During the times when Israel had no king, a Levite lived in the remote mountains of Ephraim. He took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem, but his concubine was unfaithful to him and left him, returning to her father’s house and staying there for four months. 

As a man of God, this Levite should have never taken a concubine, but he did. Why did he not just marry her? We don’t know, but apparently, she wasn’t happy with his treatment of her, so she went seeking fulfillment from other men. She then went back to her father rather than her Levite master.

This unnamed woman likely had dreams of love and romance. Instead, she ended up with men who didn’t value her. When she realized how unsatisfying they were, she ran away back home, 

Eventually the Levite missed her, so he went after her to woo her back. He brought along a servant and an extra donkey for her to ride on the journey back to Ephraim. 

When the Levite arrived at her father’s house, the father was glad to meet him and invited him to stay for three days. He agreed, and they ate and drank and visited together. This continued for two more days. Each time the Levite would prepare to leave in the morning, the young woman’s father would convince him to stay and let his heart be merry.

The Levite and his concubine and servant finally ended up leaving in the late afternoon rather than morning. Though the father urged them to wait until morning to depart, they departed his house as evening was nearing. This decision would prove disastrous for the concubine.

The Levite, his concubine, and his servant headed home as the sun fell for the night. They passed the city of Jebus, also known as Jerusalem, but though the servant asked to stop, the Levite refused, not wishing to lodge with foreigners. He insisted they continue to Gibeah, a Benjamite city.

They arrived in Gibeah at nightfall, but no one would take them in. Finally, an old man from Ephraim, invited them to lodge with him. He washed their feet and gave them food and drink. Then, in a scene much like that with Lot in Sodom, local men surrounded the house, wanting the old man to give them the Levite. 

The old man offered up his virgin daughter and the man’s concubine, but the men paid him no heed. So the Levite took the concubine and gave her up to the men of the city. They then spent the night abusing her and leaving her for dead. 

The Levite got up the next morning and found her sprawled on the doorstep with her hands on the threshold. Rather than offering compassion on her, he told her to get up so they could be going. When she didn’t respond, he threw her on the donkey and continued home where he cut her body into pieces and sent the pieces to the tribes of Israel. He considered it a warning of how far the Israelites had fallen, but he took no responsibility for his role in her story. 

In Judges 20 the Levite blames the Benjamite men, but he’s the one who gave her to them. He should have been her protector. Instead, he slept soundly while they ravaged her. What an awful commentary of the state of their society.

Read about the Levite’s concubine in Scripture: Judges 19

The Levite's concubine runs away Bible story for women

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