First published 5/30/11 on The Doctor Weighs In
There was a traveller of the tribe of Levi and his concubine who came to Gibea, a town southwest of Jerusalem, in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. As they sat down to dine they were attacked by the townspeople and he offered his concubine to the mob in order to prevent being assaulted himself. The concubine was raped all night by the mob. The next morning the man carried his murdered concubine to their home town, cut her body into twelve pieces and sent them to the twelve tribes of Israel. The people, especially those of the tribe of Ephraim, upon hearing about the dastardly deed were outraged and proceeded to raze several Benjaminite towns, killing every man woman and child in them.
I was shaken by this story. The image of the man carrying his woman’s body, all alone, silent, grieving, probably crying quietly, tugged at this little boy’s heartstrings. Why did the townspeople do it? I asked the teacher. They were bad people, but they believed they were carrying out God’s will, was the answer. And why did the people of Ephraim kill every man, woman and child? Because they believed they were meting out God’s punishment. Of course, a young child cannot quite put his finger on the philosophical inconsistencies of the answer. But six decades later I am still asking the same questions about Muslims raping, maiming and killing their own because it’s God’s will.