The Message

Judges 19

The Levite

11-4 It was an era when there was no king in Israel. A Levite, living as a stranger in the backwoods hill country of Ephraim, got himself a concubine, a woman from Bethlehem in Judah. But she quarreled with him and left, returning to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah. She was there four months. Then her husband decided to go after her and try to win her back. He had a servant and a pair of donkeys with him. When he arrived at her father’s house, the girl’s father saw him, welcomed him, and made him feel at home. His father-in-law, the girl’s father, pressed him to stay. He stayed with him three days; they feasted and drank and slept.

5-6 On the fourth day, they got up at the crack of dawn and got ready to go. But the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Strengthen yourself with a hearty breakfast and then you can go.” So they sat down and ate breakfast together.

6-7 The girl’s father said to the man, “Come now, be my guest. Stay the night—make it a holiday.” The man got up to go, but his father-in-law kept after him, so he ended up spending another night.

8-9 On the fifth day, he was again up early, ready to go. The girl’s father said, “You need some breakfast.” They went back and forth, and the day slipped on as they ate and drank together. But the man and his concubine were finally ready to go. Then his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said, “Look, the day’s almost gone—why not stay the night? There’s very little daylight left; stay another night and enjoy yourself. Tomorrow you can get an early start and set off for your own place.”

10-11 But this time the man wasn’t willing to spend another night. He got things ready, left, and went as far as Jebus (Jerusalem) with his pair of saddled donkeys, his concubine, and his servant. At Jebus, though, the day was nearly gone. The servant said to his master, “It’s late; let’s go into this Jebusite city and spend the night.”

12-13 But his master said, “We’re not going into any city of foreigners. We’ll go on to Gibeah.” He directed his servant, “Keep going. Let’s go on ahead. We’ll spend the night either at Gibeah or Ramah.”

14-15 So they kept going. As they pressed on, the sun finally left them in the vicinity of Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin. They left the road there to spend the night at Gibeah.

15-17 The Levite went and sat down in the town square, but no one invited them in to spend the night. Then, late in the evening, an old man came in from his day’s work in the fields. He was from the hill country of Ephraim and lived temporarily in Gibeah where all the local citizens were Benjaminites. When the old man looked up and saw the traveler in the town square, he said, “Where are you going? And where are you from?”

18-19 The Levite said, “We’re just passing through. We’re coming from Bethlehem on our way to a remote spot in the hills of Ephraim. I come from there. I’ve just made a trip to Bethlehem in Judah and I’m on my way back home, but no one has invited us in for the night. We wouldn’t be any trouble: We have food and straw for the donkeys, and bread and wine for the woman, the young man, and me—we don’t need anything.”

20-21 The old man said, “It’s going to be all right; I’ll take care of you. You aren’t going to spend the night in the town square.” He took them home and fed the donkeys. They washed up and sat down to a good meal.

22 They were relaxed and enjoying themselves when the men of the city, a gang of local hell-raisers all, surrounded the house and started pounding on the door. They yelled for the owner of the house, the old man, “Bring out the man who came to your house. We want to have sex with him.”

23-24 He went out and told them, “No, brothers! Don’t be obscene—this man is my guest. Don’t commit this outrage. Look, my virgin daughter and his concubine are here. I’ll bring them out for you. Abuse them if you must, but don’t do anything so senselessly vile to this man.”

25-26 But the men wouldn’t listen to him. Finally, the Levite pushed his concubine out the door to them. They raped her repeatedly all night long. Just before dawn they let her go. The woman came back and fell at the door of the house where her master was sleeping. When the sun rose, there she was.

27 It was morning. Her master got up and opened the door to continue his journey. There she was, his concubine, crumpled in a heap at the door, her hands on the threshold.

28 “Get up,” he said. “Let’s get going.” There was no answer.

29-30 He lifted her onto his donkey and set out for home. When he got home he took a knife and dismembered his concubine—cut her into twelve pieces. He sent her, piece by piece, throughout the country of Israel. And he ordered the men he sent out, “Say to every man in Israel: ‘Has such a thing as this ever happened from the time the Israelites came up from the land of Egypt until now? Think about it! Talk it over. Do something!’”

