Judg. 19:1 And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel,
This is the punch line of the book of Judges, with the later addition at the end of the book: every man did what was right in his own eyes.
In one respect the era of the Judges was superior to the era of the Kings starting with Saul: YHWH was the King; rulers were judges, rulers who settled disputes and saved Israel from enemies with the miraculous help of YHWH. These rulers are presented as here & there, in various areas of Israel, holding rule for various periods of time, an apparently spotty rule, not a regular government administration. In the case of Samson, we see quite irregular "rule," only incidental instances of defeating or damaging the Philistines are presented while Samson fooled around with women and was involved in the consequences of his sex with them.
But it is implied that anarchy was a problem of the time with this judge "government."
that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the farther side of the hill-country of Ephraim,
The Levites did not have a section of land for their Tribe, but they were to dwell in or around cities of various tribes. In this case, this Levite was from Ephraim, like the father of Samuel. Later the Levite will run into another man from the same territory of Ephraim.
who took to him a concubine out of Beth-lehem-judah. 2 And his concubine played the harlot against him, and went away from him unto her father’s house to Beth-lehem-judah, and was there the space of four months
For some reason this Levite took a 2nd class wife, a concubine. Maybe he didn't meet her material needs or did not satisfy her physical needs and thus she played the harlot, making money on the side -- or maybe she was just promiscuous. At any rate she left & went home to papa.
3 And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak kindly unto her, to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses:
The Levite wanted to have her back (as his property?) though as we shall see he probably resented her actions and did not fully forgive her in his heart. 2 donkeys? Was the concubine going to walk while the Levite and his servant rode?
and she brought him into her father’s house; and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him.
My guess is that the father didn't want her back home with him having to provide for her. Thus he was happy to see the Levite come to get her.
Strange to our ears is this story of hospitality and the father-in-law detaining the Levite. In the morning the father-in-law would persuade the Levite to stay a bit longer, then in the evening the father-in-law would persuade the Levite to wait for the next day. Eventually the Levite decided that he needed to vamoose, but he made the decision at the wrong time of day, leaving late in the day instead of early in the morning. Putting off actions and delaying can be a way to fail to succeed. At times we must strike while the iron is hot. En las tardanzas estan peligro.
Judg. 19:10 But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus (the same is Jerusalem): . . .
11 When they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it. 12 And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside into the city of a foreigner, 3that is not of the children of Israel; but we will pass over to Gibeah. . . . 15 And they turned aside thither, to go in to lodge in Gibeah: and he went in, and sat him down in the street of the city; for there was no man that took them into his house to lodge.
He should have been safer among Israelites than among the leftover inhabitants of Canaan who were gentiles, not fully driven our or exterminated by Joshua. Christians should feel safer among Christians than among the ungodly pagans of our society. But Christians have the flesh, the Old Man, so we are capable of sinning vs other Christians. Also, many persons who call themselves Christians are playing church and not really born-again Christians. So we cannot trust in someone because he calls himself a Christian. But there is nothing in the story about this Levite asking God's guidance on where he should stay the night anyway. And it is quite likely that this Levite was not a child of God, just a physical descendant of Jacob through Levy.
Judg. 19:16 And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even: now the man was of the hill-country of Ephraim, and he sojoured in Gibeah; but the men of the place were Benjamites.
Perhaps they recognized each other by their accent as from the same part of Israel by origin. In another story we find certain Ephraimites in whose dialect of Hebrew the speakers could not utter the shin (sh) sound, but it came out as an s sound (the shibboleth story).
20 And the old man said, Peace be to you; howsoever let all your wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street. 21 So he brought him into his house, and gave the asses fodder; and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.
Judg. 19:22 As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain base fellows, beset the house round about, beating at the door; and they spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thy house, that we may know him.
This story reminds of the destruction of Sodom when Lot was rescued by two angels. The word "know" suggests sexual intercourse, which in this case would be sodomistic anal rape. We have to recognize that in this world of sin, there exists extreme cruelty and wickedness. In the USA men-lying-with-men has been established by our unelected oligarchy Supreme Court. First the laws against sodomy were overturned by the SCOTUS. Next the SCOTUS has imposed sodomite marriage on the nation. Now we have persons attacked for refusing to bake cakes for sodomite weddings. Sodomy now has official blessing. This was not voted in by the people or their representatives, but imposed on the country by an unelected Oligarchy of Judges who claim to have authority superior to both Congress and the President. Even so-called conservative talk show hosts do not take on sodomists. We can expect gang rapes of men in the streets now.
23 And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said to them, Nay, my brethren, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into my house, do not this folly. 24 Behold, here is my daughter a virgin, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seems good to you: but to this man do not any such folly. 25 But the men would not hearken to him: so the man laid hold on his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go. 26 Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.
There exists a certain Zeitgeist, a general public opinion of what is good and bad, right and wrong, politically correct and incorrect, what is blessed and what is abhorrent, a Zeitgeist that changes over time. It appears to me that this is established by the people who fight the hardest to establish their opinions and impose them on others. Christians in the USA have not fought hard for Christian morality. Had they rosen in mass vs baby-murder abortuaries, they could have shut them down back when Jimmy Carter was president, but Christians don't have such an urgency to establish their morality in comparison with "black lives matter." So it appears that in ancient times, the above attitude by the old man master of the house, was common: it was unthinkable that a house guest man should be raped in the streets, but a lesser evil to rape some women.
It would appear that the Levite may have held rancor in his heart for his concubine because she had dishonored him by having "played the harlot," making him a cuckold. So he threw her out to the sexual predators.
Judg. 19:27 And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way; and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, with her hands upon the threshold. 28 And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going; but none answered: then he took her up upon the ass; and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.
The Levite appears heartless, without love for his concubine. He may have thought that she got what she deserved. To really love requires being born again. The fruit of the Spirit is love. To really care for others as if as they were ourselves, to care for others as much as we care about ourselves requires a miracle. His property had been destroyed by the men of Gibeah. And the Levite evidently wanted vengeance. This vengeance would result in the near destruction of the whole Tribe of Benjamin.
29 And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, 4limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the borders of Israel. 30 And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider it, take counsel, and speak.
Judg. 20:1 Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was assembled as one man, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, with the land of Gilead, unto Jehovah at Mizpah.
The action of dismembering the concubine's body and (as it were) mailing the parts throughout Israel got the attention of the masses. Israel assembled vs Gibeah (and eventually vs Benjamin) demanding redress. But the Benjamites determined to defend their city of Gibeah vs the rest of the nation willy nilly. It was civil war.