Judges 19:12: Assuming a Better Reception among the People of God

Verse 12:[1] And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over (Josh. 18:28) to Gibeah.

[I will not enter a town of a foreign nation not of the children of Israel,לֹ֤א נָסוּר֙ אֶל־עִ֣יר נָכְרִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֛ר לֹֽא־מִבְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל הֵ֑נָּה] The sense here is clear enough; yet it has troubled interpreters, because after the singular עִיר/city follows the plural הֵנָּה/they (Dieu). [They vary.] Let us not decline (or, we will not decline) unto a city of the sons of peoples that are not of the children of Israel (Jonathan in Dieu), unto a city of foreign people, who are not of the children of Israel (Munster). Jonathan took הֵנָּה/they[2] for הֵמָּה/they,[3] by an enallage of gender, and referred it to נָכְרִי/ stranger taken collectively; which the Tigurini followed (Dieu). In the strange city of those that are not of the children of Israel (Tigurinus); toward a strange city in which there is not of the children of Israel there (Septuagint), or, where there are not of the children of Israel (Genevans in Dieu), that is, where the children of Israel are not. הֵנָּה/they is taken for הֵמָּה/they, and אֲשֶׁר/which/that in the place אֲשֶׁר שָׁם, which there. Less agreeably, if you have regard to the words, even if the sense does not differ (Dieu). We will not turn aside unto any city of a stanger, of that that are not of the sons of Israel (Junius and Tremellius). Hebrew: of the sons of Israel,[4] that is, of the cities of the sons of Israel. It is Metonomy, either of subject, or of adjunct: Of subject, if the sons of Israel are considered as the possessors; of adjunct, if the same are considered as the inhabitants (Piscator). Toward a foreign city, that is not of the children of Israel here (Montanus); toward any city of foreigners, that is not of the children of Israel (Pagnine). Better than Junius, who took נָכְרִי/stranger collectively, and translated it in the plural, of the strangers. But why did he take the plural הֵנָּה/they for the singular הִיא/she/it, since עִיר/ city is also able and ought to be taken collectively, and the plural הֵנָּה/they in the feminine gender best answers to it? Thus I translate it, Let us not withdraw to the cities of strangers that are not of the children of Israel. I think that there is nothing here, where with respect to the construction anyone might twist himself up. It is the same construction as that which occurs in 1 Samuel 17:28,וְעַל־מִ֙י נָטַ֜שְׁתָּ מְעַ֙ט הַצֹּ֤אן הָהֵ֙נָּה֙, and before whom hast thou left these few sheep? (Dieu). But how is Jerusalem called a town of a foreign nation, since it was previously conquered by Caleb, Judges 1? Responses: 1. Those things in chapter 1 are said by way of anticipation, and the things that are narrated here happen before those (Estius). 2. Although it was conquered by Caleb, nevertheless the Jebusites afterwards recovered it. Or rather, Caleb conquered the city of Jerusalem, not the citadel of Zion: Hence the Jebusites, holding the citadel, were masters of the city, in which they were dwelling mixedly with the Judahites. Therefore, for this cause the Levite was unwilling to spend the night here, lest he should be constrained to dwell with Jebusite idolaters (Lapide). See what things we have plucked from Bonfrerius on verse 1.] At what time these things transpired, it remains obscure. Yet these things are evident: 1. That they did not transpire before the distribution of the lots, because here all the Tribes, as if unoccupied by any external enemy, go forth unto the war against the Benjamites. 2. That Phinehas the Priest was yet living at that time, Judges 20:28 (Estius).

Of a stranger, that is, of a strange nation, which the Canaanites possess; for though the city Jerusalem had been taken by Caleb, Judges 1, yet the strong fort of Zion was still in their hands, 2 Samuel 5:6, 7, whence it is likely they did much molest, and afterwards, by God’s permission, and for the punishment of their sin, drive out the Israelites who dwelt there.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ אֲדֹנָ֔יו לֹ֤א נָסוּר֙ אֶל־עִ֣יר נָכְרִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֛ר לֹֽא־מִבְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל הֵ֑נָּה וְעָבַ֖רְנוּ עַד־גִּבְעָֽה׃

[2] In the feminine gender.

[3] In the masculine gender.

[4] Hebrew: מִבְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל.

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