Introduction: Judges Chapter 19 recounts one of the darkest events in Israel’s history. Here, the Benjamites in a town called Gibeah tried to sodomize a traveling Levite. Their lusts for the flesh were only satisfied when they took his female concubine and gang raped her throughout the night. The Levite then took her dead body, dismembered it and sent the pieces throughout Israel to shock a nation that was numb to sin. No one in this account acted in a noble way. Each person sinned in the eyes of God. How did Israel reach this low point in its history? It had no godly leader to exhort the people to follow God’s unchanging standard of morality. Instead of following the Ten Commandments, the people did whatever they felt was right in their own eyes (Jdgs. 17:6; 21:25). Other stories in the book of Judges explain how idolatry led to the Jews’ oppression at the hands of their enemies. This time, the enemy was within. Here, God reveals seven consequences to a society when it rejects His Word and His morality as sovereign.
First, when God’s Word becomes unpopular with the people, many leaders will sadly abandon Him as well. Without godly leaders, the people will then descend further into sin. God emphasizes this fact by beginning the account with the observation that there were no godly leaders in Israel. Second, God provides the examples of a Levite who gave in to coveting to take on a concubine, and the unhappy concubine who became unfaithful, to reveal that the family will break down when the people abandon His standards of morality. Third, as a prelude to the gang rape in the Benjamite town of Gibeah, the traveling Levite was unable to stay in Jerusalem, the intended place for God’s ark and His presence to protect Israel. Because the Jews never drove out the Jebusites from Jerusalem, He was not a source of protection to the Levite there. Indeed, His name never appears in this chapter. The Levite was forced to travel to the evil city of Gibeah, where His presence was also removed. From this, God reveals that His hedge of protection from evil within society will be lifted when the people either abandon Him or refuse to do His will. Fourth, the Benjamites at Gibeah refused to offer the Levite shelter. Only one man was willing to help. He was like Lot in Sodom. From this, God reveals that people will become self-centered when they abandon His standard of morality. Fifth, from the Benjamites’ demands to sodomize the Levite (the same demands as the people in Sodom), He warns that the breakdown of His Law will lead to the normalization of same sex acts within society. While western society now views same sex relationships as a civil right, God’s standards of morality never change. Sixth, from the Benjamites’ gang rape of the Levite’s concubine, He reveals that violence, predation, and the lusts of the flesh will control mankind when it rejects His morality. Western society is again witnessing this unfold today. Both then and now, the fear of God does not check the evil desires of mankind’s hearts. Finally, from the Levite’s amputation of his deceased concubine, He reveals that a society that rejects God will become numb to its sins and tears itself apart. These warnings society today, which is also numb to sins and in turmoil.
The absence of any national godly leaders. The atrocity in Gibeah begins with the root cause of the problem. There was no leader in Israel to exhort the people to follow God’s standards for right and wrong: “1a Now it came about in those days, when there was no king in Israel, . . .” (Jdgs. 19:1(a)). This is one of four times that Samson, the author of the book, stressed the absence of a king (Jdgs. 17:6; 18:1; 21:25). Yet, merely having a king or an appointed leader is no guarantee that the people will follow after God’s morality. Every king at some point sinned against God. Moreover, many of the most moral leaders for Israel were not kings. Examples include Joseph, Moses, Joshua, and Deborah. What the Jews lacked was a leader who would lead the people to be Holy and follow God’s standard of morality. This lesson applies today. Without godly leaders, “. .. every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Jdgs. 17:6(b); 21:25). Both then and now, God warns believers not to adopt a relativistic standard of morality: “You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes;” (Dt. 12:8). He knows that if believers accept all types of morality as equal, they will compromise their walk. For the Jews, He knew that they would eventually become “ensnared” by the Canaanite practices if the Jews did not kill them. These included child sacrifices, temple prostitution, and idolatry (Ex. 23:33). Because of these practices, the Canaanites were under God’s judgment (Gen. 15:13-16). Why then had the leaders abandoned God? Because the people had abandoned Him. It was no longer popular for leaders to insist upon the people to adopt His standards of morality. Western society is again witnessing this process unfold. As God’s standards of morality have become unpopular, leaders willing to advocate for them have largely disappeared.
