"Snippets" from David
Judges 19 reveals an incident that causes most
Christians today to recoil when exposed to the value system and to the violence
of the incident. A Levite from Ephraim had a concubine he cared about. This
concubine engaged in prostitution, then returned to her father’s home in
The man felt close enough to his concubine that 4 months later her traveled to her father’s home in Bethlehem to see if he could speak “tenderly to her in order to bring her back” (verse 3). He made the trip with a pair of donkeys and a servant. Though his former concubine was guilty of sexual unfaithfulness, he wanted her back. That may not say much today, but it was a remarkable declaration of affection in those days.
When he found her, (1) she agreed to return, and (2) her father did not resent him. The Levite stayed 4 ½ days with his concubine’s father. The father was an insistent host, and the Levite accepted his hospitality. On the afternoon of the 5th day, the Levite began his return home.
As the day neared its end, they were close to the city of Jebus [which in the future would be Jerusalem]. However, the Levite refused to spend the night in Jebus because the city did not [then] belong to Israelites. He and his small group pressed on to the city of Gibeah in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. He stopped in the town square expecting some Israelite to extend him hospitality by inviting him to his house [which was common in that day—one extended hospitality in the expectation of receiving hospitality]. No one invited the group to his house.
Late in the evening an elderly man [with roots in Ephraim] returned from working in his field, saw the Levite, and he insisted that the small group accept his hospitality by staying in his home. He made them welcome by washing their feet, feeding them, and giving them drink.
That evening, some of the city’s scoundrels beat on the elderly man’s door insisting that he give them the stranger that they might homosexually abuse him. In that time it was a major social offense to fail to protect a guest. Thus the elderly man tried to reason with them, but without result. To protect his male guest, he suggested they take his virgin daughter and the concubine to rape, but leave his male guest alone. The scoundrels did not agree, but they were given no choice.
These men raped the concubine all night. At dawn she was allowed to return to the house in which the Levite stayed, but she died at the door of the house. When the Levite opened the door to go home, he saw the body of his concubine. He placed her body on one of his donkeys, took the body home, and dissected the body into 12 pieces. He sent the dissected body throughout Israel.
All who saw a part of the dissected body said, “Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel from the time we left Egypt until now! We must decide to do something about this unspeakable situation!”
As grossed out and emotional as we might become to the concepts of a concubine, the abuse of women, their rules of hospitality, or the concern of the Levite to get his concubine only to desert her to save himself, such reactions miss the primary point. All this behavior occurred because people who should know God and His concerns did not know God or His concerns. These people separated themselves from God’s character so far that they did unspeakable acts.
Belonging to God is much more than heritage and history. Belonging to God is centered in behavior resulting from (1) knowing Who God is and (2) understanding His values in human relationships.
The central question is NOT, “From where did you descend? Who is your family and what have they done?” The central question is, “How do you live?” If you belong to God, act like a person who knows God and His values.
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