Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.A Levite’s concubine runs from him to her father’s house at Beth-lehem; he goeth to fetch her back; is kindly entertained by her father; he departs, and comes to Gibeah of Benjamin, and his concubine with him, Judges 19:1-14. An old man of Mount Ephraim entertains them, Judges 19:15-21. The men of the city encompass the house, to debauch the Levite, who through necessity delivers unto them his concubine, whom they abuse to death, Judges 19:22-28. He carrieth her body home; divideth it into twelve parts; sendeth them into all the coasts of Israel, Judges 19:29,30.
In those days; of which See Poole "Judges 17:1".
On the side, Heb. in the sides, i.e. in one of the sides, as Judges 19:18.
A concubine, Heb. a wife a concubine, i.e. such a concubine as was also his wife, as appears from Judges 19:3-5,7,9,26,27 Jud 20:4. See of these Genesis 22:24 25:1.
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.Against him, i.e. against her faith given to him, or to his wrong; or, with him, i.e. in his house; or whilst she lived with him, which is opposed to her going away, which here follows.
Went away from him; either for fear of his severe rebukes or punishment, or because her heart was alienated from him.
Four whole months, Heb. some days, to wit, four months; or, a year (so days commonly signify) and four months; wherein not only site sinned, but her father by some indulgence and connivance at her sin, and neglect of just endeavours for her reconciliation to her husband, the ill effects whereof he speedily felt, in the loss of his daughter in so dreadful a manner.
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.To speak friendly unto her, or, to speak to her heart, i.e. kindly and comfortably, as that phrase is taken, Ge 1 21 Ho 2:14, to offer, her pardon and reconciliation, and restitution to her former state.
To bring her again, to wit, to his own house.
A couple of asses; partly for himself or his wife to ride upon, as there was occasion; and partly for carrying their provision, as appears from Judges 19:19.
He rejoiced to meet him, hoping the breach would be made up by this means.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And when the man rose up to depart, his father in law urged him: therefore he lodged there again.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.The day groweth to an end, Heb. it is the encamping time of the day, i.e. the evening, when armies having marched in the day, begin to pitch their camp; or, when the sun that makes the day begins to encamp himself and go toward rest; so it is a poetical expression taken from hence, that the sun, when he sets, seems to vulgar eyes to go to rest.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Of a stranger, i.e. of a strange nation, which the Canaanites possess; for though the city Jerusalem had been taken by Caleb, Jud 1, yet the strong fort of Zion was still in their hands, 2 Samuel 5:6,7, whence it is likely they did much molest, and afterwards, by God’s permission, and for the punishment of their sin, drive out the Israelites who dwelt there.
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.Both which places lay in Benjamin’s portion, a little northward from Jerusalem, and in the road from Bethlehem-judah to Gibeah.
And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin.This is added to difference it from another Gibeah in Judah, Joshua 15:57. Possibly this is that which was called Gibeah of Saul, 1 Samuel 11:4.
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.Though they were soft and effeminate in other respects, yet they were hard-hearted towards strangers or indigent persons. Either there were no public houses to receive and entertain travellers, as may be gathered from Ge 28 Ge 42 Ge 45 Jos 9 &c.; or, if there were such a one here, they might perceive it to be a very wicked house, as being in so lewd a place, and therefore might decline it, and expect that some private person would exercise hospitality to them, as persons of any worth used to do, as Genesis 18:1-4 19:1,2 Heb 13:2.
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.Of Mount Ephraim; whence also the Levite was, which obliged and inclined him to show the more kindness to his countryman.
The men of the place were Benjamites: this was indeed one of thee cities belonging to the priests, Jos 21 1Ch 6; but you consider that the cities which were given to the priests, and whereof they were possessors and owners, were not inhabited by the priests or Levites only, especially at this time when they were but few in number, but many other persons of differing professions and callings, which was necessary for their conveniency.
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?No text from Poole on this verse.
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.The house of the Lord was in Shiloh, Joshua 18:1 22:12 Thither he went, either because he lived there, for that in the tribe of Ephraim; or rather, because he would there offer prayers, and praises, and sacrifices unto God, for his mercy in reconciling him and his wife together, and for his blessing upon them again, and to make atonement for his wife.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.It matters not whether thou wantest nothing or every thing, I will take care to supply all thy wants.
So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.They washed their feet, as they used to do to travellers in these hot countries, Genesis 18:4 19:2 24:32, &c.
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.Making their hearts merry, i.e. refreshing themselves with the provisions set before them.
Certain sons of Belial; wicked and licentious men: see Deu 13:13.
That we may know him; an ambiguous expression, whereby they pretended only a desire to know and see what person he had brought among them, and yet carry on their wicked design of knowing him carnally. Compare Genesis 19:5, where the same phrase is used in that sense upon a like occasion. But though they name only the man, yet it is plain from the following relation that their design was principally upon the woman, and therefore under the name of the man, they comprehend those that belong to him.
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.This man is come into mine house, and therefore I am obliged to protect him by the laws of hospitality. Compare Genesis 19:17,8.
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.He offers this to avoid a greater and more unnatural sin, which he thought they designed; but it seems they did not, their abuse being confined to the woman, and not extended to the man, who also was in their power, if they had lusted after him. But this offer was sinful, because he offered that which was not in his nor in the man’s power to dispose of, even the chastity of his daughter, and the man’s wife; and because no man must do any evil, though never so small, for the prevention of any evil of sin or misery, or for the procuring of the greatest good, Romans 3:8; though his sin was much mitigated by his ignorance, by his honest and generous intention of protecting a stranger, by the force which was in some sort put upon him, and by the suddenness and violence of the temptation.
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.The man took his concubine; being willing to expose her rather than the daughter of his host, who had expressed such a singular care and affection for him.
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.Fell down, to wit, dead, as the following words show, and as that word is oft used, as Exodus 19:21 Psalm 82:7 91:7 Hosea 5:5; killed, partly with grief of heart, and partly with excessive abuse of her body, of which there have been divers instances. Thus the sin she formerly chose, Judges 19:2, is now her destruction; and though her husband and pardoned her, God would punish her, at least as to this life.
Her lord; so he is called, either because he was her husband; for which cause Sarah called Abraham lord, 1 Peter 3:6; or because she had been his maid-servant, as concubines oftentimes were; as Genesis 30:3,9.
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.The posture either of one that had fallen down, or of one that was laid down to sleep, her hands or arms (for the Hebrew word signifies both) leaning upon the threshold and being put under her head; and therefore he thought to awake her, and raise her up.
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.None answered; for she was dead, as is said, Judges 20:5.
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.Together with her bones, or, according to her bones, according to the joints of her body, for there he made a division. This might seem to be a barbarous and inhuman act in itself; but may seem excusable, if it be considered that the sadness of the spectacle did highly contribute to stir up the zeal of all the Israelites to avenge his concubine’s death, and to execute justice upon such profligate offenders; and was necessary, especially in this time of anarchy and general corruption, Judges 17:6, to awaken them out of that lethargy in which all the tribes lay.
Into twelve pieces; that one piece might be sent to every tribe; whereof none to Levi because they would meet with it in every tribe, being dispersed among them; but one to Benjamin; for he might well presume, that they would as much abhor so villainous an action, though done by some of their own tribe, as any of the rest.
Sent her into all the coasts of Israel, by several messengers, by whom also he sent a particular relation of the fact.
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.No such deed; so wicked and abominable.
Consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds; let us meet together, and seriously consider, and every one freely speak what is to be done in this case.