Judges 19 is the beginning of one of the most sordid incidents in all of scripture. It tells the story of a Levite and his faithless concubine facing sodomite townspeople and a horrible rape-murder that leads to civil war and the near-destruction of the tribe of Benjamin after that tribe was unwilling to prosecute the guilty citizens of Gibeah. Though the horrifying incident is one of the more widely known stories of the Bible (the incident has even served as the title of books). It may not be widely known or understood, though, that the Levite was almost certainly a member of the Sons of Korah, though.
The text of Judges does not say that, but it provides enough hints that it leaves two possibilities for the identity of the Levite, either a member of the Sons of Korah (whose place of residence was in the hills of Ephraim and Manasseh ), or a Levite (like the grandson of Moses in Judges 17 and 18) who had left his previous domain in Bethlehem of Judah and settled in the hills of Ephraim. Therefore we have two possiblities here—either the Levites discussed in the last part of Judges are the same, or one of them is a member of the Sons of Korah. While recognizing both possibilities exist, this essay works under the assumption that the Levite in question is a member of the Sons of Korah, examining some of the reasons why.
Judges 19:1-9: A Levite And His Faithless Concubine
Judges 19:1-9 begins the story of the Levite and His Concubine in such a way that invites a great deal of thought and reflection. The story introduces the two and puts them in a situation that is obviously unpleasant but at the same time puzzling. In fact, there are numerous puzzles in this chapter as a whole that seem deliberately understated. Let us seek to examine them in turn.
Judges 19:1-9 reads as follows: “And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote mountains of Ephraim. He took or himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. But his concubine played the harlot against him, and went away from him to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah and was there four whole months. Then her husband arose and went after her, to speak kindly to her and bring her back, having his servant and a couple of donkeys with him. So she brought him into her father’s house; and when the father of the young woman saw him, he was glad to meet him. Now his father-in-law, the young woman’s father, detained him, and he stayed with him three days. So they ate and drank and lodged there. Then it came to pass on the fourth day that they arose early in the morning, and he stood to depart, but the young woman’s father said to his son-in-law, “Refresh your heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go on your way.” So they sat down, and the two of them ate and drank together. Then the young woman’s father said to the man, “Please be content to stay all night, and let your heart be merry.” And when the man stood to depart, his father-in-law urged him; so he lodged there again. Then he arose early in he morning on the fifth day to depart, but the young woman’s father said, “Please refresh your heart.” So they delayed until afternoon; and both of them ate. And when the man stood to depart—he and his concubine and his servant—his father-in-law, the young woman’s father, sai to him, “Look, the day is now drawing toward evening; please spend the night. See, the day is coming to an end; lodge here, that your heart may be merry. Tomorrow go your way early, so that you may get home.”
This particular passage invites a great deal of speculation simply because it leaves a lot of details unsaid. For example, the passage begins with an ominous note that these events took place in a time when there was no king in Israel, which is usually a set up for people doing what is right with their own eyes (which ends up nearly invariably being wrong). Nonetheless, even more so than most parts of Judges, this chapter invites a comparison to the early monarchial period and its events, as that provides an intriguing context which which to view the locations and behavior of these people.
Let us also note that this story is about a certain Levite. Presumably the author of Judges knew precisely which Levite was being referred to, and chose deliberately not to name him. We might ask why this was the case, given his willingness to name the Levite who helped make Dan a center of idolatrious worship in the previous two chapters, but we can only guess (though if the author of Judges was a Levite of the Sons of Korah himself, and wished not to name one of his own ancestors in such a shameful incident, but wished merely to imply it, we might better understand the reasons for the omission of that detail).
It is also worthwhile to ponder, in light of the previous story about a Levite finding favor first with Micah’s household shrine and then with the renegade members of the tribe of Dan, just what the appeal was of a Levite in these debased times in Israel. Given the unrighteous worship and behavior of the Israelites in the times of the Judges, and their near total disregard for God’s law, it seems puzzling that in both stories at the close of Judge that having a Levite in the household seems like a good luck charm, a superstitious way of being close to God without knowing God’s ways or following them. This tendency, which we see with Micah and the Danites and Moses’ grandson Jonathan, along with the cloying, Hotel Bethlehem quality of Judges 19:1-9 where the Levite can check out any time he wants but he can never leave, would indicate that during the time of the Judges the priests and Levites completely failed in their job to teach Israel God’s law, one of the reasons that Israel ultimately demanded a human king, lacking knowledge or belief in their heavenly one.
