Texts of Terror: Biblical Problems...

In Judges, Chapter 19,  a Levite (a man of the priestly tribe of Israel) took a concubine.  She left him for unknown reasons, and fled to her father's house.  The Levite followed after her, made nice with her father, and began to take her home.  On the journey home, they stopped at an old man's home to stay for the night.
As they were enjoying themselves, suddenly certain men of the city, perverted men, surrounded the house and beat on the door. They spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came to your house, that we may know him carnally!” But the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brethren! I beg you, do not act so wickedly! Seeing this man has come into my house, do not commit this outrage. Look, here is my virgin daughter and the man’s concubine; let me bring them out now. Humble them, and do with them as you please; but to this man do not do such a vile thing!” But the men would not heed him. So the man took his concubine and brought her out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until morning; and when the day began to break, they let her go.  Then the woman came as the day was dawning, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, till it was light. When her master arose in the morning, and opened the doors of the house and went out to go his way, there was his concubine, fallen at the door of the house with her hands on the threshold. And he said to her, “Get up and let us be going.” But there was no answer. So the man lifted her onto the donkey; and the man got up and went to his place.  
When he entered his house he took a knife, laid hold of his concubine, and divided her into twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel.  
 How do you feel about stories like this?

>> More After the Break...



 What do you think it means, that we're never told stories of these unnamed women in Scripture, raped, abused, tortured, murdered and mutilated?  We ignore them because they are horrifying, but in doing so, we marginalize these already-marginalized characters, anonymous though they may be.  Is it all right for a Levite - a man of God - to protect himself by sending his concubine (a woman he already "uses" for his purposes, but refuses to marry) out to a band of rapists?  Just like the story of Lot in Sodom, the rape of a man is unacceptable, but women are chattel - things - property - and can be expended for the sake of self preservation.  And then their bodies can apparently be mutilated and dismembered, sent as a "message" to one's enemies.

Clearly it would be outrageous for any contemporary pastor or theologian to somehow attempt to justify or legitimize this "text of terror," (as scholar Phyllis Trible aptly calls it).  All the more reason for us to be very, very careful with the texts we DO attempt to justify and legitimize.

Of this text, Phyllis Trible writes:
First of all, we can recognize the contemporaneity of the story.  Misogyny belongs to every age, including our own.  Violence and vengeance are not just characteristics of a distant, pre-Christian past; they infect the community of the elect to this day.  Woman as object is still captured, betrayed, raped, tortured, murdered, dismembered and scattered.  To take to heart this ancient story, then, is to confess its present reality.  The story is alive, and all is not well.  Beyond confession we must take counsel and say, "Never again."  Yet this counsel is itself ineffectual unless we direct our hearts to that most uncompromising of all biblical commands, speaking the words not to others but to ourselves: Repent.  Repent. 
(Trible, Texts of Terror)  

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