1. On the composition
of Judges, see Robert G. Boling, Judges, Anchor Bible (Garden City, N.Y.:
Doubleday & Co., 1975), pp. 29-38; idem, " `In Those Days There Was
No King in Israel,"' in A Light unto My Path, ed. Howard N. Bream, Ralph
D. Heim, and Carey A. Moore (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1974),
pp. 33-48; J. Alberto Soggin, Judges, OTL (Philadelphia: Westminster Press,
1981), pp. 4-5.
2. Judg. 17:6a; 18:1a; 19:1a; 21:25a.
3. Judg. 17:6b; 21:25b.
4. Wherever they are not identified in this essay, chapter and verse citations come from the book of Judges.
5. The three acts are the story of the concubine (19:Ib-30), of Israelite wars against Benjamin (20:1-48), and of the securing of wives for the Benjaminites (21: I-24). Cf. Martin Buber's description of this material as "put together from a baroque, overspread elaboration of a legendary theme . . . in a loquacious style . . . reported circumstantially and unclearly . . .
(Kingship of God [New York: Harper & Row, 1967], p. 78). For a study of this unit focused on the theme of community, see Susan Niditch, "The `Sodomite' Theme in Judges 19-20: Family, Community, and Social Disintegration," CBQ 44 (1982): 365-78.
6. For a thorough analysis of this text, see, most recently, Hans-Winfried Jangling, Richter 79-Ein Pladoyer fur das Konigtum (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1981).
7. Contra the RSV, I translate n'r as attendant, rather than as servant and/or young man, to differentiate it from `bd (servant) in 19:19.
8. See Raymond Abba, "Priests and Levites," The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible 3 (hereafter IDB), ed. George Arthur Buttrick (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962), pp. 876-89.
9. See Otto J. Baab, "Concubine," IDB 1, p. 666; Soggin, Judges, p. 159.
10. For discussions of these traditions, see the commentaries; e.g., George F. Moore, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Judges, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1976), pp. 409-10; C. F. Burney, The Book of Judges (New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1970), pp. 459-61; Boling, Judges, pp. 273-74; Soggin, Judges, p. 284.
11. Throughout I shall call the Levite "the master" to distinguish him from the other nameless males and to indicate his power over the concubine.
12. Jungling compares the departure of the concubine from her master to Hagar's flight from Sarai (Gen. 16:6). He observes also the uniqueness of the concubine's act in the traditions of Israel: she, not the man, initiates the separation. See Richter 19, pp. -87-90.
13. For a different analysis of the divisions in this scene, see Ringling, Richter 19, pp. 90-152. Note especially his literary comparisons of the fourth and fifth days of the master's visit (pp. 115-18).
14. On the preferability of the Qere lahashibah "to bring her back," see Moore, Judges, pp. 409-10; Burney, Judges, p. 461.
15. On this instance of retardation, see Jacob Licht, Storytelling in the Bible (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1978), pp. 106-7.
16. Boling observes the inclusio formed around the visit by the phrase, "his father-in-law, the father of the young woman," in 19:4a and 9 (Judges, p. 274). On the graciousness of the greeting, cf. Jungling's comments on the verb, "made him stay" (Richter 19, pp. 106-8).
17. Contra Soggin, Judges, p. 285, the phrase "spent the night" (19:4, 6b, 9b) is not "a euphemism for the resumption of matrimonial relations." Male bonding is the point; see below on 19:5-7.
18. Like Abraham who entertained three strangers in his tent at Mamre, the father plays down his generosity by the phrase, "Strengthen your heart with a morsel of bread" (cf. Gen. 18:4-5). Further, like Abraham, he pictures the delay as an aid to departure.
19. For this interpretation of the Hebrew htmhmhw in 19:8, see Boling, Judges, pp. 87, 275.
20. On the varieties of meaning for hinneh see Thomas O. Lambdin, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971), pp. 168-71; C. J. Labuschagne, "The Particles hen and heneh: Syntax and Meaning: Studies in Hebrew Syntax and Biblical Exegesis, Oudtestamentische Studien 18, ed. A. S. van der Woude (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1973), pp. 1-4.
21. Note again the father's expression, "Let your heart be merry" (19:9).
22. In the three time periods of this episode, power has passed from the father (19:4) to the two males joined equally (19:6) to the master (19:8-10).
23. Cf. Boling, Judges, p. 274: "It was a man's world. There is no mention of the interest of the girl [sic] in rejoining her husband, nor of what the womenfolk did while the two men celebrated for most of a week."
24. On Jebus, see Soggin, Judges, p. 286; Jingling, Richter 19, pp. 14748.
25. For a stylistic analysis of the conversation, see Jungling Richter 19, pp. 162-70. Note his comparison (following W. Richter) with the story of the daughter of Jephthah, especially with Judg. 11:34a-40. On the Jephthah story, see chapter 4 below.