Let us also note that this particular Levite, whomever he was, took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem of Judah. Given that it appears that he did not know her father before taking up with her, and given that he lived with her and did not formally marry her (perhaps that was another reason her father wanted him to stay, so that there could be an actual marriage arranged between his daughter and the young man, instead of their relationship of concubinage). The status of a concubine, being less than a wife, with all of the responsibilities of wifehood in keeping house with none of the privileges and respect, would seem to indicate that the Levite did not truly respect her, though he may have been fond of her cooking and lovemaking, thus his willingness to go after her to her father’s house.
Of course, the Levite’s concubine was unfaithful as well. Judges 19 records that she played the harlot. The Bible does not say how. She may have had a lover or a “fling” and may have been unfaithful in that sense to her “husband,” or she may have played the harlot through false religious worship. It is especially ironic that in an age when Israel was playing the harlot in a widespread and anarchial fashion (similar to our general decline of religious and civil authorities in the present world, with the resulting ‘playing the harlot’ among the people at large), that the Bible simply notes in passing that this concubine did the same thing within her own relationship, a massive understatement to the playing the harlot that was running rampant within the society at the time.
It is very curious to note the delay that the author of Judges points out in the Levite leaving his father-in-law’s home. The repetition makes it plain that he should have gotten going and not wasted his time with the poisonous hospitality. He ought to have gotten his business done—found out the real reason his father-in-law wanted him to linger—and then gotten out in time to get home safely. It would seem therefore that both the Levite and the father-in-law are partly to blame for the horrible rape and murder of their beloved young woman, though, by virtue of cloying hospitality on one hand and a lack of will to leave promptly on the other.
Judges 19:10-15: A Mistaken Choice
In Judges 19:10-15, the presumptive Son of Korah makes a deadly choice, but a choice that in light of the history of the Judges and the early Monarchy, has especially ominous meaning. Additionally, we will not that the tragedy of the Levite and His concubine has clearly historical meaning and importance with the failure of Israel on multiple levels, a fact that the author of Judges deals with very implicitly.
Judges 19:10-15 reads as follows: “However, the man was not willing to spend that night; so he rose and departed, and came to opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). With him were two saddled donkeys; his concubine was also with him. They were near Jubus, and the day was far spent; and the servant said to his master, “Come, plesae, and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites and lodge in it.” But his master said to him, “We will not turn aside here into a city of foreigners, who are not of the children of Israel; we will go on to Gibeah.” So he said to his servant, “Come, let us draw near to cone of these places, and spent the night in Gibeah or in Ramah.” And they passed by and went their way; and the sun went down on them near Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin. They turned aside there to go in to lodge in Gibeah. And when he went in, he sat down in the open square of the city, for no one would take them into his house to spend the night.”
Let us examine Judges 19 briefly as a tale of four cities. The tragedy started in Bethlehem of Judah, the city of David, where the Levite was not willing to stay with his father-in-law. By refusing to stay but wasting a whole morning, he made it impossible to reach home in Ephraim in a day. He then went to Jerusalem, the other city of David, but was unwilling to stop there because it was a Gentile city, even though it was on the list of cities to be conquered during the time of the Judges, but Israel had “never gotten around to it.” Joshua 15:63 blames the tribe of Judah for failure to conquer Jerusalem. In Judges 1:21, Benjamin is blamed for the failure. At any rate, both tribes failed to take the city on their border, leaving the Levite to try for a longer trip than necessary, to put himself and his concubine and service in danger. The third city is Gibeah. This city is the city of Saul—the city where the tragedy occurs. More about this city will be said in due time. The fourth city is Ramah, the city of Samuel and his kin  , and presumably the family of the Levite, at least distantly. The fact that all four of these cities are vitally important in the early monarchial period is probably not coincidental.
