Fright Nights ~ Concubine from Bethlehem

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Judges 19:22-30

The final verse of our Scripture lesson this week reads, “Consider it, take counsel, and speak out.”

We turn our eyes to the fright of the fate of the Concubine from Bethlehem.

Phyllis Trible in her text Texts of Terror uses these verbs to describe her fate, “captured, betrayed, raped, tortured, murdered, dismembered, and scattered” (81).

Perhaps the terror experienced by the Concubine from Bethlehem could have been avoided if the Levite fulfilled his original purpose of “speaking love” or “speaking tenderly to her.”  But he did not and she paid the ultimate price with her life.

As a way of making some meaning of this terror – I’m not sure one could ever make sense of this terror or any terror – Trible offers these words, “Long ago the man was supposed to speak to the heart of the woman, though he did not.  Now Israel must direct its heart toward her, take counsel, and speak” (Texts of Terror 82).

Consider it.  Take counsel.  Speak out.

Consider it: the terror experienced by the Concubine from Bethlehem was not confined to her.  She was one of 600 women that would experience terror before the conclusion of this tale and the conclusion of Judges.

Take counsel: I believe this terror ensued because hospitality was replaced by hostility.  A sin has been committed and redemption is greatly needed.  Repentance is greatly needed.

Speak out: Trible says, “To take to heart this ancient story, then, is to confess its present reality.  The story is alive, and all is not well.  Beyond confession we must take counsel to say, ‘Never again'” (Texts of Terror 87).

This “never again” should be spoken as words of comfort to our brothers and sisters that have experienced terror from our own hands as well as the hands of others.  This “never again” should also be spoken to ourselves.  As we commit this story to our hearts we commit to speaking tenderly and straight to the hearts of those that find themselves prostrate on the thresholds of our lives.

In this “never again” is solidarity.  In this “never again” is transformation.

In this “never again” is healing and hope.

Prayer: Never again, O Lord.  Never again.  Forgive the terror we inflict.  Redeem the brokenness we cause.  May your healing reign.  May your children be up-builded not torn down.  Give us pause to consider, take counsel, and speak.  Strengthen our voices for justice and our hands for mercy, as we cry, “Never again, O Lord. Never again.”  Amen.

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