What does Judges 19:21 mean?
ESV: So he brought him into his house and gave the donkeys feed. And they washed their feet, and ate and drank.
NIV: So he took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After they had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.
NASB: So he took him into his house and fed the donkeys, and they washed their feet and ate and drank.
CSB: So he brought him to his house and fed the donkeys. Then they washed their feet and ate and drank.
NLT: So he took them home with him and fed the donkeys. After they washed their feet, they ate and drank together.
KJV: So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.
NKJV: So he brought him into his house, and gave fodder to the donkeys. And they washed their feet, and ate and drank.
Verse Commentary:
For now, an elderly traveling worker has saved the reputation of the town of Gibeah. In that culture, it would reflect poorly on the town that not a single person offered overnight shelter to the Levite and his two traveling companions (Judges 19:14–17). What the small group (Judges 19:10) likely doesn't realize is that the old man is not from Gibeah, nor is he of the tribe of Benjamin like the others in town. He is an outsider, and he seems to know how dangerous a night in the open will be for the Levite.

To avoid that, the old man has offered to allow the Levite and his companions to stay in his home. In fact, he seems to have insisted on it. Though they have plenty of supplies, the man offers to meet all their needs, if they don't stay out in the open. His pleas echo those of Lot, who also begged travelers not to stay in the open in Sodom (Genesis 19:2–7). Tragically, the same danger exists in Gibeah (Judges 19:22).

The old man takes the travelers to his home and gives food to the donkeys. They wash the dust and grime of the road from their feet, and they sit with the old man and eat and drink together. Unfortunately, this is not the end of their story. What happens next is so gruesome it sparks a minor civil war (Judges 20:8–10).
Verse Context:
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.
Chapter Summary:
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.
Chapter Context:
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.
Book Summary:
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).
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