Pastoral Commentary for Judges 19
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
This account of the Levite and his concubine illustrates the moral degeneracy of Israel during the period of the judges, just as the account of the Levite who served as Micah's priest illustrated the spiritual degeneracy. This Levite from the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from the tribe of Benjamin who later was unfaithful to him. She fled to her parent's house to escape the consequences of her harlotry. When the Levite went there to get her back, he was welcomed and stayed for some time, undoubtedly because the girl's parents wanted to keep her with them, and were afraid of what would happen to her because of her unfaithfulness. On their journey back to the hill country of Ephraim the Levite and his concubine stopped in the Israelite town of Gibeah, but failed to find anyone to offer them hospitality, a serious breach of societal norms. Finally an old man who was also from the hill country took them in. In a scene reminiscent of the wickedness of Sodom, the men of Gibeah pounded on the door of the house demanding sex with the Levite. Their host offered instead his own virgin daughter and the Levite's concubine. The men of Gibeah refused, but the Levite forcibly put his concubine out of the house, where she was brutally raped through the night. In the morning he found her lifeless at the door, and loaded her body onto his donkey. Once at home, he dismembered her body and sent the twelve pieces to the twelve tribes of Israel as a testimony to the immorality he had encountered in Gibeah. Ironically, this Levite had as much to do with her death as the men he was seeking to portray as being immoral. Scriptural accounts like this one demonstrate the reality of the sinfulness of humankind and our desperate need for a Savior. Thankfully, God chose to work through Israel, in spite of their wickedness, to bring us the Savior of mankind.