In Judges 19:16 and following, an "old man" invited an unnamed Levite and his concubine to rest at his house for the night. Why was this Levite important enough for the "old man" to be willing to sacrifice his virgin daughter and the Levite's concubine to the lusting crowd at his door. Was this man important because he came from the priestly tribe of Levites?
It is true that this unnamed man was a Levite priest and important in the Israelite community, however the "old man" who invited them in was being "overly hospitable." The Levite priest wasn't important enough to sacrifice the old man's virgin daughter or any woman, including this harlot (concubine).
Even though this concubine had been unfaithful to her master, wasn't it a cowardly thing for them to put her outside among the perverted mob?
Yes, both the old man and the Levite should have protected the entire household from danger. They both exhibited a very low view of the value of women. In fact, the Levite priest was already violating God's commands in taking more than one wife (Gen 2:24). It was culturally acceptable, but prohibited by God (much like what our own society allows in various areas:
abortion, immorality, etc.). Likewise, an adulterous wife (a concubine was a legal wife, albeit a slave wife used mainly for pleasure, while his first wife would have children and care for the home) should have been stoned according to God's law. So this priest was not a pure holy man.
The next morning when he sees her prostrate, hands clutching the threshold, he simply says "Get up. Let us be going." There doesn't seem to be any emotion in his discovery that she is dead. Why?
The man lacked any love for her. A concubine was used primarily for man's lust and sexual pleasure. They were simply sex-slaves, and God hated the practice. Now, obviously it would depend on the personality of the master on how they treated them. Some masters may be gentle and kind, and even loving to their concubines, but this Levite was cold and somewhat heartless, to say the least.
Yet later at home he dismembers her and sends her parts to all the other tribes as indication of what has happened. This seems such a strange and angry thing to do.
This savage bizarre butchery was done with intent. The man intended the Israelites to take revenge for the awful crime (even though he was a key player that could have prevented it!). At any rate it worked, and the people were aroused to a war of revenge.
Who ultimately is responsible for the war that ensues? Is it the evil people of Gibeah? The unfaithful concubine?
I would say it was the men of Gibeah, the ones who committed the awful crime against the women. I believed they would have done the same to anyone who was delivered to them--man or woman. But ultimately God is controlling the events to ensure that these wicked people bent on evil (the Benjamites) were punished for allowing such a state of wickedness to exist in their land. God did not cause them to do evil, He just used their evil actions to accomplish His will to punish His people for their sins.
What lesson or point was I supposed to get out of this story? The Levite deliberately continued on to Gibeah even though it was getting late, because he felt he would be safe there as it was part of Israel. Is there some significance to that?
I would not try to read to much into the story. It is simply an illustration of the wickedness of man and God's punishment on their sin. God will discipline His people, and will punish sin. It happens today too. Christians who try to live like the world and commit the sins of the world and bring shame and disgrace upon the name of Christ are being disciplined for their wickedness. Most of the time we are blind to what God is doing, and account it to "bad luck" or "just the hazards of life" when in reality God is judging His people.
So far my reading has been inspiring and enlightening. But I must admit, this particular story has stayed with me even though I read it a couple months back.
The Old Testament at times seems very harsh and brutal, but remember that God is many times punishing individual and national sin, and thus uses one nation to wipe out another. Sometimes they go too far in their brutality, because of the wickedness of man's heart.
Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Tony Capoccia's Questions and Answers" by:
Bible Bulletin Board
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
Websites: www.biblebb.com and www.gospelgems.com
Online since 1986