After chapter 18, we know that the group of Danites was sinful, murderous and idolatrous. They took the Levite “priest” from Micah, among with the attending idol, ephod, etc., and took Laish for their own. This story clues us in on the godlessness of the Lord’s people. Here in Chapter 19, we delve deeper into the sin caused by turning away from God.
This chapter, and the remaining chapters of the book of Judges are unsettling. As we close out this book, let our studies serve as reminders to dwell with the Lord in our minds, spirits and hearts. No earthly temptation is worth spiritual death.
A Levite’s concubine leaves the Levite and goes to her father’s house. Her husband pursues her there (with kindness) to bring her home, but his father-in-law, the concubine’s father, will not let them leave. It is for good reason. When the couple finally does leave his home, they cannot find a place to stay and the man is in the town square. Shortly there comes along an old man that knows of the dangers of being out alone in the town at night. The older man urges for the man and his wife to come and stay at his house, which they do.
(This passage echoes the story of Sodom from Genesis 19)
Not long after, a group of perverted men with sinful desires is pounding at the door, wanting the man. The old man offers them his virgin daughter and the concubine of the visiting man. They refuse.
The episode concludes with the man’s concubine losing her life to the mob of men via abuse. Reading this passage, it is painful to imagine what it must have been like for her.
The next gruesome act had significance: The man takes her back to his place and cuts her body into twelve pieces and sends each of the pieces to one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
The man was trying to alert the tribes to the abject state of sin that led to her death. The people of God were to be ashamed. The tribes, upon receiving his “message” remark that “No such deed has been done or seen from the day that the children of Israel came up from the land of Egypt until this day.” He definitely got their attention. It is not clear, however, whether they were referring to her dismembered body or her manner of death when they said this.
In any case, the death of this concubine was brought upon by bold sin and a disregard for God. The man knew this and his methods to promote awareness of the awful actions were callous. Yet they matched the brutal and abhorrent nature of the sin that led to her death.