The Levite’s Concubine
You’ll find her story in Judges 19
The story of the Levite’s concubine begins with: “In those days there was no king in Israel” which is usually followed by “and every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” The men in this story thought it was acceptable to rape two men. When they were thwarted in their desire, they settled for raping an innocent woman all night long. That was “right” in their eyes. They wanted something and they took it.
I’ve often heard in Christian circles that when you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and His Spirit indwells you, that you don’t HAVE TO sin anymore. He gives you the power and ability NOT to sin. I don’t think I really understood this concept until recently.
We were at a Los Angeles Dodgers game. The metrosexual man behind us ignored the game and talked non-stop for three solid hours to his companions at the top of his lungs. I have never heard so much talk about absolutely nothing: stippers, Beyonce, his “ladies.” Finally my husband could not take it any longer and asked him to tone it down.
Do you know what he said to us? He said that’s just the way his voice was and he couldn’t help it. At first I was outraged. Of course you can lower your voice. Anybody can. It just takes an act of willpower – some “want to.” But now, I actually believe him. I believe he couldn’t help himself.
Without the Spirit of God living in you, you do not have a choice. You will do what your appetites dictate. This man could not shut himself up or tone down his voice or think about the effect he was having on everyone around him. He has been blinded by his god – his insatiable taskmaster – himself. That is the condition of the “perverted men” in our story below.
This is, hands down, the ugliest story in the Bible. It is eerily similar to Sodom and Gomorrah only this time, shockingly, it’s God’s Chosen People doing the evil, not heathens. The story shows how far the people of God have fallen from His ideal for them. It also shows what happens when you remove God from your culture – when your god is your own cravings, feelings, thoughts and passions. It happened in the time of the Judges and it is happening now.
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9
I was supposed to be writing about Samson and Delilah. And that story will come but a story about a Stanford swimmer raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster has grabbed national headlines recently. I “just happened” to be reading Judges 19 at the same time the story hit social media. (I find God causes those kind of “coincidences” a lot when I stay consistently in His Word.) I couldn’t help but notice the similarities contained in the ancient story and today’s news.
Here’s an shortened version of Judges 19 with my comments:
…a Levite…acquired a woman…as his concubine. (God’s ideal is one man, one woman for life. Our story does not start well.) But she was unfaithful to him and left him for her father’s house (commentaries disagree as to whether she was sexually unfaithful or leaving her husband was an act of unfaithfulness). She was there for a period of four months. Then her husband got up and went after her (took him awhile) to speak kindly to her and bring her back…So she brought him to her father’s house, and when the girl’s father saw him, he gladly welcomed him. His father-in-law, the girl’s father, detained him, and he stayed with him for three days. They ate, drank, and spent the nights there. (the father-in-law tries to detain him a couple more days but eventually they hit the road for home.)
…They stopped to go in and spend the night in Gibeah. The Levite went in and sat down in the city square, but no one took them into their home to spend the night. (Hospitality is a big deal in the Eastern culture. This was an affront.) In the evening, an old man came in from his work in the field…
“Peace to you,” said the old man. “I’ll take care of everything you need. Only don’t spend the night in the square.” (I think he knows what his own town is like.) So he brought him to his house and fed the donkeys. Then they washed their feet and ate and drank. While they were enjoying themselves, all of a sudden, perverted men of the city surrounded the house and beat on the door. They said to the old man who was the owner of the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him!” (New meat. They want to have sex with a Levite priest – how perverted can you get?)
The owner of the house went out and said to them, “No, don’t do this evil, my brothers. After all, this man has come into my house. (A host was obligated to protect his guests.) Don’t do this horrible thing. (Sounds a lot like Lot.) Here, let me bring out my virgin daughter and the man’s concubine now. (What!!!!????) Use them and do whatever you want to them. But don’t do this horrible thing to this man.” (Why is it worse to rape a man than to rape a woman I ask?)
But the men would not listen to him, so the man seized his concubine and took her outside to them. (Brave fellow – I see why she left him.) They raped her and abused her all night until morning. At daybreak they let her go. Early that morning, the woman made her way back, and as it was getting light, she collapsed at the doorway of the man’s house where her master was. (I can’t even imagine the horror of that night.)
When her master got up in the morning (he actually slept?), opened the doors of the house, and went out to leave on his journey, there was the woman, his concubine, collapsed near the doorway of the house with her hands on the threshold. (She’s reaching out for help. Does her husband even care what had just happened to her. No.) “Get up,” he told her. “Let’s go.” But there was no response. (Note it doesn’t say she was dead.) So the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.
When he entered his house, he picked up a knife, took hold of his concubine, cut her into 12 pieces, limb by limb, (if she wasn’t dead before, she sure is now) and then sent her throughout the territory of Israel. Everyone who saw it said, “Nothing like this has ever happened or has been seen since the day the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt to this day. Think it over, discuss it, and speak up!”
I feel like the woman raped by the Stanford swimmer pulled together the hacked up pieces of her life, wrote them down in Her Story and sent it out to the people just like the Levite did. It was a call to action. Let’s do something about this gross miscarriage of justice, people! We are all shocked. Horrified. Grieved. Her assailant got 6 months because “he had never committed a crime like this before and a long prison term would severely impact his life.”
Say what? Like her life wasn’t permanently impacted? And did this 20 year old take responsibility for what he did? No. He blamed the party culture. He blamed her. He blamed the alcohol. It was reported that the men who came to her aid and caught him in the act were so disgusted by what they saw that they vomited. May we never lose that kind of sensitivity to evil in our culture.
How is Jesus involved in the story of the Levite’s Concubine?
Jesus provides the ability to live a life that pleases God. To not sin. He says in John 8:34: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” Galatians 5 goes on to say: “Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery…I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other.”
Lord, Help us to be faithful to walk by the Spirit, to not be overcome by the culture. I pray that evil acts would continue to make each of us sick to our stomachs, that we would never grow hard about the horrors happening all around us. Help us to be faithful witnesses of the freedom found in Christ and offer hope to the people You bring into our path. Amen.