Judges is a fun book in the Bible. It depicts a time period in Israelite history that was less than stellar. For more on that time period you can read –>this<– post on Samson. Right about when Samson was leaving the scene the Bible records a story that is possibly one of the most gruesome of all religious texts.
The main character of the story (besides the victim) is unnamed, as is the victim. We will call them “the Levite” and “the Concubine.” The Levite makes the Bible Jerk Hall of Fame for possibly being the worst husband/slave owner ever, and for sure for being the worst Levite in Israelite history (except for maybe the sons of Aaron, Nadav and Avihu).
Why he is a jerk
- Breaking Levitical marriage laws (Leviticus 21:13-15)
- Being a horrible husband/slave owner (and a horrible human being)
- Giving his concubine to an angry crowd to be raped and abused all night
- Dismembering his concubine and mailing her body parts (pretty much the same thing Luka Rocco Magnotta did to his ex-girl)
- Provoking the largest civil war in biblical history that nearly wiped out all of the Benjamin tribe
The start of the story in Judges 19 paints a picture of a Levite and his concubine, that starts out a bit messy. We learn in Judges 19:1-2 that a Levite living outside Ephraim in the hillside, has a concubine that for one reason or another went off and slept with another man. There are a few things already wrong with this picture.
- Levites were supposed to holy priests and take wives from their own tribe. This Levite has a concubine, which is not a wife. In fact, often in the OT a concubine is nothing more than a servant who also provides sexual services. This would have been true of this concubine. Later in the story she is even refereed to as a maidservant (Judges 19:19). In judges 19:19 she is not even labeled as special among the other servants. She is just one of the bunch….which the Levite happens to sleep with.
- Most women in the OT period needed a man for security and survival which is one reason why being a concubine was acceptable. Most wives wouldn’t leave their husband and concubines certainly wouldn’t leave their master. They have absolutely no status in culture and leaving their master means they enter into a life of prostitution or they go back home to the parents. This concubine for one reason or another “played the harlot” on her master (Judges 19:2). To me, this says that he was probably a horrible master to his servants and she was probably nothing more than a sex toy, which becomes clearer later in the story.
- In Judges 19:3 the Levite takes an offering and an apology to his concubine’s father’s home in hopes to gain her back again (when she cheated on him she ended up moving back home). This tells me that she ran away from him because he was abusive or she just got sick of the life of being a sex object. He wanted her back probably because she was expensive to obtain initially and he wanted his investment back. She was also probably very gratifying to him.
The Levite returns with his concubine
The story starts on a bad note right from the get-go. From there it only gets worse. After the Levite persuaded (with little effort) the concubine’s father to return the woman to him, they depart to go back home. On the way home they run into a conundrum; dark is approaching and they have nowhere to sleep for the night. In Bible times this meant that you slept in the open square which is public and in view of other occupants of the city or you find someone to stay with for the night.
One of the the servants suggested turning into Jerusalem for the night (Judges 19:11-15), but since that city was not yet part of the Israelite territory the Levite decided that it was not a safe place to stay. Instead he chose to travel north a bit to Gibeah and stay there where the Benjaminites lived. Being that the tribe of Benjamin was part of their own people it was not a bad choice….in theory.
The bad night gets worse
Once they get into the square at Gibeah an older man finds them and urges them not to sleep in the square because it is too dangerous. Sound familiar? If you already started to think of the story of Lot you would be correct, except this one ends worse.
After some reasoning the Levite decides that it would be safer to stay with the old man. Although, I think that the offer of free wine might have had something to do with the Levite’s agreement to stay with the old man.
The rest of the story is almost too unbelievable to tell it to you myself. You can read the events of horror below. I would advise reading with some preparedness; it is not a pretty story.
While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him (Gen 19:4-8). ”
23 The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this outrageous thing. 24 Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But as for this man, don’t do such an outrageous thing.”
25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man (the Levite) took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. 26 At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.
27 When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up; let’s go.” But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.
