I’VE BEEN WATCHING the news closely since a little Russian man started a big war.
He attacked a country weaker than his own. And he did it with the overwhelming force of a gang of men raping a lone woman.
That’s an odd comparison. Yet I can’t help but make it. That’s because the day the war started is the day I coincidentally started paraphrasing Judges 19-20—a disgusting story about a gang rape of a lone woman.
Now, I’m wondering if this Bible story might suggest a way to respond to a pitiful Russian man.
Raping the worship leader’s wife
As the story goes, an Israelite ancestor of today’s Jewish people spent the night in a town a few miles north of Jerusalem, the town of Gibeah. He went there with his slave wife, described as a concubine.
The town was in the territory of one of Israel’s 12 tribes: Benjamin.
The traveler was a Levite. That means he came from the tribe of Levi. Levites were Israel’s priests and worship assistants. He and his wife were just passing through the town of Gibeah. An old gentleman saw them in the city square that evening. He invited them to spend the night at his house—ancient Middle Eastern hospitality.
Under the cover of night, a gang of men attacked the house. They surrounded it and started banging on the doors and walls.
You can read for yourself the sick details about how those thugs got their hands on the woman. But they raped her all night. She died of the trauma the next morning.
Using a corpse to get help
The Levite thought about how to convince Israel’s leaders in the other 11 tribes to punish Benjamin’s tribe with more than a good talking-to, a fine, and perhaps a slap on the wrist for misbehaving.
So, he tied his wife’s body onto one of his two donkeys and hauled it home. He lived in what is now central Israel and parts of the Occupied West Bank of the Palestinian people.
“When the Levite got inside his house, he took a knife and cut the concubine’s body into 12 pieces. He sent the body parts throughout all the tribes of Israel. He told the men carrying the body parts to deliver this message: ‘Has anything like this ever happened in all the years since we left Egypt? Think about that and decide what to do’” (Judges 19:29-30, Casual English Bible).
If this story is more than a legend built on a similar story about what happened to Lot’s family in Sodom (Genesis 19), the Levite’s plan worked.
All the other tribes of Israel united and attacked Benjamin’s tribe, killing almost all the men in Benjamin’s territory. Only 600 survived.
Does UPS ship body parts?
What the Levite did sounds barbaric.
But I find myself wondering what would happen if a raped nation could stir a timid and tired assembly of world leaders with packages shipped by UPS.
This isn’t a recommendation.
FedEx would work, too.
Well, this is what happens sometimes when I read the news after reading the Bible.
I end up wondering what it would take to move people toward selfless compassion and away from the cowardice we might prefer to call pragmatism or a strong survival instinct.