Battered and broken
Today’s trip through the final chapters of Judges was devastatingly brutal. This is definitely not a vacation, and it’s certainly no picnic. My journey of enlightenment has turned into a horror film where women are snatched, forced into marriage, raped, abused, and dismembered...not necessarily in that order.
When I read that a concubine ran away from her Levite husband to her father’s house, I raised a slightly suspicious eyebrow. Part of me wondered what he did to her to make her run. But, I became distracted by her father's excessive hospitality towards her husband when he showed up to take her back home. Day after day, he presented him with a feast, begging him to stay just one more night. But by the fifth day, the Levite retrieved his concubine, and left.
Their journey back home took an interesting turn when they ended up in a town that reminded me of Sodom and Gomorrah. They were invited to spend the night at the home of an old man. When the town found out there was a traveler in their midst, a gang of men banged on the old guy’s door demanding to have sex with his male guest.
The old guy responded to them by offering the man’s concubine or even his own virgin daughter instead. What is it with this culture offering up their virgin daughters to a bunch of horny men roaming the streets at night? Why ruin your virgin daughter for the rest of her life when you could just tell the men to get lost?
But, what happened next shocked me because unlike the men of Sodom, these men accepted one of the alternatives being offered. The Levite basically shoved his concubine out the door, and those evil men raped and abused her all night long. I was absolutely horrified while reading this!
The poor woman somehow found her way back to the old guy’s house the next morning, and collapsed on his doorstep. Her husband clearly wasn’t concerned for her well-being at all because when he noticed her lying there, all he basically said was, “Oh hey! You made it back. Lucky for you because I was just leaving. You better get up if you’re riding with me.”
She didn’t respond. She just lay there. Wouldn’t you? She was probably traumatized. Catatonic, even. So the Levite just slung her across his donkey and headed out of town. And when they arrived at his house, he went inside to get a knife.
This is where I held my breath. I knew something bad was about to happen. And sure enough, he proceeded to chop her up into twelve pieces, which he then sent to each of the tribal territories. Why? I do not know! But, I was upset!
This poor woman. The best she could do in life was to become the concubine of a serial abuser. When she tried to escape, her father essentially did nothing to protect her. Then on the way back home with the abuser, she was sexually assaulted all night long by a pack of rabid rapists. She barely survived that, only to be cut into pieces by her awful husband, who then lied to the elders and claimed that she was killed by the rapists.
If that wasn't bad enough, then his tall tale started a war between Israelite tribes that resulted in the death of thousands on both sides. It also resulted in the “snatching” of virgins from their homes in order to marry men from a losing tribe nobody else was allowed to touch with a ten foot pole.
By the time I reached the last verse of Scripture in the book of Judges, it all made perfect sense. The point throughout the book is this:
It was like the Wild Wild West in the land of Israel in those days. There was no cohesive leadership. No one was observing the Law of Moses. Everyone did whatever they felt was right. And, in that type of society, lawlessness abounds. The book of Judges did a good job painting a picture of what this looks like. Let it be a warning to us all.
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