Judges 19:22
Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into your house, that we may know him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(22) Sons of Belial.—It is only by a deeply-rooted misconception that Belial is written with a capital. The word is not the name (as is supposed) of an evil spirit, but an ordinary noun, “sons of worthlessness,” i.e., “worthless fellows.” (See Deuteronomy 13:14; Psalm 18:5.) Later (comp. 2Corinthians 6:15) it became a kind of proper name. Josephus dishonestly suppresses all the darkest features of the story (Antt. v. 11, § 7).

Beset the house.—There is a close resemblance to the equally hideous narrative of Genesis 19:8.

Beat at the door.—The word implies continuous knocking and gradual increase of noise (Song of Solomon 5:2). We cannot wonder that the intense horror excited by this scene of infamy lasted for centuries afterwards. “They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah” (Hosea 9:9). “O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah” (Hosea 10:9).

“And when night

Darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons

Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine.

Witness the streets of Sodom, and that night

In Gibeah, when the hospitable door

Exposed a matron to avoid worse rape.”—Milton.

Jdg 19:22-23. As they were making their hearts merry — That is, refreshing themselves with the provisions set before them. Behold, certain sons of Belial — Children of the devil, wicked and licentious men. Bring forth the man, &c. — They wanted the Levite brought forth, that they might satisfy their unnatural lusts. This man is come into my house — And therefore I am obliged to protect him by the laws of hospitality. As several circumstances of this horrid wickedness resemble those of the affair recorded Genesis 19., we refer the reader to the notes on that chapter.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.The house of the Lord - Probably at Shiloh (marginal references). The Levite was probably one of those who ministered at the tabernacle. His two donkeys and servant show him to have been in good circumstances, and he had a home of his own. Jud 19:22-28. The Gibeahites Abuse His Concubine to Death.

22-24. certain sons of Belial beset the house—The narrative of the horrid outrage that was committed; of the proposal of the old man; the unfeeling, careless, and in many respects, inexplicable conduct of the Levite towards his wife, disclose a state of morality that would have appeared incredible, did it not rest on the testimony of the sacred historian. Both men ought to have protected the women in the house, even though at the expense of their lives, or thrown themselves on God's providence. It should be noted, however, that the guilt of such a foul outrage is not fastened on the general population of Gibeah.

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

Certain sons of Belial; wicked and licentious men: see Deu 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. Now as they were making their hearts merry,.... With a glass of wine after supper, and conversing together in a cheerful manner about their country and friends:

behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial; very wicked, lawless, ungovernable, worthless, and unprofitable creatures, men under the influence of Satan, and their own lusts:

beset the house round about: that none might escape out of it, especially the Levite, his wife and servant:

and beat at the door; to get entrance, either by those within opening to them, or by breaking it open:

and spake to the master of the house, the old man; who, upon this noise and clamour made, came to the door, to inquire what was the meaning of all this: to whom they replied, saying:

bring forth the man that came into thy house, that we may know him; not what manner of person he was, of what country and profession, whither he was going, and what business he had here; but that they might have carnal knowledge of him in an unnatural way, or commit that sin with him which is commonly called sodomy; and the men of Sodom expressed their lust by the same word, Genesis 19:5.

Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and {g} beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.

(g) In an attempt to break it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
22. sons of Belial] Marg. sons of worthlessness, as in Jdg 20:13, Deuteronomy 13:13, 1 Samuel 25:17; 1 Samuel 25:25 etc., taking Belial (belîy-ya‘al) as compounded of belî = not and ya‘al =? profit, though a noun ya‘al does not occur; worthlessness is not strong enough: the expression denotes low-minded, unprincipled characters, vile scoundrels (Moore), and this is how the LXX understands it. But a different interpretation is given in some ancient versions; Theodotion here and the LXX. cod. A in Jdg 20:13 take the second word as a proper name, sons of Beliam; so occasionally the Vulgate, filii Belial, followed by the AV., RV. In the N.T. Belial has become a synonym for Satan, 2 Corinthians 6:15, and in this sense the word is used in apocalyptic literature, e.g. Jubilees, Test. xii. Patriarchs, Sibylline Oracles. Although Belial is not interpreted as a proper name till a late period, yet originally perhaps it had this significance. Cheyne (Encycl. Bibl. col. 526 f.) seeks the origin of the name in popular mythology, and adopts the derivation belî-ya‘aleh = ‘(that from which) one comes not up again,’ i.e Sheol, or the demon of the abyss; cf. the Babylonian name for the underworld irṣît la tari = ‘land without return.’ This explanation is certainly appropriate in Psalm 18:4 = 2 Samuel 22:5 floods of Belial, and, with an extension of meaning, in Psalm 41:8; Psalm 101:3 lit. a thing of B., Nahum 1:11 RVm.; we have then to suppose that the abyss, or the demon of the abyss, came to represent a power or quality of gross wickedness. Cheyne’s view is ingenious and we must allow that the usual explanation rests upon a doubtful etymology.

