Yesterday, we left a Levite travelling back home after going on a trip to win his concubine back. When it was getting late, they purposefully did not stay in the town of Jebus (now Jerusalem) because it was inhabited by the Jebusites at the time and would not be safe. So, he continued on to the town Gibeah, which belonged to the people of Benjamin – one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
And behold, an old man was coming from his work in the field at evening. The man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was sojourning in Gibeah. The men of the place were Benjaminites. And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city. And the old man said, “Where are you going? And where do you come from?” (Judges 19:16-17 ESV)
Have you ever encountered a people or group that seem to have a “language” of their own, even though they were speaking the same language that you were? I grew up in an area where people would get to know others they did not know by asking the question, “What High School did you go to?” What they were trying to find out was simply, “Did you go to a Roman Catholic school or not?” If you did, their next question was, “What parish are you in?” After that, they might ask about the specific priest, or some people they know from that parish. The right answer to these questions helped the person asking feel comfortable and safe with you. You were “in.”
And he said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, from which I come. I went to Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to the house of the LORD, but no one has taken me into his house. We have straw and feed for our donkeys, with bread and wine for me and your female servant and the young man with your servants. There is no lack of anything.” (Judges 19:18-19 ESV)
The same kind of thing is happening here. The old man asked where the traveler was from and where he was going. This question, though, was intended to find out how the traveler named the places. This Levite used Israelite names for the towns. He even dropped another name: the LORD. This was the proper name for God given to the Israelites. After this answer, the townsman felt safe and comfortable with the traveler. He was in.
And the old man said, “Peace be to you; I will care for all your wants. Only, do not spend the night in the square.” So he brought him into his house and gave the donkeys feed. And they washed their feet, and ate and drank. (Judges 19:20-21 ESV)
How about you? Do you have individual people or groups that you feel more safe with? How do you find out if they are safe people? When are they “in” with you?