This section of Old Testament Scripture in Judges 19, is very disturbing reading, especially when read for the first time, and without a broad knowledge and understanding of Scripture, which is the case with many people, and certainly was for the writers in the early years of their search for Truth and understanding. When undertaken in sincerity and prayerfully, the Holy Spirit will honour that endeavour, albeit sometimes over a period of time. Sometimes patience as well as trust is needed!
It remains disturbing to the writers approx. 50 years later but with a different focus and conclusion. The initial reading was shocking, and the initial focus was the apparently horrible injustice done to the woman, which still remains, especially to the "modern" mind. The perceived bigger picture now for us is the horribly fallen state of mankind, and in particular the example given in this historic relating of the success of Satan in influencing the ways of mankind and their actions, in this case Israel.
As the account unfolds there is clearly wrong thinking, actions, inactions and motives by both the Levite and the concubine. The fact that she was "doing her own thing" in the sexual sense is self-evident. However, the Levite carries the majority responsibility for the outcomes, due to his weakness, bad decisions, lack of diligence in his role as priest, and wrong motives. However, even in that mix of perversion, a light shines which has long range consequences both for Israel and the Gentiles!
At the time of the enactment of the events of Judges (approx. 1435 to 1000 BC, when including Samuel), although the Law had been given to Moses earlier, due to the backsliding of Israel many of the Oriental Codes of behaviour still held sway (Hammurabi, Acadian, Sumerian, Hittite etc.) which allowed multiple wives and concubines. Concubines were considered second class wives, and could be purchased, won in war, or acquired in various ways. They were easier to "divorce" than wives, and usually did not hold property. Wives on the other hand often came from "known" families, sometimes prominent, and were often endowed with wealth and influence.
The Levites held amongst their numerous responsibilities, (due to their faithfulness to Moses and Jehovah at Ex. 32:26), that of teaching from generation to generation the young of all that pertained to their God Jehovah! God put great emphasis on this duty as paramount in priority (Deut. 17:11, 33:10, Lev. 10:11, Ezra 7:10, Jer. 18:18, Hag. 2:11-12 and Mal. 2:7), and in this most important function they failed, and therefore lawlessness grew; especially as they became increasingly exposed to the surrounding tribes/Nephilim and their pagan worship practices involving sexual activity! After the death of Moses and Joshua they became leaderless as a Nation (regarding a single figure), and to quote Scripture: Judges 21:25, "everyone did what was right in their own eyes"! This is the last verse of Judges, and sums up the chaos of that period due to Israel's lack of fidelity to their repeated vows, their increasing lawlessness and moral decline in all aspects!
Into that broth of destitution and lack of moral compass, the historical account of the Levite's concubine is given in its stark and shocking detail!
Just after the death of Joshua (Greek Jesus), Israel requested of God what they should do regarding the Canaanites (many mixed with Nephilim) occupying the land they had been promised by God. He clearly told them to go against them with Judah leading the first assault, which was successful as promised (Judgs. Chp. 1:1-2).
Even in the first Chapter, Israel started to disobey Jehovah, and when they allowed the Canaanites/Nephilim to live, they stored up trouble for the Tribes in the future, and sowed the seeds of the eventual division of the Kingdom after the death of Solomon.
The various Judges show their fidelity to Jehovah, and the examples given relate the love of Jehovah for His chosen people despite their wanton backsliding from their promises of faithfulness and fidelity, which they first gave in Deuteronomy years earlier, and had repeated, to Moses and Joshua! Their Jehovah God had warned them of the consequences of turning their backs on Him, which they seemed to disregard, or conveniently forgot (Deuteronomy Chps. 27 to 34 and many other refs.).
One of the most pointed of the actions of God at that period (Jdgs. 14-16), was his dealing with Samson who was a Nazarite (see: Nazarite vow;) from the womb of his mother (Jdgs. 13:5). Samson at the end of the account killed without mercy an estimated 2000+ Philistines and most of their leaders! This example was a reiteration of the instructions that God had given Israel (Dt. 2:34, 3:6, 7:2, 12:2 and 20:17 and other refs.); showing the ruthlessness thoroughness that God required of all the tribes of Israel, to enact His purpose in pursuit of the fulfilment of Gen. 3:15: see: Nephilim, who were they, and why:
The eventual disruption and division of the Tribes of Israel during this period, threatened the very unity of the sons of Jacob/Israel for their future role in God's Plan of Salvation for the world, and the Messianic Reign of Messiah Christ Jesus; which is the purpose of the great enemy of God, Satan! The whole matter was drawn together at that stage of Israel's history, in the events of the Levite's concubine, which was to show by example what would happen if the children of Israel disobeyed Jehovah, and mixed with the local tribes and the descendants of Nephilim. The consequences would show that they would be as corrupted as were the inhabitants of Gibeah (Jebusites and Benjamites), with the resultant sinful lusts and behaviour; which would exclude the Messianic seed; as Satan had attempted prior to the flood, and only Noah's family was not sullied (Gen. 6:9-12).
