191In those days, before Israel had a king, there was a Levite living far back in the hill country of Ephraim. He took a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine, 2but she became angry with him, went back to her father's house in Bethlehem, and stayed there four months. 3Then the man decided to go after her and try to persuade her to return to him. He took his servant and two donkeys with him. The woman showed the Levite into the house, and when her father saw him, he gave him a warm welcome. 4The father insisted that he stay, and so he stayed for three days. The couple had their meals and spent the nights there. 5On the morning of the fourth day they woke up early and got ready to go. But the woman's father said to the Levite, “Have something to eat first. It will do you good. You can go later.”
6So the two men sat down and ate and drank together. Then the woman's father said to him, “Please spend the night here and enjoy yourself.”
7The Levite got up to go, but the father urged him to stay, so he spent another night there. 8Early in the morning of the fifth day he started to leave, but the woman's father said, “Eat something, please. Wait until later in the day.” So the two men ate together.
9When the man, his concubine, and the servant once more started to leave, the father said, “Look, it's almost evening now; you might as well stay all night. It will be dark soon; stay here and have a good time. Tomorrow you can get up early for your journey and go home.”
10-11But the man did not want to spend another night there, so he and his concubine started on their way, with their servant and two donkeys with pack saddles. It was late in the day when they came near Jebus (that is, Jerusalem), so the servant said to his master, “Why don't we stop and spend the night here in this Jebusite city?”
12-13But his master said, “We're not going to stop in a city where the people are not Israelites. We'll pass on and go a little farther and spend the night at Gibeah or Ramah.” 14So they went past Jebus and continued on their way. It was sunset when they came to Gibeah in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. 15They turned off the road to go and spend the night there. They went into the city and sat down in the square, but no one offered to take them home for the night.
16While they were there, an old man came by at the end of a day's work in the fields. He was originally from the hill country of Ephraim, but he was now living in Gibeah. (The other people there were from the tribe of Benjamin.) 17The old man noticed the traveller in the city square and asked him, “Where do you come from? Where are you going?”
18The Levite answered, “We have been to Bethlehem in Judah, and now we are on our way home19.18 One ancient translation home; Hebrew to the house of the LORD. deep in the hill country of Ephraim. No one will put us up for the night, 19even though we have fodder and straw for our donkeys, as well as bread and wine for my concubine and me and for my servant. We have everything we need.”
20The old man said, “You are welcome in my home! I'll take care of you; you don't have to spend the night in the square.” 21So he took them home with him and fed their donkeys. His guests washed their feet and had a meal.
They were enjoying themselves when all of a sudden some sexual perverts from the town surrounded the house and started beating on the door. They said to the old man, “Bring out that man that came home with you! We want to have sex with him!”
23But the old man went outside and said to them, “No, my friends! Please! Don't do such an evil, immoral thing! This man is my guest. 24Look! Here is his concubine and my own daughter, who is a virgin. I'll bring them out now, and you can have them. Do with them whatever you want. But don't do such an awful thing to this man!” 25But the men would not listen to him. So the Levite took his concubine and put her outside with them. They raped her and abused her all night long and didn't stop until morning.
26At dawn the woman came and fell down at the door of the old man's house, where her husband was. She was still there when daylight came. 27Her husband got up that morning, and when he opened the door to go on his way, he found his concubine lying in front of the house with her hands reaching for the door. 28He said, “Get up. Let's go.” But there was no answer. So he put her body across the donkey and started on his way home. 29
When he arrived, he went into the house and got a knife. He took his concubine's body, cut it into twelve pieces, and sent one piece to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 30Everyone who saw it said, “We have never heard of such a thing! Nothing like this has ever happened since the Israelites left Egypt! We have to do something about this! What will it be?”