Judicum 19

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1 Fuit quidam vir Levites habitans in latere montis Ephraim, qui accepit uxorem de Bethlehem Juda :

2 quæ reliquit eum, et reversa est in domum patris sui in Bethlehem, mansitque apud eum quatuor mensibus.

3 Secutusque est eam vir suus, volens reconciliari ei, atque blandiri, et secum reducere, habens in comitatu puerum et duos asinos : quæ suscepit eum, et introduxit in domum patris sui. Quod cum audisset socer ejus, eumque vidisset, occurrit ei lætus,

4 et amplexatus est hominem. Mansitque gener in domo soceri tribus diebus, comedens cum eo et bibens familiariter.

5 Die autem quarto de nocte consurgens, proficisci voluit : quem tenuit socer, et ait ad eum : Gusta prius pauxillum panis, et conforta stomachum, et sic proficisceris.

6 Sederuntque simul, ac comederunt et biberunt. Dixitque pater puellæ ad generum suum : Quæso te ut hodie hic maneas, pariterque lætemur.

7 At ille consurgens, cœpit velle proficisci. Et nihilominus obnixe eum socer tenuit, et apud se fecit manere.

8 Mane autem facto, parabat Levites iter. Cui socer rursum : Oro te, inquit, ut paululum cibi capias, et assumptis viribus, donec increscat dies, postea proficiscaris. Comederunt ergo simul.

9 Surrexitque adolescens, ut pergeret cum uxore sua et puero. Cui rursum locutus est socer : Considera quod dies ad occasum declivior sit, et propinquat ad vesperum : mane apud me etiam hodie, et duc lætum diem, et cras proficisceris ut vadas in domum tuam.

10 Noluit gener acquiescere sermonibus ejus : sed statim perrexit, et venit contra Jebus, quæ altero nomine vocatur Jerusalem, ducens secum duos asinos onustos, et concubinam.

11 Jamque erant juxta Jebus, et dies mutabatur in noctem : dixitque puer ad dominum suum : Veni, obsecro : declinemus ad urbem Jebusæorum, et maneamus in ea.

12 Cui respondit dominus : Non ingrediar oppidum gentis alienæ, quæ non est de filiis Israël, sed transibo usque Gabaa :

13 et cum illuc pervenero, manebimus in ea, aut certe in urbe Rama.

14 Transierunt ergo Jebus, et cœptum carpebant iter, occubuitque eis sol juxta Gabaa, quæ est in tribu Benjamin :

15 diverteruntque ad eam, ut manerent ibi. Quo cum intrassent, sedebant in platea civitatis, et nullus eos recipere voluit hospitio.

16 Et ecce, apparuit homo senex, revertens de agro et de opere suo vesperi, qui et ipse de monte erat Ephraim, et peregrinus habitabat in Gabaa : homines autem regionis illius erant filii Jemini.

17 Elevatisque oculis, vidit senex sedentem hominem cum sarcinulis suis in platea civitatis, et dixit ad eum : Unde venis ? et quo vadis ?

18 Qui respondit ei : Profecti sumus de Bethlehem Juda, et pergimus ad locum nostrum, qui est in latere montis Ephraim, unde ieramus in Bethlehem : et nunc vadimus ad domum Dei, nullusque sub tectum suum nos vult recipere,

19 habentes paleas et fœnum in asinorum pabulum, et panem ac vinum in meos et ancillæ tuæ usus, et pueri qui mecum est : nulla re indigemus nisi hospitio.

20 Cui respondit senex : Pax tecum sit, ego præbebo omnia quæ necessaria sunt : tantum, quæso, ne in platea maneas.

21 Introduxitque eum in domum suam, et pabulum asinis præbuit : ac postquam laverunt pedes suos, recepit eos in convivium.

22 Illis epulantibus, et post laborem itineris cibo et potu reficientibus corpora, venerunt viri civitatis illius, filii Belial (id est, absque jugo), et circumdantes domum senis, fores pulsare cœperunt, clamantes ad dominum domus, atque dicentes : Educ virum, qui ingressus est domum tuam, ut abutamur eo.

23 Egressusque est ad eos senex, et ait : Nolite, fratres, nolite facere malum hoc, quia ingressus est homo hospitium meum : et cessate ab hac stultitia.

24 Habeo filiam virginem, et hic homo habet concubinam : educam eas ad vos, ut humilietis eas, et vestram libidinem compleatis : tantum, obsecro, ne scelus hoc contra naturam operemini in virum.

25 Nolebant acquiescere sermonibus illius : quod cernens homo, eduxit ad eos concubinam suam, et eis tradidit illudendam : qua cum tota nocte abusi essent, dimiserunt eam mane.

26 At mulier, recedentibus tenebris, venit ad ostium domus, ubi manebat dominus suus, et ibi corruit.

27 Mane facto, surrexit homo, et aperuit ostium, ut cœptam expleret viam : et ecce concubina ejus jacebat ante ostium sparsis in limine manibus.

28 Cui ille, putans eam quiescere, loquebatur : Surge, et ambulemus. Qua nihil respondente, intelligens quod erat mortua, tulit eam, et imposuit asino, reversusque est in domum suam.

29 Quam cum esset ingressus, arripuit gladium, et cadaver uxoris cum ossibus suis in duodecim partes ac frustra concidens, misit in omnes terminos Israël.

30 Quod cum vidissent singuli, conclamabant : Numquam res talis facta est in Israël ex eo die, quo ascenderunt patres nostri de Ægypto, usque in præsens tempus : ferte sententiam, et in commune decernite quid facto opus sit.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Judicum 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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