The Concubine of Gibeah 2


63"X40" oil on canvas/wood 1998

These paintings are all taken from the story in the Book of Judges of the concubine/wife who runs away from an abusive husband. After a few months, the husband travels to the house of the concubine's father in Bethlehem to reclaim her. They begin the return trip to their home, stopping to spend the night in a city of the Benjamite territory - Gibeah - where they believe they will be safe.

However, it is a time of anarchy - and a mob storms the house where they are spending the night and demands the husband. The host and the man are outraged, and they send the concubine out to appease the mob. She is gang-raped and dies, and in the morning when her husband opens the door, "...behold - his concubine/wife was fallen at the entrance of the house, with her hands on the threshold".

Her husband, seeking retribution, slices her body into 12 parts, and sends one part to each of the tribes of Israel. The Tribes are horrified at the atrocity and demand that the clans of Benjamin surrender the mob from Gibeah to them. They refuse, and in a series of ensuing assaults, thousands of men and women of the tribe of Benjamin are killed.

The narrative ends with the line - "In those days there was no king in Israel; a man would do whatever seemed proper in his eyes".

The motif of the wolf seen in the paintings refers to the prophetic vision of the future that Jacob gives to each of his 12 sons before his death. In a reference to this incident, Jacob tells Benjamin that his descendants will be like predatory wolves.


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