During the period of judges in Israel, the people were without kings and generally without prophets. As the Lord’s people, they were expected to live righteously by following the laws given to them by God. If they would follow God’s law, they would receive blessings and protection. If they did not, the Lord would allow bondage and greater trials to come upon them. This chapter begins as follows:
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 Beth-lehem-judah.
2 And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father’s house to Beth-lehem-judah, and was there four whole months.
3 And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him into her father’s house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him.
4 And his father in law, the damsel’s father, retained him; and he abode with him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there.
A Levite, who was from the side of mount Ephraim, had a concubine. His concubine left her husband and committed adultery. She went to the home of her father and lived there for four months. The Levite went to her father’s house to bring her back, and when he arrived there, his father-in-law was pleased to see him. The father-in-law kept him there as a guest for three days.
5 And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he rose up to depart: and the damsel’s father said unto his son in law, Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way.
6 And they sat down, and did eat and drink both of them together: for the damsel’s father had said unto the man, Be content, I pray thee, and tarry all night, and let thine heart be merry.
7 And when the man rose up to depart, his father in law urged him: therefore he lodged there again.
8 And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart: and the damsel’s father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon, and they did eat both of them.
9 And when the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father in law, the damsel’s father, said unto him, Behold, now the day draweth toward evening, I pray you tarry all night: behold, the day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and to morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go home.
10 But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him.
11 And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.
12 And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over to Gibeah.
13 And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah.
14 And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin.
15 And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodging.
They stayed for a meal on the forth day, because the father begged him to stay. Then the father-in-law asked him to stay again, because he wanted the Levite to be content. He asked him to remain again on the fifth day, so they stayed for a good part of the day. The father-in-law asked him to stay again, but the man refused and went on his way. They stopped in Jebus, but the Levite would not stay there because it was not an Israelite city. The Levite decided they would continue on to Gibeah, of the tribe of Benjamin, and stay there. When they arrived, they did not have a place to stay, so they sat in the street.
16 And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites.
17 And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou?
18 And he said unto him, We are passing from Beth-lehem-judah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Beth-lehem-judah, but I am now going to the house of the Lord; and there is no man that receiveth me to house.
19 Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy servants: there is no want of any thing.
20 And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.
21 So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.
An old man, who was also from mount Ephraim, but lived in Gibeah, saw the man in the street and asked him where he was coming from and where he was going. The Levite told him they were returning to mount Ephraim, where they were from, from Beth-lehem-judah. The Levite was returning to the house of the Lord. He told him that no one would give them a place to stay for the night. The man asked them to stay with him for the night.
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 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.
23 And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly.
24 Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.
25 But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.
26 Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.
27 And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.
28 And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.
As they were in the home, merrily eating and drinking, the sons of Belial encircled the house and came asking for the man that had entered the old man’s home. They planned to abuse the man. The old man begged for the men not to do this wicked thing to his guest. Instead, the old man offered his daughter and the Levite’s concubine to the men. The men would not listen to the old man, so the Levite gave them his concubine. The men of the city abused the concubine all night and then let her go the next morning. She went back to the old man’s house, to her husband. When the Levite went to leave, he saw her on the ground. He told her to get up, but she did not answer him, because she had died. He lifted her body onto a donkey and he left with her.
29 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.
30 And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.
He brought her to his home, cut her into twelve pieces and sent them to each of the tribes of Israel. Those who witnessed it, said that nothing like it had been done in Israel since they had come out of Egypt.
The people of Benjamin, specifically in the city of Gibeah, had become a wicked and perverse people. This way of coming after a visitor or stranger, to abuse them and have their way with them, was truly wicked. It reminds me of the things that happened to Lot in the city of Sodom, just before the Lord destroyed the entire city for its wickedness. I think that the wickedness of the people of Gibeah, was likely the result of allowing other nations to remain in the area of Benjamin when they had been given instruction to destroy the nations in the land. This is quite possibly the outcome of other nations being an influence on the Israelites.
There are places in the world today, which are set apart by the world for unrighteous and unholy activities. There are men and women in the world who are like the men of Gibeah and Sodom, who sought wicked ways to find pleasure. These types of places and people can influence our own lives in negative ways. This is why we need to be watchful always. I don’t think that the men of Gibeah were influenced to do this wickedness over night, but that over time they were lulled into this behavior. At one time, the men of Gibeah had been blessed people of the Lord. The world had influenced them. The idea that the righteous of the world need to change their ways to be more accepting of the behavior of others, is how this influence starts. If, at first, we think that the choices of others will never effect us and we begin to allow things to happen willingly around us, it will not be long before we are expected to accept that wickedness as a way of life, to condone it in the lives of others, and then even begin to allow it into our own lives. Those who desire to be disciples of Christ and righteous people of God, must stand for what is right and shun those things they know to be against the commandments of God. Our covenants and promises to God, are more important than pleasing men.