If you didn’t catch it yet, the concubine AND the old man’s virgin daughter were offered to the mob of men. The mob of course didn’t really want either of them so the Levite (or possibly the old man) shoves the concubine out the door and never looks back. And while the Levite and old man are safe inside partying and eventually sleeping, the concubine is being beaten and raped to the death.
Verses 25-27 tell that it was an ALL night ordeal of abusing and she was found in the morning with her hands on the doorway of the house. She was probably clinging at the door knob for hours on end while yelling and pleading for her master to defend her and save her life.
But the spineless coward stayed in the house amidst the screaming and raping of his concubine. I like to make a lot of jokes on my blogs….but this guy really just makes me mad. So mad that I don’t even wanna make fun of him; I just want to do very unchristian things to him.
Proving his true colors
His next feat of Jerkery was in the morning when he wakes and is prepared to make his journey home. He opens the door of the house and nearly steps in his concubine laying at the threshold. Rather than check on her and see if she is OK and apologize profusely for being an absolute jerk-face, he just coldly says to her “get up; let’s go.”
Much to the reader’s surprise (but not the Levite we assume) she does not answer. She is dead. Stone dead from the beating, abusing, and raping all night. Rather than mourning in sackcloth and ashes like most people would have in that day, he decided to toss her on the donkey and just head home with her.
The worse gets somehow worse
After the Levite arrives home he decides that he needs to do something about the abuse and rape of his most expensive possession. He cuts her body up into 12 pieces and sends them to the 12 regions that belong to the 12 tribes. This of course was done in an effort to arouse retribution on the tribe of Benjamin for their behavior at Gibeah.
What ensues next in Judges is the start of the biggest civil war in all of the Bible. The angry Israelites assemble to address the matter and this is what the Levite has to say about it.
I and my concubine came to Gibeah in Benjamin to spend the night.5 During the night the men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They raped my concubine, and she died. 6 I took my concubine, cut her into pieces and sent one piece to each region of Israel’s inheritance, because they committed this lewd and outrageous act in Israel.
Notice that the Levite never mentions that he willingly offered his concubine to the angry mob. That just wasn’t important to the story I guess. The Israelites take up arms against the Benjaminites in Judges 20 and eventually strike them with an assault that kills at least 25,000 men. That would have been quite a kill.
In summary, because the Levite was a jerk-face, the concubine gets raped and killed, and more than 50,000 Israelites lose their lives in battle. All over one Levite’s refusal to protect his concubine. What a worm!
Please place your comments below!
14 thoughts on “Jerks Of The Bible Series | Entry #6: Unnamed Levite in Judges 19”
Why are heterosexual Christians so fixated on the LGBT community? I haven’t yet to have seen a article on heterosexual misbehavior, or should I say ‘heterosexual sin’ but I’ve seen a NUMBER about same gender couples and same gender orientation, but ZERO about heterosexual behavior and the proper and improper versions of heterosexuality. I think Christians need to spend more time studying the Bible in its entirety, than only focusing on LGB people. I feel like it’s turned into a Us vs Them, and that’s a satanic thing. It’s satanic when a heterosexual person thinks they are above a non-heterosexual. It’s satanic when a white person thinks they are above Black people. I’m sick of the demonization of those who have same gender attraction, but the thumbs up to heterosexual men who clearly have a interest in women, when we know what the Bible says about that.
I don’t know what your comment has to do with the post but I can easily answer your question. The reason why Christians are focused on homosexuality and not heterosexuality outside of marriage is because Christians universally understand that sex outside of marriage is a sin. However, modern Christians are still wrestling with how to deal with homosexuality because the Bible calls it a sin but on it’s face it’s hard to see why. Most Christians, myself included, don’t really see anything wrong with it, even though I am the first to admit that it’s clearly against Christian scripture and historical teaching.
