Judges 19:1
And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) On the side of mount Ephraim.—Literally, on the two thighs (yarcethaim). (Comp. Psalm 128:3; Isaiah 37:24.) As to the residence of the Levite at Mount Ephraim, see Note on Judges 17:8. It is probably a fortuitous coincidence that both this Levite and Jonathan have relations with Mount Ephraim and with Bethlehem.

Took to him a concubine.—Such connections were not legally forbidden; yet it is probable that in the case of all but princes or eminent men they were looked on with moral disapprobation. She is called “a wife or concubine”—i.e., a wife with inferior rights for herself and her children.

Jdg 19:1. Who took him a concubine — Hebrew, a wife, a concubine, that is, such a concubine as was also his wife: called a concubine only because she was not endowed. Perhaps he had nothing to endow her with, being himself only a sojourner. “Women of this sort differed little from the wife, except in some outward ceremonies and stipulations, but agreed with her in all the true essentials of marriage, and gave themselves up to the husband, (for so he is called in the next chapter, Jdg 19:4,) with faith plighted, and with affection.” — Dr. Dodd, who refers to Sterne’s Sermons, vol. 3. Ser. 3., and Selden de Jure, Nat. lib. 5. c. 7.

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.A concubine - See the margin. The name does not imply any moral reproach. A concubine was as much the man's wife as the woman so called, though she had not the same rights. See Judges 19:3-4. CHAPTER 19

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.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 19:29,30.

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 19:3-5,7,9,26,27 Jud 20:4. See of these Genesis 22:24 25:1.

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.

And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. 19. The outrage at Gibeah

1. when there was no king] See on Jdg 17:6.

on the farther side] or recesses, probably meaning the northern parts of E.; cf. the recesses of Lebanon 2 Kings 19:23, also Isaiah 14:13, Jeremiah 6:22 etc. Like his fellow in App. i, this Levite is a sojourner, and he has a connexion with Beth-lehem of Judah. See on Jdg 17:7. No doubt he was serving a local sanctuary in some remote quarter of Ephraim.

a concubine] The relationship was sanctioned by custom, cf. Jdg 8:31, Genesis 22:24; Genesis 25:6 etc.; it was regarded as a real marriage, as the sequel shews. The Hebr. word (= Gk. παλλακίς, Lat. pellex) appears to be foreign and not of Semitic origin; we may infer that originally it was applied to female slaves captured from foreigners, or not of native race.

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). Judges 19:1Infamous Crime of the Inhabitants of Gibeah. - Judges 19:1-14. At the time when there was no king in Israel, a Levite, who sojourned (i.e., lived outside a Levitical town) in the more remote parts of the mountains of Ephraim, took to himself a concubine out of Bethlehem in Judah, who proved unfaithful to him, and then returned to her father's house. הר־אפרים ירכּתי, the hinder or outermost parts of the mountains of Ephraim, are the northern extremity of these mountains; according to Judges 19:18, probably the neighbourhood of Shiloh. עליו תּזנה, "she played the harlot out beyond him," i.e., was unfaithful to her husband, and then went away from him," back to her father's house.
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