Alexiana Fry 

“Forgetting is a crucial factor in the creation of a nation.”[1]

“…being a fully realized human is the privilege of whites, Christians, and the native-born.” [2]

“fear does not simply come from within and then move outwards towards objects and others; rather, fear works to secure the relationship between those bodies…”[3]

Immigration has been a “hot-button” topic for quite some time, especially in the political spheres of the United States. Recent Gallup statistics indicate that it is the “fourth-most-frequently mentioned problem,”[4]with some odd paradoxes abounding, involving a 78 percent desire to take in up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees,[5] yet, “over half of American adults believe it is either completely or somewhat true that the U.S. is experiencing an invasion at the southern border.”[6]

This recent poll by NPR/IPSOS also adds to the previous statistic on the supposed invasion occurring at the border that “half believe there is at least some truth to the view that migrants bringing fentanyl and other illegal drugs over the southern border are responsible for the increases of overdoses in the U.S.”[7]Even these remarks are racially coded, although statistics have shown immigration as not a “Mexican” problem.[8] However, statistics have also shown if one were to be fearful or anxious about something or someone specific, the full truth would have to be told about the actual danger both past and present lying within and upon the United States’s own borders.[9]

Fear is potent and powerful. Fear is part of what Sara Ahmed calls “affective politics.” Ahmed specifically writes about fear as antitheses to vulnerability:

vulnerability involves a particular kind of bodily relation to the world, in which openness itself is read as a site of potential danger, and as demanding evasive action. Emotions may involve readings of such openness, as spaces where bodies and worlds meet and leak into each other. Fear involves reading such openings as dangerous; the openness of the body to the world involves a sense of danger, which is anticipated as a future pain or injury.[10]

Fear is something we all seek to rid ourselves of in order to function to some extent, a semblance of safety being the basic first step in our own “hierarchy of needs.”[11] Yet, fear is a helpful adaptation at times, one relied upon when threat is real and fight or flight is necessary. Remaining curious about the words used to describe that and those which we are told to fear, is then, both risky and rewarding, but can seem threatening to even engage in as it may require reconsidering and changing boundaries and frameworks once used to create balance and control in one’s life.

Movement(s) of fear and the affect expressions of this emotion similarly run their course through the Hebrew Bible. Using Ahmed’s three points specifically on the affect of fear, those being “the relation between fear, anxiety, and the loss or ‘passing by’ of an object …, the relationship between fear and the alignment of bodily and social space,” and “the role of fear in the conservation of power,”[12] this article will parse each of these through the lens of both the United States and Judges 19. In recognising the problem, then, the article will advocate for the potential of seeing Judges 19 as a subversive text, as it can be read through irony to reveal the ridiculousness of securing social, supremacist norms in the guise of fear that clearly cause harm for many. A truly feminist perspective takes into account the intersecting and intersectional pieces of oppression in the text and in the current context, in that both types of violent acts are not separate from one another. 

I write from a privileged perspective in almost every demographic but my gender. As a White, Christian, educated, heterosexual female from the United States, the language of exclusion has only barred me from the full “norm” on only one level. This paper hopes to engage in a hermeneutic of suspicion even within my own person and bias, recognising that while discrimination is something I know in part, oppression and hierarchy that creates boundaries is multiplicative and not identical in scope or severity.

Fear, Anxiety, and the Loss or “Passing By” of an Object

First and foremost, fear has an object. Anxiety may not be able to locate the object, yet, both fear and anxiety anticipate what could occur. Narrowing this, in the words of Ahmed, “anxiety becomes an approach to objects rather than, as with fear, being produced by an object’s approach.[13] Fear becomes contained within an object, and thus, if contained and unmoving, is unthreatening. Secondly, these affects have histories, histories of associations, that which move and are fluid. If this bodily, contained affect moves, so do those histories with it. “Fear creates the very effect of ‘that which I am not,’ through running away from an object, which does not defend borders but establishes them. Yet, lastly, turning from “the object of fear also involves turning towards the object of love,” fear allowing the “subject to get closer to the loved object.”[14]

Judges 19 begins with a Levite living in the hill country of Ephraim going to “speak to the heart” of his secondary wife who has left him for her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah.[15] His aim, supposedly, is to win her back after she had been there for four months (Judges 19:1–3).[16] There are a few movements here between two characters to note involving fear as a mainstay affect for the entire chapter. First, there is a movement of the secondary wife turning away from the home of the Levite and towards the home of her father. Second, there is a movement of the Levite towards the supposed object of his love, the secondary wife.

