Judges 19

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1 There was a certain Levite, who dwelt on the side of mount Ephraim, who took a wife of Bethlehem Juda:

2 And she left him and returned to her father's house in Bethlehem, and abode with him four months.

3 And her husband followed her, willing to be reconciled with her, and to speak kindly to her, and to bring her back with him, having with him a servant and two asses: and she received him, and brought him into her father's house. And when his father in law had heard this, and had seen him, he met him with joy,

4 And embraced the man. And the son in law tarried in the house of his father in law three days, eating with him and drinking familiarly.

5 But on the fourth day arising early in the morning he desired to depart. But his father in law kept him, and said to him: Taste first a little bread, and strengthen thy stomach, and so thou shalt depart.

6 And they sat down together, and ate and drank. And the father of the young woman said to his son in law: I beseech thee to stay here to day, and let us make merry together.

7 But he rising up began to be for departing. And nevertheless his father in law earnestly pressed him, and made him stay with him.

8 But when morning was come, the Levite prepared to go on his journey. And his father in law said to him again: I beseech thee to take a little meat, and strengthening thyself, till the day be farther advanced, afterwards thou mayest depart. And they ate together.

9 And the young man arose to set forward with his wife and servant. And his father in law spoke to him again: Consider that the day is declining, and draweth toward evening: tarry with me to day also, and spend the day in mirth, and to morrow thou shalt depart, that thou mayest go into thy house.

10 His son in law would not consent to his words: but forthwith went forward and came over against Jebus, which by another name is called Jerusalem, leading with him two asses laden, and his concubine.

11 And now they were come near Jebus, and the day was far spent: and the servant said to his master: Come, I beseech thee, let us turn into the city of the Jebusites, and lodge there.

12 His master answered him: I will not go into the town of another nation, who are not of the children of Israel, but I will pass over to Gabaa:

13 And when I shall come thither, we will lodge there, or at least in the city of Rama.

14 So they passed by Jebus, and went on their journey, and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gabaa, which is in the tribe of Benjamin:

15 And they turned into it, to lodge there. And when they were come in, they sat in the street of the city, for no man would receive them to lodge.

16 And behold they saw an old man, returning out of the field and from his work in the evening, and he also was of mount Ephraim, and dwelt as a stranger in Gabaa; but the men of that country were the children of Jemini.

17 And the old man lifting up his eyes, saw the man sitting with his bundles in the street of the city, and said to him: Whence comest thou? and whither goest thou?

18 He answered him: We came out from Bethlehem Juda, and we are going to our home, which is on the side of mount Ephraim, from whence we went to Bethlehem: and now we go to the house of God, and none will receive us under his roof:

19 We have straw and hay for provender of the asses, and bread and wine for the use of myself and of thy handmaid, and of the servant that is with me: we want nothing but lodging.

20 And the old man answered him: Peace be with thee: I will furnish all things that are necessary: only I beseech thee, stay not in the street.

21 And he brought him into his house, and gave provender to his asses: and after they had washed their feet, he entertained them with a feast.

22 While they were making merry, and refreshing their bodies with meat and drink, after the labour of the journey, the men of that city, sons of Belial, (that is, without yoke,) came and beset the old man's house, and began to knock at the door, calling to the master of the house, and saying: Bring forth the man that came into thy house, that we may abuse him.

23 And the old man went out to them, and said: Do not so, my brethren, do not so wickedly: because this man is come into my lodging, and cease I pray you from this folly.

24 I have a maiden daughter, and this man hath a concubine, I will bring them out to you, and you may humble them, and satisfy your lust: only, I beseech you, commit not this crime against nature on the man.

25 They would not be satisfied with his words; which the man seeing, brought out his concubine to them, and abandoned her to their wickedness: and when they had abused her all the night, they let her go in the morning.

26 But the woman, at the dawning of the day, came to the door of the house where her lord lodged, and there fell down.

27 And in the morning the man arose, and opened the door that he might end the journey he had begun: and behold his concubine lay before the door with her hands spread on the threshold.

28 He thinking she was taking her rest, said to her: Arise, and let us be going. But as she made no answer, perceiving she was dead, he took her up, and laid her upon his ass, and returned to his house.

29 And when he was come home he took a sword, and divided the dead body of his wife with her bones into twelve parts, and sent the pieces into all the borders of Israel.

30 And when every one had seen this, they all cried out: There was never such a thing done in Israel from the day that our fathers came up out of Egypt, until this day: give sentence, and decree in common what ought to be done.

  

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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