The importance of godly leaders in restraining sin. Satan’s goal has always been to break down authority through rebellion. His goal is to create chaos and misery by causing people to turn away from God. Satan first led a third of the angels in rebellion against God’s rule (Rev. 12:3-9). He then led Eve to rebel against God’s rules (Gen. 3:1-4). He then led Adam and Eve to rebel against each other (Gen 3:16). All of Satan’s 12 rebellions in the wilderness sought to depose Moses as the leader of the Jews. Satan tries to make us rebel against God’s institutions of authority. In quoting a prophecy, Jesus revealed what happens when we submit to Satan’s attempts to make us rebel: “I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” (Mk. 14:23). Here, the sheep became scattered because they no longer wanted to hear from their shepherd. Without a godly shepherd, the sheep descended further into sin. Thus, godly leaders need brave citizens who are willing to reject public opinion to follow them. Will you be one?
The Levite’s decision to take a concubine and the unrest that existed in his family. Without godly leaders, each aspect of Jewish society descended into sin. This began with the family as symbolized by the Levite who gave into his coveting to have a concubine, and his unhappy concubine who became unfaithful: “1b . . . that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, who took a concubine for himself from Bethlehem in Judah. 2 But his concubine played the harlot against him, and she went away from him to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah, and was there for a period of four months.” (Jdgs. 19:1(b)-2). If Satan’s first attack in the garden of Eden caused Adam and Eve to rebel against God, his second attack was to set Adam and Eve against each other (Gen. 3:15). He follows the same plan of attack today. First, he causes people to rebel against God’s standards of morality. Once they reject His standards, Satan then attacks the family. We can see this unfold in the relationship between the Levite and his concubine. Neither followed God’s Law, and they both suffered because of their decisions. The Levite gave into coveting by taking a concubine. By doing so he violated God’s Tenth Commandment (Ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:21). As a Levite, he was also called upon to be holy as an example for others to follow (Lev. 11:44; 19:2). Unhappy in her status as a legal mistress, the woman turned to adultery. Yet, in doing so, she violated God’s Seventh Commandment against adultery (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18). Their unhappiness is a warning to believers today as well. If you reject God’s standards of morality, you will open your family to Satan’s attacks and the misery that will follow.
Having more than one wife results in only misery and sorrow. Some claim that the Bible endorses multiple wives because people like the Levite had multiple wives. In fact, the Bible shows that the decision of each person in the Bible to have multiple concurrent wives or concubines resulted in strife and misery. “In this sense a concubine was a legal mistress. Many prominent men in the Old Testament had concubines. Examples include Abraham (Gen. 25:6), Jacob (Gen. 35:22), Caleb (1 Chron. 2:46), Saul (2 Sam. 3:7), David (2 Sam. 5:13), Solomon (1 Kgs. 11:3) - 300 concubines), and Rehoboam (2 Chron. 11:21). Significantly, we never see this kind of family life blessed by God.” (David Guzik on Judges 19 (italics in original)).1 For example, Abram’s decision to sleep with Sarai’s servant Hagar created jealousy and conflict with his wife (Gen. 16:4-5). It also resulted in the modern day Arab Israeli conflict (Gen. 16:12). Abraham’s later concubines all led to nations of people who would fight with the Jews. Likewise, Jacob’s marriage to Rachel and Leah caused jealousy between the wives. When Leah had children, Rachel’s jealousy drove her to feel that she would die unless she had a child (Gen. 30:1). Jealousy eventually drove Rachel to have her husband Jacob sleep with her servant Bilhah (Gen. 30:1-6). Jealousy in turn drove Leah to have Jacob sleep with her servant Zilphah to increase the number of her kids. She did this even though she already had four sons and she had only had one year after their marriage without a pregnancy (Gen. 30:9-10). Leah’s children’s jealousy over Jacob’s love for Rachel’s children later also drove Reuben to defile Rachael’s maid servant Bilhah (Gen. 35:22). The consequence for Reuben’s actions was that he and his future generations lost their firstborn status (Gen. 49:3-4). Jealousy later drove ten boys to sell Joseph into slavery because he was one of two sons that Jacob loved more (Gen. 37:18-36). David also suffered when his lust took control of him. When he first saw Bathsheba, he lusted after her (2 Sam. 11:2). His secret lust later led him to commit adultery with her (2 Sam. 11:4). When David’s adultery led to Bathsheba’ pregnancy and he could not convince her husband to be with her, he later committed murder to try cover his tracks (2 Sam. 11:14-17). David also became numb to his sin. He was not remorseful about sending Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to his death until God confronted him. David’s health suffered (Ps. 38:3, 18). His descendants later fought against him and each other. Even Solomon, the wisest man alive and the author of most of the proverbs, loved the women of the world around him. He gave into the lusts of the flesh and strayed from God by taking 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kgs. 11:1-8). His wives then turned him from God (1 Kgs. 11:4). Thus, through these many lessons, the New Testament is clear that a man should have only one wife (Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Tim. 3:2). If you are married, are you honoring your covenant with God and your spouse by keeping your marriage holy?
