Judges 19:1-10

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 10, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“In those days Israel had no king.
Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. But she was unfaithful to him. She left him and went back to her parents’ home in Bethlehem, Judah. After she had been there four months, her husband went to her to persuade her to return. He had with him his servant and two donkeys. She took him into her parents’ home, and when her father saw him, he gladly welcomed him. His father-in-law, the woman’s father, prevailed on him to stay; so he remained with him three days, eating and drinking, and sleeping there.
On the fourth day they got up early and he prepared to leave, but the woman’s father said to his son-in-law, 'Refresh yourself with something to eat; then you can go.' So the two of them sat down to eat and drink together. Afterward the woman’s father said, 'Please stay tonight and enjoy yourself.' And when the man got up to go, his father-in-law persuaded him, so he stayed there that night. On the morning of the fifth day, when he rose to go, the woman’s father said, 'Refresh yourself. Wait till afternoon!' So the two of them ate together.
Then when the man, with his concubine and his servant, got up to leave, his father-in-law, the woman’s father, said, 'Now look, it’s almost evening. Spend the night here; the day is nearly over. Stay and enjoy yourself. Early tomorrow morning you can get up and be on your way home.' But, unwilling to stay another night, the man left and went toward Jebus (that is, Jerusalem), with his two saddled donkeys and his concubine.” (Judges 19:1-10)

As we start Judges 19, we’re starting a new story. These last few chapters of Judges (chapters 17-21) contain various stories that show the immorality of Israel. The repetition of the phrase “In those days Israel had no king” (like we see here in verse 1) show that Israel needed a leader to get them back on track with morality.

As with the previous story of Micah and his idol, the characters here are also from the hill country of Ephraim. Here, we see the main characters are a Levite and his concubine. A concubine is similar to a mistress; she’s a woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife (or wives). This was common in polygamous societies, where a man would have multiple women living with him as wives or concubines. A concubine is sort of a cross between a wife and a slave, so she could not marry her master but was required to live with him as though they were married.

This particular concubine was evidently pretty unhappy with being of the lower concubine status, so she committed adultery with another man. Instead of facing her husband who would have been mad about the situation, she went home to her parents who lived in Bethlehem.

Four months later, the Levite husband wants to get his concubine back, so he goes to her parents’ house in Bethlehem to fetch her. The girl’s family is happy to see him, since that means their relationship would be restored. The girl’s adultery had disgraced her family, so this would be a restoration.

The father persuades the Levite to stay for a few days, which was the common practice of hospitality back then. Traveling was generally long and difficult, so a few days of rest would be welcomed. So on the 4th day, and again on the 5th day, the Levite tries to get an early start and go back home, but the father keeps delaying him. The father convinces him to stay for another day each time. We’re not told why he didn’t want them to leave, so that’s left up to the reader’s speculation.

Finally on the 3rd time the father tries to get the Levite to stay, he does finally get away, but it’s much later than planned, which is significant as we will continue on this story in the next couple weeks. We know the concubine is with him, but we don’t know if she went willingly or not.

We see a lot of family interaction going on in this passage. There’s the relationship between the Levite and his concubine, the relationship between the concubine and her parents, and the relationship between the Levite and the concubine’s father. The story started out with the betrayal of the concubine to her husband, which is obviously a damaged relationship. Then we see that she damages her relationship with her parents, as she disgraces them by returning home. And then we see the strained relationship between her father and the Levite because of the continual begging him to stay.

Do you have relationships like this in your life? Are there broken relationships that need mended? Have you done something to disgrace your loved ones? Are you causing someone grief by the way you treat them? Use this story to help you look at your own relationships and where they may be broken and need repair. Ask God to help you see what you are able to mend, and what you need to do better so that strained relationships don’t get worse.

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