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Judges 19

The wickedness of the men of Gibeah.

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The wickedness of the men of Gibeah

1 And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah.

2 And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father’s house to Bethlehemjudah, and was there four whole months.

3 And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him into her father’s house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him.

4 And his father in law, the damsel’s father, retained him; and he abode with him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there.

5 And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he rose up to depart: and the damsel’s father said unto his son in law, Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way.

6 And they sat down, and did eat and drink both of them together: for the damsel’s father had said unto the man, Be content, I pray thee, and tarry all night, and let thine heart be merry.

7 And when the man rose up to depart, his father in law urged him: therefore he lodged there again.

8 And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart; and the damsel’s father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon, and they did eat both of them.

9 And when the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father in law, the damsel’s father, said unto him, Behold, now the day draweth toward evening, I pray you tarry all night: behold, the day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and to morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go home.

10 But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him.

11 And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.

12 And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over to Gibeah.

13 And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah.

14 And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin.

15 And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodging.

16 And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites.

17 And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou?

18 And he said unto him, We are passing from Bethlehemjudah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehemjudah, but I am now going to the house of the LORD; and there is no man that receiveth me to house.

19 Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy servants: there is no want of any thing.

20 And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.

21 So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.

22 Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.

23 And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly.

24 Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.

25 But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.

26 Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.

27 And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.

28 And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.

29 And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.

30 And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Ephraim. Some think at Silo, to which place, he says, he was going, (v. 18,) though it might be only out of devotion. C. — A wife. Heb. “a concubine.” Sept. joins both together, “he took a harlot to wife.” H.

Ver. 2. Left him. Heb. thozne. Now tizne, (D.) “his concubine, fell into fornication against (Junius improperly translates with) him.” Chal. “She despised went from him.” Sept. “She was vexed at or she left him.” C. — Josephus, “as he was deeply in love with her on account of her beauty, he was displeased that she did not correspond with his love. Hence a quarrel ensuing, the woman would not bear his continual expostulations, and leaving her husband, after four months, returns to her parents. Hither, overcome by his love for her, he follows, and, by the mediation of her parents, he is reconciled to his wife, both agreeing to lay aside all complaints.” Ant. v. 2. — It is clear that the Sept. Vulg. &c. have read the text in a different manner from what we do at present, and their explanation seems more rational than the Hebrew. For, is it probable that a Levite should go to be reconciled to an adulteress, contrary to the intention of the law (Deut. xxiv. 2. Jer. iii. 1. Prov. xviii. 22.) and the custom of the Jews, as well as of pagan nations, who looked upon those with contempt, who kept a woman of this character? The word concubine, we have often remarked, signifies a wife without a dowry, &c. (C.) such as the Mahometans still maintain as lawful wives. Busbec. ii. — Months. Josephus explain this of the time she had remained with her husband.

Ver. 3. With him. Heb. “her husband arose and followed her to speak to her heart, to bring her back.” Gen. xxxiv. 3. He shewed great condescension and love, (H.) and she received him with suitable sentiments of regard, and did not become more haughty, as women, who perceive themselves to be courted, frequently do. If she had been married to another, she could not have been received by her former husband.

Ver. 7. With him. A beautiful instance of hospitality, like that of the disciples at Emaus. Luc. xxiv. 29. M.

Ver. 8. Advanced. Heb. “and they tarried until the evening.” Sept. “rest till the day decline.” H. — He wishes them to wait till the hear of the day be over. C. — When he had obtained this request, he made the late hour an excuse for detaining them longer. But unhappily, the Levite was too resolute and desirous of returning home.

Ver. 9. Depart. Heb. and Sept. add, “early,” before the sun was up to render travelling incommodious. H.

Ver. 10. Jebus was about six short miles from Bethlehem, and as many from Gabaa. It had not yet fallen into the hands of Juda (C.) and Benjamin, (H.) or they had been expelled again, so that the old inhabitants held possession of it at this time, (C.) as they did of the citadel till the reign of David. See C. i. 6. 21. H. — Concubine. She was his lawful wife: but even lawful wives are frequently in Scripture called concubines. See above, chap. viii. ver. 31. Ch. — ver. 2.

Ver. 13. Rama was not so far as Gabaa; so that, if they could not travel to the latter place, they might turn to the former, and lodge all night. They held on their journey, however, till they came not very late, to Gabaa.

