By Levi Clancy for לוי on
Judges 19 starts with 'in those days' etc -- the Levite is from the hill country of Ephraim. The author emphasized that the southern tribe Judah, the father-in-law, was absolutely hospitable and friendly. It is an enclave, it is separate from the rest of Israel. When they leave they do not stop in Israel because it is all foreigners.
Outrage at Gibeah
They are finally taken in by a non-Gibean. They are not hospitable, they do not welcome Israelites, they are unpleasant. Then while they are having dinner, the Gibeans come to rape the Levite. But they are given the concubine instead, and they rape her to death. Then he cuts her up and sends out the body parts. Nobody really looks good. It is an image of social chaos. Even who you would expect to be great (the Levites, those who are ministers and priests) still look callous and bad. And these are the people in the tribe of Benjamin, who are still Israelites.
What purpose does the story serve?
Story is prefaced by the phrase when there was no king in Israel. Consider the story as a contrast between Gibeah (Benjamin) and Jebus (eventual capital of Israel). The tribal territory of Judah and the city of Jerusalem, despite being mainly foreigners, likely would have been better than Gibeah. It tuns out that Gibeah is the hometown of the first king of Israel, Saul, who was a failed king. So Gibeah is mocked and Jerusalem is David's hometown which may have been better. This is a political undercurrent: apple doesn't all far from the tree, right?