The Levite’s Concubine — a case study in domestic abuse and how abusers enlist allies

This is the presentation I did last June at the church in Tillamook which Jeff Crippen pastors. The audience was the Ladies’ Bible Study group, Ps Jeff Crippen and one of his Elders, and two survivors of domestic abuse who travelled some miles to attend, one of whom sometimes writes on this blog. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to have fellow survivors in the audience, nodding in sympathy.

I finally overcame enough of my techno-fears to put it up on YouTube. Feel free to share it.

The video is a little over an hour long. To give you a decent chance to watch it, we will not be publishing a post tomorrow.

If you think this video is worthwhile, you might like to go to it on YouTube and hit the “like” button. And you can also subscribe to my channel on YouTube if you wish, to be notified if I produce any more videos.

A special thanks to Tom who kindly did the editing of this video. 

[April 18, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to April 18, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to April 18, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to April 18, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (April 18, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


UPDATE  Sept 2021:  I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches.  He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.

73 thoughts on “The Levite’s Concubine — a case study in domestic abuse and how abusers enlist allies”

  1. Outstanding! I’ve read commentaries that suggest the rape and torture (the Hebrew suggests horror) of the concubine was divine (The Holy One’s) judgement for the concubine’s behavior….unfaithfulness, leaving him, supposed flirtiness with men (not suggested in Scripture). If I ever believe this, I would have to mourn and be filled with sorrow that God would overlook the Levite and punish the woman in such a horrific manner because she deserved it and it was a fair and righteous judgement.

    Thanks for publishing this!

    1. Well done. Such a good exposition of an abuser and his allies. A sickening story. I so wish my ex’s allies could grasp how he uses them.

  2. Thank you, Barbara. I hung in there and found references to my own life. It didn’t please me, but it was confirming. You did an excellent job. Big hugs to you and to Jeff for organizing this and sharing it with us.

  3. Reblogged this on Tùr Làidir [Internet Archive link] and commented:
    Barbara does an excellent job of explaining what happened in this case. There are so many similarities to abuser tactics that it provides the best explanation I have ever heard of this passage. The bottom line is that no man who really did care for his wife would sacrifice her to save himself. No doubt, he told her in the language of the time that he would take a bullet for her. She would be unaware that he was handing the loaded gun to others to fire….

  4. Barb, thank you for this. It is chilling to hear the patterns that the abuser employs. While it is hard to hear it also helps understand the confusing environment that I am living in. The idea of gathering allies and giving the appearance of taking the moral high ground really hit home with me. My husband is using our church, pastor, and their strict interpretations of divorce to begin making his allies. He is the abuser but he is getting sympathy. It boggles my mind how after what he did that I can be seen as “the bad guy”. I take comfort daily that God knows the truth and that He has my heart in His hands.

    1. UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


      BeginHealing, maybe your pastor might read some of this blog or watch my video or read my book and Jeff Crippen’s book. If he did he could wake up to the dangers of being unwittingly enlisted by an abuser.

      1. I will consider sharing it with him, after I have moved through this more. He is a good man but he is also in regular contact with my husband. I feel like I should keep my healing and path to strength to myself a little longer. I would be so confused, hurt, and lost if they dismantled it. When I am stronger he will be getting a copy of your book.

  5. I am fascinated by this. Especially since EVERY SINGLE COMMENTARY (written by men of course) that I’ve seen on this passage makes the wife out to be a whore who got what she deserved! It is mind boggling, it’s as if they completely missed the part where he threw his wife out the door to be raped and killed, right after he “wooed” her back. They don’t know what to do with that passage so they say that the wife must have done something terrible!!

    1. Who on earth would ever claim that the concubine deserved to be raped all night in the street?!?!?!?! I have never heard that before. The only way I ever heard this story mentioned was as a parallel to Sodom and Gomorrah. I just re-read it and I can’t see how anybody could conclude that this was the concubine’s fault.

      I haven’t had a chance to watch the video, but on its face, all the men (Levite, old man and crowd outside) in this story are pretty awful. The crowd for obvious reasons. The old man because he offers up his own daughter and his guest’s concubine (presumptuously? Do hospitality conventions not apply to the “wimmins”, or only to “real” wives?). And the Levite for shoving her out the door anyway, and then in the morning his only response is “get up, we’re leaving.”

      1. I may or may not be confusing stories, I’m not sure. I did ask about this story before and was told that the reason the concubine was thrown literally to the wolves was because the old man thought the man he was protecting was an angel. After reading this account in several versions I see how absurd that was. For one thing an angel could have protected himself, he would not have needed to victimize this poor woman. My question is how that many people in a crowd all have the same evil thought. It does clearly show the depravity of this world.

        As I have tendency to do, I am going completely off of the subject. I am legally separated which means legally we are married but live completely separate. I say that not because I think anyone here is illiterate, but to remind myself. I have had suspicion that X has been getting quite chummy with his X who when they divorced there was him being an abuser and her adultery and stabbing him. Due to him giving me his password to his email account and my suspicions after him accusing me of getting her fired I took look at his emails. He had saved ecards they had sent each other. It was pathetic. There was also a receipt from a flower shop on “Sweetest Day” and one for a new mattress pad. Well, my friends, legally separated or not that spells adultery to me. It has only been 4 months.

        After confronting him by email he first tried to deny it, changed his password and then demanded that I file for divorce. At first I refused for the sheer fact that he was telling me what to do, then I thought “no I will do it they deserve each other and I don’t deserve any of this.” My attorney, God bless her heart, found the cheapest way to do it so that I could avoid court costs and only have a filing fee of $20. I felt freer having gone through the separation. Now I’m rounding 3rd and headed to home plate. I will shout praises to my God as He sets me completely free.

        I know that the concubine has been with Him for many years, but I think of all of the other concubines and wives who have not found freedom and may be cast to the wolves or at least with one wolf. It saddens my heart in knowing there will be others that do not make it to freedom until they meet Jesus face to face.

