Judges 19:13-15: Camping at Gibeah, in the Gathering Gloom...

Verse 13:[1] And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in (Josh. 18:25) Ramah.

[Come, לְךָ] In the place of לְכָה.[2] See our Hebrew Grammar[3] (Drusius).

[And when we will have arrived there, וְנִקְרְבָ֖ה בְּאַחַ֣ד הַמְּקֹמ֑וֹת] And we will draw near unto one of the places (Montanus), or, toward the other of the places (Pagnine), toward one or the other of (understanding, these, or, those) places (Arabic, Syriac, Munster, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius).

[We will lodge, וְלַנּוּ] And we will spend the night, in the place of וְלַנְנוּ,[4] on account of the running together of two like letters (Drusius). לַנּוּ is first person, plural, perfect; but, because of the Waw (ו) with the Shewa (ְ) the tense is changed: so that we might spend the night (Munster).

In Gibeah, or in Ramah: Both which places lay in Benjamin’s portion, a little northward from Jerusalem, and in the road from Bethlehem-judah to Gibeah.

Verse 14:[5] And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin.

Which belongeth to Benjamin: This is added to difference it from another Gibeah in Judah, Joshua 15:57. Possibly this is that which was called Gibeah of Saul, 1 Samuel 11:4.

Verse 15:[6] And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for there was no man that (Matt. 25:43; Heb. 13:2) took them into his house to lodging.

[No man desired to receive them with hospitality] The remarkable savagery of the men is here described, with their nature having been turned from the manners of ξενοδόχου/hospitable Abraham to the manners of the citizens of Sodom[7] (Grotius). Good men were afraid to receive them, fearing the invasion of their house by the impious; which did indeed happen to him that received them: But evil men, roving and unprepared, do not have lodgings to receive those passing through, so that those willingly turn not aside to them (Lyra). But why did not this Levite head for some inn or lodging house? (Bonfrerius). Response: At that time, in those places, there were no lodging houses open to all (Grotius). There were not inns and lodging houses in the custom of that ancient time, but travelers were wont to carry with them all the things that were necessary for the journey in sacks, travel-bags, trunks, with which they were loading either themselves, or their servants, or their beasts-of-burden. Either friends and those known, or hospitable men, were furnishing lodging; otherwise the street was furnishing lodging, or a field, or a tent that he was carrying with him. For which reason it happened that hospitality was so praised among those ancient peoples, and was held in such esteem. This is taught by the present chapter; and by Genesis 19; and by the example of Jacob spending the night in a field, Genesis 28, although he had Beth-el nearby, and in mount Gilead, Genesis 31; and by the fact that Joseph gave to his brothers provisions for the way, Genesis 42:26; 45:21, 23; and by Joshua 9, in which the Gibeonites had gained credit by the provisions that they had carried, dry bread, etc., rent bottles. Indeed, from this passage I also gather that public wine- and baker-shops were no part of the ancient custom, otherwise they had not carried these things from such remote regions. Which again I gather from 1 Samuel 21. For Ahimelech would not have given the sacred bread to him, if David, or Ahimelech in order to win his favor, had been able to purchase other bread (Bonfrerius). Moreover, they translate that מְאַסֵּף, who would gather, or, gather up (Pagnine, Vatablus, Drusius), lead in (Syriac, Arabic), receive (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius, Vatablus). Thus, in Joshua 20:4, they shall gather him into the city.[8] To this refer, to be gathered to the camp, Numbers 11:30,[9] in the place of, to betake himself there (Drusius).

There was no man that took them into his house to lodging: Though they were soft and effeminate in other respects, yet they were hard-hearted towards strangers or indigent persons. Either there were no public houses to receive and entertain travellers, as may be gathered from Genesis 28; 42; 45; Joshua 9; etc.; or, if there were such a one here, they might perceive it to be a very wicked house, as being in so lewd a place, and therefore might decline it, and expect that some private person would exercise hospitality to them, as persons of any worth used to do, as Genesis 18:1-4; 19:1, 2; Hebrews 13:2.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לְנַעֲר֔וֹ לְךָ֥ וְנִקְרְבָ֖ה בְּאַחַ֣ד הַמְּקֹמ֑וֹת וְלַ֥נּוּ בַגִּבְעָ֖ה א֥וֹ בָרָמָֽה׃

[2] The regular form of the singular imperative.

[3] Grammatica Hebræa.

[4] The regular, expected form.

[5] Hebrew: וַיַּעַבְר֖וּ וַיֵּלֵ֑כוּ וַתָּבֹ֤א לָהֶם֙ הַשֶּׁ֔מֶשׁ אֵ֥צֶל הַגִּבְעָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר לְבִנְיָמִֽן׃

[6] Hebrew: וַיָּסֻ֣רוּ שָׁ֔ם לָב֖וֹא לָל֣וּן בַּגִּבְעָ֑ה וַיָּבֹ֗א וַיֵּ֙שֶׁב֙ בִּרְח֣וֹב הָעִ֔יר וְאֵ֥ין אִ֛ישׁ מְאַסֵּֽף־אוֹתָ֥ם הַבַּ֖יְתָה לָלֽוּן׃

[7] Genesis 19.

[8] Hebrew: וְאָסְפ֙וּ אֹת֤וֹ הָעִ֙ירָה֙.

[9] Numbers 11:30: “And Moses gat him into the camp (וַיֵּאָסֵ֥ף מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֑ה), he and the elders of Israel.”

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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