Abstract

Surprisingly little attention has been paid to the Levite of Judg 19–21, perhaps because he is unnamed and not listed in the standard Bible encyclopedias. This study examines Judg 19–21 in order to illuminate how the Levite is characterized in the narrative. Through close textual analysis, the Levite is shown to have a number of typical Levitical traits. For example, he is a sojourner living among people who are not his blood relatives, and he must therefore act independently. He is associated with YHWH’s temple and is demonstrably nationalistic and pan-tribal. His shocking, calculated, and gruesome behavior is both unique and reminiscent of other Levites as well, though he is never criticized for it. Yet he is much more than just a “type”; he is also a well-developed and nuanced character. This is best seen in his being accepted and integrated by some but marginalized and cast aside by others. He is also one of the greatest unifiers in the entire Hebrew Bible. Therefore, despite not being identified by name, the Levite of Judges 19–21 can still be considered one of the more richly drawn characters in the book of Judges and perhaps in the Hebrew Bible as a whole.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-3876
Print ISSN
0021-9231
Pages
pp. 721-730
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-30
Open Access
No
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