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Judges 19

Sodom and Gomorrah Revisited

19:1 In those days Israel had no king. There was a Levite 1  living temporarily in the remote region of the Ephraimite hill country. He acquired a concubine 2  from Bethlehem 3  in Judah. 19:2 However, she 4  got angry at him 5  and went home 6  to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah. When she had been there four months, 19:3 her husband came 7  after her, hoping he could convince her to return. 8  He brought with him his servant 9  and a pair of donkeys. When she brought him into her father’s house and the girl’s father saw him, he greeted him warmly. 10  19:4 His father-in-law, the girl’s father, persuaded him to stay with him for three days, and they ate and drank together, and spent the night there. 19:5 On the fourth day they woke up early and the Levite got ready to leave. 11  But the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Have a bite to eat for some energy, 12  then you can go.” 19:6 So the two of them sat down and had a meal together. 13  Then the girl’s father said to the man, “Why not stay another night and have a good time!” 14  19:7 When the man got ready to leave, 15  his father-in-law convinced him to stay another night. 16  19:8 He woke up early in the morning on the fifth day so he could leave, but the girl’s father said, “Get some energy. 17  Wait until later in the day to leave!” 18  So they ate a meal together. 19:9 When the man got ready to leave 19  with his concubine and his servant, 20  his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Look! The day is almost over! 21  Stay another night! Since the day is over, 22  stay another night here and have a good time. You can get up early tomorrow and start your trip home.” 23  19:10 But the man did not want to stay another night. He left 24  and traveled as far as 25  Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). 26  He had with him a pair of saddled donkeys and his concubine. 27 

19:11 When they got near Jebus, it was getting quite late 28  and the servant 29  said to his master, “Come on, let’s stop at 30  this Jebusite city and spend the night in it.” 19:12 But his master said to him, “We should not stop at a foreign city where non-Israelites live. 31  We will travel on to Gibeah.” 19:13 He said to his servant, 32  “Come on, we will go into one of the other towns 33  and spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah.” 19:14 So they traveled on, 34  and the sun went down when they were near Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin. 35  19:15 They stopped there and decided to spend the night 36  in Gibeah. They came into the city and sat down in the town square, but no one invited them to spend the night. 37 

19:16 But then an old man passed by, returning at the end of the day from his work in the field. 38  The man was from the Ephraimite hill country; he was living temporarily in Gibeah. (The residents of the town were Benjaminites.) 39  19:17 When he looked up and saw the traveler 40  in the town square, the old man said, “Where are you heading? Where do you come from?” 19:18 The Levite 41  said to him, “We are traveling from Bethlehem 42  in Judah to the remote region of the Ephraimite hill country. That’s where I’m from. I had business in Bethlehem in Judah, but now I’m heading home. 43  But no one has invited me into their home. 19:19 We have enough straw and grain for our donkeys, and there is enough food and wine for me, your female servant, 44  and the young man who is with your servants. 45  We lack nothing.” 19:20 The old man said, “Everything is just fine! 46  I will take care of all your needs. But don’t spend the night in the town square.” 19:21 So he brought him to his house and fed the donkeys. They washed their feet and had a meal. 47 

19:22 They were having a good time, 48  when suddenly 49  some men of the city, some good-for-nothings, 50  surrounded the house and kept beating 51  on the door. They said to the old man who owned the house, “Send out the man who came to visit you so we can have sex with him.” 52  19:23 The man who owned the house went outside and said to them, “No, my brothers! Don’t do this wicked thing! After all, this man is a guest in my house. Don’t do such a disgraceful thing! 19:24 Here are my virgin daughter and my guest’s 53  concubine. I will send them out and you can abuse them and do to them whatever you like. 54  But don’t do such a disgraceful thing to this man!” 19:25 The men refused to listen to him, so the Levite 55  grabbed his concubine and made her go outside. 56  They raped 57  her and abused her all night long until morning. They let her go at dawn. 19:26 The woman arrived back at daybreak and was sprawled out on the doorstep of the house where her master 58  was staying until it became light. 59  19:27 When her master 60  got up in the morning, opened the doors of the house, and went outside to start on his journey, there was the woman, his concubine, sprawled out on the doorstep of the house with her hands on the threshold. 19:28 He said to her, “Get up, let’s leave!” But there was no response. He put her on the donkey and went home. 61  19:29 When he got home, he took a knife, grabbed his concubine, and carved her up into twelve pieces. 62  Then he sent the pieces throughout Israel. 63  19:30 Everyone who saw the sight 64  said, “Nothing like this has happened or been witnessed during the entire time since 65  the Israelites left the land of Egypt! 66  Take careful note of it! Discuss it and speak!”

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1 tn Heb “a man, a Levite.”

2 sn See the note on the word “concubine” in 8:31.

3 map For location see Map5 B1; Map7 E2; Map8 E2; Map10 B4.

