Horrifying Parts of the Bible, Part I

Here are two stories from the Book of Judges.

Judges, Chapter 19: A Levite and his concubine are traveling in a strange country. An old man in Gibeah, a town of Israelites, offers them shelter for the night. A mob comes upon the house and demands the housekeeper give up the Levite, so that they can sodomize and rape him. Just like the story of Lot, the old man offers his virgin daughter first, but this doesn't get the mob's goat, so the Levite offers his concubine. This time there's no intervention from God or angels, and the mob takes the concubine and rapes her all night long. The Levite awakes in the morning to find his concubine "fallen down" at the door of the house. He says "Up, and let us be going." She dies, so he props her body on the back of an ass for the ride home. Upon reaching home, he cuts her body into twelve pieces and sends "her into all the coasts of Israel," so that they'll want to get revenge too. Chapter 20 details the revenge against the offending tribe.

Why is this story in the Bible? What lesson are we supposed to take from this story (or in the words of our professor, how shoud one write a midrash about this story)? This is eight chapters after Judges 11, similar to the Abraham-Isaac story, except in this chapter the father actually sacrifices his child.

For more on the Bible read David Plotz's excellent series for Slate.

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One thought on “Horrifying Parts of the Bible, Part I

  1. Tauscher

    Yo Kevin, saw this and couldn’t help myself. I’ve been reading a lot of the Bible this year for some classes and Judges is definitely my favorite book:
    14:6 — “The spirit of the Lord suddenly seized upon him and, without any weapon in his hand, Samson tore the lion to pieces as if it were a kid”
    14:19 — “Then the spirit of the Lord suddenly seized [Samson], and he went down to Ashkelon, where he killed thirty men, took their belts, and gave their clothes to the men who had answered his riddle; then in a furious temper he went off to his father’s house”
    15:15 — “[Samson] came upon the fresh jaw-bone of a donkey, and seizing it he slew a thousand men”

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