The Levite’s five-day delay in retrieving his concubine. As a long prelude to the atrocity in Gibeah, God reveals how the unwillingness of the father-in-law to let go of his daughter caused the Levite to leave at a point in time when he would not be able to make it to a safe city: “3 Then her husband arose and went after her to speak tenderly to her in order to bring her back, taking with him his servant and a pair of donkeys. So she brought him into her father’s house, and when the girl’s father saw him, he was glad to meet him. 4 His father-in-law, the girl’s father, detained him; and he remained with him three days. So they ate and drank and lodged there. 5 Now on the fourth day they got up early in the morning, and he prepared to go; and the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, ‘Sustain yourself with a piece of bread, and afterward you may go.’ 6 So both of them sat down and ate and drank together; and the girl’s father said to the man, ‘Please be willing to spend the night, and let your heart be merry.’ 7 Then the man arose to go, but his father-in-law urged him so that he spent the night there again. 8 On the fifth day he arose to go early in the morning, and the girl’s father said, ‘Please sustain yourself, and wait until afternoon’; so both of them ate. 9 When the man arose to go along with his concubine and servant, his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, ‘Behold now, the day has drawn to a close; please spend the night. Lo, the day is coming to an end; spend the night here that your heart may be merry. Then tomorrow you may arise early for your journey so that you may go home.’ 10 But the man was not willing to spend the night, so he arose and departed and came to a place opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). And there were with him a pair of saddled donkeys; his concubine also was with him.” (Jdgs. 19:3-10). At first blush, it might seem that the father-in-law was only guilty of excessive hospitality. Indeed, his hospitality will later serve as a contrast to the lack of hospitality that existed in the city of Gibeah. Yet, every single person in this story sinned. While excessive hospitality is not a sin, it is a sin for a parent to come between their child and their spouse after they have been joined together. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5). Likewise, believers must never misuse a liberty when it causes someone else to stumble (Ro. 14:13; 1 Cor. 8:9). If the father-in-law had respected the Levite’s desire to be reunited with his family, the Levite would not have left in frustration at a time when he would be placed in a dangerous position looking for lodging. The lesson for parents is never to be a stumbling block in your child’s marriage.
