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Go to Bible: Judges 19
“there was no king in Israel.” This statement occurs in Judges 17:6, 18:1, 19:1, and 21:25, thus it appears near the beginning and also the very last sentence of Judges, thus setting apart the last five chapters from the rest of Judges (see commentary on Judg. 17:6).(top)
“was unfaithful to him.” It is possible, but less likely, that this could be translated “got angry with him” (deriving the Hebrew root for “to be angry, to hate,” see NET text note. The text does not give enough information to know exactly what happened between them.
“a period of four months.” The Hebrew text is idiomatic: “days: four months.”(top)
“speak to her heart.” An idiom meaning, “to speak tenderly” (cp. Isa. 40:1).
“he rejoiced at meeting him.” That the girl’s father would rejoice at meeting the man suggests some culpability on the part of the woman.(top)
|Jdg 19:4||- (top)|
“Strengthen your heart.” The Hebrew word translated “strengthen” can be related to strength, or even comfort (KJV); and the usage of “heart” is idiomatic. “Fortify yourself” (NRSV).(top)
|Jdg 19:6||- (top)|
“pressed him.” This is the same word for “pressed” as in the Lot record (Gen. 19:3, 9).(top)
|Jdg 19:8||- (top)|
|Jdg 19:9||- (top)|
“opposite Jebus.” The ancient road from Bethlehem to Jerusalem and north passed on the west side of Jerusalem. The walk from Bethlehem to Jerusalem was about seven miles, or likely under two hours, so by now it would have been late evening.(top)
“the servant said to his lord.” The word “lord” is a grammatical plural, “lords,” but referring to the servant’s master or lord. This is the idiom, the plural of majesty (cp. Gesenius).(top)
“We will not turn aside into the foreign city.” This Levite is apparently stuck on doing some things right, but does not mind giving his concubine to strangers to be raped.(top)
|Jdg 19:13||- (top)|
“Gibeah.” Many years later, King Saul came from Gibeah (1 Sam. 10:26). This fact has caused some scholars to say that this record in Judges 19-21 was invented and written later to try to discredit Saul because he was from Gibeah where the people had been so evil, but that is not the case.
“which belongs to Benjamin.” The town of Gibeah was in the tribal area of Benjamin.(top)
|Jdg 19:15||- (top)|
“from his work, from the field.” In the ancient Near East, and still in many places, people build houses close together for protection and support. That is the case here, and the old man had been outside the village working but was now coming back to town in the evening.
“and the man was from the hill country of Ephraim.” So this old man and the Levite were both from the tribal area of Ephraim.(top)
|Jdg 19:17||- (top)|
|Jdg 19:18||- (top)|
|Jdg 19:19||- (top)|
“only do not spend the night in the square.” The old man may have said this simply due to hospitality, but it is also likely that he knew the character of the people in the city and wanted to protect the men. This seems very similar to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:1-3).(top)
|Jdg 19:21||- (top)|
“sons of Belial.” This is a designation of sons of the Devil. [For more on sons of Belial, see commentary on 1 Sam. 2:12. For more on the unforgivable sin and children of the Devil, see commentary on Matt. 12:31].
“owner of the house.” The word “owner” is “Baal,” here meaning owner, master.
“know.” The word “know” is the common idiomatic word used for sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse gives the most intimate and personal “knowledge” of the other, so “know” was used throughout the biblical world as an idiom for sexual intercourse (cp. Gen. 4:1, 17, 25; 24:16; Matt. 1:25), which even included rape and homosexual intercourse (Gen. 19:5; Judg. 19:25).(top)
|Jdg 19:23||- (top)|
“whatever is good in your eyes.” Here, this is a problem. The Judges period was a time when every man did that which was right in his own eyes, but here we see that that kind of thinking and behavior can lead to very evil and ungodly acts.
“Abuse them.” The Hebrew word has more the meaning of “humble” or “humiliate,” not “rape,” so the man is understating what he knows would happen to the girl if the crowd gets ahold of her, and indeed they did rape her, in fact, raped her to death. There is a stronger word that means “rape” in Hebrew (cp. Isa. 13:16; Zech. 14:2), but the man did not use that word.(top)
“made her go out.” The Hebrew is that he caused her to go out. The versions handle this differently: “made her go out” (ESV); “pushed her out” (E. Fox). In any case, the old man did not want to go outside of the house because the crowd actually wanted the man, not the girl, so “brought her out,” as many versions have, is not correct. The man pushed the girl out of the house to the mob.(top)
“her lord.” This is a grammatical plural, “lords,” a plural of emphasis.
“until it was light.” This is not the full light of the sun, but very light, not just dim light.(top)
|Jdg 19:27||- (top)|
“but there was no answer.” A beautiful euphemism in the midst of this harsh and terribly tragic story. The woman had been raped to death.(top)
“And he came into his house.” Since he was from Ephraim, he likely arrived at his home later that day, even if it was much later. Also, it was the custom to bury (or do something with) the dead body that same day.
“laid hold.” This same Hebrew word is translated seized in Judges 19:25 when the old man seized the woman and pushed her out the door.
“limb by limb.” An idiomatic translation. The Hebrew is more literally, “by her bones,” but it means cut her limbs into distinct parts.(top)
“Consider it.” In Hebrew the “it” is feminine, so although “it” is the primary meaning, the phrase could also include, “Consider her.”(top)