The Concubine and the Moabitess

TODAY’S ‘Bible in 90 Days’ Reading: Judges 15:13-I Samuel 2:12.

If you’ve read through today’s passages, then you caught a glimpse of the evil that permeated the tribes of Israel during these years. The phrase, “In those days, there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” appears several times during the chapters of Judges. In today’s reading, we come across the plights of two women who are at the mercy of ‘what seemed right’: The Levite’s Concubine from Judges 19 and Ruth the Moabite Woman.

The Concubine’s Tale is a horror story. She is an unfaithful wife to an unnamed Levite, who appears to love her enough to chase the woman all the way to her father’s house after she runs away (perhaps with another man). After ‘tarrying’ in the father-in-law’s house for many days, the Levite throws the woman over an ass and heads back toward his home–leaving hastily in the late evening. Exhausted and wear of the night, the Levite’s entourage stops in Gibeah for the night. An old man offers the Levite and his group lodging and feeds the animals.

Near midnight, the town’s men beat upon the door, demanding that the ‘new guys’ come out to play (shades of Sodom!). The host declines, but he offers to send out his own daughter and the Levite’s concubine instead. Seeing that the ‘sons of Belial’ would not go away, the Levite send out his faithless concubine and tells the men to use her as they choose.

One can only imagine what this poor woman endured! At dawn, she manages to find her way back to the door. The Levite, her husband and master, finds her there, but she does not reply when he speaks to her. She is most likely dead.

The Levite then tosses her across an ass and heads home, where he then cuts the body into 12 pieces and send one part to each of the 12 tribes. Naturally, the tribes’ leaders are horrified and send to the Levite for an answer. He tells them how the woman died at the hands of Gilead, and war ensues.

Contrast this horror tale with the love story we find in the book of Ruth. Ruth is a woman from Moab. Moab was the son born to Lot’s oldest daughter when she got him drunk and ‘lay’ with  him in a mountain cave. How interesting that Ruth comes from this lineage, since our poor concubine died at the hands of men who behaved in a similar, evil fashion to the men of Sodom!

Ruth is a widow, and her widowed, childless mother-in-law, Naomi, has decided to return to her own people to find shelter and food. Ruth has refused to leave Naomi, and she vows to follow Naomi’s life and even her ‘God’ until death. Ruth gleans in a kinsman’s field to feed her beloved mother-in-law, and in so doing, meets Boaz, one of Naomi’s relatives. Boaz could have simply ‘taken’ Ruth, but instead he treats her with great kindness, even ordering his own men to leave her untouched.

The beautiful account of Boaz as kinsman redeemer pictures Christ so clearly. And the stark difference between Boaz and the Levite ‘judge’ must remind each one of us that God could easily have chosen to throw us to the wolves! Instead, He came in the flesh to redeem us–to buy us back from the enemy!–and He is our husband and our Lord.

Ruth and Boaz are the great-great grandparents of King David, and as such, they are the ancestors of Christ Himself through both Mary and Joseph (as his adoptive father, Joseph was considered the legal father of Jesus, making Jesus heir to Joseph).

Rejoice, dear brothers and sisters in Christ! For we have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb! Hallelujah!