Judges 19

A Levite and his woman servant

1 There was no king in Israel in those days. A Levite lived in the hills of Ephraim. He took a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to live with him. 2 But she left him and she returned to her father's house in Bethlehem. She stayed there for 4 months. 3 Then her husband went to visit her. He asked her to return to him. He took his servant and two donkeys with him. She took him into her father's house. Her father was happy to see him. 4 The girl's father asked him to stay there. So he stayed for three days. He ate and drank there and he also slept there.

5 On the fourth day they got up early and were ready to leave. The girl's father said, ‘Have something to eat, and then you may go’. 6 So the two men sat down. They ate and drank together. Then the girl's father said to the Levite man, ‘Stay with me one more night. Then we can continue to be happy together.’ 7 The man got up to go. But the girl's father made him stay. 8 On the morning of the fifth day the girl's father said, ‘Have something to eat and drink. Wait until this afternoon and you can go’. So the two of them ate together.

9 The man and woman were ready to go, with the servant. Then her father said, ‘It is nearly evening. Sleep here tonight. The day is nearly over. Stay and enjoy yourself. You can leave early tomorrow and go home’. 10 But the man did not want to stay for another night. So he left with his two donkeys and his woman. They went towards Jebus (Jerusalem).

11 When they came near to Jebus, the day was nearly over. The servant said, ‘Let us stay in this city of the Jebusites. Let us stop here for the night’.

12 His master replied, ‘No, we will not go into a foreign city. These people are not Israelites. We will go on to Gibeah’. 13 He said, ‘Let us try to reach Gibeah or Ramah. Then we can stay in one of those cities for the night’. 14 It was sunset when they came near to Gibeah in Benjamin. 15 They stayed there for the night. They sat in the centre of the city. But no one took them in for the night.

16 That evening, an old man from the hill country of Ephraim (but who was living in Gibeah) returned from his work. 17 When he saw the traveller in the square, he asked, ‘Where are you going? Where did you come from?’

18 The Levite answered, ‘We are going from Bethlehem in Judah to the far hills of Ephraim. I live there. I have been to Bethlehem and now I am going to the house of the Lord. No one has taken me into his house. 19 We have food and material for our animal's beds. We have bread and wine for ourselves. We (this woman, my servant and I) do not need anything’.

20 The old man said, ‘Please come into my house. I can give you whatever you need. But do not stay in the open city’. 21 So he took him into his house, and fed the donkeys. When they had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.

Very bad men in Gibeah

22 They were enjoying themselves. Then some bad men came from the city and stood all round the house. They hit the door hard and shouted to the old man. They said, ‘Bring out the man who came to your house. We want to have sex with him’.

23 The old man went outside to them. He said, ‘Friends, do not be so very, very bad. This man is in my house. You would be doing a very bad thing.

24 Here is my daughter, who has never had sex with a man, and this man's woman. I will bring them to you and you can use them as you want. But do not do such a bad thing to this man’.

25 But the men would not listen to him. So the traveller took his woman, and sent her out to them. They made her have sex with them and hurt her all night long. At dawn, they let her go. 26 She went back to the house where the man was staying. She fell at the door. She lay there until it was light.

27 Her master got up and opened the door in the morning. He was ready to continue his journey. He saw the woman lying there. Her hands were reaching towards the door.

28 He said to her, ‘Get up. Let us go!’ But she did not answer. Then he put her on his donkey and started off for home.

29 When he reached home, he cut the woman's body into 12 parts. He sent these to all the tribes of Israel. 30 Everyone who saw it said, ‘Nothing as bad as this has ever happened before. Never since the Israelites came out of Egypt. Think about it. Think with care. Tell us what we must do!’