Judges 19:26-28: The Horrific Rape and Murder of the Levite's Concubine

Verse 26:[1] Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.



[And there she fell] The cause of death was, either, 1. the consummate anguish of those things that she suffered; or, 2. the consummate shame and modesty, on account of which she dared not to come before her husband; or rather, 3. she was worn out with the excessive exertion and vexation of her body, and, as it were, broken and worn out. For thus also the Thessalians, when they ravaged Phocis, γυναῖκάς τινας διέφθειραν μισγόμενοι, ὑπὸ πλήθεος, killed certain women with the frequency of intercourse,[2] says Herodotus in Histories 8 (Serarius, Tirinus). We also have examples of women used to death in the histories of the Muscovites and Turks (Grotius). That woman, since she had committed adultery, and had not suffered just punishment, dies at last in adultery, and endures punishment in kind. It is not said whether she repented: and, supposing that it is so, she escaped eternal punishments; yet God wills that discipline be preserved in the Republic, and that punishments be exacted for crimes, which, if they are endured by penitents, are paternal chastisements, and not punishments (Martyr). Moreover, it is said that she fell at the door of the house of her lord. The matter itself indicates that by these altogether impure men she was taken some distance from the house of the old man, and led off, now into this place, now into that place, but humbled in each. She, having been released in the morning, returned to the lodging of her lord, and hardly made it here, such that weakness and sorrow did not allow her the use of her voice; but she, being destitute of vigor of heart, rather than of body, fell at the threshold (Montanus’ Commentary). Therefore, she was not able to cry out that it might be opened to her, and so the Levite did not open the door (Tostatus).



Fell down,[3] to wit, dead, as the following words show, and as that word is oft used, as Exodus 19:21;[4] Psalm 82:7; 91:7; Hosea 5:5; killed, partly with grief of heart, and partly with excessive abuse of her body, of which there have been divers instances. Thus the sin she formerly chose, Judges 19:2, is now her destruction; and though her husband and pardoned her, God would punish her, at least as to this life. Her lord; so he is called, either because he was her husband; for which cause Sarah called Abraham lord, 1 Peter 3:6; or because she had been his maidservant, as concubines oftentimes were; as Genesis 30:3, 9.


Verse 27:[5] And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.



[And behold, the concubine, etc.] It signifies a matter not expected. Unexpectly he stumbles over the woman prostrate, having fallen in that posture and gesture whereby the intention of the returned woman was easily able to be known, that is, she was faithfully and anxiously returning to her lord (Montanus’ Commentary).


[With her hands spread out on the threshold] Either, as if she had slept, with her hands placed under her head on the threshold (Junius): or, rather, when she fell, her hand had stretched out over the threshold; for this is the posture of those falling (Malvenda). This was showing that she was dead, because otherwise she would have gathered and arranged her limbs, just as the living do when they lie down: especially in a time of cold, of which sort was the Dawn (Tostatus). Or, this was the posture and gesture as of one imploring help, and indicating violence and injury. Of this sort is that in Virgil’s Georgics 4 concerning Eurydice, And now, farewell: I am taken, wrapped up by vast night, stretching out to thee hands, alas, no longer thine.[6] And so, overtaken by death in that posture, she fell, and was lying in the same, since she remained unmoved due to weakness (Montanus’ Commentary).



Was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold: The posture either of one that had fallen down, or of one that was laid down to sleep, her hands or arms (for the Hebrew word signifies both) leaning upon the threshold and being put under her head; and therefore he thought to awake her, and raise her up.


Verse 28:[7] And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But (Judg. 20:5) none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.



None answered; for she was dead, as is said, Judges 20:5.

[1] Hebrew: וַתָּבֹ֥א הָאִשָּׁ֖ה לִפְנ֣וֹת הַבֹּ֑קֶר וַתִּפֹּ֞ל פֶּ֧תַח בֵּית־הָאִ֛ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־אֲדוֹנֶ֥יהָ שָּׁ֖ם עַד־הָאֽוֹר׃


[2] There was a long-standing enmity between the Thessalians and Phocians. The Thessalians sided with the Persians during their second invasion of Greece (480-479 BC). When the Phocians refused to do likewise, the Thessalians and Persians devastated their region.


[3] Hebrew: וַתִּפֹּל.


[4] Exodus 19:21: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and fall (וְנָפַל) many of them.”


[5] Hebrew: וַיָּ֙קָם אֲדֹנֶ֜יהָ בַּבֹּ֗קֶר וַיִּפְתַּח֙ דַּלְת֣וֹת הַבַּ֔יִת וַיֵּצֵ֖א לָלֶ֣כֶת לְדַרְכּ֑וֹ וְהִנֵּ֧ה הָאִשָּׁ֣ה פִֽילַגְשׁ֗וֹ נֹפֶ֙לֶת֙ פֶּ֣תַח הַבַּ֔יִת וְיָדֶ֖יהָ עַל־הַסַּֽף׃


[6] Eurydice, an oak-nymph, was the wife of Orpheus. After he death, he descended into the Underworld to retrieve her. Permission was given, but upon condition that, as they departed, Orpheus not look back for Eurydice. He looks back upon her, and Eurydice is drawn back into the gloom of the underworld.


[7] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֧אמֶר אֵלֶ֛יהָ ק֥וּמִי וְנֵלֵ֖כָה וְאֵ֣ין עֹנֶ֑ה וַיִּקָּחֶ֙הָ֙ עַֽל־הַחֲמ֔וֹר וַיָּ֣קָם הָאִ֔ישׁ וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ לִמְקֹמֽוֹ׃

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ABOUT US

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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