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Monday, July 23, 2018

M³ On The Steps

            The Levite priest tossed his concubine to the wolves. Actually, she might have fared better among the wolves. It would have been over more quickly. Those hoping for a reprieve like in Sodom and Gomorrah, where the angels revealed themselves, sorry. It’s not going to happen. We’re going to the bad place with this story. I don’t do this often, but we need to get the full passage of this for context.

 “They wantonly raped her, and abused her all through the night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. As morning appeared, the woman came down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light. In the morning her master got up, opened the doors of the house, and when he went out to go on his way, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. ‘Get up,’ he said to her, ‘we are going.’ But there was no answer. Then he put her on the donkey; and the man set out for his home” (Judges 19:25-28).
I have to constantly remind myself that this is a priest, someone who is supposed to uphold the moral laws of God for the people of Israel. The casual cruelty he displays to this woman, a woman with whom he has had a relationship, staggers the mind. He doesn’t check on her, he doesn’t show any emotion. He simply commands her to get up, as if she had been lazy and slept in instead of viciously beaten and raped for the past several hours. He doesn’t even check to see if she’s alive.
Right now, we don’t know. She made it to the steps, and then collapsed, and couldn’t move any more. Is she physically and emotionally broken, but alive? Did she pass away there on the steps, so close to returning to the man she thought she loved? What makes this so heartbreaking is that she almost made it. She reached the door, her own strength carried her that far. She refused to surrender to the men’s treatment, refused to let them break her completely, but her physical, mental, and spiritual endurance couldn’t get her back inside that place of sanctuary.
I don’t know if I want her to be alive. Wouldn’t it be more merciful if she didn’t have to deal with this experience? The damage of her experience . . . it’s too much. She would have to deal with not only the gangrape’s various levels of abuse but the betrayal by the man she loved. He threw her out to spare himself. If she passed away on those steps, at least she wouldn’t have to hear him callously command her to get up as if she was lazy. Surely, if anything would break her at that point, it would be his words and heartlessness.
But it’s not over yet. It’s going to get worse. Much, much worse.

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