The Concubine Was Abused to Death

The Sodom Series, #11

A Levite, his concubine, and servant spend the night at Gibeah in the home of a hospitable old man. But wicked citizens surround the house and demand he send out the Levite. The old man refuses, instead offering his virgin daughter and the concubine.

The Levite hands over his wife

But the men [of Gibeah] would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go.
–Judges 19:25 NIV

Men here again is enôsh, “a mortal, people in general” (Strong’s, H582), the same word used in the Sodom account to refer to all the citizens, both men and women.

To save his own skin, the Levite throws the concubine out to them.

The word took is the Hebrew word hazaq, meaning, “to fasten upon, hence to seize; to bind, restrain, conquer” (Strong’s, H2388). The Levite forces his wife outside to appease these people. Because the concubine has to be forced outside, she must not have wanted to go.

This Levite, a man from the priestly tribe of Israel, had traveled to Bethlehem determined to reclaim his slave wife. He convinced her to reconcile with him, and she left her father’s household. Yet here in Gibeah the Levite throws her to the wolves to be abused.

The word abused is alal:

[To] deal with severely, abuse, make a fool of someone, mock. It is used to indicate the exercise of power over another person, generally in a bad sense, hence meaning ‘to maltreat.’ It signifies some great achievement, generally malevolent. This word is used to depict the exploitation of one person by another (TWOT, 1627, emphasis mine).

The woman was a slave, the man’s property. Her husband forces her out, and the people of Gibeah mistreat and abuse her all through the night.

The concubine meets her fate

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.
–Judges 19:26 NRSV

Who knows where the people of Gibeah had taken her, how many of them had been with her, and what shocking crimes they had perpetrated upon her. But she made it back alive.

Perhaps she pounded on the door just as the people who had abused her had pounded on it the evening before. If she did, no one answered.

27 When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold.
28 He said to her, “Get up; let’s go.” But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.
–Judges 19:27–28 NIV

After a good’s night rest, the Levite steps out of the old man’s house to continue on his way to Ephraim. But there lies his wife on the stoop with her hands on the threshold!

As if nothing has happened, he says to her, “Get up! Let’s get moving!”

She doesn’t answer. He rolls her over and discovers she is dead. He throws her over his donkey and heads for home.

What is the result of this misogynistic crime and travesty of hospitality? Civil war that results in the death of tens of thousands of Israelites.

The moral of the story? We’ll find out next time.

More information:

To read the full story, get my book, The Sin of Sodom: What the Bible Really Says About Why God Destroyed the Cities of the Plain, for Kindle and in trade paperback.
The Sin of Sodom cover

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