Admin, most born again, bible believing Christ followers “focus” on homosexuality because the homosexual will spend eternity in hell and we do not want that for anyone. It is our responsibility to call out sin so the person can repeat and accept Christ. To pretend there is nothing wrong with homosexuality is to help the person into hell and therefore you will stand before God and answer for that sin. It is not hard to see what is wrong with homosexuality. It is rebellion against God. He created male and female, sexual intercourse and marriage for the purpose of two becoming one and populating the earth. Satan has corrupted God’s design with homosexuality. It is idolatry, as it involves loving self so much that you engage in sexual behaviors with someone of your own sex while rejecting God. Both are satanic. And for even more reasons why it is wrong, research the detrimental impact this behavior has on the homosexual emotionally, physically and mentally.
Why would a sin send someone to hell? Isn’t salvation based on faith in Christ alone?
This is an article on heterosexual misbehavior but you apparently missed it as soon as you saw the mention of men wanting to rape another man. YOU are the one fixated on the LGBT community! YOU are the one turning it into Us vs Them and YOU are the one engaging in satanic thinking that is blinding you to what God is teaching through the Bible. Take off your social justice glasses and get back to what is really important, your relationship with God and sharing the gospel!
Not everyone with a different view than you is a social justice warrior. Maybe you should ask questions about what a person believes so you can understand how they arrived at their conclusions, rather than call them names.
Justin, thanks for the comments.
Jesus himself tells us in John’s Gospel, that as Moses lifted up the bronze snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that all who behold and believe in HIM will not die, but receive eternal life.
Jesus also said that he was the True manna from heaven. “Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but later died. Those who eat my flesh, the TRUE bread from heaven, will never die”.
The Old Testament tells us JEHOVAH does not want man to eat/drink the blood of animals because the blood is their life. Well, those who drink the blood of Jesus will live forever because Jesus’ blood is his life, and thus OUR life.
I think Mark alludes to Jesus as a snake-on-a-pole when he tells us in his Gospel that,
“These signs will follow those who believe: they will handle snakes, and if they drink any deadly poison they will not die”. Perhaps this is secret code to keep spies from infiltrating Christianity and learning the Holy Sacraments Jesus gave us? This text is not in all the early manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel, but perhaps later inserted (handed down from word-of-mouth) for it’s historical significance of the persecution, and secrecy necessary to escape it. And for its allusion to Jesus as a snake-on-a-pole which Jesus mentions himself in John’s Gospel to Nicodemus.
[ Christians were under heavy persecution back then and may have needed to speak of the Holy Sacraments this secret way to keep out those who would arrest/kill them for their faith. Remember, Mark’s Gospel is one of the earliest New Testament writings, and the New Testament was not compiled yet. It wasn’t like people such as spies could read a whole 4 Gospel account and learn of the Holy Sacraments, whereas we can plainly read of them now from the 4 written Gospels.]
The snake’s flesh (communions plural – Jesus flesh/body taken as: oft as ye shall eat of it in remembrance of me). The deadly poison is Jesus’ blood. Just as the snake poison was the DEATH of the Israelites in the wilderness, so the blood of Jesus is the LIFE of those who receive it.
Jesus is the 2nd Snake on a Pole, the 2nd Manna from Heaven, and the
Jesus was thrown outside all night (the door locked) and was ravaged by evil men.
Isaiah chp 53 says it was God’s plan for Jesus to die this way. That’s why the husband(God) is not surprised.
How does the song go?
YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE, I’M LOCKED OUT OF HEAVEN…
His 12 Disciples were cutoff from the main vine (concubine Jesus).
Evil Benjamin may be a type of Judas.
And not that 65,000 Israelites had to die to avenge the death of one concubine, but rather one concubine(Jesus) died for the many.
A concubine is an earthly woman who belongs to a man and receives no inheritance, whereas Jesus is a heavenly man who belongs to God and inherits everything from the Father.
See Judges chp 19 thru 21
Interesting idea Eric. I’m not really into prophetic typing bit I can see where you get that imagery.
That is all
Everyone starts this chapter with one wrong assumption and then Judges 19 make very little sense. The truth is the Levi is Gay. We find out later in the Judges 19 that the servant is a young man. The servant is also Gay and is the Levite’s lover. Reread Judges 19 with this assumption and God’s true meaning will be understood.
