There was a news item awhile ago about a man who had put his dead mother’s body in a freezer and kept it there for several years while he collected her social security money. Pretty bizarre and sordid.
But could there be a more graphic, sordid story than that found in Judges 19-20?
One of a man’s wives—technically a concubine—has sexual relations with another man and then leaves her “husband” to go back to her home. Four months later, the “husband” decides he wants her back, so goes to her father’s house to retrieve her. He and her father live it up for a few days before he finally decides to take his concubine and head home. So off they go.
All’s well until they stop for the night in Gibeah, a town within Benjamin’s tribal borders, where they are taken in hospitably by one of the residents. During their revelry, a knock comes to the door. Seems it’s the bisexual populace of the community who want to take advantage of the out-of-town visitor. The owner refuses to let them have their way, but then does what seems utterly inconceivable—he offers his own daughter to these creeps, along with his guest’s concubine (apparently with the visitor’s approval), so they can release their pent-up sexual passions on them all they want.
The NASB’s rendering is most unsettling as it records the man’s offer:
“Here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. Please let me bring them out that you may ravish them and do to them whatever you wish.”
They weren’t going to accept that offer until the “husband” literally forced his concubine on them. Only then did they settle for what to them was second best, abused her all night long, and left her unconscious at the doorway of the host’s house.
And what was her husband doing all this time?
In fact, 19:27 indicates that he got up in the morning and didn’t discover her body until he was leaving to go on his way. To go on his way? Without her? That’s what it says. Seems like when he shoved her out of the house the night before, he expected never to see her again. But here she is, blocking his path to the garage where his donkey was parked.
“Get up, and let’s go,” he ordered sharply.
When she didn’t move, he discovered that she had died.
So, he loads her corpse on the back of his donkey, takes her the rest of the way home, and cuts her body up in twelve pieces, sending a piece to the leaders of each tribe in Israel. And you thought the guy who put his dead mother’s body in the freezer was bad! Along with the body part must have been some kind of message, because representatives from all over the land came to the man to find out what had happened. He told them, leaving out a few details, such as the fact that he forced his concubine out the door into the grips of the sex-crazed lunatics.
Nevertheless, at the conclusion of his report, he said he cut up her body and sent it throughout the land because “they have committed a lewd and disgraceful act.” Which was what, exactly? What, if anything, would the man have done had she not been at the doorway in the morning? What, if anything, would he have done if she had survived? The implication of the story is…nothing. The only thing that made the whole disgusting scenario “lewd and disgraceful” to the man is that he lost a piece of property.
Fact is, there’s plenty of “lewd and disgraceful” to go around in this situation, which brings us to this simple point of understanding:
When God’s moral will as revealed in His Word is rejected or ignored, there’s no telling to what depths a man, community, or nation will sink.
It’s impossible to know how much sordid, bizarre behavior will be accepted, tolerated, even viewed as normal when—as the book of Judges concludes—everyone does what is right in his own eyes.