In those days Israel didn't have a king. There was a Levite who lived deep in the hill country of Ephraim. He got a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah.
But she wasn't faithful to him. She left him. She went back to her father's house in Bethlehem in Judah. She stayed there for four months.
Then her husband went to see her. He tried to talk her into coming back with him. He had his servant and two donkeys with him. She took her husband into her father's house. When her father saw him, he gladly welcomed him.
His father-in-law, the woman's father, begged him to stay. So he remained with him for three days. He ate, drank and slept there.
On the fourth day they got up early. The Levite prepared to leave. But the woman's father spoke to his son-in-law. He said, "Have something to eat. It will give you strength. Then you can go on your way."
So the two of them sat down. They ate and drank together. After that, the woman's father said, "Please stay tonight. Enjoy yourself."
The man got up to go. But his father-in-law talked him into staying. So he stayed there that night.
On the morning of the fifth day, he got up to go. But the woman's father said, "Have something to eat. It will give you strength. Wait until this afternoon!" So the two of them ate together.
Then the man got up to leave. His concubine and his servant got up when he did. But his father-in-law, the woman's father, spoke to him again. "Look," he said. "It's almost evening. The day is nearly over. So spend another night here. Please stay. Enjoy yourself. Early tomorrow morning you can get up and go back home."
But the man didn't want to stay another night. So he left. He went toward Jebus. He had his two donkeys and his concubine with him. The donkeys had saddles on them. Jebus is also called Jerusalem.
By the time the travelers came near Jebus, the day was almost over. So the servant said to his master, "Come. Let's stop at this Jebusite city. Let's spend the night here."
His master replied, "No. We won't go into a city where strangers live. The people there aren't from Israel. We'll continue on to Gibeah."
He added, "Come. Let's try to reach Gibeah or Ramah. We can spend the night in one of those places."
So they continued on. As they came near Gibeah in Benjamin, the sun went down.
They stopped there to spend the night. They went to the city's main street and sat down. But no one took them home for the night.
That evening an old man came into the city. He had been working in the fields. He was from the hill country of Ephraim. But he was living in Gibeah. The people who lived there were from the tribe of Benjamin.
The old man saw the traveler in the main street. He asked, "Where are you going? Where did you come from?"
The Levite answered, "We've come from Bethlehem in Judah. We're on our way to Ephraim. I live deep in the hill country there. I've been to Bethlehem. Now I'm going to the house of the Lord. But no one has taken me home for the night.
We have straw and feed for our donkeys. We have food and wine for ourselves. We have enough for me, my female servant and the young man who is with us. We don't need anything."
"You are welcome at my house," the old man said. "I'd be happy to supply anything you might need. But don't spend the night in the street."
So the old man took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After the travelers had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.
They were inside enjoying themselves. But some of the evil men who lived in the city surrounded the house. They pounded on the door. They shouted to the old man who owned the house. They said, "Bring out the man who came to your house. We want to have sex with him."
The owner of the house went outside. He said to them, "No, my friends. Don't do such an evil thing. This man is my guest. So don't do this terrible thing.
"Look, here is my virgin daughter. And here's the Levite's concubine. I'll bring them out to you now. You can have them. Do to them what you want to. But don't do such a terrible thing to this man."
The men wouldn't listen to him. So the Levite sent his concubine out to them. They forced her to have sex with them. They raped her all night long. As the night was ending, they let her go.
At sunrise she went back to the house where her master was staying. She fell down at the door. She stayed there until daylight.
Later that morning her master got up. He opened the door of the house. He stepped out to continue on his way. But his concubine was lying there. She had fallen at the doorway of the house. Her hands were reaching out toward the door.
He said to her, "Get up. Let's go." But there wasn't any answer. Then he put her dead body on his donkey. And he started out for home.
When he reached home, he got a knife. He cut up his concubine. He cut her into 12 pieces. He sent them into all of the territories of Israel.
Everyone who saw it said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen or done before. Nothing like this has happened since the day the people of Israel came up out of Egypt. Think about it! Consider it! Tell us what to do!"