The failure of the Jews to seize Jerusalem for His people. Having left late in the day, the most logical place to stay was in Jerusalem. Yet, God’s intended place of refuge was not available because the Jews failed to seize it from the Jebusites: “11 When they were near Jebus, the day was almost gone; and the servant said to his master, ‘Please come, and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites and spend the night in it.’ 12 However, his master said to him, ‘We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners who are not of the sons of Israel; but we will go on as far as Gibeah.’ 13 He said to his servant, ‘Come and let us approach one of these places; and we will spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah.’” (Jdgs. 19:11-13). God promised Jerusalem to the tribe of Benjamin (Josh. 18:16, 28). Yet, because they lacked faith and trust in God, they could not drive out the Jebusites. The task for taking Jerusalem then fell to its southern neighbor Judah (Josh. 15:8). Judah was temporarily successful in sacking and burning the city (Jdgs. 1:8). Judah, however, was not successful in fully driving out the Jebusites from Jerusalem (Josh. 15:63). Thus, it remained an unsafe area throughout the time period of the judges (Jdgs. 19:10-12). Araunah the Jebusite is just one example (2 Sam. 24:16). They threatened the Jews until David defeated them (2 Sam. 5:6-10). Because Benjamin and Judah failed to take Jerusalem because their faith was lacking (Heb. 11:6). Their faith had consequences for the whole nation that are seen in this story. Jerusalem was the place God intended for His ark, His temple in Israel. The city was meant to be a unifying place of refuge for the nation. Solomon later prayed as he dedicated the temple: “(for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.” (1 Kgs. 8:42-3). Yet, because the Jews were disobedient and lacked faith, His presence was not there to protect the Levite, his concubine, or anyone else. The nation also remained divided.
When unrepentant sin runs unchecked, God will lift His hedge of protection. God can be a shield to those who take refuge in Him (Prov. 30:5; 2 Sam. 22:31). Yet, when a nation turns from Him, His shield of protection will be removed (Lev. 26:14-39; Dt. 28:15-68). These lessons apply today as well. If the western world will not turn back to God, He will not bless the nations with his hedge of protection against evil. Like a person without a roof over their home, the people will be exposed to all the attacks of the evil one.
The failure of all but one of the Benjamites to grant the Levite’s family lodging. At Gibeah, the Levite and his concubine were unable to find anyone to give them lodging. Only one man eventually stepped forward to help them: “14 So they passed along and went their way, and the sun set on them near Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. 15 They turned aside there in order to enter and lodge in Gibeah. When they entered, they sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night. 16 Then behold, an old man was coming out of the field from his work at evening. Now the man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was staying in Gibeah, but the men of the place were Benjamites. 17 And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city; and the old man said, ‘Where are you going, and where do you come from?’ 18 He said to him, ‘We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, for I am from there, and I went to Bethlehem in Judah. But I am now going to my house, and no man will take me into his house. 19 Yet there is both straw and fodder for our donkeys, and also bread and wine for me, your maidservant, and the young man who is with your servants; there is no lack of anything.’ 20 The old man said, ‘Peace to you. Only let me take care of all your needs; however, do not spend the night in the open square.’ 21 So he took him into his house and gave the donkeys fodder, and they washed their feet and ate and drank.” (Jdgs. 19:14-21). The Jews were commanded to treat a foreigner in need of help with respect: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.” (Lev. 19:33-34). “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 22:21). “So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” (Dt. 10:19). These commands also applied to a fellow Jew in need of help: “Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you.” (Lev. 25:35). The Benjamites dishonored God by failing to show compassion and help the Levite. Their lack of compassion provides a warning to believers today. In the end times, the people will care only about themselves. They will show no compassion for the helpless: “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,” (2 Tim. 3:2).
Pieter de Grebber (1600 - 1653) The Laborer of Gibeah Offering Hospitality (1640)2
Be a refuge to strangers in need. Today, Christ is your refuge when you lack protection (Heb. 6:18-20). In turn, He wants you to be a light of His hope to others (Matt. 5:14). You can also show your love for Christ when you help strangers in need: “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;” (Matt. 25:35). “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb. 13:2; Ro. 12:13). Are you a refuge and a source of hope for strangers in need?
The Benjamites’ attempt to rape and sodomize the Levite. After refusing to give the Levite and his concubine shelter, the people of Gibeah committed the even worse sin of trying to rape and sodomize him: “22 While they were celebrating, behold, the men of the city, certain worthless fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the house, the old man, saying, ‘Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have relations with him.’ 23 Then the man, the owner of the house, went out to them and said to them, ‘No, my fellows, please do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not commit this act of folly. 24 Here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. Please let me bring them out that you may ravish them and do to them whatever you wish. But do not commit such an act of folly against this man.’” (Jdgs. 19:22-24). With nearly identical words, this account parallels the attempt of the people of Sodom to sodomize Lot’s angelic guests: “Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.’” (Gen. 19:4-5). The man’s offer of two women to protect the Levite from sodomy was the same offer that Lot made to the people of Sodom: “and said, ‘Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof.”’ (Gen. 19:7-8). In the Bible, God repeats a matter to both confirm it and to emphasize it (2 Cor. 13:1).
