Pillage – Levite and his Concubine

Judges 19:25-27. This event happened before Othniel became a Judge or ruler in Israel. This is a very similar story to Genesis 19. Some men in the city wanted to “know” a visiting Levite. The owner of the house offered his virgin daughter and the concubine or mistress of the Levite so that they could “do to them whatever you wish.”

A Levite who lived in the hill country of Ephraim had gone to get his concubine (sometimes considered a second level wife). She had run away and returned to her father’s town of Bethlehem. The man sent his concubine outside to the gang (certain sons of Belial), who proceeded to serially rape her. Consequently, she died of the attacks.

How low can Gibeah a town of Benjamin go against what God had asked them not to do.

The Levite only learned of her death when he was leaving the house in the morning and stumbled across her body. The woman was clearly considered expendable and of little value.

This is a terrible story: the proposal of an old man; the unfeeling, careless, and in many respects, the inexplicable conduct of this Levite towards his wife. Both men ought to have protected the women in the house, even though it may have been at the expense of their own lives.

Women’s status and freedoms were severely limited by Jewish law and custom in ancient Israel.

Generally speaking: they were restricted to roles of little or no authority, they were largely confined to their father’s or husband’s home, they were considered to be inferior to men, and under the authority of men.

From the Second Temple period (i.e. between the Old and New Testaments), women were not allowed to testify in court trials. They could not go out in public, or talk to strangers. When outside of their homes, they were to be doubly veiled.

They had become second-class Jews, excluded from the worship and teaching of God, with status scarcely above that of slaves. Their position in society was defined in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the interpretation of those scriptures. Their status was not unlike that of contemporary women in Afghanistan during the Taliban dictatorship.

Jesus Christ overthrew many centuries of Jewish law and custom, since He consistently treated women and men as equals. Jesus violated numerous Old Testament regulations, which specified gender inequality and he refused to follow the behavioral rules established by the three Jewish religious groups of the day: the Essenes, Pharisees, and Sadducees.

From this event came a sad time in Israel’s history. Eleven tribes of Israel ganged up against one tribe, that of Benjamin, killed 25,000 fighting men then destroyed and killed all that were in the towns of Benjamin.

Read Judges 21:1-25 for the final outcome.

Background Reading:

The Men of Gibeah Rape and Murder the Mistress

25 But the men were unwilling to listen to him. So the descendant of Levi grabbed his mistress, took her out to them, and they raped and tortured her all night until morning. Then they released her as the first daylight was beginning to appear. 26 As dawn was breaking, the woman approached the door of the man’s home where her master was and collapsed. Eventually, full daylight came. 27 When her master got up that morning and opened the doors of the house to leave on his way, there was his mistress, fallen dead at the door of the house with her hands grasping the threshold.

28 He spoke to her, “Get up, and let’s go.”

But there was no response. So he placed her on the donkey, mounted his own animal,r and went home. 29 When he arrived home, he grabbed a knife, took hold of his mistress, cut her apart limb by limb into twelve pieces, and sent her remains throughout the land of Israel. 30 All the witnesses said, “Nothing has happened or has been seen like this from the day the Israelis came here from the land of Egypt to this day! Think about it, get some advice about it, and then speak up about it!”
Judges 19:25-27

Other slides in this module: