Notes: June 9, 2008 – Judges 19

Immorality in Israel

Chronology note:

This event took place when Jerusalem was not in Israelite control (Judges 19:10, 12); and Phineas was high priest (Judges 20:28); and there was no king (or judge) in control (Judges 21:25; 19:1). Therefore, historically, this narrative of Benjamite immorality, along with the Danite idolatry of chapters 17 and 18, belongs with earlier events in the book.

Geography note:

The central person in this event was a Levite from Bethelehemjudah, a city mentioned earlier with reference to another Levite (Judges 17:7-9) and later with reference to the ancestors of an Israelite king (Ruth 1:1-2; 1 Samuel 17:12), and even the Messiah.

Linguistic note:

Only the naive or willfully ignorant would suggest that when the city’s men wanted to “know” the visitor from another town (Judges 19:22), what they desired was to inquire of his genealogy and occupation. The old man, who offered his daughter (Judges 19:24), understood what the wicked mob wanted. And subsequent details prove that they wanted “carnal knowledge” (Judges 19:25).

Historical note:

Read again the sad story of Lot and the Angels in Sodom (Genesis 19:6-8). Who would believe that privileged Israelites could be so depraved?

Theological note:

Homosexuality was, and still is an abominable sin and a sign of depravity and estrangement from God (Leviticus 18:22; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; Romans 1:24, 28).

Sociology note:

Whatever other details may be true, the concubine was truly a wife, else how could she be charged with adultery (Judges 19:2) and the man considered to be her husband (Judges 19:3) and son-in-law to her father (Judges 19:4,7)?

Yet, one wonders what kind of love the Levite had for his wife, because he quickly offers her to the devilish crowd in order to save his own life (Judges 19:25). Should not the husband love his wife, and be willing to die for her (Ephesians 5:25-29)?

The same question arises about the old man’s love for his daughter (Judges 19:24).

Psychology note:

What would cause the Levite to become so incensed at the death of his concubine wife that he would cut her lifeless body into 12 pieces and send them around the country (Judges 19:29-30). Yes, he wanted to make a statement; and yes, that statement needed to be made; and yes, his statement had the desired effect. But the question remains: should he have done it?