  6. Barb, after listening to this again I want to point something out. This is not disagreeing with your point but offering (I think) a very plausible reason that the Levite cut up her body.

    While it is true that he may have got sick pleasure out of it, if instead we take the Scripture perfectly seriously when it declares that the Levite was “the husband of the MURDERED woman”, and the fact that the Scripture does not say she was dead after the rapes (surely unconscious, yes) — then he cut her up to kill her and effectively SHUT HER UP and cover up his crimes! Because how could he give that song and dance story to the tribes if she was still hanging around to cry to her daddy or tell someone the truth of what he’d done to her? She HAD to die, in his mind. He had to cover his tracks.

    I think this is the most logical explanation, I think he murdered her with “THE” knife and then cut her up, because he had to ensure that the rest of his plan went properly. His actions throughout the whole story are the picture of a truly sadistic man.

    It is such a perfect description of domestic abuse. Well done, Barb. Truly, if we are “neutral” than we are allies of wickedness.

    1. I agree, Katy, that if she was not already dead on the threshold, it was a good idea (from his point of view) had for him to kill her to shut her up; after all, if she remained alive she could have blabbed and maybe he might have been convicted and punished. However, he could have shut her up by killing her with one stab of the knife. If his goal was only to kill her so she wouldn’t report his crime, he didn’t have to cut her body into pieces and send the pieces out to the tribes.

      1. Yes but, Barb — if he stabbed her to end her life and silence her — how would he explain the body with those wounds? Oh you’re right — he could lie and say that she was stabbed by the rapists. So really there was no reason for him to cut up her body besides sadistic pleasure. However it is a perfect picture of an evil man because he was sacrificing a woman on an altar to himself.

        Levites were separated by God in order to serve in His temple, and they were to sacrifice animals this way but only under very strict guidelines from the Lord. And it was only for God’s altar that these things were ordered. This Levite may have used the ceremonial knife of the temple to carve up a woman for his own sick pleasure.

        If you contrast those two pictures (without any of the surrounding information, even) — this Levite was straight from the Devil. The commentators who attempt to say that the Levite was a good man are seriously clueless about the Word!

      2. Katy —

        You said:

        However it is a perfect picture of an evil man because he was sacrificing a woman on an altar to himself.

        Never thought of that connection with how things were sacrificed to God on the altar and how the abuser thinks he’s “god” and how the abuser required me to sacrifice myself and was outraged at anything less.

        I for one know that the abuser believes he is powerful like or equal to God. Just like satan thought of himself. So I think this connection you made seems like a valid reason for the abuser to justify his evil act.

      3. Wasn’t the original temptation in the Garden of Eden wanting to be like God?

  7. Barbara, I so appreciate the job you did on this. Yours and Jeff’s books have opened my eyes to a lot of things, even though I’ve been teaching on spouse abuse since the mid-80s. Have you researched if the concubine left the Levite under the provisions of Exodus 21:7-11? A slave wife (concubine) could scripturally leave (divorce) her master-husband if he quit providing food, clothing, or sex for her. He couldn’t diminish the sex if he took a second wife.

    The reference to the concubine committing adultery and then being willing to be sweet-talked into coming back sounds a lot like what lots of husbands and wives do when living with an unloving mate. They commit adultery more as an act of frustration rather than a pattern of life, i.e., what I call a serial adulterer.

    The law states the concubine could leave (divorce) an unloving husband, but she could not take anything with her. This could explain why her father took her in. It could also explain why he was so hospitable to the Levite.

    It is interesting that the concubine did not apologize to the Levite or pledge to be faithful to him when he came after her. Instead, she allowed him to sweet-talk her into returning. This indicates to me that she left for cause — one of the three reasons in Exodus 21:7-11. And the Levite knew she had just cause for leaving him, why he made a show to convince her he had changed rather than demanding that she change. He did what you call in your book, the “buy back”.

    Barbara, I’m very interested in your views if Exodus 21:7-11 might shed some light on this story. I especially appreciate your dealing with the after story and how the Levite used others to carry out his vengeance and God’s response.

    Thank you for making this video available.

    1. Patsy, I did research what the scholars have written about this pretty thoroughly. I did not find any who said that the concubine left the Levite under the provisions of Exodus 21:7-11, but that is not surprising because it’s only since David Instone-Brewer drew attention to the provision for divorce in Exodus 21 that we have realised there is indeed a provision for divorce in the Exodus. Many of the books and journal articles I read on Judges 19 were written before Instone-Brewer’s book came out. And I think there may be quite number of scholars and seminary professors who still have not read Instone-Brewer; and there are some (like John Piper) who disagree with Instone-Brewer’s work on divorce.

      The Hebrew and Old Testament specialists I read were understandably cautious about the textual discrepancy in Judges 19:2 (did she “commit adultery against” as it says in the Masoretic text? Or did she get angry with him as it says in the Targum?) The simple fact is that there IS a textual discrepancy, and no one can really be sure what the authentic text is for verse two, so it would not be wise for us to make definitive conclusions about that verse, let alone jump from such a definitive conclusion into thinking that she left him under the provisions of Exodus 21.

      We also need to bear in mind that while the divorce provision in Exodus 21 had been given years before by Moses, it was not necessarily being heeded by the people in the time of the Judges. In fact, the book of Judges repeatedly tells us that “in those days everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” So the provision of Exodus 21:7-11 might have simply been gathering dust on some shelf — neither taught by the elders, nor part of the common understanding of the people — and therefore rarely practised. We cannot know with certainty to what extent those laws were heeded in the days of the Judges.

      1. He treated his concubine as he saw fit as they all did during the time of Judges. The people did not want God as King and judge. They got what they asked for. That was a time of more evil than I care to think of. He treated this woman worse than he probably treated his animals without recourse of any kind. Since seeing the interview with John Piper and his interpretation of abuse, reading his book “This Momentary Marriage” and learning of his work with Mark Driscoll, I would do extensive research if he said the sky is blue. I certainly would not take marriage advice from him.

