Explaining the Book

Bible Study Guide

Judges

Judges 19 Commentary

Open your Bible to Judges chapter 19. We’ll be finishing the book of Judges today.

We’re going to see the climax of Israel’s Canaanization in this lesson. And it’s not pretty. Verse 1 of Judges 19.

KJV Judges 19:1 ¶ And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel,

No one to restrain the people. No one to lead them to do right in God’s eyes. When that was the case…

that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah.

Now, we saw in our last lesson a Levite from Bethlehem. This one is from Ephraim. His concubine is from Bethlehem.

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.

So, we’re informed of the concubine’s character — she commits adultery against her husband the Levite.

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 [donkeys]:

So he apparently wants her back.

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.

Notice the hospitality of this concubine’s father. What we’re going to see for the next several verses is this father-in-law of the Levite making pretty lavish accommodations for his son-in-law. And we’ll contrast that to the in-hospitality of a certain group later on.

5 And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he [The Levite] 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 [donkeys] saddled, his concubine also was with him. 11And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent;

Which wasn’t safe when you’re traveling in ancient Israel.

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.

I’m not sure that the Levites’ concerns are unwarranted. Canaanites were known for their paganism and evil practices. This Levite was not comfortable lodging amongst those kinds of people. So, on they go to find an Israelite city where the people would be doing right.

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.

So, the hospitality of the people of Gibeah left much to be desired. Boy, even in Sodom, the visiting angels found Lot to take them in. This Levite can’t find anyone. At least, anyone from Benjamin.

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 [The Levite] 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 [Fodder/food] for our [donkeys]; 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.

So the Levite wouldn’t have been a burden to whomever might take them in. They had everything they needed. Yet, no one in Gibeah showed them any hospitality.

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 [donkeys]: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.

So, this emigrant from Ephraim – this old man – is the only one to show kindness to these folks from this whole city. What a testimony to the coldness of the men of Gibeah. And it gets worse.

22 ¶ Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, [Or worthless men] 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.

Now, this is where terror should set in. We’re in Judges chapter 19. But what we’re hearing reminds me more of Genesis chapter 19. The story of Sodom. Gibeah – in this brave new Israel where everyone does whatever he thinks is right – has basically become New Sodom.

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:

Or literally “the thing that’s good in your eyes.” Which is what everyone was doing anyway.

but unto this man do not so vile a thing.

Now, in the story of Sodom it was right at this point where the angels struck the men of the city with blindness. But that doesn’t happen here. God is noticeably absent.

25 But the men would not hearken to him: so the man [The Levite] 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.

The actions of the sexually perverted mob was shocking. But the coldness of this Levite is almost worse. You mean to say he slept comfortably through the night, knowing what was happening to his concubine? And then he just barks at her to get up when he sees her lifeless body?

Then the man took her up upon [a donkey], 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.

And dwelling on the process that would have been involved in the dividing of this body is a little more than I care to meditate upon. So, we’ll move on.

30 And it was so, that all that saw it [The pieces of the concubine’s body] 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.

Basically, Israel is doing to Benjamin what it should have been doing to the Canaanites – destroy every last one of them.

Now, Israel had to do what they just did to Benjamin. But what a sad state of affairs that led to the need to almost completely wipe out an entire tribe in Israel.

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