26. On the place names, see Soggin, Judges, pp. 286-87.
27. The word saga here means story.
28. If one counts the two occurrences of the name Bethlehem, then the word house (byt) occurs four times in the middle (19:18).
29. Note that the master alone is the subject of active verbs; those traveling with him are explicitly included only as objects of the verb took.
30. On ironies in the story, see Stuart D. Currie, "Judges 19-21: Biblical Studies for a Seminar on Sexuality and the Human Community," Austin Seminary Bulletin 87 (1971): 14.
31. Cf. the similar question asked of Hagar (Gen. 16:8); see Jingling, Richter 19, pp. 185-86.
32. On the difficulties of the Hebrew text, see Moore, Judges, pp. 41516. Cf. "house" here with "tent" in 19:9; see Boling, Judges, p. 276.
33. On the interplay of narration and direct speech, see Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic Books, 1981), pp. 63-87.
34. Though the preponderant textual evidence is for the singular "your servant," the plural "your servants" is not inappropriate. The precise meaning of the phrases "your maidservant" and "your servant" is uncertain, but their context suggests that the master is speaking of his concubine and himself. Altogether his references include the entire party (master, concubine, attendant, and animals). Cf. Boling, Judges, pp. 275-76.
35. Note the brevity of the two speeches of the old man (19:17b and 19:20) as they surround the longer discourse of the master (19:18-19). Cf. this discourse with the silence of the master in scene one (19:3-10). In both instances the master prevails over another male. On the particle raq in 19:20, see B. Jongeling, "La Particle 71," Syntax and Meaning, Oudtestamentische Studien 18, ed. A. S. van der Woude (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1973), pp. 97-107.
36. Note the structural parallel between this narrated ending (19:21) and the ending of the master's speech in 19:18c-19. In each case discourse continues beyond a repeated phrase that might otherwise signal the conclusion of the unit: "Nobody takes me into his house" (19:18c) and "so he brought him into his house" (19:21a).
37. This report increases the suspicions raised in 19:19 about the master providing provender. On the other hand, it may testify to the generosity of the old man.
38. On the phrase, "sons of wickedness," see Burney, Judges, pp. 46769; Boling, Judges, p. 276; Jangling, Richter 19, pp. 199-203.
39. See Boling, Judges, p. 276.
40. Though the text says, "he went out to them" (19:23), it does not use the dangerous symbols for exit, door and doorway. The old man is safe both outside and in.
41. Cf. the reply of Tamar to Amnon (2 Sam. 13:12-13); see chapter 2, note 34 above. For this and other thematic and verbal links between 2 Samuel 13 and Judges 19-21, see R. A. Carlson, David, the Chosen King: A Traditio-Historical Approach to the Second Book of Samuel (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1964), pp. 165-67. On nebalah, see further Currie, "Judges 19-21" p. 19; also Jungling Richter 19, pp. 211-17.
42. On the apparent grammatical anomaly of masculine pronouns, see Boling, Judges, p. 276.
43. Cf. the use of the idiom, "the good in your eyes," in reference to the affliction of Hagar (Gen. 16:6); also the numerous sexual references to eyes in the story of Tamar (e.g., 2 Sam. 13:2, 5b, 6b, 8); cf. Gen. 19:8 below.
44. Many scholars argue for the dependence of Judges 19 upon Genesis 19. See, e.g., Moore, Judges, pp. 417-19; Burney, Judges, pp. 443-44; Soggin, Judges, pp. 282, 288; Robert C. Culley, Studies in the Structure of Hebrew Narrative (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976), pp. 56-59. See also D. M. Gunn, "Narrative Patterns and Oral Tradition in Judges and Samuel," VT 24 (1974): 294, especially note 1. (I have not had access to the article by A. van den Born.) But cf. Niditch, "The `Sodomite' Theme in Judges 19-20," pp. 375-78, who argues for the primacy of Judges 19 over Genesis 19. Yet another approach views such stories as type-scenes that move between fixed conventions and flexible appropriations, without specific literary dependence (cf. Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, pp. 4762). For recent discussions of these stories, see Tom Horner, Jonathan Loved David: Homosexuality in Biblical Times (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978), pp. 47-58 and John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), pp. 9298.
45. Unlike any inhabitant of Gibeah, Lot ran out to meet the strangers, insisting that they spend the night in his house and enjoy his hospitality. At first the travelers refused, declaring that they would spend the night in the street. Hence, their desire was the reverse of the wish of the master from Ephraim.
46. Cf. Amnon's narrated response to the words of Tamar (2 Sam. 13:14a, 16b); see Aingling, Richter 19, pp. 217-20.
47. On this translation of Judg. 19:25b, see the NJV. Cf. the prominence of the verb seize (4z9) in the story of Tamar (2 Sam. 13:11, 14b).
