Many times as an atheist, I enjoy the quick synopsis of horrible Bible stories that are available online via other atheist groups or secular networks. You read about all kinds of outlandish tales like that of haunted vaginas, girls seducing their father with alcohol, or an entire town wanting to rape angels.
Some of the stories want to make you laugh or cringe, while others make you want to cry and rage at the horror they share. Then there are the ones that you thought you already knew the story behind, only to find out the tale takes an even more outrageous turn to the left than you could ever have imagined. There are a number of stories out there that people have thought they knew the entirety of that they learn they actually didn’t.
Job’s replacement family is a good example. A lot of folks don’t put together that not only did God restore this poor tortured believer’s wife and children, but he got completely new people. That’s right, his original wife and kids? Never restored to him. He got upgraded to a newer model instead, because what’s a wife but a replaceable commodity back in the days of wrathful Yahweh. Or maybe the Lord knew something about Job’s relationship that we didn’t, and just knew a complete replacement was in order.
Recently, I had a reader ask me to share a Bible story that I really remember the most, whether in a positive or negative light. And I thought,”What story do you always remember the most, Bluegrass?” It took less than half a second for me to start putting down my thoughts about this particular tale of rape, carnage and political gamesmanship. So, tonight I’ll share these thoughts I have about a Bible story that many don’t quite ready completely. The story is the Levite and His Concubine, which is found in Judges 19 & 20, and 21.
Most folks give a very generalized run down of this story, focusing in particular on the fact that the concubine was put to the street when gangs of rape minded villagers came after the husband in order to “know him”.
The initial plot sounds eerily similar to Lot’s, but it gets worse. Worse than her being thrown to the villagers to be raped all night, she eventually returns back to where her husband was hiding and at some point between leaving that ramshackle hell hole of a town and their final destination, she dies. There are no reasons given, but many accounts I have read claim she died there in the original village she was raped in, just later in the day, supposedly succumbing to the previous night’s assault and injuries. Despite the discrepancy, many agree that the husband did in fact chop up her corpse and send it as evidence to the other Israel tribes as evidence of a wrong being committed that needed some serious payback.
This is where the story seems generalized the most, and I finally had to just sit down and read it for myself.
The tribes of Israel decided they would launch an attack against the entire tribal territory of Benjamin, who was also part of the Israel tribes. Confused yet? Essentially, there was an inter-tribal war over this woman’s assault and subsequent death. And the upcoming carnage was sanctioned by Yahweh too, which is very sad when you think about it. But this is back in the day when they had no king apparently, and could do as they saw fit. Somehow, Yahweh’s authority wasn’t the same as having a king, though I thought he claimed to be a king of kings.
So, what happened? The tribes that decided to go to war against Benjamin eventually won out, but they lost a few times and beseeched their deity for favor in battle, and they got it before their last battle. And it wasn’t just one town that the warring tribes razed to the ground, it was many towns, all of which belonged to the Israel tribe called Benjamin. Women, animals, children, and the men, were all put to death for the honor of the slain concubine.
Now, whenever I read the quick run down of this tale, often they include virgin women being taken as spoils of war in this part of the story, being taken as prizes back to the winning tribes, but that is actually not accurate. And this is also where we travel into the land of What The Heck Did I Just Read?
The tribes fighting for the dead concubine did not spare anyone in the tribal territories of the Benjamites. They slew every single living thing. By the totals given in the story, it would appear that a total of at least fifty thousand lives were lost in just soldiers alone, so adding in all those in Benjamite villages that didn’t fight? Add in the animals that were slaughtered? It was a blood bath, despite the fact that much like a fishing story, the original number of Benjamite soldiers only totaled twenty-seven thousand, but inexplicably doubles in number as the story progresses. Who really cares about the details, anyway? A lot of people died. And puppies too.
So, where does the pillaging of virgins and more slaughter come into play? At the after party celebration, of course! This is the part a lot of folks seem to muddle up, and I think that should not be happening because there is a whole lotta what the fuck is going on here when it comes to story logic.
See, after the tribes kicked the shit out of the Benjamites for not helping turn over the rapists from their territory, everyone got together to offer more sacrifices in thanks to their god. While they were there, the victors felt kind of sad that they essentially decimated an entire part of their people, after all, the Benjamites were one of the tribes of Israel.
At some point during the party, a group of the Israelites got together and thought it was a damn shame that the Benjamites were going to pretty much die out since only about six hundred men were left out of the entire former territory of Benjamin. The only way to restore the tribe would be to get them some wives, and let them start to repopulate. Yeah, I know. Why didn’t they think of the end result prior to committing atrocity? But there is a bigger problem. Unbeknownst to us dear readers of the story, the tribes of Israel had taken an oath prior to battle swearing they would never allow any women of their tribes to marry a Benjamite.
Genocide really was on their minds when they went in to Benjamin, and apparently these victors didn’t realize it.
This is where I find this story just takes you down a road of dumb and dumber. You have a couple of problems, the first being that the Benjamites are essentially going to die out, and second, the first problem is unacceptable to everyone because you can’t just let an Israelite tribe die out. The third problem is that they all swore an oath to never give their women to the bastards that allowed the concubine’s murderers to go free.
How the devil will they solve the first problem then?
They did a head count there at the celebration. Who didn’t show up for the sacrificial party? An Israelite tribe out of Jibash Gilead didn’t bother to come kill a goat and burn it for Yahweh. Because of their absence, they were put on the hook for the six hundred wives... Read the rest here at my blog http://thebluegrassskeptic.com/2015/08/11/a-bible-story-that-few-read-to-the-bitter-end/