Relationships – The Levite and His Concubine

In those days Israel had no king.
Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. But she was unfaithful to him. She left him and went back to her parents’ home in Bethlehem, Judah. After she had been there four months, her husband went to her to persuade her to return. He had with him his servant and two donkeys. She took him into her parents’ home, and when her father saw him, he gladly welcomed him. His father-in-law, the woman’s father, prevailed on him to stay; so he remained with him three days, eating and drinking, and sleeping there.
On the fourth day they got up early and he prepared to leave, but the woman’s father said to his son-in-law, “Refresh yourself with something to eat; then you can go.” So the two of them sat down to eat and drink together. Afterward the woman’s father said, “Please stay tonight and enjoy yourself.” And when the man got up to go, his father-in-law persuaded him, so he stayed there that night. On the morning of the fifth day, when he rose to go, the woman’s father said, “Refresh yourself. Wait till afternoon!” So the two of them ate together.
Then when the man, with his concubine and his servant, got up to leave, his father-in-law, the woman’s father, said, “Now look, it’s almost evening. Spend the night here; the day is nearly over. Stay and enjoy yourself. Early tomorrow morning you can get up and be on your way home.” But, unwilling to stay another night, the man left and went toward Jebus (that is, Jerusalem), with his two saddled donkeys and his concubine.
When they were near Jebus and the day was almost gone, the servant said to his master, “Come, let’s stop at this city of the Jebusites and spend the night.”
His master replied, “No. We won’t go into any city whose people are not Israelites. We will go on to Gibeah.” He added, “Come, let’s try to reach Gibeah or Ramah and spend the night in one of those places.” So they went on, and the sun set as they neared Gibeah in Benjamin. There they stopped to spend the night. They went and sat in the city square, but no one took them in for the night.
That evening an old man from the hill country of Ephraim, who was living in Gibeah (the inhabitants of the place were Benjamites), came in from his work in the fields. When he looked and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, “Where are you going? Where did you come from?”
He answered, “We are on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim where I live. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going to the house of the Lord. No one has taken me in for the night. We have both straw and fodder for our donkeys and bread and wine for ourselves your servants—me, the woman and the young man with us. We don’t need anything.”
“You are welcome at my house,” the old man said. “Let me supply whatever you need. Only don’t spend the night in the square.” So he took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After they had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.
While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”
The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this outrageous thing. Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But as for this man, don’t do such an outrageous thing.”
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. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.
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. 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.
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. 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!”

  • Judges 19:1-30

A Quote

[Judges 19:1) “Priests could marry (Lev. 21:7, 13, 14). Though a concubine wife (usually a slave) was culturally legal, the practice was not acceptable to God (Gen. 2:24).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

What Do We Know about their Relationship?

We know that the relationship between the Levite and the concubine was not acceptable to God, but we have no idea why he had not married her.  Yet, he seemed to have a friendly relationship with the concubine’s family, unless the father did not trust the Levite (yet that gets into inference).

They started their journey late.  The Levite trusted an Israelite town, but he did not trust a town, in this case Jerusalem, controlled by other people.  He was so trusting that he camps in the city square, but a knowing resident moves him into his home.

The next part of the story is similar to Lot hosting the angels at his home in Sodom.  In this case, the concubine is thrown out to the ravenous crowd as a consolation.  It was definitely a consolation as the mob wanted a same sex rape instead of a heterosexual rape (identical to the Lot and Sodom mob).

The Levite, upon awaking the next morning chops up the concubine who is found dead on the doorstep.

What Can We Infer about their Relationship?

As mentioned above, the father of the concubine wanted them to stay longer.  Visiting her family is a typical husband/wife thing to do.  Was this more of a slave-owner love relationship?

But how deep could a love be if you throw your wife to a ravenous crowd to save your own skin?  That is the primary reason to have this story in this series.  The chopping of a corpse seems sick beyond belief, but would the inhabitants of the home have survived the night, including the Levite?

We can never answer that question, but consider Jesus’ statement that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  The Levite might have grounds for righteous indignation if he had put up a fight to save her.

In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?

We could write volumes before this event happened to explain why the Levite had not married her.  Or why was she a slave to the Levite in the first place?  Why was the father so clingy regarding his daughter – a lack of trust, especially since the Levite had not married her?

We cannot take a leap from the Sodom story and this one to say that homosexual mobs are horrible beasts. Mobs in general can easily be horrible.  My wife was attacked while in the Air Force by a lesbian, and others in the barracks came to my wife’s rescue.  The idea that the LGBTQ+ crowd simply want a quiet, equal place, and they never force the issue or proselytize is as much of a lie as is a line drawn from these two stories that all LGBTQ+ are potentially violent.  In most cases the extreme view is usually wrong, but one sin does not guarantee or negate the other.

What Can We Learn from this Relationship?

This may seem to be a semantically null sentence, but here goes.  When you make no commitment, you have no commitment.

The Levite made no attempt to marry the concubine.  Therefore, the concubine could have simply been considered property, and easily discarded.  That sentence has inference and gap filling involved, but it illustrates the point.

Shacking up is done with the thought that if it gets rough or boring, you can push a magical button that is marked “DO-OVER” and split the blanket with no legal action necessary.  The divorce courts seem to require revolving doors these days.

My father-in-law pulled my wife and I aside, either at the wedding or a day or so before.  He said, “You are marrying this man.  You are no longer welcome in my home.  If you have rough patches and everyone does, make it work.”

It sounds cruel, and he did not mean that we were not welcome, as a family, to visit.  We visited many times.  But divorce was not a subject that was allowed in our home.  Her father said. “make it work” and we were determined, no matter how bad it got, to make it work.

With that in my mind, I would have drawn my sword and defended myself and my wife until there was no breath left.  Throwing her out to save my skin would have never been an option.

And for our relationship with God, it needs to be at that same life-or-death level.  Anything short has no life in it.

What Have We Learned thus far?

We have learned to:

  • Own our own mistakes and not blame others.
  • Be faithful to God, and worship properly, in the proper spirit.
  • Go to God in prayer, especially before any major decisions.
  • Do not show favoritism among family members, but always go to God.
  • Forgiveness is extremely important for none of us are perfect except for God.
  • Beyond physical love, there are other expressions of love, and respect is very important.
  • A relationship requires maintenance, nurturing, and an acceptance of the roles.
  • At times, we must be bold and trust God.
  • And to love, love, and love.
  • Be trustworthy.  Trust is required.
  • Commit to being in a committed relationship.
  • And don’t worry.  God has this situation, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
  • And remember to forgive others and confess our sins.
  • And never go against what God instructs us to do.

A Closing Prayer

Before I get to the corporate prayer, I want to thank You for the strength that You have given my wife and me over the past roughly 48 years.  We could not have done it on our own.
We look to You for guidance.  Help us in our commitment.  Help us grow closer to You as we go through our life here. Help us to look forward to that day when we will meet face to face.  And if the circumstances arise, give us the courage to defend ourselves and our loved ones, with our lives if necessary.
In Thy Name we pray,

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. Good analysis of this difficult passage. And harrowing story about your wife being attacked.

    Liked by 1 person

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