Judges 19 – “A Horrible Rape Murder in Gibeah”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
After picking up his concubine from his father-in-law’s house, a certain Levite settles in Gibeah for the night. The men of the city attempt to sodomize him, but end up raping the concubine until her death. As a response, the Levite dismembers his wife’s corpse and sends her body parts throughout the land of Israel.

II. Photo
The people are shocked when they see the concubine’s body parts: “And everyone who saw it cried out, ‘Never has such a thing happened or been seen from the day the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt to this day!’” (v. 30a)

III. Important Verses
11-13: Since they were close to Jebus, and the day was very far spent, the attendant said to his master, “Let us turn aside to this town of the Jebusites and spend the night in it.” But his master said to him, “We will not turn aside to a town of aliens who are not of Israel, but will continue to Gibeah. Come,” he said to his attendant, “let us approach one of those places and spend the night either in Gibeah or in Ramah.”
22-25: While they were enjoying themselves, the men of the town, a depraved lot, had gathered about the house and were pounding on the door. They called to the aged owner of the house, “Bring out the man who has come into your house, so that we can be intimate with him.” The owner of the house went out and said to them, “Please, my friends, do not commit such a wrong. Since this man has entered my house, do not perpetrate this outrage. Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. Let me bring them out to you. Have your pleasure of them, do what you like with them; but don’t do that outrageous thing to this man.” But the men would not listen to him, so the man seized his concubine and pushed her out to them. They raped her and abused her all night long until morning; and they let her go when dawn broke.
28-29: “Get up,” he said to her, “let us go.” But there was no reply. So the man placed her on the donkey and set out for home. When he came home, he picked up a knife, and took hold of his concubine and cut her up limb by limb into twelve parts. He sent them throughout the territory of Israel.
30: And everyone who saw it cried out, “Never has such a thing happened or been seen from the day the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt to this day! Put your mind to this; take counsel and decide.”

IV. Outline
1-14. The Levite, his servant, and his concubine set off
15-21. An old man of Gibeah takes them into his home for the night
22-26. Men of Gibeah rape the Levite’s concubine all night long
27-29. The Levite dismembers his concubine and sends her portions throughout the land
30. Public outrage

V. Comment
Judges 19 is one of the most shocking in the Hebrew Bible. After picking up his concubine, a certain Levite steers clear of a non-Israelite city and chooses to spend the night in Gibeah: “Since they were close to Jebus, and the day was very far spent, the attendant said to his master, ‘Let us turn aside to this town of the Jebusites and spend the night in it.’ But his master said to him, ‘We will not turn aside to a town of aliens who are not of Israel, but will continue to Gibeah. Come,’ he said to his attendant, ‘let us approach one of those places and spend the night either in Gibeah or in Ramah.’” (vv. 11-13) Collins writes: “The assumption that it is safer to lodge among Israelites than among Gentiles proves to be tragically mistaken. The story that unfolds is very similar to the story of Sodom in Genesis 19. The men of Gibeah want to abuse the stranger. The man who has takin him in is horrified and offers them his virgin daughter and the Levite’s concubine instead. In Genesis Lot’s offer of his virgin daughters is rendered unnecessary by divine intervention. There is no such intervention here. The Levite’ concubine is sacrificed to the cause, raped all night, and found dead in the morning.” (214) The story reaches a grotesque climax with vv. 28-29: “‘Get up,’ he said to her, ‘let us go.’ But there was no reply. So the man placed her on the donkey and set out for home. When he came home, he picked up a knife, and took hold of his concubine and cut her up limb by limb into twelve parts. He sent them throughout the territory of Israel.”

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Trent C. Butler, “Judges” (Word Biblical Commentary vol. 8; Nashville: Nelson, 2009).
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 15 (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
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2 thoughts on “Judges 19 – “A Horrible Rape Murder in Gibeah”

  • I’m struck by the passive phrase that the men of Gibeah “end up raping his concubine instead.” That summary misses one of the most disturbing aspects of this passage: the Levite ” seized his concubine and pushed her out to them…”

    • Good point Aurora, but there’s a reason for my writing here. In the Hebrew we don’t know who “seized the concubine.” The translation you site adds the word “The Levite,” which is not found in the original text.

      I hope this helps!

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