And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Divided her.—We see again that the narrative is taking us back to wild times, when the passions of men expressed themselves in wild and fierce expedients. A similar method of arousing a nation, but different in its details, is narrated in 1Samuel 11:7, when Saul sends round the pieces of an ox, as was done by the ancient Scythians (Lucian, Toxaris, chap. 48). Many analogous customs existed among the ancient Highlanders, and have been repeated even in recent days among the Arab tribes (Stanley, i. 301).
With her bones.—Literally, according to her bone.
Into twelve pieces.—One for each tribe. Benjamin was probably thus appealed to as well as the other tribes. It is needless to suppose that one was sent to Eastern Manasseh or to Levi.Jdg 19:29. He took a knife, &c. — As the Levite expected no justice from the elders of Gibeah, and there was no supreme head over all the tribes at that time, he had recourse to the elders of each respective tribe; and to move them the more, and stir them up to punish the offender, he sent a part of the body to each of them, preserved undoubtedly by some means from putrefaction. And, undoubtedly, he instructed those he sent with it to relate particularly the circumstances of the unparalleled and barbarous fact.Genesis 22:6, Genesis 22:10; Proverbs 30:14.
Together with her bones ... - Rather, "into her bones", or "bone by bone, into twelve pieces". The "pieces" are synonymous with the "bones" (compare Ezekiel 24:4-5). There is something truly terrible in the stern ferocity of grief and indignation which dictated this desperate effort to arouse his countrymen to avenge his wrong. Compare 1 Samuel 11:7.Together with her bones, or, according to her bones, according to the joints of her body, for there he made a division. This might seem to be a barbarous and inhuman act in itself; but may seem excusable, if it be considered that the sadness of the spectacle did highly contribute to stir up the zeal of all the Israelites to avenge his concubine’s death, and to execute justice upon such profligate offenders; and was necessary, especially in this time of anarchy and general corruption, Judges 17:6, to awaken them out of that lethargy in which all the tribes lay.
Into twelve pieces; that one piece might be sent to every tribe; whereof none to Levi because they would meet with it in every tribe, being dispersed among them; but one to Benjamin; for he might well presume, that they would as much abhor so villainous an action, though done by some of their own tribe, as any of the rest.
Sent her into all the coasts of Israel, by several messengers, by whom also he sent a particular relation of the fact.
he took a knife; a carving knife, such as food is cut with, as the word signifies; the Targum is, a sword:
and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces; cut off her limbs at the joints of her bones, and made twelve pieces of them, according to the number of the tribes of Israel:
and sent her into all the coasts of Israel; that is, to every tribe, as Josephus says (y): there was now no supreme magistrate to apply unto for justice, nor the court of seventy elders, and therefore he took this strange and unheard of method to acquaint each of the tribes with the fact committed; this he did not out of disrespect to his wife, but to express the vehement passion he was in on account of her death, in the way it was, and to raise their indignation at the perpetrators of it. Ben Gersom thinks he did not send to the tribe of Benjamin, where the evil was done; but Abarbinel is of another mind, and as Levi was not a tribe that lay together in one part of the land, but was scattered in it, pieces might be sent to the two half tribes of Manasseh, as the one lay on the one side Jordan, and the other on the other, and so there were twelve for the twelve pieces to be sent unto. So Ptolemy king of Egypt killed his eldest son, and divided his members, and put them in a box, and sent them to his mother on his birthday (z). Chytraeus (a) writes, that about A. C. 140, a citizen of Vicentia, his daughter being ravished by the governor Carrarius, and cut to pieces, who had refused to send her to him, being sent back again, he put up the carcass in a vessel, and sent it to the senate of Venice, and invited them to punish the governor, and seize upon the city.And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)29. and divided her … and sent her throughout all the borders of Israel] The same words in 1 Samuel 11:7, possibly implying that the present description has been copied from the other. But the two accounts differ in meaning: Saul’s summons was intended to convey a threat, the Levite’s to call forth horror. Divided is the regular term for cutting up a sacrificial victim, Exodus 29:17, Leviticus 1:6; Leviticus 1:12, 1 Kings 18:23; 1 Kings 18:33.
twelve pieces] Not necessarily referring to the number of the tribes (LXX. cod A); the twelve-fold division of Israel belongs to the later historical theory which finds expression in chs. 20, 21.Verse 29. - Compare 1 Samuel 11:8. Genesis 19:7-8). נבלה, folly, used to denote shameful licentiousness and whoredom, as in Genesis 34:7 and Deuteronomy 22:21. אותם ענּוּ, "humble them." The masculine is used in אותם and להם as the more general gender, instead of the more definite feminine, as in Genesis 39:9; Exodus 1:21, etc.
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