A rather disturbing passage of scripture is found in Judges 19. This passage has undergone innumerable interpretations and permutations. Some of which are helpful and insightful, to others that sound more like a politically correct excuse than Godly edification. I have also learned of far too many who were offended by this graphic tale of horror even being in the bible. So much so, they rejected the Bible as a whole and their faith became shipwrecked; all due to unsatisfactory teachings on this passage. The following interpretation will prayerfully remove the hurt, implant understanding and exhort your faith.
In short, the Bible says that a Levite was traveling in Ephraim, and took a concubine (an additional wife). She was found to be playing a whore and went to live with her father. The husband went after her, to reconcile the relationship and traveled to her father’s house. The father was very happy to see the husband and convinced him to stay until the 5th day as a magnanimous host. They finally left and at nightfall decided to lodge in the town Gibeah of Benjamin. There was no place to stay so they sat in the street. An old man who was also from Ephraim (where our Levite was currently living), who offered the travelers shelter and sustenance. Later that evening they heard men outside, then a beating on the door; saying bring out the man, that we may know him. Then the old man told them, no my brethren do not this foolish and wicked thing. Behold, here is my daughter and his concubine, have your way with them, but do not this vile thing to him. The old man’s offer was not acceptable, so our Levite took only his concubine out to them and they had their way with her all night long. At dawn she fell at the old man’s doorstep. The Levite husband awoke and opened the doors to discover her fallen. He told her to get up, but there was no reply. He placed her on one donkey and they headed home. Once home he dissected her into twelve pieces and sent her remains unto all of Israel. All that saw this horror said, nothing like this has happened since they came out of Egypt. It curiously ends with; ‘consider this, take advice and speak your mind.’ Therefore we shall.
There is an abundance of information which can be gleaned from surrounding chapters and parallel accounts.
With the knowledge that there were no chapter divisions before our formal Bible; one only has to go five verses later to make the first connection. The Levite testifies when being interviewed by the twelve tribes, that it was the men of that town that killed his wife. Without this information it could be perceived that the Levite killed her by dismemberment. In other words, this clearly establishes that she was not simply passed out on the doorstep.
However, chapter 18 holds the key information for decoding chapter 19. Here we see our Levite living in Ephraim in Micah’s house. It is also where we start to have a better understanding of our Levite priest’s spiritual condition. To start off, he was hired with money to be Micah’s private priest. Two things are wrong here; priests were never to be hired much less touch money, neither are they to be one person’s private servant to God. Next the Levite knew of Micah’s many idols and graven images and allowed the apostasy to continue. Fourthly, we see that Micah appointed him a priest, not a task for a graven god lover. Then we see our Levite priest rejoicing after he was apprehended, as he took the molten and graven images with him. Then we can see he set up these false gods in the children of Dan and Manasseh’s land. We can observe that our Levite is at least guilty on six accounts of living gravely outside the will of the Great ‘I AM’.
The Benjamite gang rape at the old man’s house is also an uncanny parallel to Sodom and Gomorrah. Almost line for line. In both accounts, two beasts of burden arrived in town, two angels and two donkeys. Both arrived in the night. Both were planning on sleeping in the street. The old man and Lot convinced them to stay with them. They both washed the visitors feet, gave them bread and shelter. Then both houses were encircled. In both instances by homosexual townsfolk wanting to rape the men. Both Lot and the old man offered a two women trade. Lot and the Levite both lost their wives. Glory to God, even the chapter numbers are the same, Genesis and Judges nineteen. All was a one for one exact mirror account; except to the point of the angelic intervention to save the woman from the mob. Tragically there was no angelic assistance, due to the Levite’s back-turning unto Yahweh and the wife's sinning. The old man and the Levite would have known the Torah and Genesis’ account of Sodom and Gomorrah from early childhood. It was not happenstance that this event unfolded and decisions rendered in this clockwork fashion. Once realizing they were in a historical reenactment; in their own way, these two men were ‘faithfully’ following Genesis to the letter. In faith-hope of invoking the same angelic salvation and judgement upon the town once again.
