Decay From Within

Bible Book: Judges  19 : 4, 22-30
Subject: Moral Failure; Backslidding; Evil Leaders; America

Seventeen through twenty-one of Judges record the moral and social corruption in Israel. Chapter nineteen recounts one of the most gruesome stories in the Bible. Sadly, if you were to watch or read the latest news, you would be faced with some sickening stories in our headlines. The spiritual decline in Israel led to lawlessness which in turn led to civil war. The following chapters in Judges give a glaring view of the reign of wickedness.

Our society is entertained with violence. Researches tell us that what happens in the movies and prime-time TV are often repeated on the streets. The pictures aired on the news continue to become more graphic and more violent.


In chapter 19, we discover how far the people of Israel had fallen away from God and His Word. Israel lacked leadership and had fallen deeper into sin. It shows how Israel had become influenced by the sexually perverted ways of those other nations.


1. The concubine.

In chapter 19, we read of the Levite whose concubine had been unfaithful to him. Some Bible teachers believe she left her husband because they had a fight and she left out of anger. Certain Greek translations state that she “became angry” with him. Josephus wrote: “They quarreled one with another perpetually; and at last the woman was so disgusted at these quarrels, that she left her husband and went back to her parents.” She was there four months.

2. The Levite.

Levites are the descendants of Levi, who was one of the twelve sons of Jacob. These twelve sons later became known as the twelve tribes of Israel. (Genesis 29:34). The Levites carried out the duties of the sanctuary and they assisted the priests. Although all priests were Levites, not all Levites were priests.

The book of Judges reveals the condition of the Levites. They were Israel's spiritual leaders. We read of the money serving Levite named Jonathan in chapter 17 who became the priest for Micah and led him in worshipping his idols. (Chapter 17) The actions of Jonathan the Levite corrupted the entire nation when he became the priest for the Danites. (chapter 18)

God held the priests to the most strict standards of behavior and ritual purity (Leviticus 21). A concubine was a secondary wife. Concubines in Israel possessed many of the same rights as lawful wives, but without the same respect. In some cases they were used to bear children for men whose wives were barren. In the OT, a concubine was nothing more than a servant who also provided sexual services. A concubine was considered a servant or slave and was regarded as part of the family. (Judges 19:19)

This Levite was probably a terrible master to his concubine. Judging of his later treatment of her, we can understand why she may have left him.

The Levite went after her to persuade her to return home. He spent several days eating and drinking while visiting with her father.

The Levite did not start his journey home until evening. The Levite's servant tried to get his master to spend the night in Jebus. At that time, Jebus was still occupied by Canaanites. The city of Gibeah belonged to the Israelites of the tribe of Benjamin. The Levite feared for the safety of himself and his servants if they stayed in Jebus.


The Levite turned into Gibeah for the night. The people of Gibeah showed them no hospitality. Finally, an old man came in from the fields from his work. He invited them stay in his house by saying to them "only lodge not in the street." The streets in Gibeon were as dangerous as many of the streets in modern America.

While they enjoyed the evening with the old man, the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. They demanded the old man to bring out the Levite that they might "know him." The old man begged them not to act so wickedly. Israel had become another Sodom. He offered them his virgin daughter and the Levite's concubine.

So the man took his concubine and brought her out to them. He gave her over to the lust of an entire company of homosexuals. They carried her to one of their homes. She was molested and tortured during the night to the point of death.

In the morning, they let her go. The woman came as the day was dawning and fell down at the door of the man's house. She must have thought she would find safety with her master.

We begin to get the picture of what kind of man the Levite was. He had given her over to the lustful abuse of men where she was gang raped. While she was being abused through the night, her master sleeps safely in the old man's house. This is a painful display of the cruelty of the Levite towards his concubine.

Someone wrote: "It was the mercy of God that she did not survive to hear the unfeeling voice of her lord, ordering her, 'Up, let us be going.'"

A recent video showed a woman being gang raped on Panama City Beach during a spring break while people partied all around her. The sheriff says a huge crowd of onlookers were observing while at least three men brutally raped the victim, who does not recall the incident.

