The Crime of the Benjamites
1 Now in those days, when there was no king in Israel, a Levite who lived in the remote hill country of Ephraim took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. 2 But she was unfaithful to him a and left him to return to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah.
After she had been there four months, 3 her husband got up and went after her to speak kindly to her and bring her back, taking his servant and a pair of donkeys. So the girl brought him into her father’s house, and when her father saw him, he gladly welcomed him. 4 His father-in-law, the girl’s father, persuaded him to stay, so he remained with him three days, eating, drinking, and lodging there.
5 On the fourth day, they got up early in the morning and prepared to depart, but the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Refresh your heart with a morsel of bread, and then you can go.” 6 So they sat down and the two of them ate and drank together. Then the girl’s father said to the man, “Please agree to stay overnight and let your heart be merry.” 7 The man got up to depart, but his father-in-law persuaded him, so he stayed there that night.
8 On the fifth day, he got up early in the morning to depart, but the girl’s father said, “Please refresh your heart.” So they waited until late afternoon and the two of them ate. 9 When the man got up to depart with his concubine and his servant, his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Look, the day is drawing to a close. Please spend the night. See, the day is almost over. Spend the night here, that your heart may be merry. Then you can get up early tomorrow for your journey home.”
10 But the man was unwilling to spend the night. He got up and departed, and arrived opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem), with his two saddled donkeys and his concubine. 11 When they were near Jebus and the day was almost gone, the servant said to his master, “Please, let us stop at this Jebusite city and spend the night here.”
12 But his master replied, “We will not turn aside to the city of foreigners, where there are no Israelites. We will go on to Gibeah.” 13 He continued, “Come, let us try to reach one of these towns to spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah.”
14 So they continued on their journey, and the sun set as they neared Gibeah in Benjamin. 15 They stopped to go in and lodge in Gibeah. The Levite went in and sat down in the city square, but no one would take them into his home for the night.
16 That evening an old man from the hill country of Ephraim, who was residing in Gibeah (the men of that place were Benjamites), came in from his work in the field. 17 When he looked up and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, “Where are you going, and where have you come from?”
18 The Levite replied, “We are traveling from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote hill country of Ephraim, where I am from. I went to Bethlehem in Judah, and now I am going to the house of the LORD; b but no one has taken me into his home, 19 even though there is both straw and feed for our donkeys, and bread and wine for me and the maidservant and young man with me. There is nothing that we, your servants, lack.”
20 “Peace to you,” said the old man. “Let me supply everything you need. Only do not spend the night in the square.” 21 So he brought him to his house and fed his donkeys. And they washed their feet and ate and drank.
22 While they were enjoying themselves, suddenly the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they said to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house, so we can have relations with him!”
23 The owner of the house went out and said to them, “No, my brothers, do not do this wicked thing! After all, this man is a guest in my house. Do not commit this outrage. 24 Look, let me bring out my virgin daughter and the man’s concubine, and you can use them and do with them as you wish. But do not do such a vile thing to this man.”
25 But the men would not listen to him. So the Levite took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. 26 Early that morning, the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, collapsed at the doorway, and lay there until it was light.
27 In the morning, when her master got up and opened the doors of the house to go out on his journey, there was his concubine, collapsed in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28 “Get up,” he told her. “Let us go.” But there was no response. So the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.
29 When he reached his house, he picked up a knife, took hold of his concubine, cut her limb by limb into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout the territory of Israel. 30 And everyone who saw it said, “Nothing like this has been seen or done from the day the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt until this day. Think it over, take counsel, and speak up!”
2 a LXX became angry with him
18 b LXX I am going to my home ; see verse 29.