Holy Horror: The Levite and the Concubine

JUDGES 19-21

Horror movies follow a predictable set-up. They always begin with the most normal, wholesome scenes possible. It’s the picket fence, the high school, the camping trip. Of course, just as we become saturated with the calm, everyday familiarity, it becomes increasingly obvious that something is a bit off. Even though horror movies are usually the most fantastical genre, the better the viewer believes the normalness of the set up, the more terrifying the horror is when it finally splatters on screen. [In fact, movies that start off with unrealistic settings and circumstances are probably comedies, and if you find yourself completely incapable of suspending disbelief far enough, it’s probably a chick flick.]

If the story of Micah’s Idols in Judges is divine comedy, the book’s conclusion with the much-maligned story of the Levite and the Concubine is holy horror (without hollywood’s sense of relish at the bloodshed). It covers a vicious re-enactment of the horrors of Sodom, the rape and murder of a woman, a grisly summons to war, and inter-tribal genocide. It is a story that is frequently misunderstood, meeting with criticism, for example, in Dawkins’ God Delusion, and some inarticulate gasps from skepticsannotatedbible.com. What critics seem always to miss is that the narrator shares their revulsion towards these events, and is passing comment on the moral depravity into which God’s chosen nation has sunk. Continue reading