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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Judges 19


A Levite’s concubine runs from him to her father’s house at Beth-lehem; he goeth to fetch her back; is kindly entertained by her father; he departs, and comes to Gibeah of Benjamin, and his concubine with him, Judges 19:1-14.

An old man of Mount Ephraim entertains them, Judges 19:15-21.

The men of the city encompass the house, to debauch the Levite, who through necessity delivers unto them his concubine, whom they abuse to death, Judges 19:22-28.

He carrieth her body home; divideth it into twelve parts; sendeth them into all the coasts of Israel, Judges 19:29,Judges 19:30.

Verse 1

In those days; of which See Poole "Judges 17:1".

On the side, Heb. in the sides, i.e. in one of the sides, as Judges 19:18.

A concubine, Heb. a wife a concubine, i.e. such a concubine as was also his wife, as appears from Judges 19:3-5,Judges 19:7,Judges 19:9,Judges 19:26,Judges 19:27; Judges 20:4. See of these Genesis 22:24; Genesis 25:1.

Verse 2

Against him, i.e. against her faith given to him, or to his wrong; or, with him, i.e. in his house; or whilst she lived with him, which is opposed to her going away, which here follows.

Went away from him; either for fear of his severe rebukes or punishment, or because her heart was alienated from him.

Four whole months, Heb. some days, to wit, four months; or, a year (so days commonly signify) and four months; wherein not only site sinned, but her father by some indulgence and connivance at her sin, and neglect of just endeavours for her reconciliation to her husband, the ill effects whereof he speedily felt, in the loss of his daughter in so dreadful a manner.

Verse 3

To speak friendly unto her, or, to speak to her heart, i.e. kindly and comfortably, as that phrase is taken, Genesis 1:21; Hosea 2:14, to offer, her pardon and reconciliation, and restitution to her former state.

To bring her again, to wit, to his own house.

A couple of asses; partly for himself or his wife to ride upon, as there was occasion; and partly for carrying their provision, as appears from Judges 19:19.

He rejoiced to meet him, hoping the breach would be made up by this means.

Verse 9

The day groweth to an end, Heb. it is the encamping time of the day, i.e. the evening, when armies having marched in the day, begin to pitch their camp; or, when the sun that makes the day begins to encamp himself and go toward rest; so it is a poetical expression taken from hence, that the sun, when he sets, seems to vulgar eyes to go to rest.

Verse 12

Of a stranger, i.e. of a strange nation, which the Canaanites possess; for though the city Jerusalem had been taken by Caleb, Judges 1:0, yet the strong fort of Zion was still in their hands, 2 Samuel 5:6,2 Samuel 5:7, whence it is likely they did much molest, and afterwards, by God’s permission, and for the punishment of their sin, drive out the Israelites who dwelt there.

Verse 13

Both which places lay in Benjamin’s portion, a little northward from Jerusalem, and in the road from Bethlehem-judah to Gibeah.

Verse 14

This is added to difference it from another Gibeah in Judah, Joshua 15:57. Possibly this is that which was called Gibeah of Saul, 1 Samuel 11:4.

Verse 15

Though they were soft and effeminate in other respects, yet they were hard-hearted towards strangers or indigent persons. Either there were no public houses to receive and entertain travellers, as may be gathered from Genesis 28:0; Genesis 42:0; Genesis 45:0; Joshua 9:0 &c.; or, if there were such a one here, they might perceive it to be a very wicked house, as being in so lewd a place, and therefore might decline it, and expect that some private person would exercise hospitality to them, as persons of any worth used to do, as Genesis 18:1-4; Genesis 19:1,Genesis 19:2; Hebrews 13:2.

Verse 16

Of Mount Ephraim; whence also the Levite was, which obliged and inclined him to show the more kindness to his countryman.

The men of the place were Benjamites: this was indeed one of thee cities belonging to the priests, Joshua 21:0; 1 Chronicles 6:0; but you consider that the cities which were given to the priests, and whereof they were possessors and owners, were not inhabited by the priests or Levites only, especially at this time when they were but few in number, but many other persons of differing professions and callings, which was necessary for their conveniency.