The secondary wife, or concubine, is in a precarious position by simple fact of her title. In her work on Judges 19, Isabelle Hamley remarks that every other reference to a pilegesh in the Hebrew Bible is a story that does not end well.[17] Gale Yee reminds readers of the patriarchal setting of the narrative, meaning that while a wife would have been subordinate to her husband in this context, “the pilegesh endures a double subordination in her position.”[18] Within the narrative, it is evident that her position is quite low, as Hamley continues that it “seems to be below even animals, as the Levite takes his donkeys first and the pilegeshsecond in Judg. 19:10-12.”[19] At one point, the relationship between the two switches terms to one of maidservant and master (Judges 19:19), not husband and wife. Yet, she is always called his concubine, as she is his property.

However, the reasons for which she is a deemed “concubine” do not seem to quite work out. The text does not mention a lineage or offspring, nor does it mention a primary wife.[20] She steps beyond her position, and is the one who is “unfaithful” in having agency and leaving for her father’s house in the very beginning of Judges 19. This movement from one place to another in relation to fear may have more credibility in the Septuagint: variations of the reason for leaving occur, simply stating that either she left him, or, first, became angry with him and went away from him. While this is not an explicit mention of fear, one wonders why she would be angry with him? What does she anticipate happening in her leaving? What histories have moved in order to force her movement?

The Levite moves away from fear of loss towards the object of love. “Fear is bound up with the loss of the object… one fears the loss of the object of love.”[21] At first glance, his purposeful movement to speak to her heart fits this notion. Yet, these words are repeated only a handful of times in the Hebrew Bible, notably alongside Hosea to Gomer (Hosea 2:14) and Shechem to Dinah (Genesis 34:3). When the Levite makes it to his father-in-law’s home, the father-in-law sees the Levite and gladly welcomes him in, with joy, lavishing on hospitality for almost five whole days, while the woman remains absolutely absent in the background. One might ask the question, what does the Levite truly fear, and simultaneously, what does the Levite truly love? “While we may fear that which we cannot contain, through fear, we may also contain that which cannot be.[22]

Fear and the Alignment of Bodily and Social Space 

Ahmed sees fear as something that can be felt by all bodies, and yet, is “felt differently by different bodies, in the sense that there is a relationship to space and mobility at stake.”[23] Fear as being something between bodies that is not equal, that is borne unevenly, often “structural and mediated.”[24]

In the most basic of definitions, Johnny Miles says “the ‘other’ is that which is separate from and not ‘self.’”[25] Recognising difference between bodies is normal and natural, and yet, a caution remains. Commenting on the impact of this or these difference(s), Jonathan Z. Smith notes that “difference is seldom a comparison between entities judged to be equivalent. Difference most frequently entails a hierarchy of prestige and the concomitant political ranking of superordinate and subordinate.”[26] Ahmed continues in distinguishing what exactly the affect of fear does politically, in that it does not bring bodies together, and relies upon a mis-reading of the other. Fear “re-establishes distance between bodies… involves relationships of proximity, which are crucial to establishing the ‘apartness’ of [White] bodies. Such proximity involves the repetition of stereotypes.”[27] In understanding the repetition of stereotypes used in order to establish boundaries, creating an in-security rather than security,[28] the boundaries for what is deemed normal are found at the top of the hierarchy of power in a colonial context, and those “other” either regarded as “exotic” or a threat.[29]

In the United States specifically, “othering” is what the country has been founded upon. In Erika Lee’s book on this topic, America for Americans, she demonstrates the long history of this country’s xenophobia, showing that it is part and parcel of the nation. Xenophobia has been evolving since the beginning of this country’s birth, simply taking a new title while the form and activity persists; the rallying cry whenever something horrific occurs in this nation—“this isn’t my America”—relies on a wilful dissociation:[30]

The United States is a country that had trafficked in chattel slaves, but didn’t repeal restrictions on immigration from African countries until 1965; a country that aggressively executed a genocide of indigenous people in order to expropriate their land; a country that admitted Chinese workers and then succumbed to a movement to drive them out; a country where employers felt comfortable telling the Irish they need not apply; a country that rounded up people of Japanese descent, took their possessions, and tried to repatriate them; a country that violently drove Mexican Americans off land that had not too long prior been forcibly taken from Mexico. The Muslim ban; the rejection of refugees and asylum seekers; the ease with which people ask, “what will we get out of the deal if we let you come here?”—all of “this” is exactly who we are and who we have always been.[31]

Sadly enough, many in the United States do not know the history of the actions that continue to be sustained and supported here. In fact, the aforementioned points are more than likely in danger of being written out of histories taught in schools, and deemed “Critical Race Theory.” There is delusion involved in the apparent sentimental longing for a redacted history in order to uphold supremacy. 

