The Fallen Concubine; The Fifth Worst Bible Passage

On the list of many people’s worst Bible passages is Judges 19:25-28, “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. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. 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. 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 19:25-28)

I could not agree more.  What a disgusting passage.  A perfect example of how man behaves when left to his own devices.  How wonderful would it have been if these men (both inside and outside of the house) worshipped the one true God and put others before themselves.  Yet should the Bible only show us how man behaves when he follows God’s word?  Of course not, we see the depravity of man every single day on this earth.  How could the Bible be a book of truth if it showed the truth of God but ignored the reality of mankind?  World events prove the need for God – should the Bible do no less?

In our own modern times much of the world sat by and watched the Germans murder millions of Jews and did nothing.  How much worse to allow a man like Stalin to kill twenty-three million and then be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1948?  In 1994 the mass murder of an estimated 800,000 occurred even though the African people of Rwanda begged the then American president for help, but received nothing as America quietly ignored the pleas of a helpless nation.

On a final note you should know that God’s people, the Israelites, the ones who did worship God, killed twenty-five thousand Benjamites – the wicked town who encouraged and allowed the rape and murder of the concubine (Judges 20). Meanwhile, in 1994, no one did a thing about the 800,000 innocent people murdered in Rwanda.  I’ll take the God of the Bible over the choices of man any day of the week.  The Bible records historical events in all their rawness, it’s a real book for real people.  The ultimate message is one of love but in order to receive the healing power of the Bible, we first need to be aware of the need for it.

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6 Responses to The Fallen Concubine; The Fifth Worst Bible Passage

  1. Peggy Angeline says:

    Powerful stuff. Love it. Well written.

  2. alan says:

    I’ve heard that when she was young, Gloria Steinem embarked on a project of reading the Bible. Starting in Genesis, she read until she came to this passage. Her disgust at the treatment of the young woman caused her to abandon the project and to renounce any religion based upon the beliefs of people who justified such behavior toward women.

    Go back to the beginning of the chapter: the woman was taken as a concubine (not a wife) by a Levite (the priestly tribe) and was considered “unfaithful” because she ran home to her father when she found her situation too unbearable. Her father tried to intervene with her “husband” for several days but had no legal right to protect her from him as the Levite was her owner. The young woman is tortured to near death and allowed to perish outside in the elements begging for help. Rather than lamenting the loss of his concubine and the several mistakes he made which led to her death, her master cuts her body up into twelve pieces and sends them out to the various tribes as evidence against the group of Benjamite men he accuses of harming her.

    Knowing what we do today of spousal abuse, I think it is much more likely that the husband was her tormentor in his rage against her betrayal. He went too far and killed her – a stoning offense – and then borrowed from the Lot story to shift the blame. The tribesman of Benjamin didn’t buy his tale and defended their cousins, successfully for two days before succumbing to a trick on the third day. As a result of the war, the tribe of Benjamin was greatly reduced in size and this was a major factor in selecting Saul as the first King of Israel.

    I see a lot in this story that show the stupidity of human beings but nothing of the intervention of a deity in the affairs of men – no miracles, no special insights given to the judge Samuel or any other.

    • Hi Alan, great response. I can’t wait to dig in. I didn’t know that about Mrs. Steinem. Very interesting. But since this is not my primary job, it might take me a day or two to post a well thought out reply. Until then, thanks for your well thought out response.

  3. John Davis says:

    Mrs. Steinem has made a classical error: thinking the Bible is “okay” with an event or action simply because it is describing/recording it. In many cases the biblical passage itself describes the action as wrong, and in some cases it does not specifically state it, but it is obvious. In this case, it is obvious that the horrible raping of the concubine, etc. is grossly wrong. So is the behavior of the “old man” who offered his virgin daughter and the concubine to the men who wanted to rape his male guest.
    Israel went through several phases in which it as a society was in rebellion against God. Just because an Israelite does something does not make it OK! Further, the fact that the Israelites were so shocked by the raping and killing of the concubine proves the passage does not condone her raping and killing. And it certainly does not support the host (the old man) offering his daughter and the concubine in place of his male guest to the male homosexuals outside his house. In fact, in Judges 20:12 the tribes of Israel called the treatment of the concubine as a “horrible crime.”
    The Bible is somewhat unique in many ways, including the fact it records the many failings and shortcomings of its main personages; remember King David and his adultery, the many failings of King Saul, the horrible idolatry of Israel, and so on.

  4. Dan Koons says:

    Youve all been lapped so many times you think you’re winning. Dumb. Great example of backtracking and bullshitting.

  5. Alexander Williams says:

    I am not sure if this apologist is uninformed or dishonest. This passage is not merely about the depravity of man but the depravity of Yahweh. The author of the apologetic conveniently leaves off the beginning of the chapter, specifically verse 2. Here we find the concubine’s “sins” of not dressing modestly enough and “adultery”, for which she is being punished (by god) with a gang rape and mutilation (author casually leaves that part out too). Countless commentaries throughout the ages which have taken in the full scope of the chapter have come to that conclusion.

    Here is a quote from just one:

    “Josephus, in his narrative of this story, makes her to be the person they had a design upon when they beset the house, and says nothing of their villainous design upon the Levite himself. They saw her (he says) in the street, when they came into the town, and were smitten with her beauty; and perhaps, though she was reconciled to her husband, her looks did not bespeak her to be one of the most modest. Many bring mischief of this kind upon themselves by their loose carriage and behaviour.”

    “…Though her father had countenanced her, her husband had forgiven her, and the fault was forgotten now that the quarrel was made up, yet God remembered it against her when he suffered these wicked men thus wretchedly to abuse her; how unrighteous soever they were in their treatment of her, in permitting it the Lord was righteous. Her punishment answered her sin, Culpa libido fuit, poena libido fuit—Lust was her sin, and lust was her punishment.”

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