    2. Patsy, I’m curious: where did you get the idea that —

      The law states the concubine could leave (divorce) an unloving husband, but she could not take anything with her.

      I have not heard of that condition about the divorcing woman not being allowed to take anything with her.

      1. Barbara, I got it from….Exodus 21:2, 11 where it says both the male and female slave are to go out without payment under somewhat different circumstances.

        I have used Exodus 21:7-11 in my classes for nearly 40 years. I start off Chapter 1 of my book “God’s People Make the Best Lovers” with this verse to show that God forbade a man to deny his wife her sexual rights, even if she were a slave…. The section even deals with the man having a plausible excuse for not being available sexually — he’s taken a second wife. Then it dismisses that reason as unacceptable. The three grounds for divorce don’t depend on any confession from the man — they are based totally on his behavior without regard for the reason or evidence — it is based on the wife’s interpretation of his conduct.

        Then I found David Instone-Brewer’s book “Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible” — it may have been from one of your newsletters. On page 101 he says:

        For a slave wife this would mean her freedom from the marriage and also her emancipation from slavery without any payment. For a free wife or a husband it would mean freedom from the marriage without payment or forfeiture of the ketubah. The discussions in rabbinic literature (as seen below) are careful to point out that men and women have equal obligations and rights in these areas. [Emphasis original.]

        Additionally, David Instone-Brewer devotes a whole chapter to drawing parallels between Exodus 21:7-11 and 1 Corinthians 7 in his book “The Jesus Scandals”. It is fascinating reading. He doesn’t talk about leaving without payment in this chapter. It is more dealing with how the three causes were established grounds for divorce in Jesus’ time and Jesus’ and Paul’s support of those rules.

        David’s teaching on “abandonment” is similar to yours and turns 1 Corinthians 7 into powerful teaching about divorce. I believe the Scriptures emphasize over and over that God does not trap anyone in unloving marriages.

      2. Thanks for explaining your reasoning, Patsy. If I am correctly understanding what you wrote, I think you may perhaps have misconstrued the payment alluded to in Exodus 21:2 and 11.

        Here is what I understand about the Mosaic laws regarding slavery. A person could be sold into slavery. Either you could sell yourself or your family might sell you into slavery to get out of debt or some other a difficult financial situation. The normal term for slavery in Israel was seven years; unlike other cultures and eras, slavery in ancient Israel was not for a lifetime, neither was emancipation from slavery just at the whim or benevolence of the slave owner. If the family of the slave wanted to redeem their enslaved relative before the seven years were up, they had to pay money to the owner to purchase back their relative (redeeming one’s relative). Presumably the money paid was proportionate to the time yet to be served from the seven year period. That is the payment referred to in Exodus 21. It was a payment that made was by the family of the slave to the slave owner, not a payment made by the slave owner to the slave upon his or her emancipation. Verse two refers to the fact that when a male slave served for seven years, he “went out free, for nothing”, i.e. his relatives did not have to pay any money to get him emancipated since he had served his full term.

        Verses 7-11 gives the law for a special case of slavery:

        When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. (Exodus 21:7)

        This means she shall not be automatically emancipated after seven years because she has been sold with the understanding that she is to become the purchaser’s sexual partner — either a concubine or a full wife — but certainly not a mere a labourer in his household.

        If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has broken faith with her. (Exodus 21:8 ESV)

        The phrase “broken faith” implies that even though this relationship was begun with a financial transaction, it was more than a mere financial contract: the man who purchased this woman had a duty and responsibility to keep faith with her, to treat her as a wife ought to be treated. Designating her as “wife” gave her wifely status, he could not demote her to the status of a slave again and sell her to some foreigner. If he downgraded her in that way, he would have broken faith with her (and presumably broken faith with her relatives as well.) If he was not happy with her as his wife, he had to let her be redeemed by her family — the word “redeemed” means her family would pay him back some or all of the money they had got for selling her.

        If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. (Exodus 21:9)

        This reiterates and confirms that her status was elevated because she was a wife (in this case, the wife of the man’s son). Her position and rights in the household were those of a true member of the family, not a mere slave.

        Now, here’s the key point for victims of abuse:

        If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money. (Exodus 21:10-11)

        So if he neglected her basic needs — food, clothing and marital rights — she could go out free. Her family would not have to pay any money back to the man. That man was not entitled to any redemption money from her family, because he has treated the woman so badly.

      3. I’m not sure about Biblically speaking, but here in the states it was law for a very long time. She could leave but everything including the children belonged to the man. He owned nothing and gave up her rights to all of her own possessions at the moment of saying “I Do”.

  8. I have been told different scenarios of this account in the past, this is the only one that made sense to me at all. He was a horrible man who only wanted his concubine back because she was his property like a pack mule or a dog. The good old boys thought nothing of torturing her as she was only property and was not worthy since she was not a wife and merely a sexual slave. In my Jewish study Bible it says that she deserted him rather than was unfaithful to him. Her “unfaithfulness” could have been the mere act of leaving this dreadful man. When a woman leaves a man and goes back to her parents she goes for a reason, usually protection which in the end she did not get. She was coerced into thinking that things would be different as many of us are. It was attempted on me last night. It didn’t work, but he tried.

    In chapter 20 he claims he cut her up because an outrageous act of depravity had been committed in Israel. In my view there was more than one. Whatever it was that he did to her to make her want to run away and go home to her father was the first. Him allowing this woman to be raped for an entire night was the second. Him throwing her on a donkey to travel home instead of even trying to seek medical attention was third. Him butchering her was fourth. All of these crimes were his and his alone. There were many other crimes committed. The domino affect was rampant, all because of one abusive man.

    The entire situation is pathetic and completely unnecessary.

    1. This makes me think of how the abuser will say something truthful like you said:

      In chapter 20 he claims he cut her up because an outrageous act of depravity had been committed in Israel.

      There it is: he claims he cut her up because [of] an outrageous act of depravity. (Yeah HIS outrageous act. Exactly.)

