The crime of Gibeah (Judg 19:22-19:30)

“While they were enjoying themselves, the men of the city, a perverse lot, surrounded the house. They started pounding on the door. They said to the old man, the master of the house. ‘Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may have intercourse with him.’ The man, the master of the house, went out to them. He said to them. ‘No, my brethren, do not act so wickedly. Since this man is my guest, do not do this vile thing. Here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out now. Ravish them. Do whatever you want to them. But against this man do not do such a vile thing.’ But the people would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine. He put her out to them. They wantonly raped her. They abused her all through the night until the morning. As the dawn began to break, they let her go. As morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light.”

This story is reminiscent of the story of Lot in Genesis, chapter 19, when Lot took in the 2 strangers. He was willing to offer his daughters so that they would not abuse his 2 male visitors. Once again, it is okay to have the 2 women abused, the old man’s virgin daughter and the Levite’s concubine, but not the Levite man who is a guest. There certainly was a double standard. The same story plays out here, but here there is no angel of Yahweh to destroy these Benjaminites and their town. Instead the Levite gives his concubine to the crowd and saves himself. The city men rape and abuse her all night long. They let her go as the morning light came. She made her way back to the front door of where the Levite was staying.

“In the morning, her master got up and opened the doors of the house. He went out to go on his way. There was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her. ‘Get up! We are going.’ But there was no answer. Then he put her upon the donkey. The man set out for his home. When he had entered his house, he took a knife, and grasping his concubine he cut her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces. He sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. Then he commanded the men whom he sent, saying. ‘This shall you say to all the Israelites. ‘Has such a thing ever happened since the day that the Israelites came from the land of Egypt until this day? Consider it. Take counsel. Speak out.’”

The Levite is surprised that she is dead or at least unconscious. Now he is upset. Nothing like this had ever happened in Israel. He sent notice out to all the other tribes by cutting up her body into 12 pieces. He wanted them to consider this and speak out. Oddly there are not 12 tribes since he was not going to send one to the Benjaminites. Then there were the tribes on the east Jordan and little old Dan in the north. Obviously the Levite wanted to make a point with this dramatic gesture. She may not have been dead with he cut her.

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