The Message

Judges 19

The Levite

11-4 It was an era when there was no king in Israel. A Levite, living as a stranger in the backwoods hill country of Ephraim, got himself a concubine, a woman from Bethlehem in Judah. But she quarreled with him and left, returning to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah. She was there four months. Then her husband decided to go after her and try to win her back. He had a servant and a pair of donkeys with him. When he arrived at her father’s house, the girl’s father saw him, welcomed him, and made him feel at home. His father-in-law, the girl’s father, pressed him to stay. He stayed with him three days; they feasted and drank and slept.

5-6 On the fourth day, they got up at the crack of dawn and got ready to go. But the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Strengthen yourself with a hearty breakfast and then you can go.” So they sat down and ate breakfast together.

6-7 The girl’s father said to the man, “Come now, be my guest. Stay the night—make it a holiday.” The man got up to go, but his father-in-law kept after him, so he ended up spending another night.

8-9 On the fifth day, he was again up early, ready to go. The girl’s father said, “You need some breakfast.” They went back and forth, and the day slipped on as they ate and drank together. But the man and his concubine were finally ready to go. Then his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said, “Look, the day’s almost gone—why not stay the night? There’s very little daylight left; stay another night and enjoy yourself. Tomorrow you can get an early start and set off for your own place.”

10-11 But this time the man wasn’t willing to spend another night. He got things ready, left, and went as far as Jebus (Jerusalem) with his pair of saddled donkeys, his concubine, and his servant. At Jebus, though, the day was nearly gone. The servant said to his master, “It’s late; let’s go into this Jebusite city and spend the night.”

12-13 But his master said, “We’re not going into any city of foreigners. We’ll go on to Gibeah.” He directed his servant, “Keep going. Let’s go on ahead. We’ll spend the night either at Gibeah or Ramah.”

14-15 So they kept going. As they pressed on, the sun finally left them in the vicinity of Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin. They left the road there to spend the night at Gibeah.

15-17 The Levite went and sat down in the town square, but no one invited them in to spend the night. Then, late in the evening, an old man came in from his day’s work in the fields. He was from the hill country of Ephraim and lived temporarily in Gibeah where all the local citizens were Benjaminites. When the old man looked up and saw the traveler in the town square, he said, “Where are you going? And where are you from?”

18-19 The Levite said, “We’re just passing through. We’re coming from Bethlehem on our way to a remote spot in the hills of Ephraim. I come from there. I’ve just made a trip to Bethlehem in Judah and I’m on my way back home, but no one has invited us in for the night. We wouldn’t be any trouble: We have food and straw for the donkeys, and bread and wine for the woman, the young man, and me—we don’t need anything.”

20-21 The old man said, “It’s going to be all right; I’ll take care of you. You aren’t going to spend the night in the town square.” He took them home and fed the donkeys. They washed up and sat down to a good meal.

22 They were relaxed and enjoying themselves when the men of the city, a gang of local hell-raisers all, surrounded the house and started pounding on the door. They yelled for the owner of the house, the old man, “Bring out the man who came to your house. We want to have sex with him.”

23-24 He went out and told them, “No, brothers! Don’t be obscene—this man is my guest. Don’t commit this outrage. Look, my virgin daughter and his concubine are here. I’ll bring them out for you. Abuse them if you must, but don’t do anything so senselessly vile to this man.”

25-26 But the men wouldn’t listen to him. Finally, the Levite pushed his concubine out the door to them. They raped her repeatedly all night long. Just before dawn they let her go. The woman came back and fell at the door of the house where her master was sleeping. When the sun rose, there she was.

27 It was morning. Her master got up and opened the door to continue his journey. There she was, his concubine, crumpled in a heap at the door, her hands on the threshold.

28 “Get up,” he said. “Let’s get going.” There was no answer.

29-30 He lifted her onto his donkey and set out for home. When he got home he took a knife and dismembered his concubine—cut her into twelve pieces. He sent her, piece by piece, throughout the country of Israel. And he ordered the men he sent out, “Say to every man in Israel: ‘Has such a thing as this ever happened from the time the Israelites came up from the land of Egypt until now? Think about it! Talk it over. Do something!’”

New International Reader's Version

Judges 19

A Levite and His Concubine

1In those days Israel didn’t have a king.