4 tn Heb “and his concubine.” The pronoun (“she”) has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons.

5 tn Or “was unfaithful to him.” Many have understood the Hebrew verb וַתִּזְנֶה (vattizneh) as being from זָנָה (zanah, “to be a prostitute”), but it may be derived from a root meaning “to be angry; to hate” attested in Akkadian (see HALOT 275 s.v. II זנה).

6 tn Heb “went from him.”

7 tn Heb “arose and came.”

8 tn Heb “to speak to her heart to bring her back.”

9 tn Or “young man.”

10 tn Heb “he was happy to meet him.”

11 tn Heb “and he arose to go.”

12 tn Heb “Sustain your heart [with] a bit of food.”

13 tn Heb “And they sat and ate, the two of them together, and they drank.”

14 tn Heb “Be willing and spend the night so that your heart might be good.”

15 tn Heb “and the man arose to go.”

16 tn Heb “his father-in-law persuaded him and he again spent the night there.”

17 tn Heb “Sustain your heart.” He is once more inviting him to stay for a meal.

18 tn Heb “Wait until the declining of the day.”

19 tn Heb “the man arose to go.”

20 tn Or “young man.”

21 tn Heb “the day is sinking to become evening.”

22 tn Or “declining.”

23 tn Heb “for your way and go to your tent.”

24 tn Heb “and he arose and went.”

25 tn Heb “to the front of.”

26 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

27 tc Some ancient witnesses add “and his servant.”

28 tn Heb “and the day was descending greatly.”

29 tn Or “young man.”

30 tn Heb “turn aside” (also in the following verse).

31 tn Heb “who are not from the sons of Israel.”

32 tn Or “young man.”

33 tn Heb “we will enter one of the places.”

34 tn Heb “and they passed by and went.”

35 tn Heb “which belongs to Benjamin.”

36 tn Heb “they turned aside there to enter to spend the night.”

37 tn Heb “and he entered and sat down, and there was no one receiving them into the house to spend the night.”

38 tn Heb “And look, an old man was coming from his work, from the field in the evening.”

39 tn Heb “And the men of the place were Benjaminites.”

40 tn Heb “the man, the traveler.”

41 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Levite) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

42 map For location see Map5 B1; Map7 E2; Map8 E2; Map10 B4.

43 tn Heb “I went to Bethlehem in Judah, but [to] the house of the LORD I am going.” The Hebrew text has “house of the LORD,” which might refer to the shrine at Shiloh. The LXX reads “to my house.”

44 tn By calling his concubine the old man’s “female servant,” the Levite emphasizes their dependence on him for shelter.

45 tc Some Hebrew mss and ancient witnesses read the singular, “your servant,” which would refer to the Levite. If one retains the plural, then both the Levite and his wife are in view. In either case the pronominal suffix emphasizes their dependence on the old man for shelter.

46 tn Heb “Peace to you.”

47 tn Heb “ate and drank.”

48 tn Heb “they were making their heart good.”

49 tn Heb “and look.”

50 tn Heb “the men of the city, men, the sons of wickedness.” The phrases are in apposition; the last phrase specifies what type of men they were. It is not certain if all the men of the city are in view, or just a group of troublemakers. In 20:5 the town leaders are implicated in the crime, suggesting that all the men of the city were involved. If so, the implication is that the entire male population of the town were good-for-nothings.

51 tn The Hitpael verb form appears to have an iterative force here, indicating repeated action.

52 tn Heb “so we can know him.” On the surface one might think they simply wanted to meet the visitor and get to know him, but their hostile actions betray their double-talk. The old man, who has been living with them long enough to know what they are like, seems to have no doubts about the meaning of their words (see v. 23).

53 tn Heb “his”; the referent (the visiting Levite) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

54 tn Heb “what is good in your eyes.”

55 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Levite) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

56 tn Heb “and he caused [her] to go outside to them.”

57 tn Heb “knew,” in the sexual sense.

58 tn The Hebrew term here translated “master,” is plural. The plural indicates degree here and emphasizes the Levite’s absolute sovereignty over the woman.

59 tn Heb “The woman came at the turning of the morning and fell at the door of the house of the man where her master was until the light.”

60 tn The Hebrew term here translated “master,” is plural. The plural indicates degree here and emphasizes the Levite’s absolute sovereignty over the woman.

61 tn Heb “And the man took her on the donkey and arose and went to his place.”

62 tn Heb “he carved her up by her bones into twelve pieces.”

63 tn Heb “and he sent her through all the territory of Israel.”

64 tn The words “the sight” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

65 tn Heb “from the day.”

66 tc Codex Alexandrinus (A) of the (original) LXX has the following additional words: “And he instructed the men whom he sent out, ‘Thus you will say to every male Israelite: “There has never been anything like this from the day the Israelites left Egypt till the present day.”’”

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