Q. I came across a story in Judges chapter 19, about a Levite and his concubine. Understanding 2 Timothy 3:16, what is the lesson in this story? Did she bring this on herself? Should the Levite have listened to her father and stayed one more night? Was the Levite at fault too? Why was she cut up and sent to all the coasts of Israel?
A. The word translated concubine here is usually translated wife. Perhaps she was a common law wife. She had left the Levite and returned to her father’s home, and that’s where he found her. On the way back, they stayed in the home of someone who offered them a room for the night. Some men who came to the house in which they were staying demanded homosexual sex with the Levite and the host offered his own daughter and the Levite’s concubine instead. They agreed and since only the concubine was given to them, they literally raped her to death.
The Levite put her dead body on his donkey and took her home. Once there, he cut her body into 12 pieces and sent a piece to the leaders of each of the 12 tribes (not the coast) of Israel, demanding justice, since this had happened in a Jewish town. This created a great moral outrage in Israel, and each tribe recruited soldiers and marched on the Tribe of Benjamin, in whose territory it happened. They demanded that the men who had done this be turned over for punishment. The Benjamites refused and in the ensuing battle, the tribe of Benjamin was nearly wiped out.
This story parallels the one of Lot’s experience with the two angels in Sodom, and bears witness to the Lord’s abhorrence of illicit sexual behavior whether homosexual or heterosexual. It also underscores what soon happens in a society that abandons God. This incident took place within one generation after the Israelites had conquered the land, and since the fathers didn’t teach their children what the Lord had done for them, the nation quickly sank into one of the most morally and spiritually corrupt states in its history.
A recurring theme in Judges is that “In those days Israel had no King and everyone did what was right in his own sight.” I think the real lesson of Judges is the moral disaster that ensues when people abandon God and everyone decides for himself what’s right.