|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:7-13 Micah thought it was a sign of God's favour to him and his images, that a Levite should come to his door. Thus those who please themselves with their own delusions, if Providence unexpectedly bring any thing to their hands that further them in their evil way, are apt from thence to think that God is pleased with them.
Verse 1. - When there was no king (Judges 17:6; Judges 18:1; Judges 21:25). It appears from Judges 20:27, 28 that the events narrated in these three last chapters of the Book of Judges happened in the lifetime of Phinehas, and while the ark was at Shiloh (see Judges 20:27, note). Phinehas evidently outlived Joshua (Joshua 24:29, 33), though there is no evidence to show how long. The events in these chapters must have occurred in the interval between the death of Joshua and the death of Phinehas. A certain Levite, etc. It is a curious coincidence that both the Levite whose sad story is here told, and the Levite the son of Gershom of whom we read in the preceding chapters, were sojourners in the hill country of Ephraim, and also closely connected with Bethlehem-judah. Perhaps the legitimate inference (see ver. 18, and Judges 20:26, 27) is that in both cases the Levites were drawn to Ephraim by the ark being at Shiloh, and also that there was a colony of Levites at Bethlehem-judah. Whether there was any connection between the presence of Levites at Bethlehem and the annual sacrifice at Bethlehem which existed in David's time, and which argues the existence of a high place there, can only be a matter of conjecture (see 1 Samuel 9:13, and 1 Samuel 20:29). All we can say is that there was the universal prevalence of high-place worship during the time of the judges, and that the services of Levites were sought after in connection with it (Judges 17:13). On the side. Hebrew, sides. In the masculine form the word means the hip and upper part of the thigh; in the feminine, as here, it is applied only to inanimate objects, as a house, the temple, a cave, the north, a pit, a country, etc., and is used in the dual number (see 1 Samuel 24:4; 1 Kings 6:16; Psalm 48:3; Psalm 128:3; Isaiah 37:24; Ezekiel 32:23, etc.). It means the innermost, hindmost, furthermost parts. Its application here to the northern side of Ephraim seems to imply that the writer wrote in the south, probably in Judah. A concubine. An inferior wife, who had not the same right for herself or for her children as the wife had (see Genesis 25:6).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel,.... The same is observed in Judges 17:6 and refers to the same times, the times before the judges, between them and the death of Joshua, during which time there was no supreme magistrate or ruler in Israel, which is meant; and this is observed, as before, to account for wickedness being committed with impunity, such as adultery, sodomy, murder, &c. afterwards related:
that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of Mount Ephraim; in a city that was on one side of that mountain; it seems not to have been a Levitical city, because he was only a sojourner in it; perhaps he chose to reside there, as being near to the tabernacle of Shiloh, which was in that tribe;
who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah; the same place from whence the wicked Levite came, spoken of in the preceding chapters, and who was the means of spreading idolatry in Israel; and here a wicked concubine of a Levite comes from the same, and was the cause of great effusion of blood in Israel; which two instances may seem to reflect dishonour and disgrace on Bethlehem, which were wiped off by the birth of some eminent persons in it, as Boaz, Jesse, David, and especially the Messiah. The woman the Levite took from hence is in the Hebrew called, "a wife, a concubine" (h); for a concubine was a secondary wife, taken without espousals and a dowry: some think they were espoused, though there was no dowry, and were reckoned truly wives, though they had not all the honour and privilege as others; and that this woman was accounted the wife of the Levite, appears from his being called her husband frequently; and her father is said to be his father-in-law, and he his son-in-law; nor could she have been chargeable with adultery otherwise.
(h) So Pagninus, Tigurine version, Drusius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Jud 19:1-15. A Levite Going to Bethlehem to Fetch His Wife.
1. it came to pass in those days—The painfully interesting episode that follows, together with the intestine commotion the report of it produced throughout the country, belongs to the same early period of anarchy and prevailing disorder.
a certain Levite … took to him a concubine—The priests under the Mosaic law enjoyed the privilege of marrying as well as other classes of the people. It was no disreputable connection this Levite had formed; for a nuptial engagement with a concubine wife (though, as wanting in some outward ceremonies, it was reckoned a secondary or inferior relationship) possessed the true essence of marriage; it was not only lawful, but sanctioned by the example of many good men.
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