Judges 19:1 – 20:7 — A Levite, his concubine & the life in Israel without the King

Judges 19-20 is a disturbing account of a Levite, from the tribe God picked to be His closest ambassadors to Israel and the world, who not only had a concubine but also callously let her get raped to death by a Sodom-like mob. The Bible’s detractors and defenders of liberal morality hold this account up as a key exhibit, but what does God really want us to learn in this no-holds-barred account?

Judges 19 map

Food for thought from the recorded discussion

Why did the Levite’s father-in-law detain him for so long?

Was there a more profound reason why the Levite, his concubine and servant didn’t stay in Jerusalem?

Why did the people of Benjamin lack hospitality? (After all, an Ephraimite took them in).

Why did the Levite bother to woo the adulterous concubine back just to discard her?

There’s another historical example of a victim being cut limb by limb and sent to different parts of a country as a warning: William Wallace of Scotland.

Why did the tribes of Israel gather at Mizpah after receiving the pieces of the concubine?

What about the Levite’s culpability in his concubine’s death?

What does the term “sons of Belial” mean?

If this event occurred early in the life of the people in the Land, then why is is mentioned so late in the book of Judges?

Why weren’t the Benjaminites punished as severely as Torah normally demands for rapists and murderers?

When did this occur (Judges 19:1)? What is meant by the time description “when there was no king in Israel”? Is this referring to King Saul or someone else (1st Sam. 8:7)?

What do we learn in Judges 20:26-28 about the timing of the account we’re looking at? We are told this was then God was in Bethel (during the time of Joshua or immediately thereafter) before they moved God’s Tabernacle in Shiloh. This would have affected Ehud the Judge’s life (Judges 3). This was during his grandfather’s time, during the rule of Otheneil (Judges 3:9).

Phinehas grandson of Aaron was alive during this time (Joshua 22:10-20). This was approximately two years before the armies of Aram invaded Israel.

Why did the concubine leave in the first place? Is a concubine a wife? Is the Levite still her husband? What is the difference between a wife and a concubine? Is it a death penalty offense for a concubine to commit adultery?

What family of the Levites did this man come from?

What kind of family did the concubine come from?

Why is it important that the hospitable person in Gibeah was “old” and he was an Ephraimite?

What was the difference between the Benjaminite mob and the mob that surrounded Lot’s home in Sodom and Gomorra to assault God’s messengers (Genesis 19)?

Who was the Levite’s grievance with — the tribe of Benjamin as a whole or just the town of Gibeah?

Did the Benjaminite leadership receive a part of her body? Why?

Why did the tribes gather in Mizpah? Where is Mizpah? Did the Benjaminites show up in Mizpah? Why or why not?

Judges 20:7 gives us the “Achilles’ heel” of this story. Did the Levite follow the Torah prescription for dealing with a murder?

How did the reaction of the tribes of Israel to the introduction of idolatry to northern Israel by the grandson of Moshe (Moses) in Judges 17-18 compare with the reaction of the tribes to the eastern half-tribe of Manasseh’s construction of the giant altar (Joshua 22:10-20) and the tribes’ reaction to the rape and murder of the concubine? What does that say about which “king” was not in Israel at that time?

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Daniel Agee.


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