What does Judges 19:17 mean?
ESV: And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city. And the old man said, “Where are you going? And where do you come from?”
NIV: When he looked and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, 'Where are you going? Where did you come from?'
NASB: And he raised his eyes and saw the traveler in the public square of the city; and the old man said, 'Where are you going, and where do you come from?'
CSB: When he looked up and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, "Where are you going, and where do you come from? "
NLT: When he saw the travelers sitting in the town square, he asked them where they were from and where they were going.
KJV: 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?
The sun has set, and the Levite finds himself sitting in the city square of the town of Gibeah. He has arrived to spend the night with his concubine and servant and two donkeys (Judges 19:10–14). The man insisted they come here, despite it being dark, rather than staying in a Gentile city. Strangely, none of the town's Israelite people, of the tribe of Benjamin, have offered the Levite the customary hospitality expected in this time. This is the first grim hint that all is not well, or safe, in Gibeah.
Now an old man has come back into the city late in the evening. He has been working in the fields. He is an Ephraimite and not from Gibeah. He sees the Levite and his travelling companions in the city square and asks about their journey They don't know it, yet, but he has reason to be concerned for their welfare. He will insist they avoid the square overnight. This is a close parallel to Lot's plea to the angels he met in Sodom (Genesis 19:2–7), and this old man likely has the same concern in mind (Judges 19:22).
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 6:23:32 AM
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