Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Ephraim. Some think at Silo, to which place, he says, he was going, (ver. 18,) though it might be only out of devotion. (Calmet) --- A wife. Hebrew, "a concubine." Septuagint joins both together, "he took a harlot to wife." (Haydock)
Left him. Hebrew Thozne. Now tizne, (Du Hamel) "his concubine, fell into fornication against (Junius improperly translates with) him." Chaldean, "She despised went from him." Septuagint, "She was vexed at or she left him." (Calmet) --- 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." (Antiquities v. 2.) --- It is clear that the Septuagint, Vulgate, &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 (Deuteronomy xxiv. 2., Jeremias iii. 1., and Proverbs 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., (Calmet) such as the Mahometans still maintain as lawful wives. (Busbec. ii.) --- Months. Josephus explain this of the time she had remained with her husband.
With him. Hebrew, "her husband arose and followed her to speak to her heart, to bring her back," Genesis xxxiv. 3. He shewed great condescension and love, (Haydock) 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.
With him. A beautiful instance of hospitality, like that of the disciples at Emaus, Luke xxiv. 29. (Menochius)
Advanced. Hebrew, "and they tarried until the evening." Septuagint, "rest till the day decline." (Haydock) --- He wishes them to wait till the hear of the day be over. (Calmet) --- 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.
Depart. Hebrew and Septuagint add, "early," before the sun was up to render travelling incommodious. (Haydock)
Jebus was about six short miles from Bethlehem, and as many from Gabaa. It had not yet fallen into the hands of Juda (Calmet) and Benjamin, (Haydock) or they had been expelled again, so that the old inhabitants held possession of it at this time, (Calmet) as they did of the citadel till the reign of David. See chap. i. 6, 21. (Haydock) --- Concubine. She was his lawful wife: but even lawful wives are frequently in Scripture called concubines. See above, chap. viii. 31. (Challoner) --- Ver. 2.
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.
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! (Haydock) --- There was no inn it seems at Gabaa, though we read of some at Jericho, Gaza, &c., chap. xvi. 1., Josue ii. 1., and Genesis xlii. 27. (Calmet)
Jemini. That is, Benjamin. (Challoner) --- Chap. iii. 15.
Bundles. Hebrew, "saw a traveller in," &c.
Of God. Septuagint, "to my house I return in haste; and no one brings me into his house." The tabernacle was fixed at Silo in Ephraim. (Haydock) --- Chaldean, "the house of the sanctuary of God." (Menochius) (Ver. 1.)
Jdg 19:19 . It used to be cut small, as hay was very scarce. (St. Jerome in Isaias xxv.) Hebrew, "straw and provender."
I will. Hebrew, "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, Genesis xviii., and xix.
That is, &c. An interpretation of the Vulgate. Belial is sometimes rendered "devilish, apostate," &c. Septuagint, "lawless, or transgressors." (Menochius) --- Aquila, "rebels." Symmachus, "libertines," without education or restraint. (Calmet) --- 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. (Haydock) --- The demanded the Levite himself. (Calmet)
I have, &c. A similar proposal was made by Lot; (Genesis 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. (Menochius) --- 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, Romans 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. (Calmet) --- His crown would have been doubled, as St. Lucy observed when the judge threatened to have her prostituted. Castitas mihi duplicabitur ad coronam. (Dec. xiii.) (Haydock) --- 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. (Calmet) --- But the Levite, seeing him in such a dilemma, on his account (Haydock) took this wife by force. (Hebrew, &c.) See Tostat; Bonfrere. (Estius) (Calmet) --- Against nature. Hebrew, "unto this man do not so vile a thing."
And abandoned. Hebrew, "and they knew her and abused her." (Haydock) --- Interpreters say in the most unnatural manner. (Calmet)
Lord. So wives styled their husbands, 1 Peter iii. 5. --- Down dead through fatigue, (Menochius) shame, and grief. (Josephus) --- She had not power to knock. (Calmet) --- 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. (Haydock) --- Instances of women dying under a similar treatment, may be found in Herodotus, and in the Russian and Turkish historians. (Calmet)
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 (Calmet) to condign punishment, or to share in their fate, as accomplices of the crime. (Haydock) --- 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. (Calmet) --- His brethren, dispersed through the country, would no doubt take part in his grief.
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; (Haydock) and all agreed to assemble before the Lord. (Calmet) --- Grabe's Septuagint 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." (Haydock)