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Bible Commentaries
Judges 19

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-30

Judges 19:1 . In those days, while Phinehas was highpriest, and in the first generation after Joshua’s death. He is called her husband, Judges 19:3; and it was adultery for a woman so espoused to connect herself with another man.

Judges 19:2 . His concubine played the whore. The LXX read, “was angry with him.” The Chaldaic reads, “despised him.”

Judges 19:11 . When they were by Jebus; that is, Jerusalem; shalom was added to Jebus, it would seem, in memory of its peace. Joshua had taken the lower town; but the city or fortress called Zion, after the ark rested there, he could not take. 2 Samuel 5:7; 2 Samuel 5:9.

Judges 19:18 . No man receiveth me. Benjamites without hospitality, without law, without religion! Habits of life which lead to awful issues. This however was a local sin; Israel, as a nation, abhorred the deed.

Judges 19:22 . Sons of Belial. Lawless men. Deuteronomy 13:13.

Judges 19:24 . My daughter, a maiden, said the poor man of mount Ephraim. An unoffending stranger is come under my sacred and absolute protection. Probably, like Lot, he had confidence that this overture would be rejected.

Judges 19:25 . So the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them. A base man, devoid of soul; ready and cunning enough to excite the tribes to war, but a real coward himself.

Judges 19:29 . Twelve pieces, which he sent first to Ephraim and Manasseh, and then to the ten tribes.


For a wandering family the patriarchal government was happy in every view. We hear of no defects, no reign of crimes and vice in the camp of Abraham; but it was by no means adequate to the wants of municipal and national society. Therefore the Israelites experienced many inconveniences in the transition from one form of government to another. The Lord had indeed appointed extraordinary judges, besides the judgment of the Urim; but the spirit of jealousy and independence in the several tribes opposed their salutary operation, and often to the ruin of the country. This Levite, travelling in the evening instead of the morning, for he was detained by the unseasonable civilities of his father-in-law, shunned Jebus, to lodge in Gibeah; not knowing that the Jebusites were all saints in comparison of apostate Benjamin. Religion has indeed degenerated to an awful state, when it is safer to form connections of a relative or commercial nature with the people of the world, rather than with professors of religion.

Benjamin’s depravity was discovered by the want of hospitality. No one sheltering this stranger, though he wanted nothing for himself, or for his beasts; that civility was reserved for a poor man of mount Ephraim, sojourning in Gibeah to earn his bread. Charity is truly the glory of religion; and when that is fled away, nothing but evil remains in the heart.

The lewd and lawless sons of Belial, guilty of sodomy in their intentions, and of adultery and murder in their actions, give us a black portrait of the consummate wickedness to which the human heart may speedily attain. Probably one wretch more daring than the rest, first proposed the deed; and then the whole being already corrupt, instantly applaud the plan. A frantic tumultuous passion was excited, which was deaf to all argument, all cries, all entreaties. Instantly they rush into crimes which cannot be traced, which must not be named; crimes which heaven in mercy to the less guilty world, hides in the flames of hell, and conceals in volumes of eternal smoke. Ah, Israel: ah, Gibeah! Are these the children of fathers tutored of the Lord in the desert? Are these the descendants of men who had seen the wonderful works of the Lord, and sworn fidelity to his covenant? Is this the new generation, worse than the nations whom the Lord had nearly destroyed? Jebusites, keep your purity, contract no marriages with Israel, make no covenants with a people not worthy of the human name; for how should you believe that God raised up this people to punish and exterminate your race? Come not near to their sanctuary, listen not to their law, believe not their history, for the glories of the desert are now enveloped in the darkness of eternal shame. Yea, such and worse are the hasty inferences of weak man, when a people are contemplated under a cloud of crime; and it really requires some time for the less instructed of the human kind to distinguish between the precious and the vile.

The guilt however was not confined to the sons of Belial; the elders next morning by supineness, contaminated themselves, and the city also with all the crimes which the wicked had committed in the dark. They made no inquisition for blood. Every father was solicitous to save the honour and life of a son whom he ought to have disowned for ever. Here let magistrates, masters, and parents be instructed. Here is a tragic school, a black case which says, let every house be locked at a proper hour; let no groups of riotous men parade the streets in the silence of the night; let female virtue, the first source and best bond of society, be inviolably protected. Otherwise the guilty city and nation will forfeit its existence in the eyes of heaven. Thanks be to God, that this evil was confined to Benjamin, and was renounced with horror by all the assembled tribes.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Judges 19". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/judges-19.html. 1835.
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