I remember this chapter from reading it as a teenager. One of the most truly shocking chapters in the Bible.
This time i see the pattern more. The decline that led here. Samson was the most faithless judge, ironically a man god made strong defined by his weaknesses.
Then the story of Dan, showing how deeply the Israelites had forgotten their nationhood and their religion.
This is rock bottom. The ultimate failure of the nation to live as god’s promised people.
A Levite travelling with his son and his sons wife/concubine chooses to push on and stay in an Israelites town in hope of hospitality. He gets none until another person originally from his region finds him. Tribal affiliation gone.
At nightfall men in the town want to gay gang rape the son. To avoid that his host offers his virgin daughter and the concubine. They take the concubine who they rape and abuse til death.
The sons behaviour, surrendering his partner to them, is as ignoble as the mob.
In death she is dismembered into 12 and distributed to each of the tribes to say “what have we become?”
Israel’s decline is completely and unsparingly told to us. There is no sugar coating in the “good book”. Left to our own devices our race is capable of the most horrific evil. Atheists will say religion is to blame, but I think that’s wishful thinking. Israel shows us how religion can’t fix the darkness in our hearts, but I don’t think it’s the source of it.
We need a saviour, imho.
Just read the most fantastic discussion of this chapter here: http://www.womeninthescriptures.com/2010/09/concubine-in-judges-19.html?m=1
She reminded me that genesis ends with a similarly shocking story, but there there is some divine intervention. The woman here is left with no protection.