      The abuser can do this (lie) without flinching. They put the responsibility or blame on something else besides themselves and they act the part of the victim and enlist allies. IMO they literally “get away with murder”.

      I know whatever the abuser does or has he uses it to make it work out for his own good. Always. Even turning a gruesome evil act that he did into some “justified reaction”.

      This was one of the more confusing parts for me. I remember thinking how does this man have so much “favor” with God and other people? I mean he knew the gospel, claimed to be born again, and it seemed he succeeded at anything he chose to do or wanted to do. It seemed everyone was in awe of him. To me it was as if he had some supernatural “favor”. How confusing this was for me to witness day in and day out. This added to my feeling crazy indeed.

      In conclusion, I must say this Levite man sounds EXACTLY like the x-anti-H to me.

    1. I have always disliked this passage and now I know why. Further, if the man was so afraid the Gibeans would “kill him” as he said in [Judges] 20:5, then why did he actually take his concubine out to them [Judges] 19:25; why wasn’t he afraid they would grab him. The whole thing sounds like a psychopath. There was no love at all demonstrated only that she dared say “no” to him and leave him and that wasn’t allowable.

      1. Valid point, Summer. He went right out there to pass her to them. Why didn’t they grab him too?

      2. The abuser even confessed awful things to others in such a way that they applauded him for his humility or for the turmoil he must of endured to have defended himself in such a way.

        People always took him at his word and never looked CLOSELY at his actions. He was always very justified by his own mind and by his allies. No one EVER asked him questions to reveal what a snake he was. People were always quiet with him. In fact the one time someone stood up to the abuser he screamed violently at them and never spoke with them again.

        I wonder if this was the case here with the Levite. That others were somehow controlled also by him or feared him or wanted his approval or his confidence that they were willing to overlook reality and instead go along with whatever lies he spread about the woman (out loud or suggested). Often times the abuser lets people think what they want and that was always favorable of him and against me naturally. I’m certain the set ups the abusers secured with others against me happened long before I ever met them.

        The abuser has always been calculated, very believable and his next steps were always very well planned. I’ve seen the abuser get away with A LOT and come away with many sympathizers. It’s all VERY evil.

        I keep thinking of the woman left for dead at the door.

        Maybe she was still trying to obey him by staying at his door. Maybe hoping he’d finally care about her then. If he just saw what disgusting and horrid things that had happened to her.

        I used to think if the abuser just saw how destroyed I was by him that he’d STOP and have compassion and mercy on me.

        What a disgusting and evil man. He punished her. And how evil everyone else is for refusing to see reality. IMO they loved seeing her tortured and overpowered. They were probably relieved it wasn’t them being tortured. IMO they lusted for power and control.

        Is this the same account where the old man gave a virgin to the crowd? The crowd who was banging on the door demanding to have sex with the man?

        (I saw this video a couple of years ago and am watching it again now.)

        The men outside were looking for men to have sex with, right? Why protect a man by sending out a woman? That makes no sense. And offering the virgin? What on earth? What a disgrace to do this to any woman!!!! Things must have been so violent and evil then that this type of violence seems accepted. And the way to deal with it seemed to be give them what they want and throw the person you value the least (virgin / woman / etc.) out for payment to the evil so you don’t get hurt yourself.

        How horrific! And sounds exactly like the mentality I see about women today. Sexual objectification, they get no respect, looked at as weak, no rights in court, no protection, false submission doctrine, they are despised for being women, “grace for every sin”, “Jesus loves everyone”, etc., etc., etc.

        Abusers do evil things at anytime they want but they seem to get a real thrill out of lying a lot and deceiving others especially their target person. And also they seem to love playing a victim in all of it and people sympathize with them!

        The abuser would have done the same to me. He has in his own way. Never protected me but loved to objectify me. He owned me. I was not a person to the abuser but I was an object for his control, pleasure, power, anger contempt. For his worship.

        That poor woman!!!! I HATE what happened to her!!!!

      3. I keep thinking of the woman left for dead at the door.

        Maybe she was still trying to obey him by staying at his door. Maybe hoping he’d finally care about her then.

        Yes. That is the image that is most poignant for me, too.

  9. Barbara,

    It may have taken me 2 days to listen to it all, in little bits of time I could get to sit, and listen, and be able to take notes, but, this was RICH with teaching! And I could not wait to hear every bit of it!

    I will tell you that every time I heard reference to the poor woman being sent out to be raped by these men, in lieu of “the men” being chosen to go out there, and that the “father” was wiling to send out his “virgin daughter” instead of his male guest, it caused me great angst! I have 3 daughter’s and I cannot fathom their father suggesting such an evil choice. I had little respect for these men, and their choices, and yet, I had never known what to do with this situation….as you said, it is such a horrific scenario, one can barely fathom it being a rational event….because….it is NOT! Hacking up your gang raped wife into 12 pieces and requiring your servants to deliver the putrid body parts to the representatives of 12 nations….is not what the society of the Old Testament or this society would call “normal behavior”!

    Over the 20+ years of being in a very conservative denomination, NEVER has anyone exposed this story like this, in fact, it must have been implicitly taught that the men had “more value” “in that day” and a concubine had “little if any value”, because that has been my grieving interpretation of this heinous act. How can a church not have taught this in 20+ years?!?! I am warmly amused that it is a woman exposing this Scripture, what a paradox. 🙂

    Thank you!

    1. It’s not surprising at all that a woman had to bring the female perspective to this Scripture. That’s what happens when men use a single Bible verse to permanently and completely ban ALL women from the larger conversation on theology and Bible exposition. What happens is that ALL teaching is from a decidedly male perspective. And since men don’t typically get raped or battered (sometimes, but it’s rare outside of prison), they can’t comprehend this perspective, and they don’t consult us to see if their getting it right, EVER. I’m so thankful for blogs. The institutional hierarchy can’t shut us out of the conversation anymore.