New American Standard Bible

Judges 19

A Levite’s Concubine Degraded

1Now it came about in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite [a]staying in the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, who took a concubine for himself from Bethlehem in Judah. But his concubine played the harlot against him, and she went away from him to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah, and was there for a period of four months. Then her husband arose and went after her to speak [b]tenderly to her in order to bring her back, [c]taking with him his servant and a pair of donkeys. So she brought him into her father’s house, and when the girl’s father saw him, he was glad to meet him. His father-in-law, the girl’s father, detained him; and he remained with him three days. So they ate and drank and lodged there. Now on the fourth day they got up early in the morning, and he [d]prepared to go; and the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Sustain [e]yourself with a piece of bread, and afterward you may go.” So both of them sat down and ate and drank together; and the girl’s father said to the man, “Please be willing to spend the night, and let your heart be merry.” Then the man arose to go, but his father-in-law urged him so that he spent the night there again. On the fifth day he arose to go early in the morning, and the girl’s father said, “Please sustain [f]yourself, and wait until [g]afternoon”; so both of them ate. When the man arose to go along with his concubine and servant, his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Behold now, the day has drawn [h]to a close; please spend the night. Lo, the day is [i]coming to an end; spend the night here that your heart may be merry. Then tomorrow you may arise early for your journey so that you may go [j]home.”

10 But the man was not willing to spend the night, so he arose and departed and came to a place opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). And there were with him a pair of saddled donkeys; his concubine also was with him. 11 When they were near Jebus, the day was almost gone; and the servant said to his master, “Please come, and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites and spend the night in it.” 12 However, his master said to him, “We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners who are not of the sons of Israel; but we will go on as far as Gibeah.” 13 He said to his servant, “Come and let us approach one of these places; and we will spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah.” 14 So they passed along and went their way, and the sun set on them near Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. 15 They turned aside there in order to enter and lodge in Gibeah. When [k]they entered, [l]they sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night.

16 Then behold, an old man was coming out of the field from his work at evening. Now the man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was [m]staying in Gibeah, but the men of the place were Benjamites. 17 And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city; and the old man said, “Where are you going, and where do you come from?” 18 He said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, for I am from there, and I went to Bethlehem in Judah. But I am now going to [n]my house, and no man will take me into his house. 19 Yet there is both straw and fodder for our donkeys, and also bread and wine for me, [o]your maidservant, and the young man who is with your servants; there is no lack of anything.” 20 The old man said, “Peace to you. Only let me take care of all your needs; however, do not spend the night in the open square.” 21 So he took him into his house and gave the donkeys fodder, and they washed their feet and ate and drank.

22 While they were [p]celebrating, behold, the men of the city, certain [q]worthless fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have [r]relations with him.” 23 Then the man, the owner of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my fellows, please do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not commit this act of folly. 24 Here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. Please let me bring them out that you may ravish them and do to them [s]whatever you wish. But do not commit such an act of folly against this man.” 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and brought her out to them; and they raped her and abused her all night until morning, then let her go at the approach of dawn. 26 [t]As the day began to dawn, the woman came and fell down at the doorway of the man’s house where her master was, until full daylight.

27 When her master arose in the morning and opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, then behold, his concubine was lying at the doorway of the house with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up and let us go,” but there was no answer. Then he placed her on the donkey; and the man arose and went to his [u]home. 29 When he entered his house, he took a knife and laid hold of his concubine and cut her in twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout the territory of Israel. 30 All who saw it said, “Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen from the day when the sons of Israel came up from the land of Egypt to this day. Consider it, take counsel and speak up!”

Footnotes

  1. Judges 19:1 Or sojourning
  2. Judges 19:3 Lit to her heart
  3. Judges 19:3 Lit and
  4. Judges 19:5 Lit arose
  5. Judges 19:5 Lit your heart
  6. Judges 19:8 Lit your heart
  7. Judges 19:8 Lit the day declines
  8. Judges 19:9 Lit toward evening
  9. Judges 19:9 Lit declining
  10. Judges 19:9 Lit to your tent
  11. Judges 19:15 So with Gr; M.T. he
  12. Judges 19:15 So with Gr; M.T. he
  13. Judges 19:16 Or sojourning
  14. Judges 19:18 Heb the house of the Lord, cf v 29
  15. Judges 19:19 I.e. my concubine
  16. Judges 19:22 Lit making their hearts merry
  17. Judges 19:22 Lit sons of Belial
  18. Judges 19:22 Lit intercourse
  19. Judges 19:24 Lit the good in your eyes
  20. Judges 19:26 Lit At the turning of the morning
  21. Judges 19:28 Lit place