Returning to Judges 19, the Levite, Concubine, and enslaved person leave the father’s house in the late afternoon, and the danger that comes with nighttime for travellers was quickly approaching. The servant of the Levite, using imperatives in Judges 19:11, remarks: “please, come now, let us turn aside to this city of the Jebusites and stay in it.”[32] The Levite refuses quickly in verse twelve, making what later will be an ironic statement: “we will not turn aside into the city of foreigners, who do not belong to the people of Israel, but we will pass on to Gibeah.” The Levite marks the boundary lines of what is both normal and morally superior, and in doing so, also partakes in quite a selective memory about the people of Israel’s own history. Havilah Dharamraj remarks, “implicit in the Levite’s veto is the idea that Canaanites may harm rather than host them.”[33]

From a postcolonial perspective, the Jebusites should have a voice as they were systematically erased from telling their own history, nor do they get to talk back in any way to the statement made about them. The author of 2 Samuel 5:6–10 calls them “inhabitants of the land,” signifying that they are indigenous to the land.[34] It is later said that the Jebusites become enslaved by the Israelites most specifically during the time of Solomon’s reign, subjugated and used for his many building projects. The fear that motivates the Levite to continue on will later crush the Jebusites.[35] And yet, it is this fear that keeps the Levite, concubine, and enslaved person moving into land where they think they will be safest, insinuating a warm welcome from “their own.” On the one hand, this interpretation deserves nuance, in that the whole passage is teeming with irony, to be explored in later paragraphs. And yet, to reckon with the fact that othering does occur even as the purported boundaries on land and in identity are in reality extremely blurry is of importance. 

The Role of Fear in Conservation of Power

Fear is well-known to be extremely beneficial when creating large group mentalities, creating a threat, which helps to “align bodies with and against others.”[36] In creating security, one must declare a crisis, “to produce the moral and political justification for maintaining ‘what is’ (taken for granted or granted) in the name of future survival.” This goes further, in that what is under threat can be linked “not only to the existence of external others, but to internal forms of ‘weakness.’”[37] In doing so, they emphasise “values, truths, and norms that will allow survival,” which only “slides easily into the defence of particular social forms or institutions.[38] The “what is” must be preserved; that or those which do not fit in ideas of normativity create anxiety.

Comments made by Donald Trump before, during, and after his presidency are particularly poignant and relevant examples of creating crisis and using such for his political advantage: “What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”[39] Chanequa Walker-Barnes pushes on this comment in stating that “he was invoking the trope of Black and Latinx men as dangerous to White women,” reminding us that this has a history, one readily invoked.[40] After Trump made the statement about Mexican immigrants being rapists, Dylann Roof went into Emanuel African Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, shooting and killing nine African American women and men. At his trial, he directed his comments at Tywanza Sanders, saying “y’all are raping our white women. Y’all are taking over the world.”[41] White women as the bodies that epitomise the vulnerable, to be protected, is also a trope that has a historically unsavoury politic of fear. Laurie Penny writes about the one way in which “white supremacist patriarchy claims to care about sexual violence,” in that the verbiage of fear related to those “outsider rapists” merits the furthering of empowering some sort of militarised “strongmen” response. Penny calls this a “white lie,” and while the fear that is fabricated can be real to those who are feeling it, “this new chauvinism has nothing to do with women’s interests and everything to do with white male fragility.”[42] Outsider rapist rhetoric and stereotyping has been used for a long time to justify racist behaviours and beliefs, and also, to create a distraction from the actual issue. Angela Davis herself writes about the “myth of the outsider rapist,” reminding readers that “rape laws as a rule were framed originally for the protection of men of the upper classes.”[43] Again, the more accurate measure to discuss is why mass shooters say these things and yet “have a history of hating women, assaulting wives, girlfriends and female family members, or sharing misogynistic views online.”[44]

