Judges 19

Today’s Passage: Judges 19

Judges 19 introduces the second of two epilogue stories at the end of Judges. The first
showed the tribe of Dan stealing land because they were unable to secure their allotment. Not only that, but they conscripted Micah’s personal Levite.

This second story opens, “In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite.”
The fact that there was no king book-ends this story, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Although the people should have been united under God’s plan and program, they were not. They had no human ruler to unite them—yet.

Also, some people guess that the “certain Levite” is the same from the last story. That seems unlikely. The reason, I believe, Levites appear as central figures in both stories is because they should have known better! They were the priestly class intended to point people toward Yahweh. These were the best and brightest completely caught up in tremendous wickedness.

Judges 19 kicks off a catastrophic series of events. A Levite took a concubine from
Bethlehem, but she fled her husband and returned to her father’s house. The Levite went to
Bethlehem to retrieve the concubine. He stayed with her father for five days drinking. Although her father pleaded for them to stay, the Levite determined they could no longer wait and had to leave at that moment—right before sunset. They had to stop for the night but refused to stop among the Gentiles, continuing on to Gibeah, among the tribe of Benjamin. Reminiscent of Sodom, they’re offered to stay in the home of an old man. That night, men of the city surround the house. Judges 19:22 says, “As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, worthless fellows, surrounded the house, beating on the door. And they said to the old man, the master of the house, ‘Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.’”

The old man tried to protect the Levite but did so by offering up his virgin daughter and the
concubine to the mob to “violate them and do…what seems good to you.”. To appease the mob, the Levite threw his concubine out the door. After being brutalized all night, the concubine crawled back to the doorstep where she died. The Levite discovered her the next morning. In order to send a message to the other tribes, he cut her into 12 pieces, sending the body parts to all Israel.

This isn’t a crime novel, this is true history. These events stand in stark contrast to Joshua’s
warning to Israel in Joshua 24, “And the people said to Joshua, No, but we will serve the Lord. Then Joshua said to the people, You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. He said, Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel. And the people said to Joshua, The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey” (Joshua 24:21–24). Judges 19 doesn’t resemble Israel at all. In fact, they look exactly like the Canaanites that they were supposed to displace from the Land.

As the story continues, things actually get worse for the nation. However, God always
preserves a remnant. In the sea of chaos, God retains faithful men and women committed to his plan and program. The seed of hope is buried. It’s hard to see. But it’s there in the greatest love story in Scripture as we close the book of Judges and step into the book of Ruth.

Written By: Tyler Short

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