  10. As I evaluate why this story does not sound fully understood in my mind prior to your exposition….I realize that somehow, I have mixed the part of the story where the concubine is given to the men to ravage them, with the story of the angels who went into Sodom and Gomorrah to get Lot (and his family) out before the city was to be burned? (In Genesis 19.)

    Lot has these 2 angels in his home….the men of of Sodom request these “men” come out, so they may “know them”. And Lot comes out of the house, closes the door behind himself, and tells them not to behave so wickedly, and he informs them of his 2 virgin daughters that he will provide to them for them to “do to them (his daughters) as is good in their eyes: only unto these men do nothing” [Genesis 19:8] in the name of hospitality, but the men of Sodom contend for one of these men, as a judge, and nearly break the door down, then the angels pull Lot back in and the angels then smote ALL the men with blindness. (Clearly needing no protection from Lot! 🙂 )

    The incestuous behavior later on between the daughters with their father, Lot, who so willingly showed he would toss their virginity out the door, literally, to preserve these angels from molestation, I always attributed his daughters’ twisted behavior having been learned by their father’s devaluing of them as any worth aside from physical amusement of abhorrent men. No doubt, these stories do have very similar situations, and use of almost identical words / responses to the wanton men. Somehow, I did not realize that there were 2 instances where such a scenario occurred — both involving wanton men, for men, who got offered women by foolish men.

    1. Thank you, MrsMom, I knew I was confusing stories. Many men clearly had no value for their daughters in that day and it is still happening today. The Angels needed no protection, they could provide through God all they needed. But my goodness, let’s “protect men at all costs”, let’s “just toss out a couple of virgins and all of us men will sit back and relax and be protected. If the women survive we can always sell them as slaves since no self-respecting men will want them any longer.” I praise God for His value of us, mortal men clearly have none.

  11. Something else stood out to me, worthy of deeper study (on my part)….though the woman in Judges is called a concubine (implying that the woman was not a covenanted married woman to this Levite), God’s word in Judges 19:4 reveals the “Levite” references the concubine’s father as HIS “father-in-law” — and in verse 5 the word labels the Levite as the man’s “son-in-law” which is implicit of a marriage versus a “kept woman” / concubine. As I noticed this, I wondered….”is the Lord saying in the use of these legal terms like, father-in-law and son-in-law, that though this Levite was an ungodly man who “kept a woman” versus marrying her and making her his legal wife, GOD referenced this MAN as someone who should be SEEN as “responsible”, and even considered him “married”, a ‘husband” — though not legally — and therefore legitimizing the woman as a “wife” — not a concubine?

    This seems to imply that the Levite, though he had failed to marry this woman before God, the Lord still counted the Levite as her husband. The woman was in no place of power to be “redeemed” by marriage, but was technically also abused in that failure of the Levite to “legitimize” this woman who he abused by the very practice of keeping her “as his concubine” versus making her his wife. It seems the Lord is making the woman (viewed by history) even less guilty by the use of those 2 words, father-in-law and son-in-law.

    I may be missing something here….what do you think? (I will check one of my favorite commentators tomorrow. 🙂 )

    1. MrsMom, I see what you are getting at; I have chewed those thoughts over myself but without being able to come to a firm conclusion. I have not learned Hebrew, but from what I can gather from reading the literature about (a) concubinage in the Ancient Near East, and (b) Judges 19-21, I do not think that we can make all that much from the terms “father-in-law” and “son-in-law” in Judges 19. I may be wrong, but from my reading it would seem that Hebrew does not have distinct term for “the father of a man’s concubine” as distinct from “the father of a man’s wife“. Nor does it have a distinct term for “the husband of a woman whose father sold her into concubinage” as distinct from “the husband of a woman whose father gave her in marriage as a wife“. So I think that Judges 19 is simply using the terms “father-in-law” and “son-in-law” to cover both kinds of relationships: concubinage, and true marriage.

      It is hard for us to understand concubinage in ancient Israel since we don’t have an exact parallel today, and the Bible only gives us hints but not necessarily the full picture of what concubinage was like in those days. It does not seem to be exactly the same as the modern practise where a man takes a mistress. A man who takes a mistress usually keeps that secret from his wife; but in ancient Israel a man might have a concubine and a wife (or a few wives) without keeping any of those relationships secret. And if he had a concubine he possibly or probably had certain duties towards her (if the slave wife in Exodus 21:7-11 is the same thing as a concubine). But a man who has a mistress does not have any duty to treat her in a certain way. So a mistress today probably has less rights than a concubine had in ancient Israel. And it’s not possible to exactly compare a man’s relationship to a concubine with a man’s relationship with his cohabiting “partner” today. There are too many differences in the legal framework and the cultural norms between then and now.

  12. I watched the video a second time and re-read the passage. I was so appalled!!! It was stingingly horrid. The Levite gave his concubine over to be raped all night. And when he saw her on the threshold the next morning all he said was “Get up, let’s get going”?????

    That was what affected me badly. I saw just how little he valued her. Whatever her reason for leaving him, adultery or not, he obviously valued her little. Perhaps the only value she had was that he had purchased her once upon a time. There was no sense of protecting her, being gentle with her, understanding her. Instead of behaving as God would have him behave, he was a product of his time, and threw her out to be used by a gang of selfish, depraved, evil men whose only concern was dominance over another.

    The old man was just as guilty. Had I been God I suppose I would have slain them both on the spot. But God had His reasons, just as He has today. He gives each of us choices to make and does not interfere.

    My ex told me that he would do such-and-such to protect me. In the end, he gained allies, even my family members, to do the evil deeds. He lied and took advantage of my vulnerability. There is no justice in this world. But one day, the Lord promises that He will exact vengeance.

    It certainly is strange that this passage has been interpreted as though she had it coming. Just like the woman caught in adultery. Seems to me that there is generally a man or men involved. They get given a wink and a pass it would seem. When Jesus came He gave women compassion and considered them to be equal to men in so many ways. Paul placed Priscilla on the same level as Aquilla, both ministers of the Lord Jesus in the faith. Women have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus. He elevated our status. He loves us. I cannot help but believe that when women are abused, abandonment, mistreated, and tormented He is hurting too. He knows abuse personally. Thank God that we have such a wonderful Saviour who carries our burdens and gives us His compassion.

