Judges, Chapter 19

- נ י ת -

The People of Gibeah Rape a Concubine

A Levite from the hill country of Ephraim goes to Bethlehem to bring back his concubine, who has been unfaithful to him and fled to her family. The concubine’s father greets his son-in-law warmly but has trouble letting him take his daughter away. On the fifth day, the Levite finally leaves, taking his concubine and his servant with him. As they journey back to their home in Ephraim, the sun starts to set. They consider spending the night at Jebus (i.e., Jerusalem). However, since the city does not yet belong to the Israelites, they decide to instead go to Gibeah, which belongs to the tribe of Benjamin.  When they arrive in the city, they cannot find a willing host. Finally, an old man welcomes them into his home. 

At night, wicked men surround the house and demand that the Levite be handed over to them so they can rape him. The old man refuses to give them his guest and instead offers his own daughter and the Levite’s concubine. The mob is not appeased. Seeing that the men will not give up, the Levite hands over his concubine, who is tortured and raped all night long. In the morning, she goes back to the old man’s house and falls dead on his doorstep. Her master cuts her up into twelve pieces and sends the pieces to each of the twelve tribes. The Levite does not surrender to the forces of death. After this harrowing tragedy, he urges the other eleven tribes of Israel to avenge the terrible deed that was done.

“so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning” (Judges 19:25)

“he took a knife… and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel” (Judges 19:29)

Purity is achieved by restricting negative impulses and eliminating evil thoughts and deeds.