Let us note briefly that in this story the friendly Middle Eastern donkey makes a humble appearance here as the ride for the donkey. The symbolism of the donkey here is subtle, but interesting. Unlike the false prophet who beat his donkey, or the Son of God who rode on a donkey into Jerusalem, the Levite is a man who ride his donkey past Jerusalem, and instead of sacrificing himself to protect his woman, sacrifices his woman to protect himself, acting in the opposite of the Christly fashion, and in the same way that Lot acted in Sodom. The donkey references, subtle in both the beginning of this chapter and here, and also later on when we meet the fellow citizen of Ephraim (perhaps a fellow Levite as well), brings the contrast between the future behavior of the Levite and that of Jesus Christ, who died for his sinful Church so that their sins may be forgiven, into sharp contrast.
There are some more ominous ironies in this chapter concerning the lack of a place to stay in an ungodly city. Jesus’ mother and stepfather had no place to stay in Bethlehem because the inn was full and because so many descendents of David were in town due to the decree of Ceasar Augustus. When the angels visited Sodom in Genesis 19, they too could find no place to stay, except with a stranger in town. The same is true for the Levite and his party, as we shall see. The connection between the lack of hospitality to strangers and the desire to exploit others sexually seems to be an ominous biblical parallel. Sinful behaviors that merit immediate judgment by God by fire (like desires to rape strangers and the helpless, like children) and a lack of hospitality to outsiders seem to be related in scripture. If we do not see others as like ourselves, and love them, we already hate them in our hearts, and therefore it is but a small step to not respect them, but rather to exploit them as “fresh meat.” This is a tendency we must be careful to notice in others, and equally intent on eradicating within ourselves.
Judges 19:16-21: Hospitality At Last
Judges 19:16-21 shows how the Levite finally found hospitality with a fellow citizen of Ephraim (maybe even a fellow Levite of the Sons of Korah), who was new in town and therefore comparably uncorrupted. In fact, the parallels between this part of the passage and Lot’s kindness towards the two angels who came to Sodom before that city’s fiery destruction (the same fate that awaited Gibeah) is striking.
Judges 19:16-21 reads as follows: “Just then an old man came in from his work in the field at evening, who was also from the mountains of Ephraim; he was staying in Gibeah, whereas the men of that place were Benjaminites. And when he raised his eyes, he sw the traveler in the open square of the city; and the old man said, “Where are you going, and where do you come from?” So he said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah toward the remote mountains of Ephraim; I am from there. I went to Bethlehem in Judah, now I am going to the house of the Lord. But there is no one who will take me into his house, although we have both straw and fodder for our donkeys, and bread and wine for myself, for your femle servant, and or the young man who is with your servant; there is no lack of anything. And the old man said, “Peace be with you! However, let all your needs be my responsibility; only do not spend the night in the open square.” So he brought him into his house, and gave fodder to the donkeys. And they washed their feet, and ate and drank.”
The comparison passage in Genesis 19:1-3 is very similar: “Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.” But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.”
Let us note that though there are differences, a large amount of parallels exist between the two accounts. For one, in both cases we have strangers in a dangerous city in the open square (the angels wanted to stay there, being safe from harm, the Levite and his concubine didn’t want to be there). We have a newcomer to the depraved city showing hospitality when no one else does, as well as a great deal of respect, after doing their normal jobs (judging in the gates or working in the fields). We have the same washing of the feet of the guests, and in Genesis a revealing reference to unleavened bread. We also have in both cases a newcomer to the town being sufficiently aware of the town’s dangers to strongly insist that the strangers not stay in the open square, which apparently in less depraved towns was a place where strangers could stay in the absence of a town inn (which generally had a bad reputation in the ancient world, innkeepers being considered akin to prostitutes, like the innkeeper Rehab of Jericho).