    I will never read that passage again in the same way. In fact, I will begin reading the book of Judges next week during my devotion time. The one thing that kept being repeated over and over again was that men did everything that was right in his own eyes. How different is that from today?

    Once again, thank you, Barb. And to those who have commented, thank you for sharing your insights.

    1. Heather 2, that scene at the threshold is probably the most poignant in the whole narrative for us who are survivors of abuse. When I was preparing this talk I did a “dry run” presentation to one of our blog readers who I was staying with in the USA. She involuntarily cried out when I got to that threshold scene. I shall never forget that cry of hers, it was gut wrenching, and so right….

  13. Actually, the so-called western world has elevated “wife” slightly in the last 100 years. About the only difference between wife and concubine before then and including Old Testament times is the difference in the legal inheritance given to a legitimate child versus the child of a concubine. A man was allowed to give an inheritance to a child of a concubine but not required. But a “wife” was no better than a concubine barely — the surprise we feel with a concubine getting wifely support and rights is because we think, as Barbara said, in terms of wife and mistress (high and low) but in the past and in most [of] the world today both are low still.

    So we are approaching an answer from an elevated view versus looking down where “woman” has been and still is in most countries and is being re-relegated (and I do mean re-relegated as in take a look at the changes in the laws in the last year alone e.g. Florida) in the US with all the judges deciding “no fault divorce” (no fault was supposedly going to help wives and mothers, hah) means that the wife does not get to have anything of all she has put into the marriage especially if there are no living children, and it is ok to ruin her need for a career but not his career and the judges don’t even look at the proof that his career isn’t being ruined that it is the other way around (unless there are children involved and even that is difficult to actually get the financial support needed).

    And actually one ought to take a good hard look at the people traditionally put on a pedestal: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David: Abraham, everyone points out Sarah laughed but actually the Bible says Abe disbelieved twice and laughed as well, and he was willing to offer his wife to be sexually abused by a King which his son repeated in order to protect their lives from danger from the kings.

    Isaac obviously did not interact well with his wife as seen with the scenario with the twins and until Isaac prayed God gave him no children. Abraham by the way had several concubines see the last part of his life where the inheritances are given out. Jacob and David ignored the “rapes” of their daughters with serious consequences to multiple lives, David had several wives and how he treated them might be inferred from the son’s behaviors and / or how shamefully he treated Michael his first wife (though everyone tries to blame her and say she despised him verbally, David was willing to let her life be in jeopardy by Saul for protecting him, she was a prize to take back from a new husband who obviously loved her and followed her in tears but David didn’t care, and by then David was dancing shamefully to exhibit himself not to glorify God and that is what her words say not his excuse of it was before God, and then his treatment of Bathsheba and Uriah). Jacob treated Leah horribly and God noticed and gave her children first and most, on and on.

    To counter that Job gave his daughters an inheritance, and I think twice between the exodus and return to “Israel” daughters are given an inheritance among the tribes in one situation and in another situation the daughter asked for land or water rights from her father on behalf of her husband. I have them marked in my Bible just out of time right now. Maybe over the weekend. Barbara or Mr. Crippen might know right away which passages.

    [Paragraph breaks added to enhance readability. Editors.]

  14. I feel like celebrating today. Because finally 3 chapters in Judges make perfect sense, and it’s now publicly available for all Bible teachers.
    God is working through this blog, for sure.

  15. This is a really great job of relating this gruesome story from ancient Israel to today’s issues of abusers. Have you considered putting more of this type of teaching into a format suitable for church-based small groups? I would love to teach it at my church.

      1. It would be an informative class to be sure. Can you imagine how this would affect some church members, hitting a little too close to home….? Would victims recognize themselves? And if so, would their opening eyes cause them to act? Would abusers remain in denial and continue to shine their personas while gathering more allies? Just wondering….

      2. I’m not sure how many would even sign up. It seems the ones that fill up quickest are not the ones that encourage change and increased spirituality. It is the “feel good, I’m ok” ones that fill up.

      3. I agree, Brenda R. It would be nice for some to want to learn and identify the evil of abuse close to home. Perhaps one day….

      4. I think it would be a great small group class, and since it is directly out of the Scriptures, Christians would be intrigued enough to sign up — this isn’t “feminist social theory of religion” — this is God’s Word laid bare.

      5. Agreed. But if you had enough information to have an entire small group series which at my church is usually 10 weeks or so. It is going to be seen as a feminist rebellion. I realize it isn’t but convincing others of that won’t be easy. They like feel good information. When my ladies Bible study group took the David series, the part where Tamar was raped and David’s response was gone over very quickly. It was not a “feel good” part of the lesson.

      6. I agree — women’s Bible studies in the church are dishrag limp: no strength. It’s all about softness, gentleness, only pondering the easy, good things in Christ, giving up our suffering and not holding onto bad thoughts, etc., etc. There’s never any instruction on how to be strong, how to discern good from evil, how to protect the weak.

        Maybe it’s because women are just viewed as weak? Therefore if they just study the basics, that’s good enough?

      7. Most of the Bible studies that we do are written by women. What I don’t understand is why we are viewing each other as weak. Studies only consider the view of good wife and mother for women. Mostly, Blah, Blah, Blah. Seeing the braveness and strength in the men that are studied. Not that they are undeserving, but strong women seem to be overlooked.

  16. Barbara, it took me a few days to watch your presentation because I watched it in chunks. But I found your study on this passage to be incredibly helpful to me in building my faith. I have read this passage quite a number of times and it has always deeply disturbed me. Like you I would read commentaries to see what they said, and then I became confused and upset at the interpretations that tried to explain and excuse such horrifying behavior. I felt like the mists of confusion lifted after hearing your take on this. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  17. Thank you, Becky, and all who have encouraged me here. I shall indeed think about putting this material into a small group study format. And I’ll can think about how to do it in a way that pre-emptively anticipates and defuses the aversive reactions of those who only like to feel good.

