(Warning: If you’re squeamish, or dealing with issues of sexual abuse, it might be good to sit this week out.)
This week, we’re working through the truly horrible story found in Judges 19 (if you’re just joining us, you’ll need to read it further to catch up). The Levite and his concubine are in the Israelite town of Gibeah, but instead of receiving hospitality from their fellow countrymen, they receive firstly neglect (no-one offers them accommodation) and then abuse. A gang of local men want to rape the man, as a way of asserting their dominance over him and dishonouring this stranger who dared to come to their town. When that doesn’t happen, they settle for raping and killing his concubine – a woman under his protection, and therefore also dishonouring to him. The next day, the Levite is outraged, and cuts up her body, sending it throughout the land of Israel as a rallying-cry. Israel responds, and almost wipes out the tribe of Benjamin in response, in a bloody holy war.
And again, we’re left asking the question: how is this part of Scripture useful for anything?