Stating facts often does not simply change the narrative, however, especially when there are ideological strongholds attached as, “empirical realities rarely, if ever, govern the logic of those stereotyping.”[45] In citing a study on anxiety on crime where those least vulnerable are most afraid, Ahmed puts it succinctly: “fear is not simply a consequence of the ‘objectivity’ of threats or dangers.”[46] Yet, it is not lost that in the process of “othering,” the truth is revealed. Miles puts it this way: “the stereotype becomes, in effect, the reverse image of the one stereotyping. For the deficiency within that one hates, or for the fear of becoming that which one mocks, or for the desire for that which one cannot but would like to attain, the projection lies latent within the stereotype.”[47]

The story of Judges 19 continues, and completes. When the party arrives in Gibeah, they wait until they are received by a fellow sojourner from the hill country of Ephraim invites them in to his home. Touting what would have been provisions from his father-in-law, they are welcomed in by the old man, and the two men enjoy themselves while once more, while the women are resigned to the background. Readers are unaware they are even in the narrative until wicked men of the city come to the door. They first ask to know the Levite himself, to rape him, but the old man offers up his virgin daughter and the Levite’s secondary wife instead. While the men do not listen, one of the men in the home takes control of the matter by seizing his secondary wife and taking her outside to appease the men. They rape and abuse her all throughout the night until day breaks. The concubine collapses at the door of the home, stuck in the space of liminality, right on the border.[48]

The Levite now knows how to wake early to travel home, something he was incapable of with the father-in-law, and tells the woman to get up. As a response from her is lacking, he puts her on his donkey, the language switching from being a husband to being a master and lord, and they make their way home. It is at the Levite’s house in Ephraim where he seizes her body once more in order to cut her into twelve pieces, and he sends her bodyparts throughout the territory of Israel. We do not know whether she dies at the threshold of the old man’s door after a night of gang rape, or at the hand of the Levite’s sword. The cry of those who saw her body in verse thirty, “nothing like this has ever happened or has been since the day the Israelites came out of Egypt,” closes out everything that has happened, but the imperatives continue on at the end as the call is to “consider her, discuss her, and speak up!”[49]

The Levite being threatened with rape exists in order to attack his masculinity, in order to feminise him, to remove his power. The narrative is wrapped up “entirely around male prestige.”[50] The concubine is the gendered other, and certainly lower on the hierarchy of normalcy as she is not even considered a regular wife. She definitely does not fit “what is” in a society that privileges patriarchy. As Exum writes about these actions, she helps to connect the parallels between this chapter and modern contexts: “the issue … is male ownership of women’s bodies, control over women’s sexuality. By daring to act autonomously … [she] puts herself beyond male protection, and for this she must be punished.”[51] On a similar note, Deryn Guest writes, “the dismemberment of the body acts as a misogynistic punishment on one level, but also as an assuaging of male anxiety on a deeper level. Dismemberment also represents an attempt to diffuse her Otherness and de-sexualize her female body.”[52] Who or what deserves protection? 

It seems that what deserves protection is the Levite’s honour, so he, too, will do the same to those “wicked men” in Judges 20–21. The concubine becomes a scapegoat—a creation of crisis, as it seems in Judges 20—and the Levite excuses his own actions in her violent death in order to perpetuate more violence. They took his property. The Levite raises the created crisis as the full truth is not given in Judges 20 after calling a summons to war with the pilegesh’s body. Because of this, the gendered others of Jabesh-Gilead and Shiloh will be taken and raped in order to maintain the nostalgic veil of unity and strength of the twelve tribes (Judges 20-21).[53] In order to carry out what they deem a rightful punishment against Gibeah,[54] the rest of the tribes do almost the exact same thing that was done that they deemed was crime. The cycle continues unchecked, because it is, in fact, functioning normally.  

A Subversive Reading of Judges 19 for Today?

