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Monday, August 6, 2018

M³ Voiceless

            I can’t let this go, yet. This poor concubine has no voice. No one in this story has a name, so that’s not as big an issue, but the fact that this woman never speaks bothers me. Yes, the Bible is pretty terse when it comes to speech, relating things generally and narratively instead of with extensive dialogue, but we do have some. The perverse men, the host, and the Levite priest all speak up in this story. But not this woman. She is voiceless.
            I’m not surprised that she’s not given a choice in any of this, nor that she’s never offered a chance to reject what her husband has to say. Even though she is voiceless, she actually is able to speak in a way. That moment where she reaches out and collapses against the threshold speaks volumes to us. She’s looking for safety. She wants healing. Does she want the man who betrayed her? I don’t know. That’s one guess, but it also might be the man who offered her sanctuary. That house, alone in the entire town of Gibeah, is the only place of sanctuary.
            This is understood, too. Even though the men are perverse, they don’t violate the sanctuary of the man’s house. They might have, but they didn’t. Instead they call out for those they wish to assault to be sent outside. They could have easily stormed the door and invaded, but didn’t.
            The Passover (yeah, I haven’t gotten to Moses yet, but I will) clearly establishes the importance of the household as a sanctuary. It is on the lintels and posts of a door’s threshold that the blood was place, and the angel of death could not cross. The concubine knows this, and the desire to cross the threshold is there. Beyond that point, she will find safety.
            But, again, is that what she wants? She could find warmth and healing there, but she would forever have the memory of what was done to her. Maybe the collapse before the threshold is intentional. Maybe she chose not to go through the door. Maybe she couldn’t face the man who so cruelly and casually cast her out of that safety.
            We’ll never truly know because as much as she voiced her desire to find safety, it all went unsaid because she couldn’t—or chose not to—cross the threshold.

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