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Bible Commentaries
Judges 19

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-30

Chapter 19

[Now again, in chapter nineteen it says,] It came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel ( Judges 19:1 ),

Now no king in Israel. You see Israel was intended by God to be a theocracy. God wanted to be the king. He wanted the people to submit to His rules, to His reign, but the declaration "there was no king in Israel" meant that the people were not submitting to God. Thus there was confusion, everybody was doing what he felt was right and there was great confusion. These things that are told here are not told in a sense of condoning what's happening, in fact they're told in the other sense of condemning what they're doing. But just showing the confusion that existed during this particular period of the history of the children of Israel. And the whole purpose is just to relay actually the confusion that exists during this period of time.

So it came to pass there was no king, there was a certain Levite who also was living in mount Ephraim, and he took him a concubine from Bethlehemjudah ( Judges 19:1 ).

Now this is wrong that a priest should have a concubine, not his wife, just a concubine. This is following really the pagan practices of the people that were around him and even the priest. Now his concubine left him, went out and was a prostitute, returned to her father who was living in Bethlehem. And so after a few months he was missing her and so he decided to go back and talk her into coming back with him. They had a live-in relationship; living together without marriage. Some of the people today think they are so modern, so chic, you know, "we're just living together" as though that were, you know, chic. All right have it your way, c-h-i-c. Hey, this has been going on for a long time. You're old-fashioned, nothing modern about that. Sin's been around from the beginning.

So he went back, he went down to Bethlehem where she'd gone back to her dad to talk her into moving back in with him again. And her dad took a liking for the guy and he was good in his sales pitch and she decided to go back with him. But the dad said, "Aha, you know, stick around, you know, let's just drink and have a good time."

And so they drank and it got evening and the guy says, "Well, I'll be going home."

"No you can't go tonight. Stay until tomorrow, you know, and you get a start off tomorrow." So he stayed to the next day and so they got up and started to celebrate again and they kept drinking through the day. And came evening and said, "Well I better be going."

"Ahh, you can't go, it's getting dark. You might as well wait until tomorrow and leave tomorrow. "And so he spent the night again and, you know, same old thing.

And in the afternoon he said, "Hey, I gotta be going."

"Awe, no, no spend the night and tomorrow get up real early and get a good start."

He said, "Hey, I've got to go." So he saddled up the two donkeys, he took his servant and the concubine and they started back towards Ephraim from Bethlehem.

It was getting evening as they came to Jebus, which was later to be Jerusalem; about five miles from Bethlehem and the servant said, "We better turn into Jebus here and spend the night."

And he said, "No I don't want to spend the night in a city that doesn't belong to the Israelites. Let's go on." And so they came to Ramah, which is sort of a northern suburb of Jerusalem, and somehow that didn't appeal to them so they went a little further to a city of the Benjamites, the city of Gibeah.

And he said to his servant, "Come let us draw near and we'll spend the night here."

As the sun went down they were by Gibeah, that belongs to Benjamin. And they turned in to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat down in the street: for there was no man that took him into his house for lodging ( Judges 19:14-15 ).

Now, in those days they didn't have motels, hotel kind of things and people were just gracious and they would just take you into their home. If you were a traveler coming along, hospitality was a thing of the day, you know, "Come and spend the night with us." And so no one invited him to spend the night.

And an old man was coming in from the fields. He had been working rather late and he also was from the Mount Ephraim area, which meant that he was of the tribe of Ephraim, not a Benjamite. And he saw this fellow in the street and he said, "What are you doing here in the street? You can't spend the night in the street."

He said, "Well, no one's invited me home."

He said, "Well, come on home to my house."

He said, "Where you from?"

He said, "I'm from Ephraim. I have been journeying from Bethlehem." "Oh, I'm from Ephraim, too. Where are you from? Do you know so-and-so." "Yeah." You know and that kind of stuff. And so he invited him home to spend the night with him. And as it got dark the men of Gibeah came to the door and they began to pound on the door and they said,

Send the man out that we saw coming into your house, that we might know him ( Judges 19:22 ).

So now we find that very thing for which God judged Sodom and destroyed, it is happening even among his own people there in the tribe of Benjamin. The very same thing that happened when the angels came into the house of Lot in Sodom and the men of the city circled the house and said, "Send them out that we might know them" or "that we might have sexual relations with him" or "homosexual relations with them." And here we see the moral depravity that has taken place even among God's people, the Benjamites. And so it's giving you an insight into the moral decay of Israel during the period of the Judges and again an insight into the whole cultural scene.

The old man said, "Hey, this man's my guest. I've got a daughter who's a virgin and here's his concubine. We'll send them out and you do with them whatever you want but don't, you know, touch my guest."

Women, be thankful for Jesus Christ. What he has done for women's rights, what Jesus has done for the women is absolutely glorious. You take the cultures of the world where the Christian influence is not strong and look at the place of the women in those cultures, even today. It is Jesus Christ who elevated the woman from something of a chattel, a slave, something to be pawned off by the man's will and elevated her into an equal in the sight of God. For in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female, there's no superior sex or anything else, there is just a beautiful equality in Jesus Christ. And Jesus elevated the woman from this place of the pagan cultures where she was put down and subjugated and treated like dirt. And Jesus lifted the womanhood and gave respect and dignity to women, which the men weren't willing to grant in their pagan cultures. You go today to Israel and look at the place of the Bedouin women and be thankful for what Jesus Christ has done for you, lifting, bringing respect and glory and honor and equality unto the women. But He had not yet come. They were following still the cultures of the people around them.

Here's a man willing to give his daughter, his virgin daughter to a lustful crowd, "Don't touch my guest that has come." And so they sent the concubine out and all night long the men raped her, one after another until in the morning she crawled back to the steps of the house and there she died. In the morning when the priest came out he said, "Get up, let's get going. What ails you?" There was no answer, he touched her and found she was dead. So he put her on the donkey, took her back to Ephraim to his house and there he butchered her body, cutting it into twelve pieces and sending a piece of her body to all of the tribes. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Judges 19". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/judges-19.html. 2014.
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