Why did the Levite mutilate the body of his dead concubine? (19:29)

25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man 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.

29 When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel. 30 Everyone who saw it was saying to one another, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Just imagine! We must do something! So speak up!”

Clarify Share Report Asked July 20 2018 My picture Jack Gutknecht

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
The first thing that I would say is that, to me, this account is just another example (although an extreme one) of instances throughout the book of Judges in which Israel forsook God after the death of Joshua, and fell time after time into idolatry and sin, as summarized by the last verse of Judges (Judges 21:25): "In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes."

The Levite in this account showed no great concern (to say the least) for his concubine (even while she was alive), from the way he willingly offered her to the mob in Gibeah, to do with as they pleased (which closely parallels what Lot offered to do with his daughters in Sodom (Genesis 19:4-9), and thus indicates the moral depths to which Israel had sunk), and also by the incredible callousness he displayed after finding her dead (Judges 19:27-28). On the basis of that, it certainly would not have been beyond him to do as he did with her dead body.

(Under the circumstances, his outrage at what had happened to his concubine seems hypocritical, to say the least, and even more so since he was a member of the priestly tribe of Levi.)

However, since his intent was to inflame the other tribes of Israel (which God may have intended or allowed as a means of bringing His judgment upon Israel for their sin during this whole period), he certainly succeeded. And as a result, all but 600 men of the tribe of Benjamin were killed, and over 40,000 men from the other eleven tribes were killed in the fight against Benjamin (Judges 20:19-48).

In addition, the other eleven tribes had vowed that they would not allow their daughters to marry the men of Benjamin. As a result, in order to find wives for the 600 surviving Benjamites (so that an entire tribe would not be eradicated), all the men, non-virgin women, and children of the inhabitants of the city of Jabesh-gilead (within the territory of the half-tribe of Manasseh), were killed as a punishment for that city not having sent men to fight against Benjamin (although the Bible does not specify the exact number that were killed), further adding to the carnage associated with this episode. The surviving virgin women from the city were then given to the surviving men of Benjamin as wives.

July 20 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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