This will serve as my final thoughts on Judges 19. It has been an interesting few weeks as we studied the story of the Levite, his concubine, and the people of Gibeah. To review the passage, click here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges+19&version=NIV
Today I want to look at probably the most important character in this story, the woman. The entire misadventure starts and ends with her. She is an object of love and of war. She is sought after, and ultimately sacrificed. This woman’s life and death are the crux of this story.
The concubine, like all the other characters in this story are unnamed. I have often heard preachers say that when a biblical character is unnamed, it is so you can put your name in the blank. As a Christian, it is easy for me to place myself in this woman’s shoes at the beginning of the story. Being bound to a loving husband, (God) I often return to a familiar place, shunning my wifely duties as believer for the comfort of sin. Let’s be honest. Haven’t we all played the harlot?
We don’t know that this woman took on other lovers. She very well may have. What we do know is that despite her unfaithfulness, her husband comes to not only retrieve her, but to restore her. I cannot think of a better picture of God’s perfect love for his imperfect people.
What strikes me most about this woman is her silence. This is where our paths diverge. I like to talk. One of my biggest fears is losing my voice. The fact this woman is silent bothers me. She utters no good-byes to her father, no words of appreciation to her redeemer, and finally, no words of protest in her own defense as she is sacrificed to the men of Gibeah.
In a patriarchal Israel, it may have been out of place for her to speak. The same is true in patriarchal America. In many worship spaces throughout the country, women make up a silent majority. The same is true in politics and other institutions, both public and private.
Many women and minorities have been silent far too long. We let others tell our stories for us, and somethings get lost in translation. A third party narrative can certainly be useful in getting the story out in public, but there is nothing like hearing the story first-hand. Imagine the details we’re missing from the concubine e’s story: her overwhelming since of gratitude and humility when her husband comes to seek her at her father’s house, her exhaustion as she travelled the dusty road, the pain of her abuse. If you can, you should always tell your own story. Your words have more power than you can know.
I do not know why this woman did not protest her own abuse. I imagine she felt both guilt and shame. After all, she did play the harlot. Maybe she felt this was her punishment for her crimes against her master. But I believe had she done so, she may have saved her own life. The master loved her, even chased after her. The servant or the virgin daughter might have been offered in her place. But she never said a word… And her silence proved to be deadly.
Her story is recorded for all the world to see. I doubt it is the story she would have told if given the chance. Each of us has a story to tell. Our stories are full of life. Our stories are our lives. Use your story to help someone else. I beg you. To paraphrase the words of the Levite, “Consider it. Confer. And for God’s sake and your own, Speak Up!