Yet another reason for seeking a concubine was to demonstrate control over the assets and legacy of a father or king. Reuben attempted to force the hand of Jacob into declaring him the primary heir of the family by sleeping with his father’s concubine (Gen 35:22). The same happened in royal circles. Abner, Absalom, and Adonijah all either slept with a king’s concubine or attempted to do so in order to advance their legitimacy as a royal figure (2 Sam 3:7; 16:21-22; 1 Kings 2:17, 21-25).

Concubines have a more extended presence in two Bible stories. The first comes at the close of the book of Judges as the climax to a series of events that Illustrate the depths to which the morality of God’s people had sunk. A Levite from the hill country of Ephraim had married a concubine from Bethlehem. She was unfaithful to him and then left him returned to her paternal home. Four months later, her husband went to resolve the matter and brought his concubine home with him. On the way back, they stopped at Gibeah, an Israelite city where they could expect a respectful and warn reception. Instead they found themselves threatened by the lord residents. To save himself, the Levite offered his concubine to the men pounding on the door of the home in which they were staying. The concubine was sexually assaulted throughout the night by the men at the door and died as a result. the Levite took her body, cut it into twelve pieces, and sent them throughout the land to call for retribution against Gibeah (Judg 19:1-30).

The second story takes us to a time when David ruled all Israel. The Gibeonites asked David to execute seven of the male descendants of Saul for the crimes that the king of Israel had committed against them. Included among those executed were two sons of Rizpah, the concubine of Saul. After their execution, their bodies were intentionally left unburied. Rizpah stayed near the bodies of her two sons the entire summer, keeping the birds and predators from further dishonoring the decomposing bodies of her sons. This striking act of family devoting motivated David to secure the remains of Saul and Jonathan from Jabesh Gilead so they could be buried with honor in the family tomb (2 Sam 21:2-14).

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