The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
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.Judges 19
1. And it came to pass in those days [not long after Joshua's death, and before Othniel was judge], 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 [such relations were not legally forbidden] out of Beth-lehem-judah.
2. And his concubine [wife or concubine,—a wife with inferior rights] played the whore against him, and went away from him [Proverbs 30:21], unto her father's house to Beth-lehem-judah, and was there four whole months [literally, days four months; or, one year and four months].
3. And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly [to speak to her heart] unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant with him and a couple of asses [one was meant to convey his wife]: 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 [so the relationship was recognised], the damsel's father, retained him [with hospitable and affectionate intentions]; and he abode with him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there ["in token of hearty reconciliation"].
5. And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning [to avoid the burning heat], that he rose up to depart ["It is good hearing when the Levite maketh haste home. An honest man's heart is where his calling is "]. And the damsel's father said unto his son-in-law, Comfort thine heart [literally, prop up 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 [to test his good intentions towards a faithless woman]: 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 [lingered] 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 [literally, is weak or has slackened to evening], I pray you tarry all night: behold, the day groweth to an end [literally, it is the bending or declining of the day], lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and to-morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayst go home [to thy tent].
10. But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus [so called in the clays of David], 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 [he had been detained too long by hospitality]; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites [which they would reach about five o'clock], and lodge in it.
12. And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a stranger [think of Jerusalem being so described!], that is not of the children of Israel: we will pass over to Gibeah [the Gibeah of Saul,—the birthplace of the first king of Israel].
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 [two miles beyond Gibeah].
14. And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah [which determined them to stay], which belongeth to Benjamin [there were many other Gibeahs in Palestine].
15. And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah [Poneropolis, or city of the Evil One]; and when he went in [through the city gate], he sat him down in a street [open place, or square] of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodging [Deut. x. 9] [They would have gone on to Ramah, two miles farther north, had the daylight held out. Sunset in that latitude is almost immediately followed by darkness].
16. And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even [an old man; an old man working; an old man working out of doors], which was also of mount Ephraim [a fellow countryman of the Levite]; 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 Beth-lehem-judah toward the side of mount Ephraim [the depths of the hill country of mount Ephraim]; from thence am I: and I went to Beth-lehem-Judah, but I am now going to the house of the Lord [or, I am a Levite engaged in the service of the Tabernacle at Shiloh]; and there is no man that receiveth me to house [Hesiod reckons this as supreme wickedness].
19. Yet there is both straw and provender [any grain fit for food of cattle] 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 [not merely a greeting, but an assurance of help]; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street [Genesis 19:2].
21. So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses [it was the custom of the East to attend first to the wants of the animals]: 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 [sons of worthlessness], 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 [Hosea 9:9].
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 [an appeal to the sacred rights of hospitality], do not this folly.
24. Behold, here is my daughter, a maiden [see from what depths the world has risen], 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 [as if in one last appeal of agony and despair].
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 coast of Israel [that he might rouse a spirit of vengeance].
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 [and so soon after the death of Joshua]: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.
[The nineteenth chapter would be intolerable but for the twentieth; the two must be read together. When men remark upon the awful depravity of the one they should remember the awful vengeance of the other.].