Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Levites Violence

Violence Against Women

I came across the story below on a web site titled, All True Bible Studies for Children.  What do you think?

The Story of the Levite's Concubine

Judges 19:10 - 20:48
Just before midnight one night, Beth heard someone pounding on the front door of their house. "Hello in there! Hello! Let me in," shouted a man. "Give me a bunch of money!"
This frightened Beth and she hid under the covers.
A minute later, Beth heard her father come into the room. "Beth," said her father, "would you please go to the front door and see what the man wants?"
Beth was scared, but she knew that it would be a sin to disobey her father. She got up, put on her bunny slippers and her robe, and went to the front door while her father returned to bed.
By the time Beth got to the front door, the man wasn't there any more. She peeked out through the curtains and saw him peeing on the lawn. Then he just walked away.
Even when she was back in bed Beth felt very upset. She started to cry and her sobs brought her mother into her room.
"What's the matter, Dear One?" her mother asked.
"Daddy asked me to go see the strange man at the door," sobbed Beth. "But the man scared me. Why didn't Daddy just go himself and see who it was?"
Beth's mother sat at the side of the bed and ran a hand across Beth's hair comfortingly. "There's a story in the Bible that explains it all, Dear One," said her mother.

And this is the story she told:

One day a Levite and his concubine were traveling through Jebus. It was late and the servant said, "Let's find a place to stay and turn in for the night."
"I don't want to stop in a town unless Israelites live there," said the Levite. "Let's go to Gibeah or Ramah."
So they kept going and didn't reach Gibeah -- one of Benjamin's cities -- until after it was dark.
They couldn't find anyplace to stay in Gibeah so they sat in the street.
While they were sitting, an old man on his way home from work came up to them and said, "Where are you going? Where do you come from?"
The Levite answered, "We're going from Bethlehemjudah to the side of mount Ephraim, where I'm from, and I went to Bethlehemjudah, but now we're on our way to God's place, but there's nobody to take me into his house. We've got straw and food for our donkeys and bread and wine for me and my companions so we don't want anything."
"Peace," said the old man. "I'll take care of you, just don't spend the night in the street." Then he brought them to his house, fed their donkeys, washed their feet, and gave them something to eat.
While they were partying, some men from the city, Belial's sons, surrounded the house and pounded on the door. "Send out the man who's visiting you so we can put our penises in him," they yelled.
The old man went to them and said, "No, brothers, no. Please, don't be so naughty. This guy is my guest, don't be so silly. Look, here's my daughter who's never had a penis put in her and the guy's concubine. I'll bring them out for you to dominate. You can do with them what ever you think is a good idea. Just leave the man alone."
The men weren't really listening. They took the concubine and put their penises in her and beat her all night. The next morning, they let her go.
When the sun was just starting to come up, the concubine fell down in front of the old man's house and lay there.
When it was full light, the Levite got up and opened the door of the house and started to leave. On his way out, he found his concubine lying just at the edge of the door.
The Levite picked up his concubine and said, "Get up, let's get going." But she didn't say anything.
Seeing that she was dead, the man put her on his donkey and took her home. At home, he got a knife and cut her into twelve pieces which he sent all over Israel.
When people saw the pieces they said, "This is the worst thing that has happened since we left Egypt." In fact, the Israelites got so mad that a bunch of them went to Gibeah, killed everyone they could find (including the animals) and burned down all the cities in the area.

"So you see," said Beth's mother, "the strange man might have hurt your father. That's why he sent you to the door instead."
Beth thought about this for a moment. "But in the story the girl who goes outside gets beat up until she is dead."
"That's true, Dear One," said her mother. "But she was only a girl. It's not a great loss. And people from other towns made sure that the people who did the bad thing were punished along with their wives, children, and pets."
"But why do the animals have to die? They didn't do anything bad and they don't even know what's going on."
Her mother smiled. "It's because God is a just God, Dear One, and animals are just animals. Now go to sleep; pleasant dreams." And with that, she kissed Beth on the cheek and went back to her own room.
Then Beth pulled the covers over her head and lay awake all night, hoping that the strange man would not come back with a bunch of drunken friends and demand to put their penises in her. All her questions had been answered.

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  1. It is very disturbing to me that this horrific story is being promoted on a website, particularly as a "true Bible study for children"! It's unconscionable that the father would send the child to the door, unsettling that the Bible is being used to justify violence against a woman and a girl, and infuriating that the mother is being portrayed as condoning such outrageous behavior!

  2. Thank you for you comment, Hilary. It is a horrific story and a story from the Bible. Did you go to Judges 19 and read it? The piece I liked about the "mother's" telling of the story is the language she uses which does not hide the meaning behind biblical words. When I first read the story I wondered if I should take it seriously. "She was only a girl. Not a great loss. Wives, children and pets were punished. God is just and they were just animals" Not the way I read or interpret the story.

    1. Yes, I did go to Judges 19 and read it. Like Joni mentions, it is reminiscent of Genesis 19, which I read for the first time in my life only about 3 years ago. In reading the website's story, I am surprised, confused, and upset by the "mother's" attitude and language. Upon thinking about your reply, I find it interesting that the "mother's" telling of the story does mirror the abrasive biblical text! My experience of reading both accounts is the same, i.e. surreal!

  3. Our culture is meshed with many bible stories that harm us. It is unfortunate that anyone takes the bible literally. I take it seriously though. Our (human) history is a sad one. Until we all can come from being a true part of each other, there will always be folks willing and ready to harm another, particularly the weaker or more vulnerable of us (women, children, animals, etc.) As with much of the scriptures, the stories are repeated. Check out Genesis 19. Lot's story has almost the same wording. Love your page Paula!

  4. Replies
    1. Cool trick! I didn't know it was possible to post anonymously...