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Chariots of Fire (8 of 18)
Retribution in Kind-Adoni-bezek
Clarence E. Macartney
A woman once said to a French cardinal, "My lord
cardinal, God does not pay at the end of every week;
nevertheless, he pays."
This is a rough-and-tumble world that we enter when we
open the Bible at the book of Judges. Men are a law
unto themselves, and the result is lawlessness and
anarchy. Everything is on the heroic scale: mirth,
sorrow, revenge, hate, murder, anger, and love of
country. Silhouetted against this dark background are
strange and unforgettable characters who move across
the stage of Israel to the music of strong passions-
Samson, Gideon, Jephthah, Jotham, and this monster of
cruelty with whom the book commences, Adoni-bezek.
Adoni-bezek was a prince who ruled in one of the
strongholds of the Canaanites, a stronghold as yet
untaken at the time of the death of Joshua. This
monster amused himself with the savage mutilation of
the princes whom he conquered in battle, cutting off
their thumbs and their great toes, thus rendering them
unfit for military service. To cruelty and mutilation
he added insult and degradation by compelling them to
grovel about his table in the palace, where he threw
crusts of bread to them as if they were a pack of
dogs. But at length his day came. Simeon and Judah and
their men at war took his stronghold and put his
people to death. But Adoni-bezek himself they reserved
for a more poetic justice and grim retribution. They
dealt with him just as he had dealt with the princes
who were unfortunate enough to fall into his hands.
They mutilated him just as he had mutilated his own
victims. When he had suffered this mutilation, Adoni-
besek exclaimed, "As I have done, so the Lord hath
The incident is a striking example of the judgments of
God. Sometimes justice seems to go on slow foot, and
we wonder if there is such a thing as justice in the
world, s ...
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