The Levite decided on his return journey from the home of his concubine's father and after retrieving his concubine, to reside overnight in a town (Gibeah) renowned for sexual perversion and homosexuality, when he could have chosen otherwise, on the excuse that they were his people, the Benjamites. To save his own life and his own body, he surrendered his wife (concubine) to the murderous perversions of the mob besieging him in that town; reminiscent of the situation in Sodom for Lot in Gen. 19!
The next morning she was found dead outside his door, and he showed little or no emotion at her death, and he decided on a course of action that was to have profound consequences for Israel. He cut her body into twelve pieces, sending one to each of the twelve Tribes, with a message relating the events leading up to the death of his wife/concubine. Unfortunately the message relating the incident was not entirely accurate, and he lied about his own behaviour. Instead of stating that he had given the woman to the Jebusites/ Benjamites, (see: App. 25 Comp. Bible), he stated that they had taken her by force against his will! The Levite made an eloquent appeal with the grisly parcel, as shown in Jdgs. 19:30, which resulted in a very quick response by the 12 tribes, "as one man" 20:1!
Israel showed their unity at the death of the concubine (second class wife who was not valued), to the point of unifying their tribes, dropping their squabbles and differences (albeit temporarily), to war against the common enemy (in this case the corrupted Benjamites), but still not accepting the real cause and origin of the problem; their disobedience to Jehovah! In the last Chapter of Judges, God tells His people to war against Benjamin, but on the first and second assaults they lose the battles! The third time they approach God, they are in a state of mind somewhat chastened, and more sensitive and sincere before their God, instead of the cavalier matter of fact approach they had adopted on the previous occasions! In their contrition, for the first time they showed proper reverence and respect for Jehovah, and requested whether they should cease their efforts against Benjamin! For the first time on this occasion Jehovah promised them victory saying; "I will deliver them into thine hands", 20:28.
The story concludes with the efforts to rescue Benjamin as a tribe, which has the underlying reason of defeating Satan's efforts to destroy Israel, and at that time his attempts to thwart the arrival of Messiah as per. Gen. 3:15.
Greater meaning can be deduced from this harrowing account. Israel had again disobeyed God's commands.
They fought amongst themselves, to the harm of their intended unity under God.
They pleased themselves as to actions and behaviour, contrary to the Law that Moses had given them from Jehovah God.
They did not annihilate the Nephilim peoples, and mixed with them, and worshipped their pagan gods and practiced the pagan rituals, Judg. 2:10-12.
The Levites did not honour their God given duties and privileges. The Levites failed, because Eli did not correct and or depose his sons, due to their sexual evil, 1Sam. 3:11-14 & 2:27-36. This was completed in 1Kings 2:27 and 35, and Zadok replaced Levi at 2Sam. 15:24-29.
The list can go on!
The interesting point is that the 12 Tribes unified "as one man" at the shocking treatment of the concubine (wife) of one of their own priests; even though the true religious life of the tribes was so sullied by their behaviour, and their standards were so atrophied!
They as a Nation of 12 tribes had yet at that stage to experience a form of unity under the headship of kings. Jehovah allowed that to happen, to further their experience of the failure of all Earthly kings, to the point of the dividing of the Kingdom after Solomon. Those events, together with their increasing and frequent depravity, including the sacrifice of their own children, moved Jehovah to leave their Temple, and to their eventual captivity in Babylon and Syria, and later dispersion worldwide, which is still the case: see: The position of the Jews in Scripture, Old and New Testaments.
It is easy to draw a parallel from the above, to a yet future event which will be profound for Israel, the Gentiles, and the Church (Body) of Christ.
In the Old Testament (OT), the description of Israel is often given of them as "the wife", "the unfaithful wife", "the betrothed" etc. The descriptions given are usually in lament by God, showing His sorrow and anger at their lack of fidelity to Him, and the backsliding of the 12 tribes (as per above examples).
There is no doubt that the future of Israel is to be as the prophecy in Ex. 19:6, where they will take up the role of a Kingdom of priests to God. This is confirmed in Rev. 1:6; when properly translated, and not as the AV of the Church of England has translated it in 1611!
Prior to that happening, the 12 tribes of Israel must be gathered together "as one man", without division, of one mind, and with one purpose and objective, with one King and He the Messiah of long promise!
That cannot happen until the events of Zech. 12, and particularly 12:10! When that happens, there will be great mourning in the 12 tribes, as they realise what they did to their King Priest in AD 30, see Psm. 24, 22, and Isa. 53!
Afterwards, there will be great joy and celebration, as the 12 tribes are at the "marriage supper of the Lamb", Rev. 19:7, Matt. 22:2 and 25:10.
The 12 tribes as "the Bride" will be joined to their true "Priest King" and will serve in Jerusalem for 1000 years in the "Kingdom of God" on Earth; and for the first time, will be united and faithful in Truth to their God Jehovah!
For more information see: