Have you ever been arrested by an idea? Have you ever been held captive by a thought/word/deed? I came across a troublesome passage of scripture a couple of weeks ago. Then again a few days ago. In fact, three times in a matter of a few weeks, I was lead to read this story, and each time I become more disturbed, yet the story will not let me go.
Pressing pause for a minute: For those of you who are not Bible students, the entire Bible is not made up of “Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul” and “I can do all things through Christ”. There are some things in the Bible that are downright difficult, that you’ll have to wrestle with to get an understanding. This is one of those passages.
For those of you who like to study for yourselves, read the 19th chapter of Judges. For those who prefer the Cliff’s Notes versions, here it goes: A man’s concubine leaves home and returns to her father’s house. After four months, The man follows her in hopes of bringing her home. After spending a longer time than he planned at her father’s home, they, (the man, his concubine, and a servant he had brought with him) head home. The journey is more than a day’s walk, so the servant suggest they stay in a nearby town. The man refuses to stay in a strange land but presses on until they get to a town of Israelites. Once they arrive to that town they settle to sleep in the square because no one would take them in. An old man sees them and offers refuge in his home. But once they get there, a group of men from the city, knocks on the man’s door and requests they send out the stranger so that they may “know him carnally”. The old man refuses and offers up both the concubine and his virgin daughter. The men of the city persisted, until the man brought the concubine out to them. Then they “abused her all night until morning; and when day began to break they let her go.”
In the morning, the man finds his concubine at the door unresponsive, so he loaded her onto his donkey. When he arrived home, he cut her in 12 pieces and sent her throughout Israel, and the whole nation was incensed, saying nothing had been done like this in Israel since they left Egypt. The chapter ends with the nation saying “Consider it, confer and speak up.”
I’m not of the ilk that thinks this is an essay on homosexuality. This passage deserves so much more than a homophobic rant. If that’s what you’re looking for, you can stop reading my blog now.
I do not think the Bible is justifying this woman’s death as a fit punishment for a woman who “played the harlot.” The passage clearly indicates that she was loved, despite her unfaithfulness.
But I’m also not naïve enough to think that this story has no practical lesson for today’s society. I don’t think for two seconds that this passage came across my desk three times by happenstance.
So for the next few weeks, I’m going to fight my way through this passage. There is plenty in this one chapter to last me at least a few weeks. Here are a few things I’m considering in advance.
1)What does this passage say about “strangers”?
2)What does this passage say about sacrifice?
3)What will it take for a person/nation to “speak up”