Through the use of irony, the passage in Judges 19 reveals the stereotype and the projection of their own “self” that lies within; however, this text can even potentially be a subversive text that critiques the xenophobic and patriarchal tendencies of their day, acknowledging the fear that is coming from falsified places instead of looking within. This text is layered with ironic and not-so-ironic examples of fear based affective politics that only serve to hold tightly the ideological norms of that time period, in its horrific, mundane, and blatant ridiculousness. All aspects of Ahmed’s discussion on fear and politic(s) are found, and all are shown to be extremely unhelpful within the text. In the words of Lillian Klein, who writes explicitly on irony and the book of Judges, “the irony does not become ‘General’, but the reader is importuned to generalize.”[55]         

The text can truly be subversive through the creative literary devices used to critique the “what is” within their day, or what could be called “a form of resistance.”[56] Hamley, in her own study on the process of Irigaryan “othering” and Judges 19–21, states: 

Judges 19–21 is therefore a perceptive psychological tale that exposes the processes through which one group justifies the victimization of another through the differential construction of their identity. The fact that these processes are laid bare in a sacred text whose narrator is far from approving is highly significant: it bears witness to the victims and opens up a space for reflection and potential change for those sacred text it is.[57]

The tone of irony throughout cannot be ignored; yet, to maintain a façade of nostalgia, to continue to act in the ways that maintain power and the intersecting oppressive ideologies of patriarchy and xenophobia, one must forget, or at the very least, be selective. 

In comparing the text of Judges 19 to gothic texts, Andrew Hock-Soon Ng suggests that “the biblical story should be read against the status quo of androcentric hierarchies, as a tale that develops resistance in the readers to such societal habits and customs.”[58] From the perspective of the gendered “other,” the unnamed woman who becomes victim in the text, her “anonymity has a rhetorical purpose—a universalizing purpose to show that it could happen to anyone.”[59] The woman’s broken body could even be a commentary on how treatment of the “other” show how unhealthy society is as a whole. But ultimately, this universalisation shows that unchecked actions of oppression and belief in affective politics hurt not only the “other” in multiplicative amounts, but also, hurt themselves. Actions and ideologies that bring about death will ultimately bring death to you. The zero-sum game eventually has no proverbial winners.

Seeing the tale of Judges 19 as one that has an ironic and convicting meaning could be seen as wishful thinking, putting my own liberal ideals into the mouths of those in the ancient Near East. Nonetheless, it is a possibility. If one thing is true, the text is not by any means “clear.” Who has the right to be alive? Who are the gatekeepers in that decision? Will we allow this story to create in us resisters of falsified fear of the Other—or will we continue to say “never again,” while it happens again and again?

Conclusion: In Solidarity[60]

There is a danger in equating the United States to Israel, as that very comparison has led to furthering the ideology of White supremacy and anti-Semitism. However, seeing Judges 19 in its own context as a subversive critique of patriarchy and xenophobia that reveals their natural consequences and the truth of their own history through irony can be helpful today. From my current context, it is extremely difficult not to see the deep parallels, as well as the importance of the ethical affect to change. The possibility of Judges 19 being a mirror, an ironic mirror, held up to the people who hear the words, could quite easily cause reflection if taken seriously. Maybe the truly wishful thinking that remains in this article is the hope that when the truth is faced, in all its horror, people can change.

In returning to Ahmed, I also return to the antithesis of fear: vulnerability. Ahmed writes, “Feminist pedagogy can be thought of in terms of the affective opening up of the world through the act of wonder, not as a private act, but as an opening up of what is possible through working together.”[61] May considering her, discussing her, and speaking up (Judg 19:30) unironically involve finding a new way forward; may the way forward be receiving over perceiving, embracing the risk of openness, “being moved by that which we face,” in order to wonder, again, what could and should be instead.

Works Cited

Ahmed, Sara. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. New York: Routledge, 2004. doi:10.4324/9780203700372.

Brenan, Megan. “Dissatisfaction with U.S. Immigration Level Rises to 58%.” Gallup. 14 February 2022.

Buttrick, Nicholas and Jessica Mazen. “Historical Prevalence of Slavery Predicts Contemporary American Gun Ownership,” in PNAS Nexus 1.3 (2022): 1–10. doi:10.1093/pnasnexus/pgac117.

Cohen, Elizabeth. Illegal: How America’s Lawless Regime Threatens Us All. New York: Basic Books, 2020.

Davis, Angela. “Rape, Racism, and the Capitalist Setting,” in The Black Scholar, Volume 9. April 1978, 39-45,

Dharamraj, Havilah. “Judges.” South Asia Bible Commentary. Rajasthan, India: Open Door Publications, 2015. 

Exum, Cheryl. Fragmented Women: Feminist (Sub)Versions of Biblical Narratives. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993.

Guest, Deryn. “Judges.” Pages 167-189 in The Queer Bible Commentary. Edited by Deryn Guest, Robert Goss, Mona West, and Thomas Bohache. London: SCM Press, 2006.

