Summary: A look at one of the stranger stories of the Old Testament
The Book of Judges is one of those books of the Bible that we do not read often, and yet, we are familiar with several of the stories in that book.
We find Samson in the book of Judges.
Gideon is also there.
But most of the stories in Judges are ones we don’t remember well, because Judges is a book we don’t often sit down to read or study.
Because we do not read the book of Judges very often, when we do read it we are absolutely shocked at what we find.
If you were going to pick the strangest story of the Bible, then the top ten finalists for that honor would have to come from the book of Judges.
It is in Judges you find the story of dainty little Jael. While a warrior who was on friendly terms with her husband was asleep, she took a tent peg and a hammer and drove the peg into his head. She drove it all the way through and into the ground.
Just as children of our age sing songs of Lizzy Borden who took an ax and gave her father forty wacks, so did the Song of Deborah sing about Jael being the Most Blessed of Women, and (unlike her victim) the Most Blessed of Tent Dwellers.
Then there is Jephthah, who vows before going into battle that if he wins the war, when he gets back home to the farm, he will sacrifice whatever he sees at the gate of the house. He wins the battle. When he goes back to the farm what he sees at the gate of the house is not a goat or a cow. It is his daughter.
He sacrifices her.
Then there is Jair. His story takes all of one verse of the Bible. We are simply told he had 30 sons, who rode 30 donkeys and who ruled 30 towns. There must have been more to it than that, but who knows what it might have been.
But the strangest story of all is the one that closes the book of Judges. It is about a man who had a concubine. A concubine was something like a wife, but not quite. She was something like a slave, but not quite. She was something like a mistress, but not quite. Well, this concubine gets fed up with the man and leaves him and goes home to Daddy. The man follows her and convinces her to come back to him. After a few days, she agrees.
But that’s not the end of the story.
On the way home, they stay in a stranger’s home. That night, a gang of homosexual men come pounding on the door, yelling, "Bring out that man, we want to have sex with him."
The owner of the house yells out to the gang, "That is a disgraceful thing to do. You can’t treat this man like this. But I have young daughter, why don’t you take her instead."
The men are not interested in the girl and begin to get angry. So the traveling man takes his concubine, and without asking how she feels about it, he throws her out the door. Then the traveling man and the owner of the house go to bed and sleep, while outside the house, the gang rapes and abuses the woman.
But that is not the end of the story.
At daybreak, the gang leaves the woman. She struggles back to the house. The door is locked and she just collapses at the door. The men inside the house wake up and according to the Bible this is what happened: "When the master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ’Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer." The woman is dead.
This is a baffling story. But that’s not the end of it.
This strange story gets stranger as the master takes the body home. Once there, he does not give her a funeral. Instead he takes a knife and mutilates the body. He cuts off her arms and legs and sends pieces of her all over Israel with a description of what has happened.
As a result, an army of 400,000 men gather and decide to destroy the Tribe of Benjamin. Now if you are wondering what the Tribe of Benjamin had to do with this, it was in the bounderies of that particular tribe that the woman was raped and murdered.
There is then a series of battles and all of the Tribe of Benjamin are killed, except for 600 men who hide in the hills. To insure that the Tribe would be destroyed, it is agreed that it will be forbidden to allow any survivor of the Tribe of Benjamin to have a wife.