The Levite's Concubine: The Story That Never Was

Heidi M. Szpek


The present paper explores the narrative structure, details and vocabulary of Judges 19. The inspiration derives from Martin Buber who wrote of its distorted details in and ‘ahistorical and atypical’ nature. More recently Mieke Bal described Judges as “a book that problematizes languages by proposing uncanny kinds of speech-acts to challenge language as purveyor of meaning.” Not only the ‘problematizing’ nature of language in Judges 19 (and 20-21), but the near silence of biblical referents to this tale, the silence of rabbinic sources and the Church Fathers until the Medieval Period, together create an aura of suspicion and uneasiness that begs for a re-interpretation of this text as a metaphor of dire, not gentle, admonition, pieced together by allusions, of what Israel's destiny might become, what women's position might become, how brethren might become enemies and how this might all be (wrongly) accomplished in the name of the Lord.

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