Hamley, Isabelle M. Unspeakable Things Unspoken: An Irigaryan Reading and Victimization in Judges 19-21. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2019.

Newall, Mallory, et al, “On Immigration, Most Buying Into Idea of ‘Invasion’ At Southern Border.” IPSOS. 18 August 2022.

Klein, Lillian. The Triumph of Irony in the Book of Judges. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1988.

Lee, Erika. America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States. New York: Basic Books, 2019.

Maslow, Abraham. “A Theory of Human Motivation.” Psychological Review 50 (1943): 370–396. doi:10.1037/h0054346

Miles, Johnny. Constructing the Other in Ancient Israel and the USA. The Bible and Modern World 32. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011.

Na’aman, Nadav. “Jebusites and Jabeshites in the Saul and David Story-Cycles.” Biblica 94 (2014): 481–497.

Nayeri, Dina. The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You. New York: Catapult, 2019.

Neusner, Jacob and Ernest S. Frerichs eds. To See Ourselves as Others See Us: Christians, Jews, “Others” in Late Antiquity. Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1985.

Newport, Frank. “U.S. Opinion and the Election: Guns, Immigration, Climate.” Gallup. 21 October 2022.

Ng, Andrew Hock-Soon. “Revisiting Judges 19: A Gothic Perspective.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 32 (2007): 199–215. doi:10.1177/0309089207085883.

Niditch, Susan. Judges: A Commentary. Old Testament Library. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2008.

Parker, Kim, Juliana Horowitz, Ruth Igielnik, Baxter Oliphant, and Anna Brown. “American’s Complex Relationship with Guns: An In-Depth Look at the Attitudes and Experiences of U.S. Adults.” Pew Research Center, June 2017,

Paynter, Helen. Telling Terror in Judges 19: Rape and Reparation for the Levite’s Wife. London: Routledge, 2020. doi:10.4324/9781003016823.

Penny, Laurie. Sexual Revolution: Modern Fascism and the Feminist Fightback. London: Bloomsbury, 2022.

Saad, Lydia. “Americans Widely Favor Welcoming Ukrainian Refugees.” Gallup. 26 April 2022,

Schwartz, Sarah. “Law and Order in Judges 19-21,” Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society 35 (2021): 121–50.

Walker-Barnes, Chanequa. I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2019. 

Yee, Gale. “Ideological Criticism: Judges 17-21 and the Dismembered Body,” in Judges & Method. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2007.

[1] Ernest Renan, “What is a Nation?”, text of a conference delivered at the Sorbonne on 11 March 1882, in Ernest Renan, Qu’est-ce qu’une nation? (Paris, Presses-Pocket,1992). 

[2] Dina Nayeri, The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You (New York: Catapult, 2019), 321–22.

[3] Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion (New York: Routledge, 2004)63, doi:10.4324/9780203700372.

[4] Frank Newport, “U.S. Opinion and the Election: Guns, Immigration, Climate,” Gallup, October 21, 2022, Earlier in the year, it was noted by Gallup that 58% of Americans are dissatisfied with levels of immigration, and those dissatisfied are predominantly advocating for less immigration, see Megan Brenan, “Dissatisfaction with U.S. Immigration Level Rises to 58%,” Gallup, 14 February 2022,

[5] Lydia Saad, “Americans Widely Favor Welcoming Ukrainian Refugees,” Gallup, 26 April 2022,

[6] Mallory Newall, James Diamond, Jocelyn Duran, Johnny Sawyer, Charlie Rollason, “On Immigration, most buying into idea of ‘invasion’ at southern border,” IPSOS, 18 August 2022,

[7] Newall, “On Immigration.” Although will be quoted shortly after, recognizing from Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion (New York: Routledge, 2004), 76: “The ontology of insecurity within the constitution of the political: it must be presumed that things are not secure, in and of themselves, in order to justify the imperative to make things secure.”

[8] Erika Lee, America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States (New York: Basic Books, 2019)268.

