Judges 19:29 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 19:29, NIV: When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel.

Judges 19:29, ESV: And when he entered his house, he took a knife, and taking hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel.

Judges 19:29, KJV: 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.

Judges 19:29, NASB: When he entered his house, he took a knife and seized his concubine, and cut her in twelve pieces, limb by limb. Then he sent her throughout the territory of Israel.

Judges 19:29, NLT: When he got home, he took a knife and cut his concubine's body into twelve pieces. Then he sent one piece to each tribe throughout all the territory of Israel.

Judges 19:29, CSB: When he entered his house, he picked up a knife, took hold of his concubine, cut her into twelve pieces, limb by limb, and then sent her throughout the territory of Israel.

What does Judges 19:29 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The horror of the previous night continues. The Levite's concubine (Judges 19:10) has been raped, abused, and left to die by a mob of rapist brutes in the city of Gibeah (Judges 19:22–26). The Levite himself is the one who gave her to them, to save himself from the same fate. While not explicitly stated, context from this passage makes it clear she was dead by the time her master opened the door and found her on the threshold (Judges 19:27–28). He's taken her corpse back to his home.

Adding further indignity to the woman's fate, the Levite chooses a gruesome way to rally Israel against the men who murdered her. Rather than burying her, he dismembers the body into twelve pieces. He sends the pieces to various places, most likely dispatching one to each of the tribes in their respective territories. This was almost certainly accompanied by a message explaining what had happened.

The natural question one asks is why the Levite would do such a thing. The following verses, leading into chapter 20, provide useful context. He clearly intends his fellow Israelites to understand what wickedness is going on in Gibeah. By extension, this shows how deeply depraved and dangerous the region has become. The Levite seems to want a reaction from the nation of Israel, so this is how he seeks to get it. Whether from shock or grief or holy indignation, the man wants to rally Israel against those who have done this.

Israel's initial reaction will be shock (Judges 19:30), followed by a brutal, low-level civil war (Judges 20:8–10).