Judges 19:1: The Levite and His Concubine

[circa 1406 BC] Verse 1:[1] And it came to pass in those days, (Judg. 17:6; 18:1; 21:25) when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine (Heb. a woman a concubine, or, a wife a concubine[2]) out of (Judg. 17:7) Beth-lehem-judah.



In those days; of which see on Judges 17:1.


[There was no king] Who by his authority and power might be able to punish and overthrow this idolatry. The Judges did not have sufficient authority (Lapide, Bonfrerius). Moreover, those words, there was no king, comprehend the entire time of the Judges, because they comprehend the entire time in which the house of God was in Shiloh (Bonfrerius).



[On the side of the mountain] Hebrew: in the sides,[3] that is, on one side (Vatablus, Drusius). Thus in Jonah 1:5, he was gone down into the sides of the ship,[4] that is, into one or the other side (Drusius). Question: At what time were these affairs conducted? Response 1: After the death of Samson, because they happened under the High Priesthood of Phinehas, Judges 20:28. Thus the Rabbis, who assert therefore that Phinehas lived more than three hundred years: which defies belief. Add that soon after Samson Eli was Judge: but between Phinehas and Eli were multiple High Priests; either, three, as Josephus says in Antiquities 5:11, or, seven, 4 Esdras 1[5] (Bonfrerius). Response 2: While Caleb was living, because at that time the Jebusites were occupying Jerusalem, Judges 19:11, 12 (Tostatus). But it is able to be answered that it was previously taken by Caleb, but (as it happened with other cities) it was afterwards recovered by the Jebusites: which was even easier there, because the upper city had not yet been conquered. Nevertheless, I would prefer to say that the Judahites and the Benjamites dwelt in common with the Jebusites, which they are said to have done unto the present day, Joshua 15:63; Judges 1:21, which words it is at least likely were written after the times of this trajedy. And so those obtained the lower city, but the Jebusites the upper and more heavily fortified, with respect to which they could be viewed as having the mastery over the lower city. Although they were disjoined from one another by an exceedingly deep valley, and could only do harm one to another at a distance. And perhaps this is the reason why in verse 12 Jerusalem is called a city of a foreign people (Bonfrerius). Response 3: This was done when those Elders (concerning whom Joshua 24 and Judges 2) died, although the inclination to idolatry and all impiety was already coming on by degrees (Bonfrerius).


On the side; Hebrew, in the sides, that is, in one of the sides, as Judges 19:18.



[Who took a wife, אִשָּׁ֣ה פִילֶ֔גֶשׁ] A wife a mistress (Montanus). Others: a wife (or woman [Jonathan, Arabic, Junius and Tremellius, Grotius]) a concubine (Septuagint, Syriac, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus). The term פִּילֶגֶשׁ/pilegesh is more honest than the Greek παλλακὴ/pallake/concubine, and the Latin pellex/ mistress, which nevertheless were derived from it. A pellex pertains to one having a wife; a concubina is able to pertain to one unmarried. Neither was such a union contrary to the Law or good manners in those times (Grotius). One is properly a pellex that is added to another wife. She was his wife, but without contract and betrothal (Drusius).


A concubine; Hebrew, a wife a concubine, that is, such a concubine as was also his wife, as appears from Judges 19:3-5, 7, 9, 26, 27; 20:4. See of these Genesis 22:24; 25:1.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִי֙ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֔ם וּמֶ֖לֶךְ אֵ֣ין בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיְהִ֣י׀ אִ֣ישׁ לֵוִ֗י גָּ֚ר בְּיַרְכְּתֵ֣י הַר־אֶפְרַ֔יִם וַיִּֽקַּֽח־לוֹ֙ אִשָּׁ֣ה פִילֶ֔גֶשׁ מִבֵּ֥ית לֶ֖חֶם יְהוּדָֽה׃


[2] Hebrew: אִשָּׁ֣ה פִילֶ֔גֶשׁ.


[3] Hebrew: בְּיַרְכְּתֵי.


[4] Hebrew: יָרַד֙ אֶל־יַרְכְּתֵ֣י הַסְּפִינָ֔ה.


[5] 4 Esdras 1:1-3: “The second book of the prophet Esdras, the son of Saraias, the son of Azarias, the son of Helchias, the son of Sadamias, the son of Sadoc, the son of Achitob, the son of Achias, the son of Phinees, the son of Heli, the son of Amarias, the son of Aziei, the son of Marimoth, the son of Arna, the son of Ozias, the son of Borith, the son of Abisei, the son of Phinees, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi; which was captive in the land of the Medes, in the reign of Artexerxes king of the Persians.”

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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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