[9] In regards to violence: Most recent statistics are available for 2021’s Hate Crimes by the FBI:;White, male as highest percentage of perpetrators. It has yet to be updated, but a poll from 2017 on “America’s Complex Relationship with Guns: An In-Depth Look at the Attitudes and Experiences of U.S. Adults,” by Kim Parker, Juliana Horowitz, Ruth Igielnik, Baxter Oliphant, and Anna Brown,” Pew Research Center, 22 June 2017, Depicts White and male as those who have the most guns in the U.S., as well as half the demographic in general who own them. Two-thirds of gun owners say protection is the reason they own a gun. 88% of gun owners in general own them for protection, “Guns” Gallup, 2021, Pertaining to gun ownership as well, Nicholas Buttrick and Jessica Mazen reported in “Historical Prevalence of Slavery Predicts Contemporary American Gun Ownership” explicitly stating: “We suggest that the distinctly American belief that guns keep a person safe was partially formed in the backlash to Reconstruction after the American Civil War—a moment when a massive increase in the availability of firearms coincided with a destabilization of White politics in response to the emancipation and empowerment of Black Americans” (Nicholas Buttrick and Jessica Mazen, “Historical prevalence of slavery predicts contemporary American gun ownership,” PNAS Nexus 1.3 (2022): 1, doi:10.1093/pnasnexus/pgac117). As for the vast oversights of the departments of ICE, CBP, and DHS in the United States, see Elizabeth Cohen, Illegal: How America’s Lawless Immigration Regime Threatens Us All (New York: Basic Books, 2020). 

[10] Sara Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 69.

[11] Abraham Maslow, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” Psychological Review 50 (1943): 370–396, doi:10.1037/h0054346. Known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. While cited, Maslow’s theory has been criticised as not credible or to be fully relied upon. However, in trauma theory, one of the first ways to integrate experiences that have been or seem threatening is to establish safety, Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (New York: Basic Books, 2015), 153.

[12] Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 64.

[13] Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 66.

[14] Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 66–68.

[15] Most of this text is enmeshed with ambiguity. We do not know why she “was unfaithful” to him, and the word itself can mean a lot of things. Zonah is normally translated in modern English contexts as “playing the whore,” or “unfaithful,” usually applied to prostitution, or in cultic cases, idolatry. Yet, Cheryl Exum, Fragmented Women: Feminist (Sub)Versions of Biblical Narratives(Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993)179, writes, “a woman who asserts her sexual autonomy by leaving her husband—and whether or not she remains with him is a sexual issue—is guilty of sexual misconduct.” She goes on to argue in relation to Judges 19 that this act of zonah-ing, in the patriarchal society, was deserving of punishment for leaving these social and sexual boundaries, regardless of whether the act was one of fornication. We also don’t know if she left due to the fact that there was prior abuse, which also goes hand-in-hand with the story being told here connecting domestic violence and othering on a much larger scale.

[16] Helen Paynter in Telling Terror in Judges 19: Rape and Reparation for the Levite’s Wife (London: Routledge, 2020), 37, doi:10.4324/9781003016823: “The Masoretes marked verse 3 with a ketiv-qere. This means that they made a marginal note suggesting that the text as written (ketiv) is corrupt and should be read (qere) differently. The ketiv says the Levite went after Beli-Fachad ‘to speak to her heart to bring him back’. However, the marginal note suggests that this should be read ‘to bring her back’. Most English translations accept the qere without even a footnote. But this interpretive decision has stripped Beli-Fachad of her agency which is expressed in the consonantal Hebrew text. He is, it implies, begging that she will take him back.”

[17] Isabelle Hamley, Unspeakable Things UnspokenAn Irigaryan Reading and Victimization in Judges 19-21 (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2019), 137.

[18] Gale Yee, “Ideological Criticism: Judges 17-21 and the Dismembered Body,” in Judges & Method (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2007)152.

[19] Hamley, Unspeakable, 115.

[20] Alexiana Fry, The Sin of Gibeah?: Reading Judges 19 and Hosea 9-10 in the Context of Migration and Trauma, 2021, 136-7,

[21] Sara Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 67.

[22] Sara Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 68.

[23] Sara Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 68.

[24] Sara Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 69.

[25] Johnny Miles, Constructing the Other in Ancient Israel and the USA (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011), 13.

[26] Jonathan Z. Smith, “What a Difference a Difference Makes,” in “To See Ourselves as Others See Us:” Christians, Jews, and “Others” in Late Antiquity (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1985), 5.

[27] Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 63–64.

[28] Taken from Homi Bhabha from Ahmed, 64.

[29] Miles, Constructing the Other, 14.

[30] Lee, America, 335.

[31] Elizabeth F. Cohen, Illegal: How America’s Lawless Regime Threatens Us All (New York: Basic Books, 2020)4.

