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.
Heb. a woman, a concubine, or, a wife, a concubine.
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.
four whole months
or, a year and four months. Heb. days, four months.
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.
friendly unto her
Heb. to her heart.
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.
with a morsel
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.
let thine heart
Heb. till the day declined. Merely that they might avoid the heat of the day, which would have been very inconvenient in travelling.
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.
Heb. is weak. the day groweth to an end. Heb. it is the pitching time of the day, Jer 6:4. That is, it was near the time in which travellers ordinarily pitched their tents, to take up their lodging for the night. In the latter part of the afternoon, eastern travellers begin to look out for a place for this purpose. So Dr. Shaw observes, "Our constant practice was to rise at break of day, set forward with the sun, and travel to the middle of the afternoon; at which time we began to look out for encampments of Arabs; who, to prevent such parties as ours from living at free charges upon them, take care to pitch in woods, valleys, or places the least conspicuous."
Heb. to thy tent.
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.
Heb. to over against. Jebus.
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.
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.
Gibeah, a city of Benjamin, and the birth-place of Saul, was situated near Rama and Gibeon, according to Josephus, thirty furlongs north from Jerusalem; or, according to Jerome, about two leagues.
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.
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.
There was probably no inn, or house of public entertainment in this place; and therefore they could not have a lodging unless furnished by mere hospitality. But these Benjamites seem to have added to their other vices, avarice and inhospitality, like the inhabitants of Akoura in mount Lebanon, mentioned by Burckhardt.
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.
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?
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.
I am now
The LXX. read, [eis ton oikon mou ego poreuomai:] "I am going to my own house;" which is probably the true reading, as we find (ver. 29) that he really went home; yet he might have gone previously to Shiloh, or to "the house of the Lord," because that was also in mount Ephraim.
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.
straw and provender
In those countries principally devoted to pasturage, they made little or no hay: but as they raised corn, they took great care of their straw for cattle, which by their mode of threshing was chopped very small. See note on Ge 24:32.
And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.
let all thy wants
Here was genuine hospitality: "Keep your bread and wine for yourselves, and your straw and provender for your asses; you may need them before you finish your journey: I will supply all your wants for this night; only do not lodge in the street."
So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.
So he brought
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.
sons of Belial
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.
do not this folly
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.
The rites of hospitality are regarded as sacred and inviolable in the East: and a man who has admitted a stranger under his roof, is bound to protect him even at the expense of his life. On these high notions only, the influence of which an Asiatic mind alone can appreciate, can the present transaction be either excused or palliated.
so vile a thing
Heb. the matter of this folly.
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.
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.
her lord was
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.
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.
It is probable, that with the pieces he sent to each tribe a circumstantial account of the barbarity of the men of Gibeah; and that they considered each of the pieces as expressing an execration. That a similar custom prevailed in ancient times is evident from 1 SA 11:7. It had an inhuman appearance, thus to mangle the corpse of this unhappy woman; but it was intended to excite a keener resentment against so horrible a crime, which called for a punishment proportionally severe.
with her bones
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.