God’s prohibition against same sex acts. Just as it was during the times of Sodom and Gomorrah and the time of the Judges, society today has come to embrace same sex acts as a civil right. Yet, no matter how unpopular it may be for people in society today to hear, same sex acts are against God’s Law: ‘“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.’” (Lev. 18:20). For the unsaved, the penalty was also death: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.” (Lev. 20:13). God even barred cross-dressing: “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Dt. 22:5). If God ran for office based upon His views, He would be ridiculed and rejected by the masses.
Examples of same sex acts punished in the Old Testament. Unlike other sins, God also punished entire populations for same sex acts. There are two examples of this in the Old Testament. First, through Noah, He cursed Ham for getting his father Noah drunk and then performing a same sex act upon his father. This curse extended to Ham’s descendants in Canaan (Gen. 9:24-25). Second, God found the sexual sins of Sodom and Gomorrah to be exceedingly great (Gen. 18:20). Then, after the people of Sodom tried to forcibly sodomize the angels that God sent into the city to rescue Lot, He swiftly destroyed both cities: “Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven,” (Gen. 19:24). The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all referred to God’s judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah as a historic fact with lessons for God’s people (Is. 1:9; Jer. 50:40; Ez. 16:49-50). If someone wanted to excise out of the Old Testament every book which now contains “politically incorrect” condemnations of same sex acts, that person would need to remove the books of Genesis, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Judges, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
The New Testament prohibition against same sex acts. In the New Testament, Paul affirmed that same sex acts remain prohibited under God’s Law, even after Jesus’ death: “[A]nd in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” (Ro. 1:27). For the unsaved, the penalty for this conduct also bars entry into heaven: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Although some now teach that the sin of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Gibeah was unkindness toward strangers, the New Testament makes clear that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was sexual perversion: “[J]ust as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7). Like Paul, Peter also warned that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah would bring God’s judgment: “if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;” (2 Pet. 2:6). Jesus also cited to the example of Sodom and Gomorrah to warn of the sins that were severe enough to bring judgment upon entire cities and countries, not just individuals: “Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.” (Matt. 10:15). “Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matt. 11:24). “I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.” (Luke 10:12). Jesus also said that God created people male and female for marriage (Matt. 19:4). If someone wanted to excise out of the New Testament every book which now contains “politically incorrect” condemnations of same sex acts, that person would need to remove the books of Matthew, Luke, Romans, Corinthians, Jude, and Peter. Throughout the entire Bible, this totals 13 of the books. Without Jesus, Paul, or Peter, there would also be little reason to even have a New Testament.
The Benjamites’ gang rape of the Levite’s concubine. After the men’s attempts to sodomize the Levite were rebuffed, they seized the man’s concubine and savagely gang raped her and brutalized her throughout the night: “25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and brought her out to them; and they raped her and abused her all night until morning, then let her go at the approach of dawn. 26 As the day began to dawn, the woman came and fell down at the doorway of the man’s house where her master was, until full daylight.” (Jdgs. 19:25-26). The men’s acts were one of the worst acts in Jewish history. God prohibits all forms of rape. For a person who is found guilty of raping a married woman, the penalty is death: “25 But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. 27 When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her.” (Dt. 22:25-27). God recorded their sins to warn societies that He will punish similar sins when they go unpunished: “They have gone deep in depravity as in the days of Gibeah; He will remember their iniquity, He will punish their sins.” (Hos. 9:9). “From the days of Gibeah you have sinned, O Israel; there they stand! Will not the battle against the sons of iniquity overtake them in Gibeah?” (Hos. 10:9). All sexual sin is reprehensible in God’s eyes. A society that fails to curtail it will face His judgment.
