Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Story of the Levite and His Concubine

“So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go.”

~Judges 19:25 (NIV).

This is without much doubt one of the darkest, most horrendous passages in the Bible. The level of moral chaos—especially in the supposed ‘safe town’ of Gibeah in Benjamin—is difficult to comprehend. These were dark times in a totally darkened place where all of life had seemingly become perverted to the extreme.

Can you imagine for one moment, a man—in accommodating the Levite and concubine—offering his own virgin daughter and the Levite’s concubine to a barraging horde to do as they will?—especially in the light of what this pack of moral bankrupt’s wanted to do with the Levite i.e. commit sodomy with him. Who was he trying to protect, and why? Two very warped and cowardly men seeking only to guard their own pathetic skins; that’s what. The Law was but a veil to hide behind in the circumstance.

There are very many theological and moral lessons from this story of rank, immortal injustice.

The concubine had sought some solace from the despicable husband under her father’s roof—she had four months worth of sanctuary before her husband tracked her down and convinced her on her way. The father worried for his daughter and hosted them both as long as he could. But he couldn’t keep them forever.

So callous and gutless was this Levite man, who was presumably quite powerful, judging on his role in the next chapter of Judges, that he seemingly thinks nothing of casting his wife out to the crowd. When the whole ordeal is finally over and she crawls back to their accommodation, not far from death and then she actually dies on the doorstep, it is heinous to read the uncaring Levite husband say to her as he opened the door, “Get up; let’s go.” (v. 28) Where was the, ‘Are you alright?’

Again, it hardly conscionable that such depravity and baseness could exist—yet, we’re so oblivious to what occurs in much of the world most of the time.

It seems that both then and now, great pains are made to fulfil the law but sometimes without any real sense of moral gauge applied. Think of law-abiding citizens getting into their internet and child porn right now as we breathe. And this is what both men involved in this story got wrong. They attempted to fit themselves to the Law of Moses but they forgot that Moses’ Law is hatched in morality; and that of the highest kind. They kept some laws and totally broke others.

When we settle for the law—as an end of itself—we miss the very meaning of life and why the law exists in the first place.

Law exists to serve morality, protecting and maintaining the moral balance.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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