The Book of JUDGES
James J. Barker
THE LEVITE & HIS CONCUBINE
- The last two chapters have dealt primarily with religious apostasy, and we have noted that religious apostasy always leads to immorality.
- Judges 19 continues with this theme of apostasy, corruption, immorality, and confusion (Judges 17 – 21).
- The chapter starts off with a familiar statement – "there was no king in Israel" (19:1; cf. 18:1; 17:6).
- There doesn't seem to be any thing unusual about the story until we get to verse 20 where the old man says to the Levite, "Only lodge not in the street."
- This warning reminds us of the very first mention of the word "street" in the Bible (Genesis 19:1-4). And as we continue in our story in Judges 19, we are reminded again and again of Genesis 19.
- In most stories, there are "good guys" and "bad guys," heroes and villains, saints and sinners, but during this period in Israel's history there were no good guys; there were no heroes.
- THE LEVITE WAS WRONG TO HAVE A CONCUBINE (19:1, 2).
- THE OLD MAN WAS WRONG TO OFFER HIS VIRGIN DAUGHTER TO THE PERVERTS BEATING ON HIS DOOR (19:23, 24).
- THE MEN OF THE CITY WERE DISGUSTING AND IMMORAL (19:22-25).
THE LEVITE WAS WRONG TO HAVE A CONCUBINE (19:1, 2).
- We are not told this Levite's name, nor are we told his concubine's name. Even though the Levite is referred to as "her husband" (19:3), concubines held a position secondary and inferior to the regular wife.
- It should be stressed that the practice of concubinage was and is contrary to the Word of God. Way back in the Garden of Eden, God instituted marriage between one man and one woman.
- "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).
- Our Lord referred to this in Matthew 19, when He said, "have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder" (Matthew 19:4-6).
- This means God is not only opposed to adultery and homosexuality and fornication, He is also opposed to divorce and polygamy.
- This Levite was wrong to take a concubine (Judges 19:1). Furthermore, she "played the whore against him" (19:2). This is a sad sign of the religious and moral condition of that day.
- After playing the whore against him, the concubine left the Levite and went back to her father's house in Bethlehem (19:2).
- The Levite went after her and was warmly received by her father and stayed several days (19:3-8).
- Finally it was time to go and they set out, heading northward by way of Jebus (ancient name of Jerusalem), finally stopping for the night in Gibeah, a city of the Benjaminites (19:9-15).
THE OLD MAN WAS WRONG (19:16-24).
- At first we are impressed with this old man's hospitality (19:16-19). This old man was also from mount Ephraim (19:16).
- While the old man's hospitality was commendable, his offer to give up his "maiden" (virgin) daughter to these filthy perverts was deplorable (19:20-24). It was also wrong to offer up the Levite's concubine (19:24).
- Once again we are reminded of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. Genesis 19:4-8).
THE MEN OF THE CITY WERE DISGUSTING AND IMMORAL (19:22-30).
- Note the words used to describe their behavior. First they are identified as "certain sons of Belial" (19:22). This is a Biblical term for "worthless rascals" or "devilish hell-raisers."
- The other terms used tells us they were up to no good – "that we may know them" (19:22b), "wickedly" (19:23), "folly" (19:23), "vile" (19:24), and "knew her, and abused her" (19:25). Cf. Also Judges 20:3, 6.
- Today perverts like this are called "bisexual" or "gay." God says they are wicked, lewd, foolish, vile, dishonorable, unnatural, unseemly, and abominable.
- This horrible crime eventually resulted in a bloody civil war and a terrible loss of life (Judges 20). Today it is causing various diseases and viruses, some of which are incurable.
- At first, the sodomites refused the old man's offer, but after a while the Levite gave them his concubine, and they knew her and abuse her all night long (19:22-25).
- I realize that this woman was adulterous, Judges 19:2 tells us that she had "played the whore" against the Levite. And Judges 20:5 tells us that the Levite was afraid the perverts would kill him. But nevertheless it was a terrible thing for the Levite to hand her over to this wild pack of lascivious homosexuals.
- The lewd and lascivious sodomites literally raped her to death. With her last ounce of strength she fell down at the door of the old man's house and grabbed on to his threshold (19:25-27).
- The Levite did not realize she was dead, and said to her, "Up and let us be going" (19:28). This reveals to us what a cold and insensitive man he was. He probably got a good night's sleep while she was being savagely raped by these demon-possessed sodomites. Couldn't he hear her cries for help?
- The story is shocking. In many ways it is worse that what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah did not worship the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The tribe of Benjamin supposedly did.
- The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were ignorant of the God of the Bible, but the men of Benjamin had the law of Moses. The law of Moses strongly condemns adultery, fornication, and homosexuality.
- This story shows the degree to which sexual sin had become rampant among God's people. All the people in this story stand condemned. The Levite was wrong to have a concubine in the first place. And he was wrong to hand her over to these filthy perverts.
- The old man was wrong to offer his virgin daughter. These men were just as bad as Lot, who offered his two virgin daughters to the howling Sodomites banging on his door (Gen. 19:8).
- Apparently these men thought that the violation of women wasn't as offensive as the violation of a man. But in the eyes of God they stand condemned as cowardly sinners. Sex outside of marriage is always wrong, and rape is always wrong. And turning a woman over to a mob of rapists is inexcusable.
- Today many men and women (even young children) have calloused minds regarding sexual impurity. We are bombarded with filth every day through the newspapers, radio, television, and popular music. Not long ago we had a president who was a shameless adulterer and who defiled the Oval Office. As Christians let us be sensitive to the evils of sexual immorality.
- Though the Levite did not seem overly concerned over his concubine's rape and murder, his subsequent action reveals that he was affected deeply over what happened (19:28-30).
- The Levite systematically dismembered his concubine's body into twelve pieces, one for each tribe of Israel (19:29).
- There was no king in Israel in those days (19:1; cf. 17:6). In the absence of a regular constituted government, a shocking act like this was necessary.
- In any event, his strategy worked. The men of Israel were roused to action (19:30; 20:1-3).
- The sin of the men of Gibeah is not as well known as the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, nor is it referred to frequently in the Bible.
- However, the prophet Hosea refers to it over 600 years later (Hosea 9:9; 10:9).