Ver. 15. Lodge. No one invited them in. How much had these people degenerated from the manners of Abraham and of Lot, to imitate those of the men of Sodom! H. — There was no inn it seems at Gabaa, though we read of some at Jericho, Gaza, &c. C. xvi. 1. Jos. ii. 1. Gen. xlii. 27. C.

Ver. 16. Jemini. That is, Benjamin. Ch. — C. iii. 15.

Ver. 17. Bundles. Heb. “saw a traveller in,” &c.

Ver. 18. Of God. Sept. “to my house I return in haste; and no one brings me into his house.” The tabernacle was fixed at Silo in Ephraim. H. — Chal. “the house of the sanctuary of God.” M. ver. 1.

Ver. 19. Straw. It used to be cut small, as hay was very scarce. S. Jerom in Isai. xxv. Heb. “straw and provender.”

Ver. 20. I will. Heb. “all thy wants be upon me.” I will furnish all that may be requisite. In this wicked city, there was at least, one generous soul, like Lot in Sodom. Gen. xviii. and xix.

Ver. 22. That is, &c. An interpretation of the Vulg. Belial is sometimes rendered “devilish, apostate,” &c. Sept. “lawless, or transgressors.” M. — Aquila, “rebels.” Sym. “libertines,” without education or restraint. C. — Josephus lays the blame on some young men, who had been captivated with the charms of the Levite’s wife, whom they had seen in the street. But they seem to have had designs still more criminal, though they were prevailed upon to desist, when she was abandoned to them. H. — The demanded the Levite himself. C.

Ver. 24. I have, &c. A similar proposal was made by Lot; (Gen. xix. 8,) and hence the old man, who was brought up to hard labour, and the young Levite might, through ignorance, suppose it lawful for them to do the like. M. — IT is lawful to advise a man, who is about to commit two crimes, to be satisfied with the less: but we cannot persuade any one to do even the smallest offence, that good may ensue. Rom. iii. 8. The ignorance or good intention of these people might extenuate, but could hardly excuse their conduct, as it was unjust to the woman, whom the people of Gabaa did not ask for; and they ought rather to have encountered the utmost fury of the populace. Had the latter even come to the extremity proposed, if the Levite had made all possible resistance, his virtue could not have been injured. C. — His crown would have been doubled, as S. Lucy observed when the judge threatened to have her prostituted. Castitas mihi duplicabitur ad coronam. Dec. xiii. H. — Perhaps in the agitation of mind, caused by such a brutal proposal, the old man might have been so disturbed, as scarcely to know what he was saying, and he did not afterwards expose his daughter. C. — But the Levite, seeing him in such a dilemma, on his account (H.) took this wife by force. Heb. &c. See Tostat. Bonfrere. E. C. — Against nature. Heb. “unto this man do not so vile a thing.”

Ver. 25. And abandoned. Heb. “and they knew her and abused her.” H. — Interpreters say in the most unnatural manner. C.

Ver. 26. Lord. So wives styled their husbands. 1 Peter iii. 5. — Down dead through fatigue, (M.) shame, and grief. Joseph. — She had not power to knock. C. — Though the former misconduct of this unhappy woman might call for punishment, yet, after she was reconciled to her husband, we cannot but think he used her ill, though he acted through a sort of constraint and ignorance. H. — Instances of women dying under a similar treatment, may be found in Herodotus, and in the Russian and Turkish historians. C.

Ver. 29. Israel. One part, like an epistle, written with blood, to every tribe. Salien. — Some, without reason, think that Benjamin was neglected: but they were to be summoned, to bring their guilty brethren (C.) to condign punishment, or to share in their fate, as accomplices of the crime. H. — The state of the republic authorized the Levite to take this extraordinary method of rousing all to a sense of horror for what had been done. C. — His brethren, dispersed through the country, would no doubt take part in his grief.

Ver. 30. Egypt, that is for the space of eighty years. Salien. — Indeed the annals of all past ages could hardly furnish an instance of such barbarous lust. — Done. In every city, people gathered together to consult how the crime was to be expiated; (H.) and all agreed to assemble before the Lord. C. — Grabe’s Sept. observes, that the Levite “gave order to the men, to whom he sent, saying, these things shall you speak to every Israelite. If such a word (or thing) has come to pass, from the day of the coming up of the sons of Israel out of Egypt, till the present day? Take ye advice concerning it, and speak.” H.