously she
was nothing more than a slave.  On his way back to his town in the Benjamite region,
he stopped with his concubine and a servant at a village where he was invited in by
a fellow Benjamite.

But here the story becomes like that of Sodom and Gomorrah.  The townsmen demanded
something- of the Benjamite and he gave them his concubine to use as they wished.
They raped her repeatedly much of the night.  In the morning he found her half dead on
the doorstep, where she had crawled, and told her to get on the donkey, because they were
ready to leave.  He had to put her on the donkey, but soon she died.

Angry, he cut her body into twelve pieces and sent it to the leaders of the twelve tribes of
Israel.  The leaders conferred with God...which they did through their priests.  God supposedly
said to attack the Benjamites, and He said it again even after many Benjamites had been
killed.  The fighting was so fierce, that only 600 males of fighting age were left, and they
escaped to hide out.  The army of the twelve tribes then even killed all the women who were
"no longer virgins" (ie. married women) and their children, for good measure, doing this in at
least part of the Benjamite towns; a few virgins were left.

But now, back at the various ranches and in their conclaves, they mourned the fact that
not enough "virgins" were left to even mate with the 600 Benjamites left hiding out.  They
had promised God never to let their own daughters marry a Benjamite.  

After they "forgave" the Benjamites, and some had married the few remaining virgins,
the Twelve Tribe mourned; how could they go on with one of their Tribes now virtually
extinct?  They decided on a plan which would allow their daughters to be married to the
Benjamites without them directly arranging each marriage.

They told the remaining single men of Benjamin to go out to a place in the forest where
young girls often danced in honor of God on Tu B'Av.  They could hide behind the trees
and each man could carry off a maiden to be his wife, and thus virgins from the various
tribes were married to the remaining Benjamites, which forms an interesting picture of
the mixing of tribes in the case of Benjamin.  Benjamin never became a large tribe again,
but it provided some interesting descendants, including the Apostle Paul and Mary
Magdalene.

Today, Tu B'Av is celebrated as a time to go get engaged to your wife-to-be.  

How does this story give glory to God?  Well, I can't really say, except that it does seem
like an extreme version of the "catching away" of the bride.  Does this catching away give
the glory to God that it was suggested I find?

Or is it glorious to God that there is a remnant and a resurrection, as in this story?

Long ago, I asked God an apparently frivolous question, that is, in whatever part of me
which is descended from Israel, which tribe is mine?  He took me directly to a section
in which the beginnings of the tribe of Benjamin is briefly described.  Wow.  Then,
emboldened, I asked which tribe was my husband descended from, and amazingly
he took me to another section of the scriptures where the development of the tribe of
Judah is described.  God has been very gracious in giving me answers to such questions,
even ones which may not seem very "important."

But this Tu B'Av answer--well, what does it mean concerning giving glory to God?
Does it mean glorifying Him even as we are in the terrible last days where most of us
are struggling with the attacks of the "worldl" and Satan?   Perhaps it is that.

I am not offering this as one more likely rapture date, but then....we know it's soon
or there won't be much left of OUR tribe.