There was a Levite who lived deep in the hill country of Ephraim. He got a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. But she wasn’t faithful to him. She left him. She went back to her parents’ home in Bethlehem in Judah. She stayed there for four months. Then her husband went to see her. He tried to talk her into coming back with him. He had his servant and two donkeys with him. She took her husband into her parents’ home. When her father saw him, he gladly welcomed him. His father-in-law, the woman’s father, begged him to stay. So the Levite remained with him for three days. He ate, drank and slept there.

On the fourth day they got up early. The Levite prepared to leave. But the woman’s father said to his son-in-law, “Have something to eat. It will give you strength. Then you can go on your way.” So the two of them sat down. They ate and drank together. After that, the woman’s father said, “Please stay tonight. Enjoy yourself.” The man got up to go. But his father-in-law talked him into staying. So he stayed there that night. On the morning of the fifth day, the Levite got up to go. But the woman’s father said, “Have something to eat. It will give you strength. Wait until this afternoon!” So the two of them ate together.

Then the man got up to leave. His concubine and his servant got up when he did. But his father-in-law, the woman’s father, spoke to him again. “Look,” he said. “It’s almost evening. The day is nearly over. So spend another night here. Please stay. Enjoy yourself. Early tomorrow morning you can get up and go back home.” 10 But the man didn’t want to stay another night. So he left. He went toward Jebus. Jebus is also called Jerusalem. The Levite had his two donkeys and his concubine with him. The donkeys had saddles on them.

11 By the time the travelers came near Jebus, the day was almost over. So the servant said to his master, “Come. Let’s stop at this Jebusite city. Let’s spend the night here.”

12 His master replied, “No. We won’t go into any city where strangers live. The people there aren’t Israelites. We’ll continue on to Gibeah.” 13 He added, “Come. Let’s try to reach Gibeah or Ramah. We can spend the night in one of those places.” 14 So they continued on. As they came near Gibeah in Benjamin, the sun went down. 15 They stopped there to spend the night. They went to the city’s main street and sat down. But no one took them home for the night.

16 That evening an old man came into the city. He had been working in the fields. He was from the hill country of Ephraim. But he was living in Gibeah. The people who lived there were from the tribe of Benjamin. 17 The old man saw the traveler in the main street. He asked, “Where are you going? Where did you come from?”

18 The Levite answered, “We’ve come from Bethlehem in Judah. We’re on our way to Ephraim. I live deep in the hill country there. I’ve been to Bethlehem. Now I’m going to the house of the Lord. But no one has taken me home for the night. 19 We have straw and feed for our donkeys. We have food and wine for ourselves. We have enough for me, the woman and the young man with us. We don’t need anything.”

20 “You are welcome at my house,” the old man said. “I’d be happy to supply anything you might need. But don’t spend the night in the street.” 21 So the old man took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After the travelers had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.

22 They were inside enjoying themselves. But some of the evil men who lived in the city surrounded the house. They pounded on the door. They shouted to the old man who owned the house. They said, “Bring out the man who came to your house. We want to have sex with him.”

23 The owner of the house went outside. He said to them, “No, my friends. Don’t do such an evil thing. This man is my guest. So don’t do this terrible thing. 24 Look, here is my virgin daughter. And here’s the Levite’s concubine. I’ll bring them out to you now. You can have them. Do to them what you want to. But don’t do such a terrible thing to this man.”

25 The men wouldn’t listen to him. So the Levite sent his concubine out to them. They forced her to have sex with them. They raped her all night long. As the night was ending, they let her go. 26 At sunrise she went back to the house where her master was staying. She fell down at the door. She stayed there until daylight.

27 Later that morning her master got up. He opened the door of the house. He stepped out to continue on his way. But his concubine was lying there. She had fallen at the doorway of the house. Her hands were reaching out toward the door. 28 He said to her, “Get up. Let’s go.” But there wasn’t any answer. Then he put her dead body on his donkey. And he started out for home.

29 When he reached home, he got a knife. He cut up his concubine. He cut her into 12 pieces. He sent them into all the territories of Israel. 30 Everyone who saw it spoke to one another. They said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen or done before. Nothing like this has happened since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Just imagine! We must do something! So let’s hear your ideas!”