We do not know what brought the fellow citizen of Ephraim to Gibeah to farm, where he was hard at work in his field (we are not told how hard the Benjaminites of the area worked in their farms, notably). We are told, though, that Lot went to Sodom because of its great wealth, and he was somewhat attracted by greed, and not fully aware of the danger he was putting himself in by living in such a sinful city. It seems very possible that the fellow hill-dweller (and perhaps even Levite) was seeking the same opportunity, as Judges 17 and 18 show a Levite similarly attracted by economic opportunity outside of his home area, to such an extent as being willing to serve as a false priest of an idolatrious shrine, and even idolatrious worship for an entire tribe. We may therefore see that Judges and Genesis both show how basically decent people can be corrupted by their own lusts for gain, and their inability to see that the wealth of wicked cities like Sodom and Gibeah was to bring upon them greater destruction, rather than serving their own benefit.
Let us also note that the Levite states that he is going to the house of the Lord, presumably in Shiloh. It does not say that the Levite lived in that particular area, though he may (like the family of Elkanah) have lived nearby, as it did say he was interested in going as far as Ramah, which may have been their final destination, a Levitical city specifically inhabited by Korahites. His going to the House of Lord may have also been connected to a Holy Day observance and preparation for it (perhaps even the Passover season, as Genesis 19 seems to indicate was possibly the case for the angels’ visit to Lot in Sodom).
Judges 19:22-30: The Crime of Gibeah
Finally we come to the last and dramatic act of the citizens of Gibeah that made this incident so horrible and that brought the fiery judgment of God upon them. It should be noted that divine providence of a particularly terrible kind is found here in the Levite serving as bait, and the harloty of the concubine being held against her, even as the Levite himself is shown to be a less than compassionate fellow about the fate of his concubine.
Judges 19:22-30 reads as follows: “As they were enjoying themselves, suddenly certain men of the city, perverted men, surrounded the house and beat on the door. They spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came to your house, that we may know him carnally!” But the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brethren! I beg you, do not act so wickedly! Seeing this man has come into my house, do not commit this outrage. Look, here is my virgin daughter and the man’s concubine; let me bring them out now. Humble them, and do with them as you please; but do not do such a vile thing!” But the men would not heed him. So the man took his concubine and they brought her out to him. And they knew her and abused her all night until morning; and when the day began to break, they let her go. Then the woman came as the day was dawning, and ell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, till it was light. When her master arose in the morning, and opened the doors of the house and went out to go his way, there was his concubine, fallen at the door of the house with her hands on the threshhold. And he said to her, “Get up and let us be going.” But there was no answer. So the man lifte her onto the donkey; and the man got up and went to his place. When he entered his house he took a knife, laid hold of his concubine, and divided her into twelve piece limb by limb, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. And so it was that all who saw it said, “No such deed hs been done or seen from the day that the children of Israel came up from the land of Egypt until this day. Consider it, confer, and speak up!”
Let us note that just as in Sodom in Genesis 19, the men of Gibeah wanted to know the Levite carnally. It seems that debased cultures, when they have reached the state of terminal decline, are bored of the pleasures that result from fornication and adultery, as those are too normal and tame for them. In their place come homosexuality, or the “pleasures” of gang-raping, as is the case here. Indeed, the men of Gibeah show more interest in the concubine then they do with the young man’s virgin daughters, apparently seeing virginity as nothing interesting, but a concubine as someone whose sexual experience makes her a worthy victim. Either way, their action was an outrage.
The response of the men, both in Genesis 19 and here in Judges 19, is disappointing. Men are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church in Ephesians 5, but here we find men sacrificing their womenfolk to save their own butts (both literally and figuratively speaking). This is not self-sacrificial love, but rather cowardice and selfishness of the worst kind, showing meanness and a lack of nobility in character. The best that can be said for these craven men is that the ordinary (heathen) code of hospitality in the Middle East would seem to place the life of a male guest above that of the females, including the host’s own virgin daughters, even though the Bible does not itself condone this view, and that the exigency of the situation makes people generally seek to save their own skins and let the weaker suffer instead of them.
