CONCUBINE:  women of lower legal and social status than wives, who were, however, fully recognized mates. They were brought into a man’s home in part to produce heirs, and their children were fully legitimate.

This tradition was common in Islam and in the Far East.  It is still practiced in some areas today.  It was common among the patriarchs, except that here the scripture defines the man as her husband.  To Israel the concubine was more like a wife.  One Danite loved his concubine, and made effort to keep her in spite of her failings.

And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah.  And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father’s house to Bethlehemjudah, and was there four whole months.  And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him into her father’s house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him.  And his father in law, the damsel’s father, retained him; and he abode with him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there.  Judges 19:1-4

Her father is recognized as being a father in law as a wife’s father would be.  And this husband honored her with patience.  Her father detained them at length in his entertainment.

And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he rose up to depart: and the damsel’s father said unto his son in law, Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way.  And they sat down, and did eat and drink both of them together: for the damsel’s father had said unto the man, Be content, I pray thee, and tarry all night, and let thine heart be merry.  And when the man rose up to depart, his father in law urged him: therefore he lodged there again.  And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart; and the damsel’s father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon, and they did eat both of them.  Judges 19:5-8

The Levite finally had to get on his way, so they left rather late for a long trip.  They soon had to find a motel for the night.

And when the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father in law, the damsel’s father, said unto him, Behold, now the day draweth toward evening, I pray you tarry all night: behold, the day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and to morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go home.  But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him.  And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.  And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over to Gibeah.  And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah.  And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin.  Judges 19:9-14

Before King David, Jerusalem was a Jebusite city, not one of those possessed by Israel.  To be safe they went to Gibeah of the Benjamites.  I like to patronize Christian businesses and live among Christians when I can.  But are all churches hot for Jesus, or are some lukewarm or even cold?  Many are cold, but a few are frozen.

And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodging.  And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites.  And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou?  And he said unto him, We are passing from Bethlehemjudah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehemjudah, but I am now going to the house of the LORD; and there is no man that receiveth me to house.  Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy servants: there is no want of any thing.  And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.  So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.  Judges 19:15-21

Now these people greeted them warmly enough, but seemed concerned about anyone sleeping outside.  In the modern world we understand that, but it was not always so dangerous.  As they lodged in his house, they learn why he was concerned.

Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.  And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly.  Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.  But the men would not hearken to him: 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: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.  Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.  And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.  And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.  Judges 19:22-28

Was this Gibeah or Sodom?  The Benjamites had turned to worshiping Belial.  These men wanted to rape the man that came here.  They wouldn’t have the women either.  This host put his concubine out to appease them.  Remember, Concubines were respected as wives, even if they were of a lower social status.  She died to serve her husband.  His outrage was about to be communicated to the entire area of Israel.

And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.  And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your  minds.  Judges 19:29-30

She was chopped up and her body parts were mailed to every capital of Israel, which got the attention of all of their leaders.  They called out the National Guard.

Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD in Mizpeh.  And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword.  (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel were gone up to Mizpeh.) Then said the children of Israel, Tell us, how was this wickedness?  Judges 20:1-3

News of a gathering army drew questions from the leaders of Benjamin.  They were worried about an apparent threat growing near their borders.  Israel hears from the husband.

And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was slain, answered and said, I came into Gibeah that belongeth to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge.  And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, and thought to have slain me: and my concubine have they forced, that she is dead.  And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel: for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel.  Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.  Judges 20:4-7

Israel had an answer, and Benjamin had a reason for their apprehension.  They made some decisions on the spot.  Those decisions will lead to war.

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