In our modern blood atoned society, the seemingly crass act of surrendering your beloved to the enemy, seems barbaric and incomprehensible. However in the Jewish mindset of the day, this was not about the value of women; but simply the lesser of two evils. The old man and our Levite would have known very well God's opinion of homosexuality based on Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Both say the act was an abomination to God and punishable by death. The question stood, should we send out the man to commit the unpardonable sin to be condemned to death by God's law; or send out the woman who was already condemned by the law? So their decision to sacrifice that which was most precious, albeit heart wrenching on the soul; was actually the most Godly resolution in both Lot's and the Levite's situation.
This now troubled Levite had a turning point in that house that night. After realizing that no angels stepped in to protect his wife. He began to count the errors of his life choices. Freely admitting fear for his life which prevented his courage from volunteering or going after his wife. Neither did he suspect they would have killed her, since he came out and was unknowingly talking to a dead body. This death nevertheless was a righteous fulfillment of the Mosaic law for her previous adultery. The Levite turned priest, now realized this obvious judgement at her death. The scripture’s silence does not reflect the Levites heart; yet we cannot presume he was untouched or not grieving. He then proceeded to fully repent and to take on the true vesture of priesthood. To carve up the offering which would allow the hail and brimstone of the Father to fall upon this Benjamite city.
If you have the faith to receive it, there are additional layers.
The following battle was prayed about three times by Israel and then in an amazing prophetic word from God came; that the tribe from Judah would go in first to start the killing. As it will be in the last day as well, with the final battle. When Jesus from the tribe of Judah comes forth with His gathering angels to destroy the tares first, then gathers up the wheat secondly. Reaffirming His prophecy that the unjust would be removed from the just. Additionally, in chapter 17 we see an amazing parallel, our Levite was a priest, he was from Bethlehem-Judah, he was also from the tribe of Judah. We know a Priest from Bethlehem through the lineage of Judah; this Levite was a most certain Christ figure.
The twelve part dismemberment in the natural seems sociopathic, however it was not so. It was rather a prophetic battle cry to awaken the nation of Israel and an offering plea to God for judgement; to cleanse the land of its idolatry, grievous sexual sin, and their lack of passion towards the one true God. One piece of flesh for each tribe, a sacrificial sin offering; which is also the prophetic job of the twelve tribes in revelation, the 144,000. To gather and cleanse the earth of all flesh, both tares and wheat, the good and the bad. Burning up the sinful offering once again in bundles.
Just as the Levite opened the doors after the indignation passed that following morning, to see his wife’s ravished dead body after the darkness was lifted and said, ‘Get Up’. So it shall be on the last day. After the tribulation of darkness has lifted on that morning, the door will open with the refulgent glory of the bright and morning star which shall shout. As scripture affirms: O death where is thy sting, yet to each man is appointed death. Thou fool; flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God. Behold our lover stands at the door. After the tares bodies have been taken and burned first; Jesus’ wife’s body must painlessly die the 1st death of this terrestrial. It is at this return of our Groom, He too will utter ‘Get Up’ to the ravished dead in Christ. As the twelve pieces were carved up, so it shall be with the 1st sickle and finally the grapes by the 2nd sickle; all of humanities corpses gathered by the twelve tribes again, into the great winepress of blood lake. This gift of dismemberment will satiate our Father. Then we will once again return to dwell with the magnanimous Father. Nothing like this has happened before Egypt, nor will again, after that most dreadful yet glorious day.
Were all parties; the husband, the wife, the old man and the townsfolk, living outside the will of God? Yes. Is pointing fingers at who was the worst sinner the point here? No. The object lesson here is rather a multilayered prophetic message; one of repentance of the heart and a cleansing of one’s self and the people with a cry out to God. When there is no King in the land and all people did what they felt was right in their own eyes, no absolutes remain in society. Living outside of God’s will, the vision of tragedy is certain and the interpretation sure.
Be healed of hurt, be sure of sound faith; give glory, honor, power and praise to your Lord.