Notes on Judges 19, verses 22-30
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
[Judges 19:22, KJV: (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.
They had “made merry” before (verse 6) at the concubine’s house in Bethlehem-Judah. Now the old man was helping them to make the best of what could have been a bad situation.
But things were going to get much worse, and quickly. The writer records that “certain sons of Belial” came and basically circled the house. These men also began to “beat at the door” and demanded that he bring out the Levite—for immoral purposes.
Note how this parallels what the men of Sodom tried to do to the Two Angels Who had come to visit Lot (Genesis 19).
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, do not this folly.
Why the old man would call these sinners “brethren” is not clear. They were not of the same tribe: the old man was from Mount Ephraim but the settlers or residents of Gibeah were children of Benjamin (verses 14 and 16). Clearly they did not have the same moral foundations: the old man provided nothing but provisions and a safe haven, so to speak for his guests but the men of Gibeah were intent on violating everything decent, especially the Levite. Note that the men of Gibeah did not mention the Levite’s servant in any way.
The old man also pleaded with the men of Gibeah to basically leave the guests alone and not do this “folly”, as he called it. This is another parallel to Lot’s appeal to the men of Sodom to leave his Two Guests alone and not bother them.
24 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.
It is almost horrifying to think that the old man would offer his own daughter, and the Levite’s concubine, as substitutes for the Levite and, perhaps, the servant. Yet this was the custom in those days. Lot also offered his two daughters to the men of Sodom in place of the Two Guests (Genesis 19). This is mentioned in any number of works on Bible customs and manners. Refer to these if further research on this topic is desired.
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.
Observing that the men of Gibeah were not going to listen to the old man, the Levite took his concubine and brought her out to the men. They abused here all night long and apparently kept it going until the next morning when they let her go. The day “began to spring” which means it might have been still dark, the sun not yet rising, when they were finished with her.
Nothing is mentioned of the old man's daughter. Apparently she was left alone; nothing in the text suggests otherwise.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.
How long it took between the day beginning to “spring” and the time it was “light” is not known. This could have been one to several hours. Note that the concubine came and fell down at the door of the old man’s house before it was light, apparently, and stayed there for a while. How far away had the others taken her from the house in order to abuse her?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.
In this verse, the Levite is called the concubine’s “lord”. He arose in the morning then opened the doors of the house to “go his way”. Then he noticed his concubine at the door of the house, with her hands on the door’s threshold. Was she trying to pull herself up from, say, the ground? What had she tried to do?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.
The Levite spoke to the concubine but here he is definitely not speaking “friendly (v. 3)” to her at this time. How he discovered she had died is not mentioned. Eventually he did understand she was dead, then picked up her body, laid it on his beast, and went back to “his place”. This location is not specified but this does not seem to be the same place as the old man’s house in Gibeah or his father-in-law’s house in Bethlehem-Judah. The Levite had been living “on the side of Mt Ephraim (verse 1)” so it is possible he had returned to his original home but this is not certain.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 coasts of Israel.
This is the first, if not only, time that anyone cut up a human body into pieces then sent the pieces throughout the country. Later Saul would do this to oxen (1 Sam 11:7) but never to a human body.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: consider of it, take advice, and speak (your minds).
This was a truly eye-opening experience for the nation of Israel. They noticed nothing like this had ever been done since they left Egypt, hundreds of years before, until their present day. They did call for a time of considering what to do, taking advice, and asking for comments, to “speak (your minds)”. However there is no mention at all of calling on the LORD, repentance, prayer, or anything else.
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).