"They look like wild animals feeding on a corpse in the middle of the woods, like a carcass. It's just a frenzy," Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen said, "People were more interested in spilling their beer than they were about what was happening right next to them, and it was happening two or three feet away from them." The sheriff is shocked that no one called authorities.



1. Report of the Levite. (19:29-30)

The Levite loaded his concubine on the donkey like a bag of feed. He carried her to his house where he divided her body into twelve pieces and sent them to the other tribes of Israel. The crime of Gibeah seemed to shock the conscience of Israel. They responded by saying, "There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt." (19:30)

Israel and her leaders came together. There were four hundred thousand foot soldiers who drew the sword. They had the Levite explain what happened to his concubine. (20:4-6) They were in agreement that the men who committed the wicked deed were to be put to death. They were gathered for battle against Gibeah.

When tragic events happen in American today, it is heard on TV, radio and internet. There may be some immediate outcry, but there is never a national call to repentance and righteousness.

2. Request of Israel. (20:1-13)

The leaders of the tribes of Israel met together in Mizpah to decide what must be done about this sin. (20:1-17) The tribes of Israel insisted that the men of Benjamin should bring out the men from Gibeah who committed the crime. There was a call for justice. It seemed there was a deep conviction over the sin committed in Israel. This would have prevented civil war if Benjamin had obeyed the laws of God and had given to Israel the guilty men to be punished. (Deuteronomy 13:12-18)

3. Refusal of Benjamin. (20:14-17)

Benjamin refused and instead they gathered at Gibeah to fight the other tribes of Israel. Israel was faced with civil war. The tribe of Benjamin committed a great sin by placing their loyalty with Gibeah before their obedience to God's Law.


1. Defeat of Benjamin. ((20:18-48) destruction

Israel went before the Lord seeking His help. (20:18) The smaller army of Benjamin went out against the larger army of Israel. Three times did Israel go against Benjamin. Israel lost 22,000 men from their tribes in the first battle and 18,000 in the second battle. Israel sought direction from the Lord again. This time they set up an ambush and defeated Benjamin in battle. The tribe of Benjamin lost 25,000 men, leaving only 600 alive after the third battle!

2. Distress of Israel. (21:1-24)

There was grief in Israel over the civil war that almost wiped out the entire tribe of Benjamin. Their regret caused them to try and find some way to help the tribe of Benjamin. The problem was difficult because they had sworn not to allow their daughters to marry the men of Benjamin. (21:1)

Instead of seeking the will of God, Israel decided to slaughter the whole city of Jabesh-gilead and give them all the virgins taken from there. So Israel attacked Jabesh-gilead, a city of their own people. This town had refused to appear at Mizpah and join with Israel in the fight against Benjamin. (21:8-15) After raiding the town, they could only find 400 virgins.

The other 200 men of Benjamin were given permission to kidnap all the young virgins who participated in a festival at Shiloh. (21:16-25)

Israel had no king to lead them in the moral, political and spiritual well-being of the nation. The result of "everyone did that which was right in his own eyes" was a nation in war and far away from her God.

The last five chapters of Judges give us a summary of the moral and spiritual condition of Israel. The events probably happened during the times of the various judges mentioned in previous chapters.

Israel forgot her God and abandoned His laws. These final chapters describe what happens when a nation strays from God. It seems we are becoming a nation where every man does that which is "right in his own eyes."

In America, we have a mixture of gods like Israel. We are spiritually confused. America has received and believes in many of the false gods of other nations. Islam is one example. We have no political leaders to guide us in the ways of righteousness. Our forefathers prayed before all the country in the name of the Christian God. Right and wrong today is in the eyes of the beholder. Racial tension is increasing. Sexual immorality is openly practiced. Corruption is found from the White House to the church house.


1. In the darkest of days, Christians have the True Light in Jesus.

2. You can make a difference. As a Christian, you "are the light of the world." (Matt. 5:14)

3. Multitudes of Christians are getting stronger and more bold in their faith in Christ.

4. The world is not looking for Jesus, but we need to keep looking up for our "redemption draweth nigh." (Luke 21:28)