Pleading hands stretch out on a wooden doorframe. Crimson blood stains its lintel. A woman’s life slips silently away as the members of the household sleep in peace, safe on the other side of the door. Do they not care that she has spent the night in indescribable torture? Does it not matter to them that she has been raped and beaten beyond recognition? But they sleep on, undisturbed by her plight. And she breathes her last, voiceless in life as in death.
In those days Israel had no king. Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. But she was unfaithful to him. She left him and went back to her father’s house in Bethlehem, Judah.
What voice did she have in leaving home and becoming a concubine? Bethlehem was her birthplace, and yet her father had handed her over to this hill-country Levite to be his second-rate wife, a sex servant with benefits. But even concubines had the right to leave their husbands and go back home if they were being mistreated. And for whatever reason, that was exactly what she chose to do.
After she had been there four months, her husband went to her to persuade her to return. … She took him into her father’s house, and when her father saw him, he gladly welcomed him. …so he remained with him three days, eating and drinking, and sleeping there. … But, unwilling to stay another night, the man left and went toward Jebus (that is, Jerusalem), with his two saddled donkeys and his concubine.
Judges 19:3-4, 10
Who asked her if she wanted to return to her husband? Four months later when he turned up at her doorstep, she took him in. But the next four days were full of her husband and her father eating, drinking, and partying together while she stood silently by. In the end she was packed off along with the servant and the donkeys, little more than a possession to be claimed and controlled by the men in her life.
While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”
The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. …Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish…”
But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go.
At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, “Get up; let’s go.” But there was no answer.
What choice was she given in being shoved out the door into an angry mob of violent, degenerate men? Her husband had made the choice to leave late and to stay overnight in this town. Their host had made the offer of sex with his unmarried daughter and herself to the locals who were after her Levite husband. And her husband had sent her out to them, sacrificing her body in place of his own.
Cruel blows. Ruthless piercing. Throughout the night she was tossed from man to man, used and abused as her husband and their host had given permission. When they were finally finished with her, she crept back to the house she had been thrown out of and fell down outside the door, a heap of discarded leftovers.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy.
The woman’s hands said what her voice could not. They reached for the threshold of the doorway, grasping hold of it in a silent plea for sanctuary. Upturned eyes implored to be noticed. Outstretched hands begged to be received. Silent screams pled for mercy.
The night remained silent. The door remained shut. And her life ended.
The abused may be voiceless, but we are not forgotten. We may be silent, but we are heard.
But her story didn’t. The voice that went un-heard by men was compassionately listened to by God. The life that had been trashed by men was tenderly honored by God. And though He took His time in doing so, He came down to personally enter into her suffering.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions…
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
Isaiah 53:3-5, 7
Pleading hands stretched out on a wooden cross-frame. Crimson blood staining the beams. The Bethlehem-born Son of God, rejected by His family and tossed out by the Levites to an angry mob. Beaten, molested, pierced, and marred beyond recognition. Silent voice. Upturned eyes. A sacrificial lamb, life laid down in the place of others.
But God did not abandon Him there. Nor did He abandon her, or the many others like her. As gruesome as her story is, it is still being experienced by countless women who live at the mercy of merciless men. Social systems may silence them. Men may ruthlessly control or selfishly use them. But God hears their cry and draws near. And the end of His story brings hope into theirs. He will not leave them in this hell. Resurrection is coming!
Abused but cherished. Isolated but not alone. Voiceless but heard.
I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave…
13 thoughts on “Voiceless.”
Reblogged this on When Church Hurts and commented:
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Sometimes all that one can have faith in is that the blood of Abel will cry out and be heard, in the end.
Tiffany, as I read this story in the light of your own sufferings it brought to it a depth that I had never seen before. It was your story right there in the Bible that I had glibly read many times before without impact on me. You made it personal and drove it into my heart. How can I not feel the sufferings that have gone on in the lives so many women? How can I not reach out to them, pleading with God to make me an instrument of His healing for them as He lets me feel their pain and sorrow? How can any man undo what men have done to a violated woman? Only ONE Man can, Jesus Christ, and only as HE abides in me am I of any use to any person on this earth. Thank you for sharing your life and sufferings with us.
Michael, Your heart echoes the heart of your Maker. What a gift you bring to the church, weeping for those who have been hurt and redeeming their image of manhood. May your sheltering, sacrificial love point all the women in your life back to our Kinsman-Redeemer.
Yes, Tiffany, that is my desire. That they all might know the One who has healing in His wings and a New Creation Life for them that He has purchase with His blood for HE IS our Kinsman-Redeemer.
Reblogged this on A Wilderness Voice and commented:
This is a must read for anyone who has been abused and tossed away by their uncaring attackers and suffered from the indifference of those who should have cared.
Oh, sister! I have read this passage before, but it took you to open it up for me. Only one who has suffered abuse could ask the questions you have asked and fill in the possible details behind the Biblical account. It’s stunning to consider the correlation between this woman’s story and the life and death of our Saviour! His love was, and is, so great that we can never fully comprehend it, but we DO receive it! Thank you, dear Tiffany ♥.
Reblogged this on Seated At The Master's Feet and commented:
It’s not easy to look at the evil behind the abuse of women, but God wants you to face it, because He told us the story of a sexually abused concubine, in the Book of Judges. Fellow blogger, Tiffany, opens up this passage in ways you wouldn’t expect!
Thank you Tiffani, for these beautifully written words! I have read many books, articles and testimonies through the years but none has touched me as deeply as this one. I read it to my husband and it rendered him speechless, that is a first for him! LOL!
I love the way you tied in the Word of God, with each segment building up to a great finally, it gives me fresh hope when I have thought that my hope and faith for healing and change might never come! God, bless you for this!
My heart aches for you, “Q,” thinking of the pain that you must have carried in silence for so long. Even with supportive, loving family and friends, sometimes it is still impossible to get your experience out of your head and into words that they can understand. My consolation during those times is the experience of a God who hears my heart even when I can’t express it. May He hold you close and gently, slowly, lift your gaze to the new creature that He has been giving birth to in you. I suspect it will be a reflection of His image even more glorious than who you were before.
Beautifully worded, Tiffany,
Thank you. It’s hard to image this really happening to anyone, not to mention God.