At the time of Judges 19, the Bible says there was no king in Israel.
A Levite man lived in the remote mountains of Ephraim. He took a concubine from Bethlehem, but she played the harlot and went back to her father’s house, where she stayed four months. Then the man went to get her from her father’s house and spoke kindly to her. Her father begged him to stay to eat and drink for several days. Finally he decided to leave, even though the hour was late. His servant suggested they stay in Jebus (Jerusalem, but he wanted to stay in Gilead because it was a Jewish city. He probably thought it would be safer.
No one offered him lodging. Finally an old man came from his work and let them stay with him. Perverted men of the city begged the master of the house to let the man and his servant come out. They planned to abuse them carnally. The master of the house gave them his virgin daughter and the man’s wife (concubine) instead. The men had their way and left the concubine lying on the doorstep in the morning, dead. The man put her on a donkey and went home. Then he cut her body into twelve and sent a piece to all the tribes of Israel, saying, “Nothing like this has been known in Israel.”
Chapter 20 describes how all the children of Israel came out from Dan to Beersheba and beyond. They asked how the wicked thing happened. The Levite explained how the men wanted to abuse him, but the master of the house sent out the concubine and the men left her for dead. This led to a great battle against the tribe of Benjamin. At first the tribe of Benjamin was winning, but God gave the other tribes victory when the tribe of Benjamin turned and saw their city burning.
The men of Israel grieved for the tribe of Benjamin, because the Lord had made a void in the tribe of Benjamin. They had made an oath at Mizpah saying none of them would take a bride from Benjamin’s tribe. Then they wondered what their brothers would do if they had no wives. They realized no one came to battle from Jabesh Gilead, so they sent valiant men to Jabesh Gilead to kill all men, women, and children. They utterly destroyed every man and every woman who had known a man intimately. They found four hundred virgins and brought them to Shiloh. They needed more, so they remembered there would be a feast of the Lord in Shiloh. When the women went out to dance, every man came out of the vineyards and catch a woman and made her his wife. The children of Benjamin had found wives for themselves and they all went back to their homes.
My thoughts on the story of the concubine: It surprises me that in this story about a young woman who had been terribly abused, she never had a name or said a word. We don’t know why she played the harlot or went back to her father’s home, but I wonder if her master had mistreated her. It appears so, since he decided to speak kindly to get her back. Then he allowed the master of the house to sent her out to be abused by the evil men of the city. They tortured and murdered her with no regret.
I don’t understand why it was worse in the Old Testament when evil people man abused than a woman. It seems it would be worse for a woman since she might become pregnant.
The concubine could not help herself. Her husband refused to protect her. He ignored her plight. The pain for her loss belonged to the Levite, but I saw no regrets, just anger. I don’t see any love lost for this poor woman.
The Israelites treated the people of Jabesh Gilead horribly. The way they caught the women of Shiloh disgusted me.
Even though the situation caused war and great loss of life between brothers, in the end they worked together and grieved for the children of Benjamin. The men worked out their differences, but the women had no say.
“In those days there was no king in Israel: everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
Please give me your ideas about this story. How are things different for women now?
Does everyone do what’s right in their eyes? Are we any better off as women than the women in this story?
Please keep the conversation going.