The Man Who Sent His Wife’s Corpse to All of Israel


Remember when a man was so enraged over the murderous gang rape of his lady that he sent one-twelfth of her corpse to every tribe in Israel? It’s a story from Judges 19 that could rival any episode of The Sopranos.

The craziness starts when a Levite, who has spent several days winning back his estranged concubine, heads home with her late at night and has to sleep the en route. An old man lets the travelers stay with him, but a mob gathers, demanding to rape the Levite.

Not very hospitably, the host offers his visitor’s concubine and his virgin daughter to the mob instead. The Levite, presumably to save his own skin but maybe also the host’s daughter, gives over his lady. At dawn, he finds her on the doorstep, dead, and channels his grief into FedExing her dismembered corpse, showing that he holds the nation as a whole responsible for the atrocity.

This cautionary tale from when “there was no king in Israel” and “every man did what was right in his own eyes” raises fascinating questions: Why does God intervene and wreak fiery vengeance on Sodom & Gomorrah for a similar crime but remain silent here?


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