Judges 19

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

2 And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father's house to Bethlehemjudah, and was there four whole months.

3 And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant 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: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there.

5 And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he rose up to depart: and the damsel's father said unto his son in law, Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way.

6 And they sat down, and did eat and drink both of them together: for the damsel's father had said unto the man, Be content, I pray thee, and tarry all night, and let thine heart be merry.

7 And when the man rose up to depart, his father in law urged him: therefore he lodged there again.

8 And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart: and the damsel's father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon, and they did eat both of them.

9 And when the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father in law, the damsel's father, said unto him, Behold, now the day draweth toward evening, I pray you tarry all night: behold, the day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and to morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go home.

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

11 And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.

12 And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over to Gibeah.

13 And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, 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 belongeth to Benjamin.

15 And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodging.

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

17 And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou?

18 And he said unto him, We are passing from Bethlehemjudah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehemjudah, but I am now going to the house of the LORD; and there is no man that receiveth me to house.

19 Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy servants: there is no want of any thing.

20 And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.

21 So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.

22 Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.

23 And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly.

24 Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.

25 But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.

26 Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door 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 doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.

28 And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.

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

30 And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.

  

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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