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 dwelling on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Beth-lehem-judah.

2 And his concubine played the harlot against him, and went away from him to her father's house to Beth-lehem-judah, and was there four whole months.

3 And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak kindly to 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 ate and drank, and lodged there.

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

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

7 And when the man rose 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 thy heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon, and they ate both of them.

9 And when the man arose to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father-in-law, the damsel's father, said to him, Behold now the day draweth towards evening, I pray you tarry all night: behold, the day is coming to an end, lodge here, that thy 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 arose 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 to his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in to this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.

12 And his master said to 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 to 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 down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodge.

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

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

18 And he said to him, We are passing from Beth-lehem-Judah towards the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Beth-lehem-Judah, but I am now going to the house of the LORD; and there is no man that receiveth me into his 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; however, let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.

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

22 Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house on all sides, and beat at the door, and 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, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into my 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 to you: but to 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 to 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 in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and behold, the woman his concubine had fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshhold.

28 And he said to her, Rise, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her upon an ass, and the man rose, and went to his place.

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

30 And it was so, that all that saw it, said, There hath been no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came from the land of Egypt to 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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