Judges 19:22: Gibeah's Sons of Belial

Verse 22:[1] Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, (Gen. 19:4; Judg. 20:5; Hos. 9:9; 10:9) the men of the city, certain (Deut. 13:13) sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, (Gen. 19:5; Rom. 1:26, 27) Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.


[While they were feasting, etc.] Hebrew: with them making their heart merry[2] (thus Pagnine): which is to say, they were merry (Drusius).


Making their hearts merry, that is, refreshing themselves with the provisions set before them.



[Men of that city, sons of Belial, אַנְשֵׁ֙י הָעִ֜יר אַנְשֵׁ֣י בְנֵֽי־בְלִיַּ֗עַל[3]] The men of the city, who were sons of Belial (Munster, Tigurinus), or, men of Belial (Vatablus), men, sons of the iniquitous (Jonathan), or, without success (Montanus), men, wicked sons. They are called men and sons ἐκ παραλλήλου, pleonastically. Sons and men are synonyms (Drusius). Men of the sons of Belial (Junius, Piscator, Malvenda). It is not without emphasis: that is to say, who have ancestral wickedness; depraved offspring of depraved men (Malvenda). Wicked men, scoundrels, worthless men (Vatablus). Οὐτιδανὸς is often in Homer an idle and worthless man[4] (Gataker).


Certain sons of Belial; wicked and licentious men: see Deuteronomy 13:13.


[They began to beat the gates, מִֽתְדַּפְּקִ֖ים עַל־הַדָּ֑לֶת] Beating the door (Pagnine), or, on, or upon, the door (Septuagint, Montanus, similarly Junius and Tremellius); by fury they were brought to the door (Tigurinus); pushing to break the gate (Jonathan); insolently beating the gates (Vatablus). The Hithpael Conjugation here has great force, and signifies that they were forcefully and repeatedly beating the door (Malvenda).



[So that we might abuse him] They signify male intercourse (Vatablus, thus Munster, Lyra, Drusius, Bonfrerius, Martyr). A man knows a woman: whence a woman known, that is, diminished, Numbers 31:17:[5] and in Ovid, That unchaste maiden shamelessly knew a man;[6] and in Propertius,[7] One known man shall be sufficient for me[8] (Drusius).


That we may know him; an ambiguous expression, whereby they pretended only a desire to know and see what person he had brought among them, and yet carry on their wicked design of knowing him carnally. Compare Genesis 19:5, where the same phrase is used in that sense upon a like occasion. But though they name only the man, yet it is plain from the following relation that their design was principally upon the woman, and therefore under the name of the man, they comprehend those that belong to him.

[1] Hebrew: הֵמָּה֮ מֵיטִיבִ֣ים אֶת־לִבָּם֒ וְהִנֵּה֩ אַנְשֵׁ֙י הָעִ֜יר אַנְשֵׁ֣י בְנֵֽי־בְלִיַּ֗עַל נָסַ֙בּוּ֙ אֶת־הַבַּ֔יִת מִֽתְדַּפְּקִ֖ים עַל־הַדָּ֑לֶת וַיֹּאמְר֗וּ אֶל־הָ֠אִישׁ בַּ֣עַל הַבַּ֤יִת הַזָּקֵן֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר הוֹצֵ֗א אֶת־הָאִ֛ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֥א אֶל־בֵּיתְךָ֖ וְנֵדָעֶֽנּוּ׃


[2] Hebrew: הֵמָּה֮ מֵיטִיבִ֣ים אֶת־לִבָּם֒.


[3] בְּלִיַּעַל appears to be a compound of בְּלִי/without and יַעַל/worth.


[4] See Iliad 1:293; 11:390; Odyssey 8:209.


[5] Numbers 31:17: “Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him (וְכָל־אִשָּׁ֗ה יֹדַ֥עַת אִ֛ישׁ לְמִשְׁכַּ֥ב זָכָ֖ר).”


[6] Epistles 6:133.


[7] Sextus Propertius (50 BC-16 AD) was a Roman elegiac poet.


[8] Elegies 2:29.

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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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