In those days when Israel didn't have a king, there was a Levite who lived in a remote area in the mountains of Ephraim. He took a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine.
But she was unfaithful to him. She left him and went to her father's home, to Bethlehem in Judah. When she had been there four months,
her husband went to persuade her to come back home. He took along his servant and two donkeys. She took her husband into her father's house. Her father was thrilled to see him.
He made the Levite stay there with him, celebrating for three days.
On the fourth day they got up early in the morning to leave, but the woman's father told his son-in-law, "Eat something to keep up your strength and then you can go."
So they both sat down and ate and drank together. The woman's father said to his son-in-law, "Why don't you spend the night and enjoy yourself?"
When the Levite started to leave, his father-in-law urged him to stay another night, so he did.
On the morning of the fifth day, the Levite got up early to leave. The woman's father said, "Eat something to keep up your strength!" So they spent the time eating until late afternoon.
The Levite started to leave with his concubine and his servant. But his father-in-law said to him, "It's already evening. Please stay another night. It's too late [to leave] now. Stay here, and enjoy yourself. Tomorrow you can start out early to go home."
But the Levite refused to spend another night. He left and traveled as far as Jebus (now called Jerusalem). He had with him two saddled donkeys and his concubine.
By the time they were near Jebus, it was very late in the day. The Levite's servant said to him, "Let's go spend the night in Jebus."
The Levite told him, "We'll never go into a city of foreigners. They're not Israelites. We'll go on to Gibeah."
He told his servant, "Let's go someplace else. We'll spend the night either at Gibeah or Ramah."
So they went on. It was sunset by the time they arrived at Gibeah. (Gibeah belonged to the tribe of Benjamin.)
They went to spend the night there. The Levite entered Gibeah and sat down in the city square, because no one offered to take them home for the night.
That evening an old man came into the city from his work in the fields. He was from the mountain region of Ephraim but lived in Gibeah. The other people who lived there were from the tribe of Benjamin.
He saw the traveler in the city square. So the old man asked, "Where do you come from? And where are you going?"
The Levite replied, "We're on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a remote area in the mountains of Ephraim. That's where I'm from. I had gone to Bethlehem in Judah. Now I'm going to the LORD's house, but no one has offered to take me into his home.
We have straw and fodder for our donkeys. I even have bread and wine for myself, the woman, and my servant. We have everything we need."
Then the old man said, "Welcome! Let me take care of your needs. Just don't spend the night in the city square."
So he took the Levite to his house and fed the donkeys. After they washed, they ate and drank.
While they were enjoying themselves, some worthless men from the city surrounded the house and pounded on the door. They told the old man, the owner of the house, "Bring out the man who came to your house so that we can have sex with him."
The owner went out to them. He told them, "No, my friends! Please don't do anything so evil! This man is a guest in my home. Don't do such a godless thing!
Here, let me bring out my virgin daughter and this man's concubine. Rape them, and do with them whatever you want. Just don't do such a godless thing to this man."
But the men refused to listen to him. So the Levite grabbed his concubine and forced her outside. They had sex with her and abused her all night until morning. They let her go when the sun was coming up.
At daybreak, the woman came to the door of the house where her husband was and collapsed. She was still there when it became light.
Her husband got up in the morning, opened the doors of the house, and was about to leave. His wife (that is, his concubine) was lying at the door of the house with her hands on the doorstep.
The Levite said to her, "Get up! Let's go!" But she did not answer. So he put her on the donkey and left for home.
When he arrived home, he got a knife. He took his concubine and cut her limb from limb into 12 pieces. Then he sent the pieces throughout the territories of Israel.
Everyone who saw it said, "Never has such a thing happened or been seen from the time the people of Israel came out of Egypt until today. Think about it! Form a plan, and speak out!"