Judges 19-21 (I would not read this passage with young children)
During the time in Israel when there were no kings, a Levite was traveling through Israel. He foolishly waited until too late in the day to leave Bethlehem and was unable to make it home. Instead, he stopped in the town of Gibeah (which was in the land of Benjamin) and was offered a place to stay by an old man. While the Levite was in the old man’s home, several men came and knocked on the door and wanted to do mean things to the Levite. The old man convinced them not to do these things but they did do other mean things to the people traveling with the Levite.
When the Levite returned home, he sent a message to all the tribe of Israel and they gathered at Mizpah. The tribes decided that this crime could not go unpunished. They amassed an army of 400,000 men and approached the city of Gibeah. The army announced that they only wanted them to punish the men responsible and if Gibeah would send the men out it would be over. But the men of Benjamin refused to send them out so the other tribes began a war against them to right this wrong.
Eventually the Israelite army destroyed all of Benjamin except 600 men. They had avenged the crime committed against the Levite, but now they had another problem. If these 600 men did not have wives the entire tribe of Benjamin would disappear! Unfortunately, when the Israelites were putting together their army, all the men had vowed never to give their daughters in marriage to the Benjaminites. What to do?
So they looked around and asked if anyone had not showed up at Mizpah. They realized that no one from Jabesh Gilead had shown up, therefore they had not made the vow, so they got 400 unmarried women from there. But they were still 200 short. So they made a deal with the men of Benjamin that during an upcoming festival they could ‘steal’ wives. Thus the fathers wouldn’t be giving them but the Benjaminites would get wives. Then there was peace among the tribes.
You may be asking “what was the point of this story?” The people of Israel chose not to ignore crime and that was good. But after the punishment, they had compassion on their brothers and took care of their needs. The goal of punishment is not destruction. The goal is a change of behavior. Once someone had learned their lesson, we should be compassionate and kind to them. Just like we would want!
Role play with your child about someone doing something mean and then repenting of it. Help them role play forgiving that person and treating them with kindness afterward.