Now we move on to the next occurrence of Bet-Lechem-Judah in Judges 17 – 19. Before this are the two references to the northern Bet-Lechem, but since I’ve nothing to say on these, we will have to move on. (thoughts are welcome at the end)
In Judges 17 we have the events of the Levite from Bet-Lechem leaving to find somewhere to live. Why he would move, we don’t know, but one suggestion is that the events take place at the same time as the book of Ruth.
Ruth 1:1 Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Beth–lehem–judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.
Maybe the Levite also moved because of the famine? Never the less he ends up in the house of Micah, on the side of the Mountain of Ephrayim (doubly fruitful), where ironically he is joined to an idolatrous false religion. This shows the spiritual state of the house of bread in those days.
Chapter 19 continues as the Levite takes to himself a Concubine out of his home town of Bet-Lechem. She like Israel became unfaithful, just like Hosea’s wife.
Hosea 1:2 The beginning of the word of Yahweh by Hosea. And Yahweh said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from Yahweh.
So in the narrative of the Levite and his concubine are provided a little cameo portending what was going to happen to Israel, the ecclesial house of bread.
Judges 19:3 And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him into her father’s house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him.
Yahweh sought after Israel his wife, and pleaded with her many times through the prophets. This is not a pleasant story, but it is there to show us what our father thinks of Israel, and how he has loved her. She dies at the hands of the Benjaminites, just as Israel, she is destroyed by her “lovers”. After going after the false religion of Nimrod, the Assyrians and Babylonians come down and spoil her.
:29 And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine (being dead), and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the borders of Israel.
Israel as a carcase was scattered to the for corners of the winds, where they awaited till their regathering from the valley of dry bones (Ezk 37).