Social Disintegration – Part 2

Judges 19:22-30
22 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.” 23 And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. 24 Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out now. Violate them and do with them what seems good to you, but against this man do not do this outrageous thing.” 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. 26 And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light. 27 And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up, let us be going.” But there was no answer. Then he put her on the donkey, and the man rose up and went away to his home. 29 And when he entered his house, he took a knife, and taking hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. 30 And all who saw it said, “Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day; consider it, take counsel, and speak.”

My flesh crawls. This story is almost beyond retelling and is so reprehensible that I don’t even want it represented in my blog. But – God has chosen to leave it in His Book, so I bow to His superior wisdom and deal with the text. When I consider Jesus Christ hanging on the cross, I know that it is because we are capable of descending into the deepest depths of sin.

So, we review briefly what’s going on here. Yesterday we find a Levite and his concubine traveling home and stopping for the night in Gibeah. An old man takes them in and offers them hospitality for the evening only to have a pleasant conversation interrupted by the men of the city who want the Levite sent out of the home so that they can have sex with him. Instead, the concubine and the old man’s daughter are offered up to the men pounding on the door. The Levite suddenly reveals to the readers his true character when he grabs his concubine and thrusts her out into the crowd of evil men. These men rape her to death! She dies on the threshold of the house. Shockingly, the Levite has slept through the night! When he awakes, he finds the woman dead on the doorstep. Taking her home, he cuts her into 12 pieces and sends those pieces to each of the 12 Tribes of Israel. As I said, the flesh crawls.

Perhaps as you read this text other stories with similar themes rolled through your mind. That’s because we’ve seen these things before in other Biblical accounts. In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, told in Genesis 19, we see Lot offer his two daughters into the same type of scene; a mob of sex-crazed men looking for homosexual entertainment. The men of Gibeah have descended below those found in Sodom! They are called “worthless fellows” in the text which is actually translated as “sons of perdition”. Their hearts are pure evil. 1 Samuel 11:5-7 also recounts a time when King Saul sent pieces of oxen to the 12 Tribes as a call to arms. The warning would have had precedent for the people. A message was sent and received. If such a vile thing was tolerated in Israel, the entire nation was forfeiting their Covenant status with God.

Morality among God’s chosen, represented by the Levite, had sunk to a new low. This crime against the concubine is remembered throughout the rest of Israel’s history. Several centuries later, Hosea writes of these crimes as a warning and indictment against Israel.

Hosea 9:9; 10:9
9They have deeply corrupted themselves as in the days of Gibeah: he will remember their iniquity; he will punish their sins. 10:9From the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, O Israel; there they have continued. Shall not the war against the unjust overtake them in Gibeah?

Even King David had to deal with crimes of Gibeah during His reign. This story rings throughout the history of Israel as an example of where the heart of sinful men can fall. Just reading it hopefully grabs our attention and serves as a similar warning to us all.