Judges 17:7: A Levite's Idle Hands

Verse 7:[1] And there was a young man out of (see Josh. 19:15; Judg. 19:1; Ruth 1:1, 2; Mic. 5:2; Matt. 2:1, 5, 6) Beth-lehem-judah of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there.

[A young man, נַעַר] A youth (Montanus, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator). That is, with respect to ministry: with respect to age, he was a man (Junius). I translate it, young man (Drusius, thus the Septuagint, Jonathan). For the age of a boy was not apt for the priesthood (Drusius).

[From Beth-lehem-Judah] That Judah is added, as also in Matthew 2:1, 5, to distinguish it from the other Beth-lehem in Zebulun, Joshua 19:15 (Bonfrerius, Drusius, Lapide). He was born and raised there: not because this was a Levitical city, but because Levites were able to live in whatever place. And so he was dwelling here as a sojourner and alien (Bonfrerius).

[Of his family] Hebrew: of the family of Judah.[2] Some refer it to Beth-lehem; and it was posited for greater expression; which is to say, namely, that Beth-lehem which was situated in the tribe of Judah (thus Vatablus, Grotius). Most others refer it to the youth (Vatablus). You will say, But he was of the family of Levi. Responses: 1. His maternal ancestry was of Judah, his paternal of Levi (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Piscator, Malvenda, Drusius). For the Hebrews, and especially the Levites, were able to take a wife of another tribe (Lapide). 2. He was of the family of Judah, not by ancestry and tribe, but by birth and place of birth (Junius, certain interpreters in Malvenda). Family is here put in the place of tribe (Drusius).

Out of Beth-lehem-judah, or, of Beth-lehem-judah; so called here, as Matthew 2:1, 5, to difference it from Bethlehem in Zebulun, Joshua 19:15. There he was born and bred. Of the family of Judah, that is, of or belonging to the tribe of Judah; not by birth, for he was a Levite; nor by his mother, for though that might be true, the mother’s side is not regarded in genealogies; but by his habitation and ministration. For the Levites, especially in times of confusion and irreligion, were dispersed among all the tribes; and this man’s lot fell into the tribe of Judah; which seems to be here noted by way of reflection upon that tribe, and as an evidence of the general defection, that a Levite could not find entertainment in that great and famous tribe, which God had put so much honour upon, Genesis 49:8-11, and therefore was forced to wander and seek for subsistence elsewhere.

[And he was a Levite, וְה֥וּא לֵוִ֖י] And he (or, who was [Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius]) a Levite (Montanus). Others: whose name was Levi (Syriac, Arabic).

[And he dwelt there, וְה֥וּא גָֽר־שָֽׁם׃] And he had sojourned there (Vatablus, Pagnine, Montanus), that is, who, since he was a Levite, had dwelt as a sojourner there (Vatablus); and, as all things were already at that time in confusion, he was serving a service there (Junius).

He sojourned there; so he expresseth it, because this was not the proper nor usual place of his abode, this being no Levitical city.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִי־נַ֗עַר מִבֵּ֥ית לֶ֙חֶם֙ יְהוּדָ֔ה מִמִּשְׁפַּ֖חַת יְהוּדָ֑ה וְה֥וּא לֵוִ֖י וְה֥וּא גָֽר־שָֽׁם׃

[2] Hebrew: מִמִּשְׁפַּ֖חַת יְהוּדָ֑ה.

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