It should be noted that in this particular case the Levite and his concubine served as bait. This is the reason why this incident shows divine providence, albeit of a very grim kind. For one thing, the harlotry of the concubine was returned on her own head through the death penalty, even if it was enforced in a heinous and horrible way. Additionally, the Levite seems to have been punished for his lack of genuine concern by having her taken away from him thanks to his own cowardice. Let us note that both in Genesis 19 and Judges 19 the depraved men of the city surround the house, demand men, and receive fiery judgment. The Levite was therefore used by God, however horribly, in order to bring judgment upon an ungodly city. However unworthy he may have been as a man and a husband, he was righteous enough to serve as a witness against Gibeah for destruction, the other witness being the dismembered body of his concubine.
One of the saddest and most pathetic scenes in all of scripture is the sad account told of the raped and abused young woman, who had been gangraped all night crawling back to the house where her husband was staying, her hands on the threshold looking in vain for safety and security in the house as the sun comes up and as she dies. Though she was worthy of death for her (presumably unrepented) harlotry, she did not deserve to be used and to die like that. No one deserves to be raped and abused and any who engage in such behavior are worthy of the harshest judgment of fiery destruction in this life and the lake of fire in the judgment to come (unless they repent). The men of Gibeah, like most abusers in the melancholy course of human history, did not repent of their sin in the slightest degree, and so they deserved their judgment.
Let us also note the coldness of the attitude of the Levite towards his concubine, whose dishonorable death was his fault because he was a poltroon and refused to show self-sacrificial love to her. After she is given over to the debased lusts of the crowd of perverts in Gibeah, the text no longer calls him her “husband” as it did earlier. Now he is her master, sacrificing his servant (or slave) so that he might live, a dishonorable bargain to treat your supposedly beloved wife so recently wooed in the house of her father in Bethlehem. Most cold is his command to her, as she was lying dead on the threshold of the old man’s house, “Get up and let us be going,” as if nothing had happened at all.
To add insult to injury, the Levite did not even give his concubine an honorable burial. For it is the law in Israel that one buries bodies whole, but instead of honoring his concubine by burying her, seeing as her death was such a scandal and an outrage, and a judgment against him as well as against her own sins and the worse sins of the people of Gibeah, he dismembered her body and sent it as a call for war to all of Israel, divdiing her body into twelve parts and scattering the parts far and wide instead of keeping her body whole and honored. The Levite thus dishonored his concubine in death just as he had dishonored her in life by keeping her as a concubine (and not as a wife) and by leaving her to the ravages of perverts instead of protecting her from danger as was his responsibility as a man of honor.
Finally, before we leave this passage, let us note that the dismembered and silent witness of the brutality of the men of Gibeah and the coldness of her Levite “husband” had its desired result. The men of Israel who saw the body parts and the message that came along with it of the actions of the men of Gibeah ambiguously noted that no such deed had been done since Israel had been in the land—indeed, both the actions of the men of Gibeah were shocking (as they mirrored very precisely the actions of Sodom), but the response of the Levite in dismembering the body and sending its pieces all around would also have been unprecedented since Israel was in the land, since even convicted criminals were to be buried before the sun went down, rather than dishonored by having their bodies left above the earth, as the concubine’s body was, or dismembered, as was the way that the heathen dishonored the dead of their enemies.
Judges 20:1-11: The Sons of Korah Start A Civil War
Judge 20:1-11 gives the aftermath of the crime of Gibeah, showing how the Levite of the Sons of Korah started a civil war that nearly exterminated the tribe of Benjamin. In so doing the pasage implicitly demonstrate the council form of government favored by God over authoritarian rule, the responsibility of the Son of Korah in inspiring Israel to fight, the determination of Israel to avenge the crime, and the principle of tithing and a rare, and tragic, example of unity among Israel in seeking to destroy one of their own tribes.