The New Testament warnings against all sins of the flesh. God did not single out same sex acts as the only prohibited act today. He instead bars all sexual acts of the flesh outside of a holy marriage. “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;” (Eph. 5:3). “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,” (Gal. 5:19). “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” (1 Cor. 6:18). Jesus also warned that all kinds of “sexual impurities” (which include rape) defile a man (Matt. 15:19-20; Mk. 7:20-23). Are you fleeing the temptations of sexual immorality? Is your life a holy example of purity to others?
The Levite’s delivery of his concubine’s body parts throughout Israel. This atrocity concludes with the Levite’s gruesome act of cutting his concubine into 12 parts and sending the parts throughout Israel: “27 When her master arose in the morning and opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, then behold, his concubine was lying at the doorway of the house with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, ‘Get up and let us go,’ but there was no answer. Then he placed her on the donkey; and the man arose and went to his home. 29 When he entered his house, he took a knife and laid hold of his concubine and cut her in twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout the territory of Israel. 30 All who saw it said, ‘Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen from the day when the sons of Israel came up from the land of Egypt to this day. Consider it, take counsel and speak up!’” (Jdgs. 19:27-30). The Levite’s acts were meant to shock a nation that had become numb to its sins. To emphasize a point, neither the concubine nor the Levite’s names were revealed. They remain nameless to symbolize the sins’ universal nature, and the people’s indifference to the crime. Everyone in this account sinned by doing what was right in their own eyes: “This last episodes raise a host of troubling questions. (1) How could the host offer his own virgin daughter and the guest’s concubine to this mob? How could the laws of fatherhood be suspended, and did the laws of hospitality not apply to women? (2) After going to such an effort to recover his concubine, how could the Levite thrust her out to the brutes? (3) Why did the men of the town accept the concubine as a substitute for the Levite? (4) Where was the host’s virgin daughter in all this? (5) Where was the Levite while the men of the town were abusing his concubine? Could he really have continued his merriment or gone to bed and slept? (6) Why is there no apparent remorse when he discovers her? (7) Perhaps most torturous of all, was the woman dead when the Levite found her? The LXX (and the Vg) answers the question ‘but she was dead’, which renders the mob guilty of murder, as well as gang rape. It is not clear from the sequel (vv. 29-30), however, whether the Levite simply dismembers a corpse or whether he himself murders his concubine in a fit of rage. In his testimony in 20:5-6 he will exonerate himself, but by this time the reader is no longer sure he can be trusted. The narrator’s identification of the Levite in this episode as ‘her master’ rather than ‘her husband’ (cf. v. 2), does not enhance his reputation. And the fact that he describes the concubine’s fate with ‘And she died’ (20:5) rather than ‘And they killed her’ leaves open the possibility that he, rather than the rapists, was responsible for her death.” (Daniel Block, The New American Commentary: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, Judges, Ruth, Vol. 6, B & H Publishing Group 1999 p. 541).
The Levite discovers his dead concubine3
The Levite cuts his dead concubine into pieces and sends her parts all the tribes4
A nation that tolerates sin is spiritually blind and will also tear itself apart. The deceased concubine is like the body of Christ when it tolerates sin, and fails to repent and seek refuge in God. Like the people of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Gibeah, society has become numb to the pervasive sexual sins throughout it. This is also one of the signs of the end times: “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,” (2 Pet. 3:3). “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” (Jude 1:18(b)). “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1 Tim. 4:1). When society embraces the desires of the flesh over God’s morality, it becomes spiritually blind: “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” (2 Pet. 1:9). “Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see; who have ears but do not hear.” (Jer. 5:21). “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” (Is. 6:10). “They have closed their unfeeling heart, with their mouth they speak proudly.” (Ps. 17:10; Matt. 13:15). When society becomes spiritually blind and tolerates sin, it will also tear itself apart like the body of the concubine. Pornography, rape, adultery, fornication, and sex outside of marriage have all lost their stigma. Society no longer is shocked or even offended by these sins. Are you willing to stand up for God’s standards of sexual morality, even when you are ridiculed for doing so? (Ro. 1:16).