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ua. The probability is, that both these stories, whether connected as we have suggested or not, belong to about the same period and soon after the time of Joshua. Josephus places this incident before the time of the Judges. Ant. B. v. C. ii. s. 8.
The Septuagint and Vulgate make no allusion to the unfaithfulness of this concubine. Josephus says that the Levite and concubine quarreled ; but he gives no such reason as is given in our version.
The husband went after her to speak friendly to her to speak to her heart. He took two asses, one for himself and one for his wife. This was the usual mode of traveling in those days. He took a servant with him. All men of any standing at that time had servants.
Son-in-law father-in-law. There is a word here which we have had before. It has the sense of son-inlaw and father-in-law, and is the same in both these instances, * vs. 4, 5, 7.
Josephus says that Bethlehem was thirty furlongs from Jerusalem, and Gibeah was twenty. He says that it was dangerous to travel in the unsettled state of the country. Had the Levite set out in the morning, and driven with tolerable speed, he might have reached home the same day. Had he done this we should have been saved the revolting and horrid details of this strange story. But the story indicates the state of society, and is therefore useful as giving us important information.
There was some ground for the Levite's fears about remaining at Jerusalem, though it appears, from other parts of this history, that both the Judahites and Benjamites had secured a foothold in that city, so that it was not wholly in the hands of the Jebusites. tion of Benjamin and Judah, however, may have been only a military one, and therefore giving the Levite no security as a traveler.
In Gibeah or in Ramah. The language implies, not
only that these places are near to Jerusalem, but that they are near each other. This last particular has an important bearing on the yet unsettled question, Whether this Ramah was the residence of Samuel, while Gibeah was the abode of Saul; but this at another tine.
The Levite and his servant and wife “turn aside" and go to Gibeah. It was a little off from the direct road. They stopped in the street,* a broad place or public square. It was a conspicuous place, and all that were out at that time of the day could see them. According to Josephus many of the young men of Gibeah did see them; and the beauty of the woman inflamed their passions, and led them to commit the horrid deed afterwards described.
JUD. XIX. 16. And, behold, there came an wants lie upon me; only lodge not old man from his work out of the in the street. field at even, which was also of 21. So he brought him into his mount Ephraim; and he sojourned house, and gave provender unto the in Gibeath: but the men of the asses: and they washed their feet, place were Benjamites.
and did eat and drink. 17. And when he had lifted up 22. Now, as they were making his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man their hearts merry, behold, the men in the street of the city: and the of the city, certain sons of Belial, beold man said, Whither goest thoa ? set the house round about, and beat and whence comest thou ?
at the door, and spake to the mas18. And he said unto him, We are ter of the house, the old man, say. passing from Beth-lehem-judah to-ing, Bring forth the man that came ward the side of mount Ephraim; into thine house that we may know from thence am I: and I went to him. Beth-lehem-judah, but I am now go 23. And the man, the master of ing to the house of the Lord ; and the house, went out unto them, and there is no man that receiveth me to said unto them, Nay, my brethren, house.
nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; 19. Yet there is both straw and seeing that this man is come into provender for our asses; and there mine house, do not this folly. is bread and wine also for me, and 24. Behold, here is my daughter, for thy handmaid, and for the young a maiden, and his concubine: them man which is with thy servants; I will bring out now, and humble there is no want of any thing. ye them, and do with them what
20. And the old man said, Peace seemeth good unto you: but unto he with thee: howsoever, let all thy this man do not so vile a thing.
25. But the men would not heark. 28. And he said unto her, Up, en to him; so the man took his con- and let us be going: but none an. cubine, and brought her forth unto swered. Then the man took her them: and they knew her, and up upon an ass, and the man rose abused her all night until the morn- up, and gat him unto his place. ing: and when the day began to 29. And when he was come into spring, they let her go.
his house, he took a knife, and laid 26. Then came the woman in the hold on his concubine, and divided dawning of the day, and fell down her, together with her bones, into at the door of the man's house twelve pieces, and sent her into where her lord was, till it was light. all the coasts of Israel.
