The narrative in Genesis with Lot's guests (19:1-11) and the one at the end of Judges with the concubine at Gibeah (Chapter 19) obviously parallel each other, and (as noted by Daat Mikra) even share some thematic language. Some Jewish commentators (e.g. Nachmanides, Malbim) outline the ways in which the cases are dissimilar, but do not deny that they are fundamentally parallel.

What message was the author of Judges trying to impart by drawing this parallel?

  • Hello, it's helpful if you give specific verse references so that people can easily look to see what you're referring to. I've also added a link to the two passages. Please feel free to edit to change the references, link, translation, etc. Thanks. – Susan Dec 28 '15 at 13:21
  • Good question, but you should include the exact passage references of the two incidents. I know what you're talking about, but you should have them in the question if nothing else than for the sake of people searching for this same question. I was reading this just a couple weeks ago and noted how the details in Judges seemed to be out of place, with no purpose. Add references and you'll get my +1 for sure – Joshua Dec 28 '15 at 13:22
  • I know both the question and answer are talked about in Ruth: From Alientation to Monarchy, but I never remember when I'm home... – Arithmomaniac Jan 11 '17 at 14:41

Reaves (Safeguarding the Stranger, 195) states that 'most' scholars agree the two passages are similar, with Judges 19 dependent on Genesis 19.

Lasine ('Guest and Host in Judges 19', JSOT 29, 38) suggests that the parallels in the text set up the reader to notice the contrasts, namely that the host and guest in the Judges story act opposite to their parallels in the Genesis story.

Hamilton (The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 38) says the present arrangement of the historical narrative from Genesis through Judges is meant to show that 'the sins of the nations became the sin of the chosen nation'; Israel became as bad as the nations they were mandated to rise above.

Bringing these sorts of observations together, Brettler (The Book of Judges, 88) posits that Judges 19.29 and 20.1 'allude to Saul's battle against Nahash the Ammonite in 1 Sam 11:7'.

The place names and tribal affiliation in this final episode of Judges are closely connected to Saul. Saul is from Gibeah (1 Sam 10:26), and is a Benjaminite (1 Sam 9:1).

Brettler goes on to list several other parallels between Saul's personal story and the episode in Judges 19-21. Working from these points, he asserts (91) that the story in Judges 19 was largely borrowed from the Genesis version and reworked into a political commentary on Israel's social condition before having a king, with the specific details of the city and tribe involved turning the story into anti-Saul polemic:

A woman is dismembered in a text to express the collapse of pre-monarchical society (Nidicth 1982; Lasine 1984), and more significantly, the inability of Saul to correct that collapse. When read fully, following its genre clues, the text really says: "In those days there was no king in Israel (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25) and Saul wouldn't be much better, either."

Yael Ziegler, Ruth: From Alienation to Monarchy (Jerusalem: Maggid, 2015), 44-45 suggests that the parallel emphasizes how close the Israelites were to becoming a society reaching the level of worthlessness and evil that they would warrant annihilation.

She says to further look in the following places:

  • George F. Moore, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Judges (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1895), 417-18 [Google Books]
  • [Quoted by Mark Edwards's answer] Stuart Lasine, "Guest and Host in Judges 19: Lot's Hospitality in an Inverted World," JSOT 2.9 (1984): 37-59 [SAGEPub]
  • Susan Niditch, "The 'Sodomite' Theme in Judges 19-20: Family, Community, and Social Disintegration," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 44 (1982): 365-78 [JSTOR]
  • David Penchansky, "Staying the Night: Intertextuality in Genesis and Judges," in Reading between Texts: Intertextuality and the Hebrew Bible, ed. Danna Nolan Fewell (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1991), 77-88 [Google Books]

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