  18. This video was very good. There is actually content to a portion of Scripture everyone likes to rush over! Thank you! I remember being taught at church when I was growing up that it was the concubine’s fault somehow. I don’t remember much more than that, but any of those type of stories in the Bible were always painted as the women’s fault. I remember in high school, college and as a young married, the story of Tamar specifically being taught as being her fault. It’s not taught that way at the church we are now in. My pastor was incensed it had been taught wrongly and with such dire consequences resulting. He was extremely validating. 🙂

    1. Wonderful, SJR. In my experience Tamar was just plain overlooked as insignificant. To me she was totally significant. We did the David Bible study by Beth Moore a couple of years ago and couldn’t believe how quickly even in her study we got back to David and what he did, which was nothing as far as I was concerned. His focus was on his sons and their relationship. Tamar was a desolate woman. She was in a prison as an abused woman with no consoling from her father. I kept bringing it up because it just burned me up. David, the man after God’s own heart, avoided his daughter’s suffering. I just could not get a grasp on that.

      1. I am glad that you found a pastor that teaches this story from a New Testament perspective. While cultural norms may have been different in David’s time we do not have to accept them post-Jesus. The morality He taught is our standard. These dreadful Old Testament accounts are exemplary only of the need for Jesus.

      2. Thank you, Barb. It is about time for another Amazon order. I haven’t tried to go back to that topic in a couple of years. Perhaps it’s time to face the demon.

  19. Wow….commenting only on the video, I have not read any comments.

    That portion of Scripture always seemed strange and obscure to me. I know you took liberties of suppositions, but those suppositions were backed up with the Scriptures, if we would just stop jumping over the little foxes….

    Huh, I never would have thought of seeing the patterns of abuse there, and now I am thinking, “What other things like this, God, have You put in the Bible that we miss?” I mean, in Leviticus, I could find no reprimand for the father that uncovers his daughter’s nakedness, does that mean it is okay? (Obviously NOT!) So now I wonder, where is that hidden-in-plain-sight answer that God has for me on that question?

    Think I’ll go digging!

  20. A reader named “Wondering” asked this question on Leslie Vernick’s blog at the post about my Levite’s Concubine video. I am copying Wondering’s question and my answer here, because it might be helpful to some of our readers. Wondering asked [Internet Archive link]:

    Why would God advise them on the battle and not rebuke them with the real truth? Forgive me for saying, but it reads as though God was also colluding with them? I don’t want to think this because I want to see Him a fair God.

    Here is my reply [Internet Archive link]:

    The Sovereignty of God is a big topic but I’ll try to address the particulars of your question.

    God is Sovereign and does what He wills; He is not limited but He will not act outside the constraints of His own character.

    I think I understand why you might want God to be fair, but consider this: God is not “fair” in what (to us) is the most important thing of all, our freedom from the penalty of sin. If God were always and only fair, every mortal would be consigned to Hell. But God in His mercy and love calls and chooses those whom He regenerates — He brings us alive to saving faith and translates us into the kingdom of His dear Son.

    We can only speculate about why, when the Israelites consulted God about their battle plans, God did not instruct them to desist from battle and go back and judge the Levite correctly. So bear in mind that what I am suggesting is only speculation: Scripture does not reveal God’s reasoning in Judges 20-21 [Internet Archive link], so we cannot only guess using Biblically informed common sense. Here is my guess:

    God may have chosen to answer the Israelites’ questions about their battle plans on each of the three days because he wanted to hand them over to their own sin, to suffer the consequences of their foolish choice to believe the Levite’s story and go off and punish the tribe of Benjamin. This would be in keeping with the principle of sowing and reaping. Also with the Proverb “do not answer a fool according to his folly” (Proverbs 26:4 [Internet Archive link]).

    God often gives people up to their sins. We see this is Romans 1:24 [Internet Archive link], 26, 28-32 —

    Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts….God gave them up to dishonorable passions….And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (ESV)

    The Israelites in Judges 19-21 [Internet Archive link] fitted this description in Romans 1 [Internet Archive link] very well. They gave approval to the Levite. They were full of strife in coming, fully-armed, to the assembly. They were haughty with male pride and their insistence on their self-righteousness about keeping their own silly oaths. They were foolish in believing the Levite’s lies; faithless in not following the correct judicial procedures when investigating the concubine’s death; heartless in their attitude to women; ruthless in their attitude to the Benjamites and the fathers of the girls who were later kidnapped; insolent in the way they asked God to tell them who should occupy the front line on the first day of battle but did not ask Him “Should we be making battle in the first place?”. And they were inventors of evil in the convoluted way they justified the kidnapping and marital rape of those 600 virgins from Jabesh Gilead.

    I think that’s quite enough examples to make my point, but readers might think of more. 🙂

    So I suggest that we should interpret God’s answering the Israelite’s questions in the way He did, not as a sign that He was colluding with them, but rather, as a sign that he was giving them over to their sins and letting them reap what they wanted to sow.

    God often arranges matters so that those who are persisting in sin will experience the consequences of their defiant and self-righteous attitudes. The flood in which only Noah and his family were saved. The way God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 10:20,27; 11:10). Also Deuteronomy 2:30 where God hardened the King of Heshbon’s heart. God put a lying spirit in the mouths of all the prophets in 1 Kings 22:23. God’s eyes are on the haughty to bring them down (2 Samuel 22:28).

    If you want to read more about the sovereignty of God, I suggest the book of that title by A. W. Pink.

