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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 19

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1 IN those days when Israel had no king, a Levite residing in the heart of the hill-country of Ephraim had taken himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. 2In a fit of anger a 19:2 In…anger: so Gk; Heb. She was unfaithful. she had left him and gone to her father's house in Bethlehem in Judah. When she had been there four months, 3her husband set out after her, with his servant and two donkeys, to appeal to her and bring her back. She brought him into the house of her father, who was delighted to see him and made him welcome. 4Being pressed by his father-in-law, the girl's father, he stayed there three days, and they were regaled with food and drink during their visit. 5On the fourth day, they rose early in the morning, and the Levite prepared to leave, but the father said to his son-in-law, ‘Have a bite of something to sustain you before you go,’ 6and the two of them sat down and ate and drank together. The girl's father said to the man, ‘Why not spend the night and enjoy yourself?’ 7The man, however, rose to go, but his father-in-law urged him to stay, and again he stayed for the night. 8He rose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart, but the girl's father said, ‘Have something to eat first.’ So they lingered till late afternoon, eating and drinking b 19:8 and drinking: so some Gk MSS; Heb. omits. together. 9Then the man stood up to go with his concubine and his servant, but his father-in-law said, ‘Look, the day is wearing on towards sunset c 19:9 towards sunset: so Gk; Heb. adds Spend the night: behold the camping of the day. . Spend the night here and enjoy yourself, and tomorrow rise early and set out for home.’ 10But the man would not stay the night; he set off on his journey.

He reached a point opposite Jebus, that is Jerusalem, with his two laden donkeys and his concubine. 11Since they were close to Jebus and the day was nearly gone, the servant said to his master, ‘Do let us turn into this Jebusite town for the night.’ 12His master replied, ‘No, not into a strange town where the people are not Israelites; let us go on to Gibeah. 13Come, we will go and find some other place, Gibeah or Ramah, to spend the night.’ 14So they went on until sunset overtook them; they were then near Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. 15They turned in there to spend the night, and went and sat down in the open square of the town; but nobody took them into his house for the night.

16At nightfall an old man was coming home from his work in the fields. He was from the hill-country of Ephraim, though he lived in Gibeah, where the people were Benjamites. 17When his eye lighted on the traveller in the town square, he asked him where he was going and where he came from. 18He answered, ‘We are travelling from Bethlehem in Judah to the heart of the hill-country of Ephraim. I come from there; I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and I am going home d 19:18 home: so Gk; Heb. to the house of the LORD. , but nobody has taken me into his house. 19I have straw and provender for our donkeys, food and wine for myself, the girl, and the young man; we have all we need.’ 20The old man said, ‘You are welcome. I shall supply all your wants; you must not spend the night in the open.’ 21He took him inside, where he provided fodder for the donkeys. Then, having bathed their feet, they all ate and drank.

22While they were enjoying themselves, some of the most depraved scoundrels in the town surrounded the house, beating the door violently and shouting to the old man whose house it was, ‘Bring out the man who has come to your house, for us to have intercourse with him.’ 23The owner of the house went outside to them and said, ‘No, my friends, do nothing so wicked. This man is my guest; do not commit this outrage. 24Here are my daughter, who is a virgin, and the man's concubine; let me bring them out to you. Abuse them and do what you please; but you must not commit such an outrage against this man.’ 25When the men refused to listen to him, the Levite took his concubine and thrust her outside for them. They raped and abused her all night till the morning; only when dawn broke did they let her go. 26The woman came at daybreak and collapsed at the entrance of the man's house where her husband was, and lay there until it was light.

27Her husband rose in the morning and opened the door of the house to be on his way, and there was his concubine lying at the door with her hands on the threshold. 28He said to her, ‘Get up and let us be off’; but there was no answer. So he lifted her on to his donkey and set off for home.

29When he arrived there, he picked up a knife, took hold of his concubine, and cut her limb by limb into twelve pieces, which he then sent through the length and breadth of Israel. 30He told the men he sent with them to say to every Israelite, ‘Has the like of this happened or been seen from e 19:30 He told…been seen from: prob. rdg, cp. Gk; Heb. omits He…seen. the time the Israelites came up from Egypt till today? Consider among yourselves and speak your minds.’ Everyone who saw them said, ‘Since that time no such thing has ever happened or been seen.’

Notes:

a 19:2 In…anger: so Gk; Heb. She was unfaithful.

b 19:8 and drinking: so some Gk MSS; Heb. omits.

c 19:9 towards sunset: so Gk; Heb. adds Spend the night: behold the camping of the day.

d 19:18 home: so Gk; Heb. to the house of the LORD.

e 19:30 He told…been seen from: prob. rdg, cp. Gk; Heb. omits He…seen.

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