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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Judges 19

 

 

Introduction

Judges 19-21. In the story of the outrage of Gibeah, there is a combination of history and midrash. Hosea (Judges 9:9) makes allusion to the "days of Gibeah," as a time of notorious moral depravity in Israel, and the events which he had in view doubtless form the basis of the present chapter. But when Israel is called "the congregation" (Judges 20:18), when the "elders of the congregation" are introduced, and when the tribes come automatically together "as one man" (Judges 20:1; Judges 20:11), making a national army ten times as great as Barak's, it is apparent that this is a modernised version of the story, written in the language of the "congregation." It is the task of criticism to separate the original narrative from its accretions.


Verses 1-30

Judges 19-21. In the story of the outrage of Gibeah, there is a combination of history and midrash. Hosea (Judges 9:9) makes allusion to the "days of Gibeah," as a time of notorious moral depravity in Israel, and the events which he had in view doubtless form the basis of the present chapter. But when Israel is called "the congregation" (Judges 20:18), when the "elders of the congregation" are introduced, and when the tribes come automatically together "as one man" (Judges 20:1; Judges 20:11), making a national army ten times as great as Barak's, it is apparent that this is a modernised version of the story, written in the language of the "congregation." It is the task of criticism to separate the original narrative from its accretions.

Judges 19. The Outrage of Gibeah.

Judges 19:1. On "sojourning," see Judges 17:6. The "farther side" of the highlands of Ephraim meant the northern part. The relation of concubinage had the sanction of widespread custom (cf. Judges 8:31, Genesis 22:24, etc.), and the concubine's father became the man's father-in-law (Judges 19:4).

Judges 19:6-8. The repetitions are very awkward, and nothing is lost if the whole of Judges 19:6 b to Judges 19:8 is omitted.

Judges 19:10. It used to be supposed that Jebus was the old Canaanite name of the city. But the Amarna tablets, written before the coming of the Israelites, have the name Uru-salim. Jebus is a literary, not an historical name.

Judges 19:12. "Stranger" means alien, foreigner; and "that" refers to city, not to stranger. In Gibeah, an Israelitish city, a kindlier welcome was to be expected than among the Jebusites.

Judges 19:13. Gibeah is perhaps Tell el-Fl, 3 m. N. of Jerusalem. Some seven Gibeahs are mentioned in the OT. The word means "an isolated hill," as distinguished from the hill-country (har).

Judges 19:15. For "street" read "broad place" or "market-place," the Rĕhṓb of an eastern town, corresponding somewhat to the Agora or Forum of Greek and Roman cities.

Judges 19:16. As in Sodom, so in Gibeah, the one hospitable man was a stranger. Judges 19:16 b is probably a late addition, for what early writer would require to tell his readers that "the men of the place were Benjamites"?

Judges 19:22. "Sons of Belial" meant vile scoundrels. "Belial" (worthlessness) did not become a proper name till the apocalyptic period (Proverbs 6:12*).

Judges 19:23. Folly" is too weak; "wanton deed" comes nearer the sense. The Heb. "fool" was a person as devoid of moral as of religious feeling (p. 344, Proverbs 1:7*).

Judges 19:24. This horrible detail is deliberately added for the purpose of making the picture of Gibeah as like that of Sodom as possible (Genesis 19:8). Happily nothing more is said of the maiden, and the whole verse seems to be an irrelevant addition.

Judges 19:25. To the modern mind the Levite, who throws his wife out into the dark street, is as guilty as the rabble to whom he surrenders her. But that was not the ancient point of view. This is the story, not of the avenging of a woman's violated honour, but of the vindication (1) of a man's sacred rights of property (in his wife), and (2) of the laws of hospitality.

Judges 19:27. The picture of the woman lying, when the day dawns," at the door of the house, with her hands upon the threshold," has a tragic pathos of which the narrator of the story seems but dimly conscious.

Judges 19:30. The LXX reads, "and he commanded the men whom he sent out: Thus shall ye say to all the men of Israel, Did ever a thing like this happen, from the day . . . unto this day. And everyone who saw it said, Such a thing as this has not happened or been seen from the day . . . unto this day."

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Judges 19:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/judges-19.html. 1919.

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