Judges 19

Judges 19 is a rather strange chapter.  A “Levite was sojourning in the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, who took to himself a concubine….was unfaithful to him….went away from him to her father’s house….was there some four months”.  So a Levite falls for a concubine who is unfaithful to him.  But he doesn’t give up – her unfaithfulness does not drive him away.  “Then her husband arose and went after her, to speak kindly to her and bring her back”.  He desires to restore their relationship so he heads to her father’s house.

He arrives and his father-in-law is happy to see him.  He invites him to stay for a few days, and then, day by day as the Levite plans to depart, his father-in-law convinces him to stay another night.  This happens for a few more days before he finally decides to move on.  “The man would not spend the night. He rose up and departed” and heads down the road toward home.  “The day was nearly over” and his servant wants them to pull up for the night.  After all, it is dangerous at night to be on the road.  But the Levite doesn’t want to stop in a city that is not part of Israel, so he tells his servant “we will not turn aside into the city of foreigners”.

Instead they push on to Gibeah and they stop at the town square but “no one took them into his house to spend the night”.  So they had pushed on to a friendly city, at least in theory, but no one invited them to stay.  “An old man was coming from his work in the field at evening….he brought him into his house” and cared for them and their donkeys.  “They washed their feet, and ate and drank….were making their hearts merry”.  The plan was working as the Levite expected.  But then….

“Worthless fellows, surrounded the house, beating on the door….bring out the man”.  Sin is on the loose and they want to molest the man. The host says no and instead offers up his virgin daughter and the Levite’s concubine and puts the concubine out the door for their enjoyment.  They take her and “they knew her and abused her all night until the morning”.  Hard to explain how this is allowed to happen, but it is what scripture says.  They drop her body off in the morning and lay her at the front door.  The Levite prepares to leave and finds her dead, but carries her back home. Then scripture tells us “he took a knife, and taking hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel”.  We’ll see in the next chapter why he does it.  It was a warning of sorts indeed.

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