1In those days was no king in Israel. A man was a deacon, dwelling in the side of the hill of Ephraim, the which took a (secondary) wife of Bethlehem of Judah. (In those days there was no king in Israel. And there was a man who was a Levite, living far back, or deep, in the hill country of Ephraim, who took a secondary wife, or a concubine, of Bethlehem in Judah.) 2And she did fornication on him, and turned again into the house of her father in Bethlehem, and she dwelled at him four months. (And she did fornication against him/And she was angry with him, and returned to her father’s house in Bethlehem, and she stayed with him for four months.) 3And her husband followed her, and he would be reconciled to her, and to speak fair with her, and to lead her again with him; and he had in his company a servant, and twain asses (And then her husband came to her, to be reconciled with her, and to speak kindly to her, and to bring her home again with him; and he had in his company a servant, and two donkeys). And she received him, and brought him into her father’s house; and when his wife’s father had heard this, and saw him, he ran gladly to him, and embraced the man. 4And the husband of the daughter dwelled in the house of his wife’s father (for) three days, and ate and drank at home with him. 5And the fourth day, the deacon rose by night, and would have gone forth; whom his wife’s father held, and said to him, Taste thou first a little bread, and comfort thy stomach, and so thou shalt go forth. (And on the fourth day, the Levite rose early, and desired to go home; but his wife’s father took hold of him, and said to him, Eat thou first a little bread, and comfort thy stomach, and then thou shalt go forth.) 6And they sat together, and ate, and drank. And the father of the damsel said to his daughter’s husband, I beseech thee, that thou dwell here today (I beseech thee, that thou stay here today), and that we be glad together. 7And he rose, and began to desire to go; and nevertheless, his wife’s father held him again meekly, and made him to dwell with him. (And the Levite rose up, and desired to go; but his wife’s father meekly held onto him again, and made him stay there with him.) 8And when the morrowtide was made, the deacon made him(self) ready to go (on) his way; to whom his wife’s father said again, I beseech thee, that thou take a little meat, and make thee strong till the day increase, and afterward go thou forth. Then they ate together (And so they ate together again). 9And the young man rose to go forth with his wife, and with the servant; to whom the father of his wife spake again, Behold thou, that the day is far forth gone toward the [sun] going down, and it nigheth to the eventide; dwell thou with me also today, and lead thou with me a glad day, and tomorrow thou shalt go forth, that thou go into thine house. (And then the young man rose up to go forth with his concubine, and with his servant; but his wife’s father spoke to him again, and said, See thou, that the day hath gone far toward the sun going down, and it nigheth to the evening; stay thou here with me also this night, and have thou a happy evening with me, and tomorrow thou shalt go forth, and go to thy house.)
10(But) The daughter’s husband would not assent to his words; but he went forth at once, and came (over) against Jebus, which by another name is called Jerusalem; and he led with him two asses charged, and his [secondary] wife (and he went with his two laden donkeys, and his concubine, and his servant). 11And now they were beside Jebus, and the day was changed into night. And the servant said to his lord, Come thou, I beseech thee, bow we [down] to the city of Jebus, and dwell we therein (let us turn in to the city of Jebus, and stay we there). 12To whom his lord answered, I shall not enter into the city of an alien folk, which is not of the sons of Israel, but I shall pass forth into Gibeah; (To whom his lord answered, I shall not go into the city of a foreign people, who be not Israelites, but I shall go forth to Gibeah;) 13and when I shall come thither, we shall dwell therein, or else in the city of Ramah. 14Therefore they passed Jebus, and took the way begun. And the sun went down to them beside Gibeah, which is in the lineage of Benjamin (And the sun went down on them when they reached Gibeah, which is in the tribe of Benjamin); 15and (so) they turned (in) to Gibeah, that they would dwell there. Whither when they had entered, they sat in the street of the city, and no man would receive them to harbour (but no one would give them any lodging).
