Question:

Were the man's actions in Judges 19:22-24 wrong? I'm sure it's addressed on the web site, but I searched for it and I think I just couldn't think of the best way to search for it. Was it wrong for the man to offer his daughter like that? The passage doesn't seem to say anything about the morality of that action, but it seems very wrong.


Answer:

There are numerous places where the Bible reports what happens without directly telling us if the events were right or wrong. In the middle of the book of Judges, we find: "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6). The book of Judges ends with the comment: "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). What Judges document is how a nation falls apart morally when people do their own thing. The events in Judges 19 tell of how corrupt some of the tribes had become, leading to a near destruction of one tribe.

To understand all that is going on, you need to start back at Judges 19:1, "And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote mountains of Ephraim. He took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah." A Levite took possession of a slave from Bethlehem and married her. But she committed adultery and then ran off, returning to her home. Four months later, the Levite decided to fetch his concubine back. "Then her husband arose and went after her, to speak kindly to her and bring her back, having his servant and a couple of donkeys with him. So she brought him into her father's house; and when the father of the young woman saw him, he was glad to meet him" (Judges 19:3).

It was only a day's journey back home, but his father-in-law kept delaying him from returning home. He finally left, even though it was late and they did not have time to travel all the way back home. They ended up spending the night in Gibeah in the tribe of Benjamin where an old man invited them to stay at his house. The first hint that we have that something is wrong is the old man's insistence that they must not spend the night in the town square (Judges 19:20).

"As they were enjoying themselves, suddenly certain men of the city, perverted men, surrounded the house and beat on the door. They spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, "Bring out the man who came to your house, that we may know him carnally!"" (Judges 19:22).

During the evening meal, wicked men (literally sons of Belial or sons of corruption), surrounded the house, cutting off any chance of escape. They beat on the door and demanded that the old man send out his guest so that they could rape him. If this doesn't ring a bell, the events are eerily like what happened in Sodom while Lot was entertaining two men at his house (Genesis 19:4-5).

"But the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, "No, my brethren! I beg you, do not act so wickedly! Seeing this man has come into my house, do not commit this outrage. Look, here is my virgin daughter and the man's concubine; let me bring them out now. Humble them, and do with them as you please; but to this man do not do such a vile thing!" (Judges 19:23-24).

Perhaps the old man remembered the story of Lot, how he tried to protect his guests by offering his two virgin daughters to the men to distract them from harming his guests (Genesis 19:8). The old man only had one daughter to offer, so he also offers his guest's concubine. It was bad enough to see that a sin had arisen in Israel that God destroyed cities over in the days of Abraham, but here we find other degradations -- a man willing to sacrifice one of his guests simply because she was a slave. The man charges them with vile behavior, but he is just as vile by trying to exchange homosexual sex with offers of fornication and adultery. "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things" (Romans 2:1).

"But the men would not heed him. So the man took his concubine and brought her out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until morning; and when the day began to break, they let her go" (Judges 19:25).

Up until this point, there we could be sympathetic to the Levite. He appeared to be a good man, though we might have wondered why he waited four months before fetching his wife back. But this verse makes it clear that while the man talked nicely, he wasn't nice. He saw his wife as his possession and when she didn't return he went to get his property back. Perhaps he didn't really or fully forgive her for her adultery, so when it came down to him or her, he pushed his concubine out the door.

Some might be surprised that these men were willing to rape a woman when they couldn't get a man. We are often told that homosexuals don't find the opposite gender attractive. However, there are studies that show almost all homosexuals do have sex with the opposite gender at some point. [Letitia Peplau, "What Homosexuals Want," Psychology Today, March 1981]. They may convince themselves that they prefer men, but that doesn't prevent them from having sex with women. These men acted like beasts, raping and abusing the poor woman all night. In the morning she died on the doorsteps of the home that did not give her protection, though she was a guest, and where her husband, her protector, slept.

"Then the woman came as the day was dawning, and fell down at the door of the man's house where her master was, till it was light. When her master arose in the morning, and opened the doors of the house and went out to go his way, there was his concubine, fallen at the door of the house with her hands on the threshold. And he said to her, "Get up and let us be going." But there was no answer. So the man lifted her onto the donkey; and the man got up and went to his place" (Judges 19:26-28).

Notice that the author no longer calls the man her husband. He violated his duties. He only a cruel master, and just how cruel we can see when he shows no concern for the woman, but merely demands that she get up because they needed to finish their journey. But she was free of his demands. He was no longer her master. She had left this cruel world in death.

It is hard to believe, but the story gets worse as the man triggers a civil war against Benjamin by chopping up his concubine's death body and sending the pieces and a message of who killed her to all the tribes of Israel.

There is nothing good or pleasant about these events. What God wanted you and I to see is just how evil men get when they do whatever they think is right. You can't even call them animals because animals treat their own kind far better than the cruelty shown it. It makes you sick to your stomach -- and that is the point.