beset the house … know him] The same words in Genesis 19:4-5. It looks as if the present narrative had been deliberately conformed here and there to the description of the immorality of the Sodomites. This is certainly the case in Jdg 19:24, where the phrases are identical with those in Genesis 19:8. Some scholars think that the present verse originally read Bring forth the woman … that we may know her, chiefly on the ground that in Jdg 20:5 the Levite does not allude to the particular crime mentioned in the text as it stands, but declares that the men of Gibeah wanted to slay him. The inconsistency may be more apparent than real. After what happened to the woman, the Levite might well assert that the intention was to kill him, while he would hardly repeat the expression used here.Verse 22. - Making their hearts merry - as in vers. 6, 9, and in Judges 16:25; Ruth 3:7. But there is nothing in the expression implying any excess in drinking. Bring forth the man. The abandoned character of the men appears in this, that not only did they offer no hospitality to the stranger themselves, but were ready to violate the sanctity of the hospitality of the old man's house by their brutal violence. There must have been a fearful absence of all law and order and government when such deeds could be done without any interference on the part of magistrate or elder or ruler of any kind. The singular resemblance of the whole narrative to that in Genesis 19. suggests that the Israelites by their contact with the accursed Canaanites had reduced themselves to the level of Sodom and Gomorrah. Surely this shows the wisdom of the command to destroy utterly the workers of abomination. Sons of Belial. See Judges 20:13, where the same Hebrew phrase is rendered children of Belial. Belial in this common phrase is not a proper name, but a noun meaning worthlessness. Sons or men of Belial means worthless fellows. Behold, there came an old man from the field, who was of the mountains of Ephraim, and dwelt as a stranger in Gibeah, the inhabitants of which were Benjaminites (as is observed here, as a preliminary introduction to the account which follows). When he saw the traveller in the market-place of the town, he asked him whither he was going and whence he came; and when he had heard the particulars concerning his descent and his journey, he received him into his house. ואת־בּית י הלך אני (Judges 19:18), "and I walk at the house of Jehovah, and no one receives me into his house" (Seb. Schm., etc.); not "I am going to the house of Jehovah" (Ros., Berth., etc.), for את הלך does not signify to go to a place, for which the simple accusative is used either with or without ה local. It either means "to go through a place" (Deuteronomy 1:19, etc.), or "to go with a person," or, when applied to things, "to go about with anything" (see Job 31:5, and Ges. Thes. p. 378). Moreover, in this instance the Levite was not going to the house of Jehovah (i.e., the tabernacle), but, as he expressly told the old man, from Bethlehem to the outermost sides of the mountains of Ephraim. The words in question explain the reason why he was staying in the market-place. Because he served at the house of Jehovah, no one in Gibeah would receive him into his house,

(Note: As Seb. Schmidt correctly observes, "the argument is taken from the indignity shown him: the Lord thinks me worthy to minister to Him, as a Levite, in His house, and there is not one of the people of the Lord who thinks me worthy to receive his hospitality.")

although, as he adds in Judges 19:19, he had everything with him that was requisite for his wants. "We have both straw and fodder for our asses, and bread and wine for me and thy maid, and for the young man with thy servants. No want of anything at all," so as to cause him to be burdensome to his host. By the words "thy maid" and "thy servants" he means himself and his concubine, describing himself and his wife, according to the obsequious style of the East in olden times, as servants of the man from whom he was expecting a welcome.

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