This week we discussed “Relationships in The Wild,” the only fitting name I could think of to describe the resolute craziness of events in Judges, chapter 19.
Nothing new under the sun
In this horror story, every type of relationship dynamic is explored, all in the context of anarchy–when Israel has no king, no judge, and no recognition of God as their leader. Culture and impulse rule, and the resulting savagery is enough to make our jaws drop, even now in the 21st century.
When a mob of men is denied sexual favors with a new man in town, they are satiated by an all-night rape-fest with the new man’s mistress who is thrown to them like meat to hungry dogs.
So why is the mistress/concubine given over to satisfy the lust of these men? Because apparently, she won the bid over the virgin daughter of the savages’ neighbor, who himself offered the savages the chance to do anything they wanted with his virgin daughter if only they would leave the new man alone.
The connection between men and their calling, between men and women, between men and men, between fathers-in-law and sons-in-law, between fathers and daughters, between culture and law, between power and freedom, and between right and wrong are displayed in such a way as to give us a textbook definition of barbarianism.
Nobody gets it right.
The first chapter of this story ends with the new man, the owner of the concubine/second-class wife, cutting up his post-rape call girl into twelve pieces–something he may have learned in Levite training, and mailing a piece of her body to each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
He wants the men of the tribe of Benjamin to be so hated for raping his concubine, that the rest of Israel would punish them.
He sees no guilt of his own.
This story begs for answers to a thousand questions. Look it over and join the conversation with one or two of your own.
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This is another heartbreaking story. We don’t really know how this poor woman ended up being a concubine, but somehow she did. Just like women who are prostitutes now. Through a series of brokenness I suppose. Or what about women who are trafficked through no choice of their own. For all we know this concubine didn’t have a choice. Are we to look down upon her and judge her? Looking deeper into the hearts of any women who are in these circumstances would probably break ours. Yet, God used these women to tell a story. Their insignificant life mattered. If she were to be told about God, I believe she would have grabbed a hold of him and ran for her life. Sadly, the story told about her was what a Godless, sin filled life can bring about. We have a chance for our life to matter. Being in Christ, no matter what happened in our past can bring us victory in our new Christ filled life. We might not understand what happened to us, but God can use our story to help lift others who don’t know Christ or have burdens they need to share.
These men seemed Godless and their perversions consumed them. It all boils down to a life without Jesus is a perilous life. Our lives do matter to Christ. He uses these stories to teach us to be aware of the danger out there. When we are in Him there is a safety and a comfort we feel. For we know whatever circumstances befall us, Jesus has us. Without Jesus we have no safety net.
You’re right, Tammy, that we don’t know exactly how this woman ended up being a concubine or slave mistress, but it is very likely that it was something over which she had no control. In her time and culture the giving or selling of a woman to be a concubine was often a way a poor family could earn income in desperate times. The concubine’s role would be to satisfy the sexual desires of her master, to bear children, to be a surrogate mother, and in some cases, to make political alliances between nations.
I think the overwhelming message of this story is that we will sink to unthinkable levels of sin and savagery if we insist on doing things our way–and worse yet, we will think of ourselves as being in the right.
It’s easy to justify our behavior in light of someone else’s “worse” sin. We can become so self-righteous. I know I can. I have to say this is one of the most disturbing stories in scripture. Wrongs and wrongs trying to be right but missing the mark by so much. In the end, my heart breaks for the girl who probably had no say in how her life ended up. And I confess, it fuels an anger at the attitude of so many men (and women) that women are objects for using and discarding rather than precious creations of God. Still wrestling with it. Thanks for sharing.
Laura, I’m completely with you about how disturbing a story this is. I think it’s one of several atrocities spoken of in Scripture that God wants us to scream over and wonder how in the world something like this could ever happen…Then I think he wants us to land in the realization of how easy it is for wrong to seem right when we reject his restraining influence.
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