The Levite is living in the hill country of Ephraim with his young male servant and lover to avoid detection and escape possible persecution if discovered to be Gay. The Old Testament requires the death of all homosexuals. He takes on a Concubine for a better appearance and to avoid detection. But it is now very understandable why the Concubine becomes very unhappy living in the Levite’s home. The people of Gibeah can easily spot that the one or both men are Gay; the male servant must be very flamboyant in dress and behavior. No one in Gibeah wants a Gay in their home.
The mob of men is like the KKK of the south that persecuted the blacks in the South. The mob are in the habit of persecuting the homosexual and then general public condones this practice because the Old Testament tells then Homosexuals are extremely sinful and should be killed. You also see this practice in the Middle East and it happens daily that a mob of men will bang on a door and say “Send Jonny out, we want to play with him and have sex with him.” In their perverted minds they want to rape the Homosexual so that he stops this behavior and maybe kill him but they really enjoy the power they have over another person and they know they can get away with it. In the Koran just like the Old Testament Homosexuals should be killed.
This mob cannot be a Homosexual mob since Homosexuals only comprise of 5% of the general population and the other 95% which is Hetersexual would not condone or allow this mob behavior to be inflicted on the Heterosexual community. In any society the weak never persecutes the strong but it is the strong or the majority that inflicts persecution of the weak or the minority.
So that explains why the Levite does not give the mob himself or his young male servant and lover. He gives the mob his Concubine.
The Levite plans his act of revenge and it is executed almost perfectly by all parties. The men of Israel make an oath to God without hearing the other side. Later they hear the story from the Tribe of Benjamin that the mob was trying to persecute the Homosexual but in the frenzy they raped, abused and maybe killed the innocent woman. The men of Israel are then sympathetic to the Tribe of Benjamin because they too have condoned or participated in the torture and killing of Homosexuals as required by the Old Testament. The men of Israel lose the will to fight but they must honor there other to God.
Judges 199 starts with “when there was no king in Israel” meaning that if there was a king or government the king would have listened to all parties involved before reach a fair and just decision.
I have to admit, I was intrigued by your suggestion. However, the mob clearly stated “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.” Plus, most people in that day had same-sex servant. It doesn’t mean they were lovers. If that were true then we need to rethink almost every story in the Bible.
I would also suggest reading the Jewish commentaries and literature on this book. They interpret the text as most people do. I apologize that my reply is not more thorough. I will submit more later.
This story always intriged me, and I wondered WHY it was in the Bible. But even as horrible as it is, this story teaches us MANY THINGS of the human spirit, and how WRONG ATTITUDES and ACTIONS affects others.
But one of the MAIN REASONS I think it is in the Bible is to proof without a doubt that A DAY STARTS at DAWN or SUNRISE, due to the many mentions of the time frame of the story. As unbelievable as it is, some people think erroneously that "a day starts at sundown (night)", this due to TRADITIONS and WRONG BIBLE INTERPRETATIONS of the Talmudic-rabbies and the "halakhah" or Jewish laws, which Messiah YAHUSHUA hates!
“See to it that no one makes a prey of you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary matters of the world, and not according to Messiah.” (Colossians 2:8).
Thanks for your thoughts! I have asked myself many times why stories such as these are important in the history of Israel and important enough to be used in it's sacred texts.
I think (for me at least) the book of Judges paints a picture of the gradual, yet cyclical, degradation of the moral state of the tribes after entering the land. The books seems to take us on a journey going from "doing OK almost" to "things are horribly messed up." Thus, the story of the concubine which is terribly reminiscent of the Sodom story illustrated the sad state of affairs for tribes, who refused to stay true to the covenant and follow Yahweh.
That has been my most recent thoughts on the issue. However, my view is somewhat affected by a Christian perspective. I could gleam some valuable information by studying some of the Jewish teachings on the book of Judges.