Verse 18

The house of the Lord was in Shiloh, Joshua 18:1; Joshua 22:12 Thither he went, either because he lived there, for that in the tribe of Ephraim; or rather, because he would there offer prayers, and praises, and sacrifices unto God, for his mercy in reconciling him and his wife together, and for his blessing upon them again, and to make atonement for his wife.

Verse 20

It matters not whether thou wantest nothing or every thing, I will take care to supply all thy wants.

Verse 21

They washed their feet, as they used to do to travellers in these hot countries, Genesis 18:4; Genesis 19:2; Genesis 24:32, &c.

Verse 22

Making their hearts merry, i.e. refreshing themselves with the provisions set before them.

Certain sons of Belial; wicked and licentious men: see Deuteronomy 13:13.

That we may know him; an ambiguous expression, whereby they pretended only a desire to know and see what person he had brought among them, and yet carry on their wicked design of knowing him carnally. Compare Genesis 19:5, where the same phrase is used in that sense upon a like occasion. But though they name only the man, yet it is plain from the following relation that their design was principally upon the woman, and therefore under the name of the man, they comprehend those that belong to him.

Verse 23

This man is come into mine house, and therefore I am obliged to protect him by the laws of hospitality. Compare Genesis 19:17,Genesis 19:8.

Verse 24

He offers this to avoid a greater and more unnatural sin, which he thought they designed; but it seems they did not, their abuse being confined to the woman, and not extended to the man, who also was in their power, if they had lusted after him. But this offer was sinful, because he offered that which was not in his nor in the man’s power to dispose of, even the chastity of his daughter, and the man’s wife; and because no man must do any evil, though never so small, for the prevention of any evil of sin or misery, or for the procuring of the greatest good, Romans 3:8; though his sin was much mitigated by his ignorance, by his honest and generous intention of protecting a stranger, by the force which was in some sort put upon him, and by the suddenness and violence of the temptation.

Verse 25

The man took his concubine; being willing to expose her rather than the daughter of his host, who had expressed such a singular care and affection for him.

Verse 26

Fell down, to wit, dead, as the following words show, and as that word is oft used, as Exodus 19:21; Psalms 82:7; Psalms 91:7; Hosea 5:5; killed, partly with grief of heart, and partly with excessive abuse of her body, of which there have been divers instances. Thus the sin she formerly chose, Judges 19:2, is now her destruction; and though her husband and pardoned her, God would punish her, at least as to this life.

Her lord; so he is called, either because he was her husband; for which cause Sarah called Abraham lord, 1 Peter 3:6; or because she had been his maid-servant, as concubines oftentimes were; as Genesis 30:3,Genesis 30:9.

Verse 27

The posture either of one that had fallen down, or of one that was laid down to sleep, her hands or arms (for the Hebrew word signifies both) leaning upon the threshold and being put under her head; and therefore he thought to awake her, and raise her up.

Verse 28

None answered; for she was dead, as is said, Judges 20:5.

Verse 29

Together with her bones, or, according to her bones, according to the joints of her body, for there he made a division. This might seem to be a barbarous and inhuman act in itself; but may seem excusable, if it be considered that the sadness of the spectacle did highly contribute to stir up the zeal of all the Israelites to avenge his concubine’s death, and to execute justice upon such profligate offenders; and was necessary, especially in this time of anarchy and general corruption, Judges 17:6, to awaken them out of that lethargy in which all the tribes lay.

Into twelve pieces; that one piece might be sent to every tribe; whereof none to Levi because they would meet with it in every tribe, being dispersed among them; but one to Benjamin; for he might well presume, that they would as much abhor so villainous an action, though done by some of their own tribe, as any of the rest.

Sent her into all the coasts of Israel, by several messengers, by whom also he sent a particular relation of the fact.

Verse 30

No such deed; so wicked and abominable.

Consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds; let us meet together, and seriously consider, and every one freely speak what is to be done in this case.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Judges 19". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.