Now in those days Israel had no king. There was a man from the tribe of Levi living in a remote area of the hill country of Ephraim. One day he brought home a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine.
But she was unfaithful to him and returned to her father's home in Bethlehem. After about four months,
her husband took a servant and an extra donkey to Bethlehem to persuade her to come back. When he arrived at her father's house, she took him inside, and her father welcomed him.
Her father urged him to stay awhile, so he stayed three days, eating, drinking, and sleeping there.
On the fourth day the man was up early, ready to leave, but the woman's father said, "Have something to eat before you go."
So the two of them sat down together and had something to eat and drink. Then the woman's father said, "Please stay the night and enjoy yourself."
The man got up to leave, but his father-in-law kept urging him to stay, so he finally gave in and stayed the night.
On the morning of the fifth day he was up early again, ready to leave, and again the woman's father said, "Have something to eat; then you can leave some time this afternoon." So they had another day of feasting.
That afternoon, as he and his concubine and servant were preparing to leave, his father-in-law said, "Look, it's getting late. Stay the night and enjoy yourself. Tomorrow you can get up early and be on your way."
But this time the man was determined to leave. So he took his two saddled donkeys and his concubine and headed in the direction of Jebus (that is, Jerusalem).
It was late in the day when they reached Jebus, and the man's servant said to him, "It's getting too late to travel; let's stay in this Jebusite city tonight."
"No," his master said, "we can't stay in this foreign city where there are no Israelites. We will go on to Gibeah.
We will find a place to spend the night in either Gibeah or Ramah."
So they went on. The sun was setting as they came to Gibeah, a town in the land of Benjamin,
so they stopped there to spend the night. They rested in the town square, but no one took them in for the night.
That evening an old man came home from his work in the fields. He was from the hill country of Ephraim, but he was living in Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin.
When he saw the travelers sitting in the town square, he asked them where they were from and where they were going.
"We have been in Bethlehem in Judah," the man replied. "We are on our way home to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim, and we're going to the Tabernacle of the LORD. But no one has taken us in for the night,
even though we have everything we need. We have straw and fodder for our donkeys and plenty of bread and wine for ourselves."
"You are welcome to stay with me," the old man said. "I will give you anything you might need. But whatever you do, don't spend the night in the square."
So he took them home with him and fed their donkeys. After they washed their feet, they had supper together.
While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men in the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, "Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him."
The old man stepped outside to talk to them. "No, my brothers, don't do such an evil thing. For this man is my guest, and such a thing would be shameful.
Here, take my virgin daughter and this man's concubine. I will bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you like to them. But don't do such a shameful thing to this man."
But they wouldn't listen to him. Then the Levite took his concubine and pushed her out the door. The men of the town abused her all night, taking turns raping her until morning. Finally, at dawn, they let her go.
At daybreak the woman returned to the house where her husband was staying. She collapsed at the door of the house and lay there until it was light.
When her husband opened the door to leave, he found her there. She was lying face down, with her hands on the threshold.
He said, "Get up! Let's go!" But there was no answer. a So he put her body on his donkey and took her home.
When he got home, he took a knife and cut his concubine's body into twelve pieces. Then he sent one piece to each tribe of Israel.
Everyone who saw it said, "Such a horrible crime has not been committed since Israel left Egypt. Shouldn't we speak up and do something about this?"
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)