I have often heard that we are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). What is interesting in this passage is that right after Jesus agrees with this statement, he is asked “who is my neighbor?” Thus follows the parable of the good Samaritan. Jesus illustrates that anyone can be the victim of a crime, and also that anyone can be a neighbor to the one who has been harmed.
What is usually preached from this passage is a call to be a good neighbor to anyone in need by stopping, helping, maybe using one’s own resources to help, or maybe even putting one’s safety in jeopardy.
Such was the case of the old man in Judges who prevented a fellow traveler from being sodomized by some perverted men in the city. The old man obviously knew that the city was not safe to lodge openly, so he took the young man and his entourage into the place where he was staying. The old man was definitely a ‘good Samaritan’ to this traveler. Unfortunately, the men of the town would not give up so the concubine of the young man was tossed out to them.
I’ve always had a problem with this passage. It’s like reading a horror story: first the woman was given over to these men who raped and beat her “all night until morning,” she somehow crawled to the doorstep and lay there half dead, her master who made ready to leave saw her and told her to get up, unable to answer him she was placed on a donkey and taken home, then her master cut her into 12 pieces which he mailed to other towns.
This story appears to be told to illustrate how low the people had sunk in their wickedness. I’m pretty sure the story’s outcome was politically motivated since the point of the story was to get other tribes invested in going to war. Still there is something missing for me in the translation.
I want to ask, “Who was her neighbor?” Not even her master protected her though he was a Levite – a religious man. Yet he sacrificed this woman whose home he had just rested in, ate and drank, and “made merry” from the hospitality of her father.
This is one of those times that I have to look for a broader meaning than the shocking descriptions written about one person. The neighbors might not have taken up arms if the Levite had not been so drastic in his response to the brutality. So the neighbors in this story are more like the Allies in WWII. They came to end the destruction caused by greed and power-mad dictators. I suppose when I think along that path, I understand the sacrifice so many millions gave to end the killing and torture and the attempted genocide.
I just pray that as neighbors, we are willing to protect even the lowliest of all.