[32] My translation.

[33] Havilah Dharamraj, “Judges,” in South Asia Bible Commentary (Rajasthan, India: Open Doors Publications, 2015), 325.

[34] Nadav Na’aman, “Jebusites and Jabeshites in the Saul and David Story-Cycles,” Biblica 94 (2014): 485,

[35] Ahmed’s chapter on fear begins with a pericope from Frantz Fanon, one between a White boy and a Black boy. “If we return to the racist encounter discussed by Fanon, we can see that the White child’s apparent fear does not lead to his refusal to inhabit the world, but to his embrace of the world through the apparently safe enclosure formed by the loved other (being-at-home). Rather, in this case, it is the black subject, the one who fears the White child’s fear, who is crushed by that fear, by being sealed into a body that tightens up, and takes up less space,” Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 69.

[36] Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 72.

[37] Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 77.

[38] Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 78.

[39] Michelle Ye Hee Lee, “Donald Trump’s false comments connecting Mexican immigrants and crime,” Washington Post, Fact Checker, 8 July 2015,

[40] Chanequa Walker-Barnes, I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2019), 109.

[41] Lisa Wade, “How ‘Benevolent Sexism’ Drove Dylann Roof’s Racist Massacre,” The Washington Post, 21 June 2015, Walker-Barnes also states (in I Bring the Voices, 111), and this point should be known, that “a patriarchal bias has led many antiracist advocates to overlook the fact that depictions of sexual aggression among both men and women of color have been critical to defending systems of social control such as slavery, mass incarceration, and anti-immigration laws. It is certainly true that accusations of rape have been used as a form of social control and a tool of terror against men of color. But it is also true that actual rape has been (and continues to be) used by men to police, punish, and control the bodies of women of color.”

[42] Laurie Penny, Sexual Revolution: Modern Fascism and the Feminist Fightback (London: Bloomsbury, 2022), 185–86. She adds: “The logic is one of ownership and it runs as follows: foreign or minority men are a danger to white women, who are the common property of white men, but white men may brutalize, murder, and maim their own women as they see fit.”

[43] Angela Davis, “Rape, Racism, and the Capitalist Setting,” The Black Scholar 12 (1981): 39–45,

[44] Julie Bosman, Kate Taylor, and Tim Arango, “A Common Trait Among Mass Killers: Hatred Toward Women,” The New York Times, 10 August 2019, Added in this piece a telling interconnection between racism and violence towards women and mass shootings: “While a possible motive for the gunman who killed 22 people in El Paso has emerged—he posted a racist manifesto online saying the attack was in response to a “Hispanic invasion of Texas”—the authorities are still trying to determine what drove Connor Betts, 24, to murder nine people in Dayton, including his own sister.”

[45] Miles, Constructing the Other, 31.

[46] Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 68.

[47] Miles, Constructing the Other, 31.

[48] It should be noted that in previous usage of Septuagint, here, the Septuagint states she has died. The Hebrew Bible does not give us that detail—it remains ambiguous.

[49] My translation.

[50] Deryn Guest, “Judges,” in The Queer Bible Commentary (London: SCM Press, 2006), 184.

[51] Exum, Fragmented Woman, 179–80.

[52] Guest, “Judges,” 188.

[53] Once again, in alignment with Ahmed’s conversation on fear, in discussing post 9/11 and Bush’s response: “Bush, then, in an act of self-determination, turns the act of terror into an act of war, which would seek to eliminate the source of fear and transform the world into a place where the mobility of some capital and some bodies becomes the sign of freedom and civilization,” Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 73. Similarly, here. Fear, in effect, turns into an anxiety.

[54] See Sarah Schwartz, “Law and Order in Judges 19-21,” Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society 35 (2021): 121–50, for a fantastic discussion on the crime and punishment pieces in this narrative.

[55] Lillian Klein, The Triumph of Irony in the Book of Judges (Sheffield: Almond Press, 1988), 21.

[56] Miles, Constructing the Other, 102.

[57] Hamley, Unspeakable, 211.

[58] Andrew Hock-Soon Ng, “Revisiting Judges 19: A Gothic Perspective,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 32 (2007): 199–215, doi:10.1177/0309089207085883.

[59] Paynter, Telling Terror in Judges 19, 32.

[60] Resisting, here, along with Ahmed to refuse a solidarity based on insecurity, which is further fear affective politics.

[61] Ahmed, Cultural Politics, 181.