The Leviteís Concubine


Judges 19-21


The King and I is one of my favorite musicals. But Iím going to focus on a non-musical scene from it. The King is a strong presence, even though a lightweight in matters of policymaking. And itís easy to underestimate how smart he is, because heís generally focusing on a goal other than what you are led to expect. In this scene, heís taking what might be his first venture into foreign diplomacy. He asks Anna to dictate the letter.


In rambling fashion, you almost donít notice that he is offering the foreign dignitary one hundred male elephants that the dignitary can set loose and allow them to breed throughout his country. Anna interrupts him and suggests he rethink the expectation that the one hundred male elephants to breed. The King pauses, annoyed that she interrupted him, and commands that she work out the details.


The story of the Leviteís concubine should shame any culture. Judges 19 may be the hardest chapter to read in all the Bible. Itís easy to distance yourself from anything that goes on here Ė all the way down to wondering why a Priest even has a concubine. Sadly, the Levite-concubine affair is the closest behavior to Godliness we will see in these three chapters. But the story shows in gory x-rated (rated X for several causes) detail what happens when people do what is right in their own eyes.


There is a lot going on. God appears to be directing the affairs of Judges 20. And then I recall Romans 1 where God looks down on sin so heinous that His punishment for them is that they have no choice but to continue in their chosen squalidness. From now on, they have no choice.


The storied King of Siam refused to get involved in the breeding process, and demanded that Anna solve the problem herself. God in His goodness choreographed Israelís punishment on Benjamin. And it wasnít until after they executed their heartsí desire on the tribe of Benjamin that they stepped back and wondered if reducing the population of Benjamin to 600 men was going to create breeding problems.


Had they bothered to seek God how to breed 600 men, God would have gotten annoyed, and commanded that Israel work out the details. So they simply worked out the details without Godís input. Perhaps the other tribes could allow the men of Benjamin to intermingle and intermarry. But they couldnít do that, for they had taken a vow not to let that happen. (Their unwavering respect for their vow deserves an eyeroll.)


Are they seriously selecting NOW to do something right? Rather than to go back on their vow, they went into Jabesh-Gilead and captured 400 virgins and presented the ladies to the Benjaminites. And everyone then went merrily along in whatever moral direction their eyes saw fit to go.


It is impossible to place this scene on a time line. If it occurred late during the era of the Judges, then eventual-King Saul may have been one of the 600 men, for he was a Benjaminite. If it occurred early, then Saul was descended from them.


A thousand years later, another Benjaminite named Saul makes the scene. We know him better as Paul.


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