In Judges 20:1-11 we read as follows: “So all the children of Israel came out, from Dan to Beersheba, as well as from the land of Gilead, and the congregation gathered together as one man before the Lord at Mizpah. And the leaders of the all the people, all the tribe of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand foot soldiers who drew the sword. (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) Then the children of Israel said, “Tell us, how did this wicked deed happen?” So the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, “My concubine and I went into Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin, to spend the night. And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and surrounded the house at night because of me. They intended to kill me, but instead they ravished my concubine so that she died. So I took hold of my concubine, cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout the inheritance of Israel, because they committed lewdness and outrage in Israel. Look! All of you are children of Israel, give your advice and counsel here and now!” So all of the people arose as one man, saying, “None of us will go back to his tent, nor will any turn back to his house; but now this is the thing which we will do to Gibeah: We will go up against it by lot. We will take ten men out of every hundred throughout all of the tribes of Israel, a hundred out of every thousand, and a thousand out of every ten thousand, to make provision for the people, that when they come to Gibeah in Benjamin, they may repay all the vileness that they have done in Israel.” So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united together as one man.”
Let us note that this passage demonstrates how God intended for the children of Israel to deliberate and decide matters. If only Israel had been able to show faith in God and unite together to conquer the Canaanites in their midst, or to defeat the Philistines who sought to dominate them with the strength of four hundred thousand soldiers united in obedience to God to execute his judgment on unbelivers. At any rate, the unity and (relative) faithfulness of Israel was expressed through a council set up where the leaders of all the tribes spoke up on behalf of their families, showing how Israel’s government should have functioned as an assembly during the time of the Judges, showing that they truly needed no king but God so long as they worshiped Him in spirit and truth. But they did not and could not, not consistenlty at least. Can we do better then they?
Let us also note that the Levite’s eloquence was a key element in inspiring the men of Israel to fight. The son of Korah told his story honestly, if not telling the whole truth about how he came to be stuck at Gibeah at nightfall, nor his own cowardice in shamefully giving the men of Gibeah his concubine to ravish, at least the truth about the actions and intentions of the men of Gibeah, calculated with such an appeal that the men of Israel united in judgment against Gibeah for its flagrant sins. Let us note that here in the appeal of the Levite the Korahite again becomes the loving husband rather than the cold-hearted master that we previously saw. He at least knew how to paint himself as a husband wronged, whatever the truth of the matter.
Let us note also that the people of Israel were bound and determined on fighting. They were resolved not to give any of their daughters (by consent) to the Benjaminites for wives (see Judges 21:1), and refused to go back to their tents and homes until judgment had been delivered on Gibeah. It is a sad thing that people can be stirred to great feats in delivering judgment upon other sinners when they cannot be stirred to examine themselves and their own sins. We are strong and mighty in condemnation, but often meek and timid in self-reflection. So Israel appears here in Mizpah, insufficiently aware of its own moral decay even as it grandstands as an avenging army of righteousness.
Let us also note in closing our commentary on this passage that the author of Judges over and over again talks about the unity of the Israelites. They speak as one man against the actions of the men of Gibeah. They resolve as one man to fight until they destroy the wicked city in judgment. They unite together as one man to avenge the unloved concubine of the Son of Korah who is not even named in this story, possibly to pretect the reputation of the guilty. It is sad that this story, the closing one of Judges, a period of anarchy and chaos, of moral decay and disunity, is almost the only unified action of the tribes in the entire book of Judges, as the tribes of Israel united to seek the annihilation of their own brethren. How sad a reality that is. Must we only be unified in judgment, hostility, and condemnation?
Let us note in closing that the role of the Sons of Korah in starting the horribly destructive civil war against the Benjaminites is an obscure one, requiring that one know the geographical home of the Sons of Korah within Israel as a whole. Let us note that the whole tale of the Levite and his concubine is tawdry and filled with all kinds of immoral behavior on all sides. No one looks innocent or righteous in the tale, and no one was, not in a truly godly sense. The war did not go as planned either, though that is a tale for another place. Twice Israel was defeated, suffering losses for its own unrepented sins, before finally almost all of Benjamin was wiped out, except 600 lonely men who got wives in tragic and destructive ways. Small wonder the book of Judge ends with the statement that “in those days there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” At least the Sons of Korah were a relatively righteous part of that ungodly people, though they did not rise to the level of godliness, self-sacrifice, teaching, and godly example that they had been charged to do by God. And that is to their shame, and ours, if we do not learn from the example and better it ourselves through the help of God’s Holy Spirit.