48. On the verb torture (`ll), cf. 1 Sam. 31:4; Jer. 38:19; Num. 22:29.
49. For an excellent discussion of the ambiguity, see Robert Polzin, Moses and the Deuteronomist (New York: Seabury Press, 1980), pp. 200202.
50. The occurrence of the word house revives the motif of competition between the master and his father-in-law. Narrated discourse contrasts "the father's house" at the beginning (19:2) with the master's "house" at the end (19:29). Yet the father referred to the master's abode as a "tent" (19:9). The discrepancy between the terminology of the narrator and the father suggests that "tent" was the sarcastic term (contra Boling, Judges, p. 276).
51. This verb divide is used elsewhere in scripture only for animals. Cf. the use of the verb send (shlk) in the story of Tamar (2 Sam. 13:16-17).
52. In an unpublished paper entitled, "Intricacy, Design, and Cunning in the Book of Judges," E. T. A. Davidson offers some illuminating parallels between the story of the concubine and other narratives in Judges that exhibit the themes of father-daughter and husband-wife, viz., the story of Caleb, Achsah, and Othniel (l:l 1-15); of Jephthah and his daughter (11:2940); and of the Timnite and her father (14:20-15:8). She suggests that the placing of the concubine story at the end of the book completes an artistic progression from domestic tranquillity (1:11-15) to utter degradation. The progression symbolizes the story of premonarchic Israel itself. Indeed, the concubine is Israel ravished and cut apart.
53. For a comparison of Judg. 19:29 and I Sam. 11:7, see Mngling Richter 19, pp. 236-40. Cf. Soggin, Judges, p. 289; also Alan D. Crown, "Tidings and Instructions: How News Travelled in the Ancient Near East," Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 17 (1974): especially 25354.
54. Thus, the ending contrasts with the corresponding section of the introduction (19:2). Rather than reporting the destination of the concubine, narrated discourse gives way to direct speech from all of Israel.
55. On meanings of "this," (19:30), see Currie, "Judges 19-21," p. 17; also Gerhard Wallis, "Eine Parallele zu Richter 19:29ff and 1. Sam. I 1:5ff. aus dem Briefarchiv von Mari," ZAW 64 (1952): 57-61.
56. See Jungling, Richter 19, pp. 240-44.
57. Yet the narrator continues to protect his protagonist through ambiguity. Note in 20:4a the description, "the man, the Levite, husband of the woman who was murdered," that again leaves unspecified the identity of the murderer. Cf. Licht, Storytelling in the Bible, pp. 78-79.
58. On this response as holy war, see Currie, "Judges 19-21," pp. 1820; Polzin, Moses and the Deuteronomist, pp. 202-4; Niditch, "The 'Sodomite' Theme," pp. 371-75.
59. Although such a process of decision making may have worked for the good in an earlier time (cf. Deut. 12:8), in this context the words hold a negative meaning. For opposing interpretations, see Boling, Judges, p. 293; W. J. Dumbrell, " `In Those Days There Was No King In Israel; Every Man Did What Was Right In His Own Eyes.' The Purpose of the Book of Judges Reconsidered," JSOT 25 (1983): 23-33.
60. See Martin Buber, Kingship of God, pp. 77-80; Ringling, Richter 19, pp. 244-96.
61. 1 Sam. 9:1-2; 10:26; 11:1-11; 15:34; 22:6; 23:19.
62. 2 Sam. 11:2-27; 13:1-22; 16:20-23.
63. For literary readings of the story of Hannah, see Zvi Adar, The Biblical Narrative (Jerusalem: Department of Education and Culture of the World Zionist Organisation, 1959), pp. 19-28; Licht, Storytelling in the Bible, pp. 90-91, 114-115; Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, pp. 81-86.
64. For a literary reading, see Phyllis Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978), pp. 166-99.
65. For comments on these references, see Jungling Richter 19, pp. 28084; also James Luther Mays, Hosea, OTL (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1969), pp, 131, 143; Hans Walter Wolff, Hosea, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974), pp. 158, 184.
66. See Dudley Clendinen, "Barroom Rape Shames Town of Proud Heritage," New York Times, 17 March 1983, sec. 1, p. A16. A summary of this article reports that "the rape of a 21-year-old woman in a New Bedford, Mass., bar has shocked the Northeast. The woman was hoisted to a pool table, tormented and repeatedly raped by a group of men who held her there for more than two hours while the other men in the tavern stood watching, sometimes taunting her and cheering. No one aided her or called the police" ("News Summary," New York Times, 17 March 1983, sec. 2, p. BI).
67. Repentance is a radical change in thinking that manifests itself in a radical change of behavior.