It sounds like the story line from an episode of CSI or Criminal Minds, but this case is real. A well-revered pastor cut the body of a woman into twelve parts and sent them to leaders of twelve different nations. When all was said and done, the clergyman was identified, but never arrested. In fact, he eventually became a hero of sorts – a world-wide legend.
Our story begins when the preacher in question solicited a woman for ongoing sexual companionship. Though they never got married, in the traditional sense, he developed a deep fondness for her.
One day the minister apparently did something that made the woman furious. She returned home to her Father. For several months the clergyman went about his regular routine. It is uncertain whether he believed she would return on her own or something else was in play. We do know that after several months, he decided to go after her. After a long journey he arrived at the man’s house and found his companion. At her father encouragement they stayed for several enjoyable days. By the time they headed home, it seemed everything was back to normal.
After getting a late start, they traveled as far as they could, but by sundown they knew they would need to stop for the night. When every other hope for lodging had evaporated and they thought they had resolved themselves to a night on the streets, they fortuitously crossed paths with an old farmer who was more than generous to these strangers. He opened his home and cupboard to the travelers and insisted they stay with him.
The new friends hit it off like they had known each other for years. A little food, a little wine and everyone was having a great time. That was when the trouble began.
Someone had seen the couple go home with the old man and had reported it to a vicious local gang. The men assembled at the old man’s house and began beating on the door and shouting. They demanded that the old man turn the preacher over to them so they could rape him.
The old man begged them to leave them alone, but they refused. With no confidence in the corrupt local authorities, the man did something that seems totally bizarre; He offered the woman guest and his own young daughter to the crowd in an effort to protect the pastor. Still, the crowd kept screaming for the clergyman. Finally the reverend grabbed his companion and threw her out the door slamming it behind her. The crowd went wild raping her repeatedly until dawn. After she was let go, the woman dragged herself to the threshold of the house where she collapsed.
When the pastor walked out the door the next morning, he called to her but she didn’t respond – she was dead. He picked her up and took her home. Upon arriving at his house, he cut the body up and sent it to the twelve leaders. The nations were outraged and put together a combined pose’ of 400,000 armed men. When they found the preacher, he told them the story and framed the narrative around the evil and injustice prevalent in the offending town. In the end, the town refused to turn-over those responsible and an all-out war ensued resulting in the town’s defeat and the re-establishment of justice.
“Such a horrible crime has not been committed in all the time since Israel left Egypt. Think about it! What are we going to do? Who’s going to speak up?” Judges 19:30 (NLT)