About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 19

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A Levite And His Concubine  (ch. 19: 1 - 30 )

 

Some scholars suggest that this chapter took place prior to the last two chapters.

 

We see a Levite in this chapter.  We should understand that this Levite is not the same Levite we saw in the last two chapters.  This shows how the Levites, who were to be priests, were so messed up, even at this early date after crossing the Jordan River.

 

In verse 1 we see this Levite had a concubine.  A concubine wasn't necessarily a mistress.  She was basically a second class wife. 

 

The NIV states in verse 2 that this concubine was unfaithful to the Levite.  There is some debate because of the way the Hebrew text is worded that this concubine might not have been unfaithful sexually, but just unfaithful in the sense she didn't want to be the Levite's concubine.  So, she went back to her father.

 

In those days, if a wife, or a concubine, went back home to live, this was a disgrace to the family.  The father would have been quite upset over this. 

 

The concubine's hometown was in Bethlehem , about 6 miles south of present day Jerusalem.

 

Verses 2 and 3 state that after 4 months, the Levite took a servant with him to persuade the concubine to return home with him.  Four months seems a long time.  We don't know why it took him so long, but, maybe it wasn't long in his thinking.  I think I can safely say, especially after reading the whole chapter, that this concubine wasn't at the top of this Levite's priority list.

 

Verse 3 states that when the father of the concubine saw the Levite "he gladly welcomed him".  There are two things going on here.  "Gladly welcome" means that the father was glad to see the Levite because he hoped his daughter would return to the Levite and take away the family shame that would have taken place due to this separation.  "Gladly welcome" also means that this was simply good social protocol. Back than whenever anyone had a guest, the guest immediately came to be the number one priority of the family. 

 

From verses 3 to 10 is the simple narrative that shows the Levite staying 5 days at his concubines father's house.

 

Note in verse 10 the city called "Jebus".  Jebus later became Jerusalem .  The city at this time was a pagan city.  Israelis did not live in Jebus at this time. The Jebusites lived in Jebus, thus the reason for its name. We see in verse 12 that it was for this reason, that is, Jebus wasn't an Israeli city, the Levite did not want to spend the night there.

 

In verses 14 and 15 we see that they went beyond Jebus and ended up spending the night in an Israeli town, a town of Benjamin, named Gibeah.  They went to the town square.  Normally people would see strangers in the town square and take them home for the evening.  Even staying in the town square for the night should not have been a problem, but not so in Gibeah.  It was a very rough town.

 

The fact that no one took them home for the night shows you what kind of town this was.  Hospitality, whether Jewish, or pagan, was high on the list of cultural norms back then, but apparently not for this town.  This shows you how rough this town was.

 

In verses 16 to 21 we note that an old man came up to the Levite, his concubine, and his servant and invited them to his house for the night.  This old man was originally from Ephraim, as was the Levite.  So they did have some things in common.

 

Note in verse 18 that the Levite was going to the "house of the Lord". Some suggest the house of the Lord spoken of here is the place in Shiloh where the ark of the covenant was being presently held.  Others suggest that it might be his own personal house of the lord, as the Levite in the last chapter had.  If this were true, then like the Levite in the last chapter, this would have been against what the Law of Moses taught.  Levites were not to build their own houses of the Lord.

 

Verse 22 shows how wicked this city was.  It was Sodom and Gomorrah all over again, except these were Israeli men.  They pounded on the door.  The Hebrew suggest a real hard pounding, a violent pounding.  They wanted the old man to send out the Levite so they could have sex with the Levite.  Throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, homosexuality is at the top of the list of sexual sins. 

 

In verse 23 we see the old man saying, "no my friends".  They probably weren't his friends, but maybe the old man figured if he was nice to them, they would leave.

 

Verse 24 shows us the culture of the day.  Male guests were important, and, even more important than female guests.  The old man volunteered his own virgin daughter and the Levite's daughter to these men.  Letting his own daughter to be sexually abused to save the vile acts to be performed on a male stranger is hard for us to imagine.  You also wonder how the Levite would allow his concubine outside with these men, but apparently he did.  This was a male dominated world.

 

We need to note at this point, that all pagan societies treated women poorly.  The Law of Moses was the first document that promoted better times for women and a better sense of equality.  That being said, there was, and I believe still is, in the mind of God, an order to be followed. The apostle Paul put it this way.  He told us that men should love their wives as Christ loved the church. (Ephesians 5:22 and following) He told the women to submit to their husbands.  He also said that in the church a woman should not have authority over a man.  The point is simple.  In the chain of authority, a man is over a woman.  This however does not mean a man is a dictator over a woman.  A man should love a woman as Christ loves us, who by the way, died for us.  This kind of love was not seen in pagan societies, and it wasn't until the Law of Moses came, that it was seen in history.  The simple fact is, when men live as the Lord would have them live, women live a much better life.  This was not the case here.

 

So, in verse 25 to 28 we see that the Levite's concubine was raped all night by many men.  The Levite got up in the morning, saw his concubine lying at the door, as if she tried to make it inside the house but just couldn't get there.  The Levite simply said, "get up".  I can't say for sure, but my guess is that when the Levite saw his concubine at the threshold of the door, thinking she was alive, he just said "get up", as if, "what are you doing down there.  Let's get going", without any concern for what she had just been through. 

 

The fact of the matter is that the Levite's concubine was dead.  The men raped her so badly she had died.  In verses 28 to 31, after the Levite got home, he cut up his concubine into 12 pieces and his servants send each piece to each tribe of Israel.  No one had ever seen such a thing done before.

 

The Hebrew words "cut up" here are words that would normally be used as "cut up" as in an animal sacrifice for worship of God.  We should note that Levites were like modern day butchers.  They knew how to cut animals for sacrifice and then cook those parts that weren't used in the sacrifice.  This Levite man knew how to cut up his concubine. 

 

Again, this chapter shows us how depraved Israel got, and this was the second generation, or, possibly the first generation after Moses died.  Israel could never walk in the ways of the Lord for very long.  This is the message of the book of Judges. 

 

This chapter ends with the words, "think about this Tell us what to do"?  Even in their state of great depravity, Israelis were dumbfounded.  As the western world today moves away from its Judeo Christian consensus we once gave ourselves to, we  become more pagan. With this new paganism will come such vile events as this.  We're beginning to see it right now in 2012.  

 

 

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