The Book of Judges

Chapter 19

A Levite goes to Beth-lehem to return home his concubine, 1-15. An old man entertains him at Gibeah, 16-21. The Gibeonites abuse his concubine to death, 22-28. He divides her into twelve pieces and sends them to the twelve tribes, 29, 30.

1 And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite dwelling on the side of mount Ephraim, who took for himself a concubine out of Beth-lehem-judah. 2 And his concubine played the harlot against him and went away from him to her father's house to Beth-lehem-judah, and was there four whole months. 3 And her husband arose and went after her to speak kindly to her and to bring her back, having his servant with him and a couple of donkeys. And she brought him into her father's house. And when the father of the young woman saw him, he rejoiced to meet him. 4 And his father-in-law, the young woman's father, retained him, and he stayed with him three days. So they ate and drank and lodged there. 5 And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he arose to depart, and the young woman's father said to his son-in-law, "Comfort your heart with a morsel of bread and afterward depart." 6 And they sat down and ate and drank both of them together, for the young woman's father had said to the man, "Be content, I pray you, and stay all night, and let your heart be merry." 7 And when the man rose to depart, his father-in-law urged him; therefore, he lodged there again. 8 And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart, and the young woman's father said, "Comfort your heart, I pray you." And they waited until afternoon, and the both of them ate. 9 And when the man arose to depart—he, his concubine, and his servant—his father-in-law, the young woman's father, said to him, "Behold now the day draws toward evening, I pray you stay all night. Behold, the day is coming to an end. Lodge here so that your heart may be merry. And tomorrow get on your way early so that you may go home."

10 But the man would not stay that night, but he arose and departed and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem. And there were with him two saddled donkeys. His concubine was also with him. 11 And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent. And the servant said to his master, "Come, I pray you, and let us turn in to this city of the Jebusites and lodge in it." 12 And his master said to him, "We will not turn aside here into the city of a stranger that is not of the children of Israel. We will pass over to Gibeah." 13 And he said to his servant, "Come, and let us draw near to one of these places, and we will lodge all night in Gibeah, or in Ramah." 14 And they passed on and went their way. And the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin. 15 And they turned aside there to go in and to lodge in Gibeah. And when he went in, he sat down in a street of the city, for there was no man who took them into his house to lodge.

16 And behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at evening, who was also of mount Ephraim, and he dwelt in Gibeah. But the men of the place were Benjaminites. 17 And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a way-faring man in the street of the city. And the old man said, "Where do you go? And where did you come from?" 18 And he said to him, "We are passing from Beth-lehem-Judah toward the side of mount Ephraim. I am from there. And I went to Beth-lehem-judah, but I am now going to the house of the LORD. And there is no man who receives me into his house. 19 Yet there is both straw and provender for our donkeys, and there is bread and wine also for me, for your woman-servant, and for the young man which is with your servants. There is no lack of anything." 20 And the old man said, "Peace be with you; however, let all your needs lie upon me. Only do not lodge in the street." 21 So he brought him into his house and gave provender to the donkeys. And they washed their feet and ate and drank.

22 Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, some sons of Belial, beset the house on all sides and beat at the door, and spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, "Bring forth the man who came into your house so that we may know him." 23 And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, "No, my brothers, no, I pray you, do not do so wickedly. Seeing that this man has come into my house, do not do this folly. 24 Behold, here is my daughter, a virgin, and his concubine. I will bring them out now, and you may humble them and do with them what seems good to you, but to this man do not do such a vile thing." 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and brought her forth to 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 the woman came in the dawning of the day and fell down at the door of the man's house where her lord was until it was light.

27 And her lord rose in the morning, opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way. And behold, the woman his concubine had fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold. 28 And he said to her, "Rise, and let us be going." But no one answered. Then the man took her upon a donkey, and the man rose and went to his place. 29 And when he had come into his house, he took a knife, laid hold upon his concubine, and divided her, with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the borders of Israel. 30 And it was so, that all who saw it, said, "There has been no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came from the land of Egypt to this day. Consider it, take advice, and speak your minds."


Matthew Henry Commentary - Judges, Chapter 19[➚]


[v.29] - The preceding story seems to be quite gruesome, especially for the concubine. There is a point to the story and Matthew Henry does a great job of explaining it in his commentary. This is what he said: "One would think the Levite should have followed them, to see what became of his wife, but it is probable he durst not, lest they should do him a mischief. In the miserable end of this woman, we may see the righteous hand of God punishing her for her former uncleanness, when she played the whore against her husband, v. 2. Though her father had countenanced her, her husband had forgiven her, and the fault was forgotten now that the quarrel was made up, yet God remembered it against her when he suffered these wicked men thus wretchedly to abuse her; how unrighteous soever they were in their treatment of her, in permitting it the Lord was righteous. Her punishment answered her sin, Culpa libido fuit, poena libido fuit-Lust was her sin, and lust was her punishment. By the law of Moses she was to have been put to death for her adultery. She escaped that punishment from men, yet vengeance pursued her; for, if there was no king in Israel, yet there was a God in Israel, a God that judgeth in the earth. We must not think it enough to make our peace with men, whom by our sins we have wronged, but are concerned, by repentance and faith, to make our peace with God, who sees not as men see, nor makes so light of sin as men often do. The justice of God in this matter does not at all extenuate the horrid wickedness of these men of Gibeah, than which nothing could be more barbarous and inhuman... To each of the tribes, in their respective meetings, he sent by special messengers a remonstrance of the wrong that was done him, in all its aggravating circumstances, and with it a piece of his wife's dead body (v. 29), both to confirm the truth of the story and to affect them the more with it. He divided it into twelve pieces, according to the bones, so some read it, that is, by the joints, sending one to each tribe, even to Benjamin among the rest, with the hope that some among them would be moved to join in punishing so great a villany, and the more warmly because committed by some of their own tribe. It did indeed look very barbarous thus to mangle a dead body, which, having been so wretchedly dishonoured, ought to have been decently interred; but the Levite designed hereby, not only to represent their barbarous usage of his wife, whom they had better have cut in pieces thus than have used as they did, but also to express his own passionate concern and thereby to excite the like in them. And it had the desired effect. All that saw the pieces of the dead body, and were told how the matter was, expressed the same sentiments upon it." The resolution of this story is covered in the next chapter.