27 And her lord rose up in the 30. And it was so, that all tnat morning, and opened the doors of saw it said, There was no such deed the house, and went out to go his done nor seen from the day that the way: and, behold, the woman his children of Israel came up out of concubine was fallen down at the the land of Egypt unto this day: door of the house, and her hands consider of it, take advice, and were upon the threshhold.
speak your minds.
The old man who offered them hospitality was influenced partly by the fact that he was from the same place. That was very natural. The inhabitants of Gibeah were Benjamites. The Vulgate divides this word and renders it “ sons of Jaminy."
The bouse of the Lord. The tabernacle was called the house of the Lord or Jehovah. It was located at Shiloh; and the Levite mentions it because it was near the place of his residence. Indeed, Shiloh may have been the place of his residence; and as the tabernacle was there, it was common to refer to it as the house of Jehovah. The Septuagint has “my house;" but there is nothing to authorize that rendering. pose it to have been common, for one who was going to Shiloh, to say he was going to the house of the Lord.
The archæological references are explained in another part of this book.
“Sons of Belial” were rough, unprincipled men. The expression is often found in the Bible; and “daughters of Belial” once or twice.
Bring forth the man. The old gentleman knew what this kind of language signified. The expedient, proposed by the man of the house, shows how sacred the rights
We may sup
of hospitality were regarded in those days, and how low the estimate of female virtue. All the circumstances are in harmony. The Levite cares but little for the pu rity of his wife; only he would not have her desert him. His going after her, and treating her kindly, shows that he was not alienated from her. But he makes no vigorous resistance to the proposition of his host. And the excitement produced throughout the land was not, that 'the woman had been violated; but that she had been killed ! and the rights of hospitality had been so grossly invaded and trampled on!
There is ambiguity in verse 25th. Was it the old man or the Levite that sent out the woman ? It appears to be the Levite. The Septuagint makes the Le vite do this; the Vulgate is ambiguous like the Hebrew and English. In either case the estimate put upon female virtue is the same; and in perfect harmony with this, is the comparative indifference of the woman. She makes no resistance she offers no objection. It is not to be presumed that she was indifferent; but she felt no such overwhelming sense of degredation and guilt, as such a proposition, at the present day, would create in the mind of any woman that was not dead to all sense of virtue and decency.
In all these circumstances we see the savage character of the times and the people. And the events yet to be recorded are in keeping with those we have already noticed.
The Levite took the method he thought best fitted to arouse the people to a proper sense of the outrage that had been committed by the men of Gibeah. In keeping with this expedient of the Levite, is that of Saul on an other occasion. 1 Sam. xi. 7. In both cases the desired result followed.
Nothing so bad as this had occurred since the people came out of Egypt. Coming out of Egypt was an era in Hebrew history.
There is a striking resemblance between this narrative
and that relating to the angels of Sodom. Gen. xix. But in that a motive is suggested that is wanting here. Lot had come to Sodom as a sojourner, but he would be a judge." And his sitting at the gate of the city, would lead us to conclude that he was a judge. As a comparative stranger, this was thought unbecoming. And it is urged as an excuse for attacking his house. No excuse is urged in the other case. Josephus makes the motive to be animal passion and that alone.
We suspect that back of this there may have been another motive. Gibeah was near Jerusalem. The Le vite had passed directly through that city, and sought the hospitality of another. Nor had he there accepted the hospitality of the citizens, but of one of his own people of mount Ephraim. All the reasons that had operated on the mind of the Levite could not have been known. The appearances were all the people could judge from ; and these seemed to indicate a slight, both of the citizens of Jebus and of Gibeah. It could not have been known that he distrusted only the Jebusites, and not the Israelites of Jerusalem. It could not be known that no one offered hospitality at Gibeah, except the old man of mount Ephraim. Possibly it may have been known that the womalı had not sustained the best of characters, if indeed she had not. Her home at Beth. lehem was not far off. She may have been known to
sons of Belial” in both Jebus and Gibeah. Men never act without some motives; and when such an outrage, as is here described, has been committed, there should be found at the bottom some motive of more than ordinary power. We may suppose, if the facts will warrant, that different motives influenced different men, in the part they took in this transaction. We may look upon them with less severity, on the ground of their ignorance that such a result would follow such abuse. The result may have been entirely unexpected.