Judges 19:8 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 19:8, NIV: On the morning of the fifth day, when he rose to go, the woman's father said, 'Refresh yourself. Wait till afternoon!' So the two of them ate together.

Judges 19:8, ESV: And on the fifth day he arose early in the morning to depart. And the girl’s father said, “Strengthen your heart and wait until the day declines.” So they ate, both of them.

Judges 19:8, KJV: 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.

Judges 19:8, NASB: Now on the fifth day he got up to go early in the morning, but the girl’s father said, 'Please strengthen yourself, and wait until late afternoon'; so both of them ate.

Judges 19:8, NLT: On the morning of the fifth day he was up early again, ready to leave, and again the woman's father said, 'Have something to eat; then you can leave later this afternoon.' So they had another day of feasting.

Judges 19:8, CSB: He got up early in the morning of the fifth day to leave, but the girl's father said to him, "Please keep up your strength." So they waited until late afternoon and the two of them ate.

What does Judges 19:8 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

It is now the morning of the fifth day since a Levite man arrived in Bethlehem to retrieve his unfaithful concubine (Judges 19:1–4). The Levite's arrival at his father-in-law's home resolved tension about whether the situation would be hostile or friendly. The Levite was kind and forgiving, and the daughter was not resistant. The father seemed glad the Levite had come and would willingly take the girl back. The Levite, perhaps relieved, agreed to stay for three days to receive his father-in-law's hospitality.

Now a new tension has come up. The man's father-in-law does not want to let the couple leave. The Levite has given in to repeated requests not to leave on the fourth day, as he had planned. Now again, on the fifth day, the Levite attempts to leave first thing in the morning. Again, his father-in-law insists the man strengthen his heart with food until the day "declines," perhaps meaning they should wait for the heat of the day to pass (Judges 19:5–8).

The awkwardness of the situation can easily be lost on a modern audience. It's more serious when viewed through the lens of that culture. Ancient middle eastern society invested extreme importance into hospitality. Hosts were expected to urgently insist on giving more food, drink, and time than was reasonable to their guests. Guests were expected to receive everything offered with grace, honor, and gratitude. In simple terms, hosts were expected to make outlandish offers of care, and guests were expected to respond with profuse thanks. Modern readers may be tempted to view the father-in-law as annoyingly lonely for company. Ancient readers would have been more likely to see him as a model of classic hospitality, but even they would have sensed the tension beginning to build.