What does Judges 19:14 mean?
ESV: So they passed on and went their way. And the sun went down on them near Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin,
NIV: So they went on, and the sun set as they neared Gibeah in Benjamin.
NASB: So they passed along and went their way, and the sun set on them near Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin.
CSB: So they continued on their journey, and the sun set as they neared Gibeah in Benjamin.
NLT: So they went on. The sun was setting as they came to Gibeah, a town in the land of Benjamin,
KJV: And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin.
Through a series of decisions, a Levite man and his traveling group find themselves arriving in the town of Gibeah after sundown. The man decided to set out from his father-in-law's house, only a few hours behind them, late in the day (Judges 19:9–10). He decided not to stay for the night in Jebus, because at that time (Judges 1:21) it was occupied by non-Israelites (Judges 19:11–13). He decided to keep moving until after the sun set, forcing them to choose the town nearest them at the time.
Gibeah was occupied by Israelites of the tribe of Benjamin. It should have been a safe place for fellow Israelites to spend nighttime hours. Yet this was an especially lawless, depraved time in Israel's history (Judges 17:6; 19:1; 21:25). Stories such as this are recorded to point out that problem. Rather than finding safety, the Levite and his companions will experience violence so appalling (Judges 19:22) that it leads to a minor civil war (Judges 20:8–10).
Judges 19:11–21 explains how the Levite, his concubine, and his servant came to stay in the Israeli town of Gibeah. The man refuses to stop in the city of Jebus. Instead, they continue after dark to Gibeah. Oddly, no one there is willing to take them in. An older migrant worker sees the group and insists they avoid the square overnight. This parallels the comments Lot made to a pair of angels he encountered in Sodom (Genesis 19:2–7), and for good reason (Judges 19:22). What happens next is one of the most stomach-turning incidents in the entire Bible.
A Levite man travels to reconcile with his runaway concubine. On their way back home, they spend the night in the city of Gibeah, in the home of an old man. The wicked men of the town form a mob, demanding the Levite be handed over to be raped. Instead, the Levite forces his concubine outside; the mob rapes and beats her until sunrise. The Levite finds her body, carries it home, and cuts it into twelve pieces. He sends these pieces throughout Israel. This shocks the entire nation into demanding some action be taken against Gibeah.
This chapter's stomach-turning depravity provides another example of the great wickedness in Israel, in an era when everyone did whatever they wanted to without regard for law or God (Judges 21:25). A mob of rapists murders a Levite man's concubine. He sends pieces of her body throughout the nation. This shocks the people into demanding justice. In the following chapters, the tribe of Benjamin refuses to hand over their guilty members. Israel is plunged into civil war.
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
Accessed 11/30/2023 6:58:49 AM
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