    1. God gave the Israelites the Urim and Thummim. Scriptures say that Moses spoke to God “face to face”, and there are others who received a word from God, but we don’t really know how physically that happened. So, different judges / prophets / priests had different levels of revelation from God. The lowest form of revelation seemed to be the Urim and Thummim, which the High Priest kept. What I’ve heard about them is that it was like some sort of “magic 8-ball”, so it’s not as if they could have said, “Hey God, let us know how to wisely handle this situation.” They had their idea of what they wanted to do, and that’s what they asked about. There didn’t seem to be a prophet or judge who had the wisdom, so they “did what was right in their own eyes.” They made rash oaths and then regretted them. Then they held the oaths in such high regard that they murdered and kidnapped to get around confessing. (Compare that to Nehemiah where they put away their foreign wives, to whom they swore an oath.)

  21. This, out of all the stories in the Bible, shows the gross injustice carried out by the “church”. How sad to see the ruin of God’s religion in the Levite, taking a concubine. Are not Elders supposed to be the husband of one wife? So she is just a sex object to him, with no rights. In reading Matthew Henry’s commentary, he, Henry leaves out the part where the Levite tells his concubine after the gang rape to “Get up, let’s go.” The Levite conveniently leaves this out of his story, and worse, the fact that he threw her out to the gang to be raped. Henry said that this was God’s judgement. When will the men be judged for the evil they do and especially since they do it in the name of God? All this does is encourage evil, unrepentant men to do this and worse in the name of religion.

  22. There is nothing new under the sun and just as there are people who try to cover up their crimes by cutting up a body, I think he did the same thing. An Old Testament criminal profiler would say that the perpetrator’s method of operation indicates he has a job as a butcher or something along that line.

  23. Wow! Just Wow!


    This video is so powerful!!

    I had always wondered about this story. Now I understand why the sermons I heard in church on Judges 19 never made any sense because they had completely missed the whole point of the story!

    God has really given you some pretty heavy insights on this. My feeling while watching this video was the relief of realizing that God is not the one causing all the pain in the world. The way you exposed the true nature of evil demonstrated by the abuser put the blame where it rightly belonged. Once the real troublemaker is recognized there’s a relief because now no one can tell me that abuse is the will of God.

  24. Great video! I think there are a couple of things that are also highlighted in the account. It mentions twice that the Levite brought two saddled donkeys. It says:

    ….And there were with him a pair of saddled donkeys; his concubine also was with him. ([Judges] 19:10 [NASB])

    I wonder if this is saying that the man and the servant rode on the donkeys and the concubine was forced to walk.

    I had another theory about the father. Let’s say the father is righteous. He believes his daughter’s story and takes her in, instead of returning her to slavery. Then, though, this weird thing happens. The Levite shows up and convinces her to return with him. The father would be confused about that. So I think the father is trying to protect the daughter by testing the Levite multiple days to see if he will return to his abusive ways. The Levite would be able to keep the facade going, but as the days pass, keeping his righteous demeanor is becoming harder, and he is probably starting to get angry with her and plotting the next abusive episode (i.e., “wait until we get back home, and THEN I’ll make you respect me!”) He realizes that if he abuses her in front of her father, her father will protect her, so he decides to leave.

    I also have more evidence on the cutting up theory. [My suggestion works] even taking the most kind reading of what happened to the concubine — that she perished before the Levite had woken. The text says that the old man who gave them lodging was from the hill country of Ephraim. The evidence so far paints the Levite in a horrible light, and if he merely lies about it, the old man might return [to the hill country of Ephraim] and reveal the Levite’s lies. So, in order to protect his reputation, the Levite has to do something drastic to control the situation, and that is to shock the Israelites into destroying the city, without having his own actions called into question. Even the story he told the Israelites doesn’t make sense:

    ….They intended to kill me; instead, they ravished my concubine so that she died. ([Judges] 20:5 [NASB1995])

    What?? This makes no sense. What situation could you imagine where men wanting to kill a man will be satisfied with raping his wife? It would have simply taken a few “WHY?” questions to uncover this man’s folly, but no one is wise enough to ask. This man is a Levite (automatically righteous) and he must have some godly reason for hacking his concubine up.

    This man uses his social status and presumed spiritual giftedness to cast Israel into an unjustified civil war. Levites were the pastors and spiritual leaders — just like the Levite in 17-18, who, even though he was a priest for hire over silver idols, was asked by the Danites to “inquire of the LORD” ([Judges] 18:6) for them.

  25. Praising God for having stumbled upon this blog some time ago. Just reading the entries (although I wasn’t sure how it worked for quite some time — you have to click the header of each blog for the comments section to open up — maybe I am blog illiterate, I don’t know but that had to be explained to me) was a gold mine. The prayer requests. The sermon additions each Sunday. And lo and behold, here was this YouTube video of Barbara herself giving a most wonderful lecture. I had long been horrified at the whole sending out the woman to be raped and then dicing up her body but I hadn’t thought beyond that because it bothered me too much.

    I’m so glad you exist, Barbara. There should be a way to donate money to you for this site, and all that you give the abused in your ministry (and TWBTC too).

    Awesome video. Beautiful woman! Loved the thing with Mark titled “does God hate divorce”. Such a beautiful, intelligent, well-spoken, stellar woman!!

    1. Thanks, Anonymous. 🙂

      We actually don’t need money donated to this site….ACFJ makes a bit from being an Amazon Associate — that covers our annual fees with WordPress, with some left over for us to give books to victims who are cash-strapped (see our Gift Books Offer).

      And neither myself nor TWBTC need funds personally. God has blessed me with an inheritance from my parents so I don’t need to work for money.

      But if anyone wants to donate $ to help victims of abuse, I encourage you to consider other ways to do that. And if you don’t have funds but want to help victims in other ways, here are some ideas:

      How can I help spread the word?

    2. For other readers, here is a link to my YouTube presentation The Levite’s Concubine.

      And here is a link to my YouTube channel. You will find my Levite’s Concubine video there, plus a few other items.

      And in the sidebar of the blog, you also can find a link to my YouTube channel. Those of you who read the blog on your cell phones will have to dig a little to find the info we have in the sidebar. If you use a tablet or a laptop, the sidebar is easy to see on the right side of your screen.

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