Judges 19

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1 And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that a certain Levite, sojourning on the further side of mount Ephraim, took him a concubine out of Bethlehem-Judah.

2 And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him to her father's house to Bethlehem-Judah, and was there some time, -- four months.

3 And her husband rose up and went after her, to speak kindly to her, to bring her again; and his servant was with him, and a couple of asses. And she brought him into her father's house; and when the father of the damsel saw him he rejoiced to meet him.

4 And his father-in-law, the damsel's father, retained him, and he abode with him three days; and they ate and drank, and lodged there.

5 And it came to pass on the fourth day, that they arose early in the morning, and he rose up to depart; and the damsel's father said to his son-in-law, Refresh thy heart with a morsel of bread, and afterwards ye may go your way.

6 And they sat down, and ate and drank, both of them together. And the damsel's father said to the man, Be content, I pray thee, and pass the night, and let thy heart be glad.

7 And the man rose up to depart, but his father-in-law urged him, and he lodged there again.

8 And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart; but the damsel's father said, Refresh thy heart, I pray thee. And they lingered until the afternoon, and they did eat both of them.

9 And the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant; and his father-in-law, the damsel's father, said to him, Behold now, the day draws toward evening -- I pray you stay all night; behold, the day is declining, lodge here, and let thy heart be merry; and to-morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go to thy tent.

10 But the man would not tarry the night; and he rose up and departed, and came opposite to Jebus, that is, Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, and his concubine was with him.

11 They were near Jebus, and the day was far spent; and the servant said to his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.

12 But his master said to him, We will not turn aside into the city of a stranger, which is not of the children of Israel, but we will pass on to Gibeah.

13 And he said to his servant, Come and let us draw near to one of these places, and lodge in Gibeah, or in Ramah.

14 And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them [when they were] by Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin.

15 And they turned aside thither, to go in, to lodge in Gibeah. And he went in, and sat down in the open place of the city; and there was no one that received him into his house to pass the night.

16 And behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even; and the man was of mount Ephraim, and he sojourned in Gibeah; but the men of the place were Benjaminites.

17 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the wayfaring man in the open place of the city; and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou?

18 And he said to him, We are travelling from Bethlehem-Judah towards the further side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I; and I went to Bethlehem-Judah, and I have to do with the house of Jehovah; and there is no man that receives me into his house.

19 And we have both straw and provender for our asses; and I have bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man with thy servants: there is no lack of anything.

20 Then the old man said, Peace be with thee; only let all thy wants lie on me; but lodge not in the street.

21 And he brought him into his house, and gave the asses provender; and they washed their feet, and ate and drank.

22 They were making their hearts merry, when behold, the men of the city, sons of Belial, surrounded the house, beating at the door; and they spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thy house, that we may know him.

23 And the man, the master of the house, went out to them, and said to them, No, my brethren, I pray you, do not wickedly; seeing that this man is come into my house, do not this villany.

24 Behold, my daughter, who is a virgin, and his concubine; let me bring them out, and humble ye them, and do to them as is good in your sight; but to this man do not so vile a thing.

25 But the men would not hearken to him; and the man took his concubine, and brought her forth to them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning; and let her go when the morning-dawn arose.

26 And the woman came at the dawning of the day, and fell down at the entrance of the man's house where her lord was, till it was light.

27 And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the door of the house, and went out to go his way, and behold, there lay the woman his concubine at the entrance of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.

28 And he said to her, Up, and let us go; but no one answered. And he took her upon the ass; and the man rose up, and went to his place.

29 And when he was come into his house, he took the knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, according to her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the borders of Israel.

30 And it came to pass that every one that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came out of Egypt to this day. Think it over, advise, and speak.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Judges 19      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

The Levite’s Concubine and the Crime of Gibeah

In many ways the events in this chapter show the further deterioration of the spiritual condition of the people of Israel. It's a terrible story, much like the story of Sodom, much earlier in the Book of Genesis. It ends with some men of Gibeah – a town of Israel – seeking to have sex with a man who is a guest of one of the men of the city. This does not happen; they are instead diverted into an all-night rape of the man’s concubine, so that she is lifeless when he retrieves her body in the morning. He then cuts her up into twelve pieces and sends these throughout the whole territory of Israel.

As we have been saying, these last few chapters of the Book of Judges show clearly that once evil takes hold of a person – even a community or a country – and goes unchecked, and there is no indication of any desire to stop it or to turn from it, it will expand and poison the whole ‘body’. Then there is no distinction between what is good and evil, or between what is true and what is false, and there is no longer any active conscience left to check thoughts, desires and actions. (Arcana Caelestia 977)

The story begins… A Levite, a priest of Israel, takes a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah, but she takes part in prostitution and leaves the priest and goes to her father’s house in Bethlehem. The Levite goes to talk kindly with her, and she takes him into her father’s house where he is made welcome by her father.

The spiritual meaning of this is about a fairly mild situation of disorder and wrong which will form the beginning of all that is to happen. The Levite has a concubine. The concubine takes part in prostitution. The father’s fault seems to be that he keeps delaying the Levite’s departure. Every person lives with their own natures which produce mild disorders which can in fact become useful to us during regeneration. But allowed or left to stay unchecked, these disorders can begin to take hold. (Arcana Caelestia 8407)

The Levite keeps intending to leave, but several times the father of the concubine begs him to stay another night and detains him. Three days there becomes four, another night is spent, and on the fifth day the father urges the Levite to stay and eat and spend another night and go away early the next day. This time the Levite refuses and they leave and get to the town of Jebus, a Canaanite town which will eventually become Jerusalem.

The spiritual meaning of these delays before leaving lies in the danger of not turning away from something which is beginning to hold us and become our new normality. The father is very persuasive, but he is the father of a concubine who prostitutes herself. The Levite senses something is not right, and he insists he will leave. (Divine Providence 329)

The Levite’s servant asks for them to stay in Jebus, but the Levite refuses to stay in a foreign city and says they will go on to Gibeah or Ramah. They come to Gibeah and stay in the square as no one will take them in. An old man passes by and offers to take them into his house, and they go with him.

The spiritual point of this refusal to stay in the foreign city of Jebus but to go on to Gibeah, a city in Israel, is to bring out for us a sense of the abhorrence of what is about to happen there, and the extent of the wrong in Israel. (Apocalypse Revealed 158)

Some men of Gibeah beat on the door demanding that the man staying there come out so that they can sexually abuse him. The old man refuses but offers them his virgin daughter and the visitor’s concubine, but the men refuse. The Levite takes the concubine out of the house to the men and they rape her all night until morning.

The spiritual meaning for us of this story of the men of Gibeah and the concubine stems from the fact that no one in the entire story is blameless, apart from the virgin daughter of the old man. Everyone else is culpable. Spiritually, this reminds us that we are potentially capable of thinking about and even wanting to commit every evil and that regeneration – shunning all evils as sins against God and living in careful obedience to the Word – is the guard against this. (Divine Providence 296)

Abused and left, the concubine falls at the door of the house. In the morning the Levite sees her, bids her get ready to leave, then realises she is dead. He puts her on his donkey and goes to his house. He takes a knife and cuts the concubine into twelve pieces and sends these throughout the whole of Israel. And all who see say that no such thing has been seen since Israel came out of Egypt and end saying, ‘Consider it. Confer. Speak up!’

The spiritual meaning for us in dividing the concubine’s body in twelve parts and distributing them throughout all Israel is to do with our need to examine ourselves and see where our evils lie within us, often hidden and unknown. This is to be done in view of our actions, words, thoughts, intentions and what we might do if there were no penalty. (Divine Providence 149, 152, 278)

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