16And lo! an eld man turned again from the field, and from his work in the eventide, and appeared to them, which also himself was of the hill of Ephraim, and he dwelled a pilgrim in Gibeah. And men of that country were of the sons of Benjamin. (And lo! an old man returned from the field, from his work in the evening, and appeared before them, and he was also from the hill country of Ephraim, but now he lived in Gibeah. But men of that place were Benjaminites.) 17And when the eld man raised up his eyes, he saw a man sitting with his fardels in the street of the city; and he said to him, From whence comest thou? and whither goest thou? 18Which answered to him, We went forth from Bethlehem of Judah, and we go to our place, which is in the side of the hill of Ephraim (which is deep in the hill country of Ephraim), from whence we went (out) to Bethlehem; and now we go to the house of God, and no man will receive us under his roof, 19and we have provender and hay into meat of our asses, and bread and wine into mine uses, and of thine handmaid, and of the servant which is with me; we have no need to anything, but to harbour. (and we have provender and hay for food for our donkeys, and bread and wine for my use, and for my concubine, and for the servant who is with me; yea, we have no need of anything, except lodging.) 20To whom the eld man answered, Peace be with thee; I shall give (thee) all things, that be needful; only, I beseech, dwell thou not in the street (only, I beseech thee, do not thou stay in the street). 21And he brought him into his house, and gave meat to the asses; and after that they washed their feet, he received them into feast. (And he brought them into his house, and gave him food for the donkeys; and after that they had washed their feet, he gave them dinner.)
22(And) While they ate, and refreshed their bodies with meat and drink after the travail of their way, men of that city came, the sons of Belial, that is, (them) without (a) yoke, and they compassed the old man’s house (and they surrounded the old man’s house), and began to knock on the doors; and they cried to the lord of the house, and said, Lead out the man that entered into thine house, (so) that we (can) misuse him. 23And the eld man went out to them, and said, Do not ye, brethren, do not ye do this evil; for the man hath entered into mine harbour (for the man hath only entered into my house for lodging); and cease ye of this folly. 24I have a daughter virgin, and this man hath a [secondary] wife; and I shall bring out them to you, that ye make low them, and fulfill your lust (I have a daughter who is a virgin, and this man hath a concubine; and I shall bring them out to you, so that ye can make them low, and fulfill your lust); only, I beseech you, that ye work not this cursedness against kind with this man. 25(But) They would not assent to his words; the which thing the man seeing, he led out his [secondary] wife to them, and he betook to them her to be defouled. And when they had misused her all night, they let go her in the morrowtide. (But they would not assent to his words; and the Levite seeing that, he brought out his concubine to them, and he gave her over to them to be defiled. And when they had misused her all that night, they let her go in the morning.) 26And when the darknesses of night departed, the woman came to the door of the house, where her lord dwelled, and there she felled down.
27And when the morrowtide was made, the man (a)rose, and opened the door, for to go forth (on) his journey; and lo! his [secondary] wife lay at the door, her hands spread abroad in the threshold (and lo! his concubine lay at the door, with her hands spread abroad on the threshold). 28And he guessed her to rest (there), and spake to her, (and said,) Rise thou, and go we. And when she answered nothing, he understood that she was dead; and he took her, and put on the ass, and turned again into his house (and he took her, and put her on the donkey, and returned to his house). 29And when he entered into that house, he took a sword, and parted into twelve parts and gobbets, the dead body of the (secondary) wife, (together) [with her bones,] and sent (them) into all the terms of Israel. (And when he had entered into his house, he took a sword, or a knife, and cut the flesh and bones of the dead body of his concubine into twelve parts, or pieces, and then he sent them into all the corners of Israel.) 30And when all men had heard this, they cried, Never such a thing was done in Israel (And when all the people had heard of this, they cried, Such a thing was never done in Israel), from that day in which our fathers ascended from Egypt, till into [the] present time; say ye (the) sentence, and deem ye in common, what is needed to be done (to avenge this horrible deed).
Wycliffe’s Old Testament
Wycliffe’s New Testament
and JOHN PURVEY
A modern-spelling edition of their
14TH century Middle English translation,
the first complete English vernacular version,
with an Introduction by
TERENCE P. NOBLE
Used by Permission