Judges 19:2: Flight of the Levite's Concubine

Verse 2:[1] And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father’s house to Beth-lehem-judah, and was there four whole months (or, a year and four months; Heb. days four months[2]).



[Who left him, וַתִּזְנֶ֤ה עָלָיו֙] Having played the harlot with him (Junius and Tremellius). For she was not his lawful wife, until that marriage was confirmed by the consent of parents, Exodus 22:16; with which confirmed, her father is called the father-in-law of the Levite, verse 4. Thus this expression is taken here and there in Ezekiel 16 and 23 (Junius). But she was not able to play the harlot with him, seeing that she was his wife, even if a secondary one, like Hagar,[3] Bilhah,[4] etc. And זָנָה, when it signifies to play the harlot with someone, usually takes אֶת[5] or אֶל/to, not עַל/upon (Piscator). Others: she played the harlot, or committed whoredom, upon him (Montanus), or, towards, or against, him (Syriac, Tigurinus, Piscator, English), that is, against the promise of marriage, which she had given to him (Piscator); or, in his house (Munster, Vatablus, Drusius, Piscator, Dutch), that is, while she was yet in his house, at his house (Piscator, Dutch); or, at his foot, or, before him, or, in his sight (Drusius, Vatablus): that is to say, she did not take care for him, nor hide herself from him when she played the harlot (Drusius): or, from him, that is, with him deserted (Drusius, Vatablus). Since she had been little chaste toward him (Castalio). Others otherwise: ἐπορεύθη ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ, she went from him (Septuagint): but see whether it is to be read ἐπορνεύθη, she played the harlot (Drusius). Objection: But it is not able to be said, ἐπορνεύθη ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ, she committed whoredom from him. Response: The Septuagint uses this formula of expression more than once, as does Jerome, Psalm 73:27;[6] Ezekiel 23:5;[7] Hosea 4:12[8] (Bonfrerius). The Septuagint appears to have read תִּזְנַח, she spurned. Nevertheless, זָנָה, which properly signifies to play the harlot, is also able to signify by translation alienation of soul: in which sense certain Greek codices have it, ὠργίσθη αὐτῷ, she was angry with him (Grotius). When she had spurned him (Jonathan in Vatablus); she despised him (Kimchi in Drusius); she ran riot against him, and departed from him (certain interpreters in Malvenda).



[And she returned, etc., וַתֵּ֤לֶךְ מֵֽאִתּוֹ֙] Verbatim: and she went from with him (Montanus); she departed from him (Pagnine) [similarly the remaining interpreters]. That is, when it had become known (Vatablus); for fear of her husband’s vengeance (Piscator). Question: Why was she not stoned as an adulteress?[9] Response: Either, the crime was hidden; or, at that time the laws were not being well maintained (Estius). The wickedness of this woman is to be noted, to which the punishment afterwards corresponds. For, this woman, not content with her whoredom, and being impatient of her husband’s reproof, does not wait while she is being cast out of the house, as she deserved, but by her own will deserts her husband, etc. (Osiander).


Against him, that is, against her faith given to him, or to his wrong; or, with him, that is, in his house; or whilst she lived with him, which is opposed to her going away, which here follows. Went away from him; either for fear of his severe rebukes or punishment, or because her heart was alienated from him.



[And she remained in his house four months, יָמִ֖ים אַרְבָּעָ֥ה חֳדָשִֽׁים׃] Days, that is, a year, and four months (Drusius, English), so that it might be ἀσύνδετον/ asyndeton (Drusius). They maintain that יָמִים/days is taken for the annual circuit of days, namely, when it is set down absolutely without a number; Exodus 13:10;[10] 1 Samuel 1:3, 7;[11] 27:7;[12] etc. (Glassius’ “Grammar” 152). For the days, or in the days, of four months (Montanus, Septuagint). According to some, πλεονάζει, it exceeds, by days (Glassius’ “Grammar” 152). Four months (Arabic); four full months (Junius and Tremellius, English). Hebrew: of the days in four months. For a month of days is a month full and entire, Numbers 11:20.[13] But this is alien (Drusius). That translation requires a different collection and division of the words (Piscator). But it is a Hypallage, in the place of four months of days, that is, as many days as are required to constitute four month; so that it might be a description of whole months: which elsewhere is called a month of days, Genesis 29:14.[14] Thus, a year of days is in the place of a full year; as also two years of days, Genesis 41:1.[15] And they maintain that it is an Enallage of the absolute state in the place of the construct state, יָמִים in the place of יְמֵי, days of months (Glassius’ “Grammar” 152). Others otherwise: a number of days, namely, four months (Syriac, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Drusius, Dutch). For a time, namely, four months (Piscator).


Four whole months; Hebrew, some days, to wit, four months; or, a year (so days commonly signify) and four months; wherein not only she sinned, but her father by some indulgence and connivance at her sin, and neglect of just endeavours for her reconciliation to her husband, the ill effects whereof he speedily felt, in the loss of his daughter in so dreadful a manner.

[1] Hebrew: וַתִּזְנֶ֤ה עָלָיו֙ פִּֽילַגְשׁ֔וֹ וַתֵּ֤לֶךְ מֵֽאִתּוֹ֙ אֶל־בֵּ֣ית אָבִ֔יהָ אֶל־בֵּ֥ית לֶ֖חֶם יְהוּדָ֑ה וַתְּהִי־שָׁ֕ם יָמִ֖ים אַרְבָּעָ֥ה חֳדָשִֽׁים׃


[2] Hebrew: יָמִ֖ים אַרְבָּעָ֥ה חֳדָשִֽׁים׃.


[3] See Genesis 16; 21.


[4] See Genesis 30:3, 4.


[5] The Direct Object marker.


[6] Psalm 73:27: “For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee (כָּל־זוֹנֶ֥ה מִמֶּֽךָּ׃; πάντα τὸν πορνεύοντα ἀπὸ σοῦ, in the Septuagint; omnes qui fornicantur abs te, in the Vulgate).”


[7] Ezekiel 23:5: “And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine (וַתִּ֥זֶן אָהֳלָ֖ה תַּחְתָּ֑י; καὶ ἐξεπόρνευσεν ἡ Ὀολὰ ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ, in the Septuagint; fornicata est igitur super me Oolla, in the Vulgate); and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours…”


[8] Hosea 4:12: “My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God (וַיִּזְנ֖וּ מִתַּ֥חַת אֱלֹהֵיהֶֽם׃; καὶ ἐξεπόρνευσαν ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ αὐτῶν, in the Septuagint; et fornicati sunt a Deo suo, in the Vulgate).”


[9] See Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:20-24; John 8:5.


[10] Exodus 13:10: “Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year (מִיָּמִ֖ים יָמִֽימָה׃, from days to days).”


[11] 1 Samuel 1:3a, 7: “And this man went up out of his city yearly (מִיָּמִ֣ים׀ יָמִ֔ימָה, from days to days) to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh.… And as he did so year by year (שָׁנָ֣ה בְשָׁנָ֗ה), when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.”


[12] 1 Samuel 27:7: “And the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was a full year and four months (יָמִ֖ים וְאַרְבָּעָ֥ה חֳדָשִֽׁים׃).”


[13] Numbers 11:20: “But even a whole month (חֹ֣דֶשׁ יָמִ֗ים, a month of days), until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the Lord which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?”


[14] Genesis 29:14: “And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month (חֹ֥דֶשׁ יָמִֽים׃, a month of days).”


[15] Genesis 41:1: “And it came to pass at the end of two full years (מִקֵּ֖ץ שְׁנָתַ֣יִם יָמִ֑ים), that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.”

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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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