The Period Of The Judges

 Chapter 90
Israel Gathering at Mizpeh [Judges 20.1-20.7]


Scripture (KJV) Judges 20.1-7

The Levite in a general assembly declares his wrong
1 Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD in Mizpeh.
2 And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword.
3 (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel were gone up to Mizpeh.) Then said the children of Israel, Tell us, how was this wickedness?
4 And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was slain, answered and said, I came into Gibeah that belongeth to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge.
5 And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, and thought to have slain me: and my concubine have they forced, that she is dead.
6 And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel: for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel.
7 Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.


Introduction

This chapter is a good illustration of James 3:13–18 (see below). When we operate on the basis of human wisdom, we create one problem after another, but when we pause to pray and seek the mind of the Lord, He shows us what to do.

The Benjamites did not seek the Lord, admit their guilt, or repent of their sins. There can be no peace unless sin is put away, but the people of Benjamin would not judge their own people in Gibeah. “So shall you put away the evil person from among you” is repeated nine times in Deuteronomy, and God expected His people to obey.

God’s people today need to deal with sin in their lives (see 2 Cor. 7:1) and in the church family (see 1 Cor. 5). Unconfessed sin is like uncontrolled disease: it spreads and it kills. Charles Spurgeon said, “Sin is the mother and nurse of all evil, the egg of all mischief, the fountain of all bitterness, the root of misery.”

Through our study of the book of Judges we find that we have arrived at a familiar state of affairs; a domestic event again evolves into a tribal problem. The irony in this final section of Judges is that the tribe of Judah, who led the Israelites against the Canaanites at the beginning of Judges, was leading the Israelites against their own countrymen, the Benjamites, who chose to defend the actions of the men of Gibeah. Judah represented righteous leadership against an overt case of immorality and disobedience.

A good name to assign to Chapter 20 is “War with Benjamin By All the Other Tribes.” The expectation of the Levite was fulfilled. The congregation of Israel assembled at Mizpeh to pass sentence upon Gibeah, and formed the resolution that they would not rest until the crime was punished as it deserved (Judges 20:1-10). But when the Benjamites refused to deliver up the offenders in Gibeah, and prepared to offer resistance, the other tribes began to make war upon Gibeah and Benjamin (Judges 20:11-19), but were twice defeated by the Benjaminites with very great loss (Judges 20:20-28). At length, however, they succeeded by an act of stratagy in taking Gibeah and burning it to the ground, and completely routing the Benjamites, and also in putting to death all the men and cattle that they found in the other towns of this tribe, and laying the towns in ashes, whereby the whole of the tribe of Benjamin was annihilated, with the exception of a very small remnant (vv. 29-48).

James 3:13-18 (ASV) Who is wise and understanding among you? let him show by his good life his works in meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter jealousy and faction in your heart, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom is not wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish. For where jealousy and faction are, there is confusion and every vile deed. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace.

2 Cor 7:1 (ASV) Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Commentary

1 Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD in Mizpeh.—Judges 20.1 (KJV) 
1 Then all the Israelites were united as one man, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, including those from across the Jordan in the land of Gilead. The entire community assembled in the presence of the LORD at Mizpeh.—Judges 20.1 (NLT)

Then all the children of Israel went out
They left their individual homes and were going to a prearranged meeting place. This doesn’t mean that every inhabitant of every tribe left their homes to meet someplace; rather, the implication is that some of the leading men from each tribe, including the eastern tribes, and a select group of fighting men, answered the call to meet together to discuss, and then do something about the tragedy described by the Levite. This was really a “big deal” since there were many disputes between the various tribes. The only ones missing from this meeting were the tribe of Benjamin and the men of Jabesh-gilead (see Judges 21.8-9).

Judges 21:8-9 (KJV) And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up to Mizpeh to the LORD? And, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabeshgilead to the assembly. For the people were numbered, and, behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead there.

and the congregation was gathered together as one man;
The spirit of unanimity was certainly present when these men came together, in the same place and at the same time; it was a huge gathering (see verse 2), but the feelings of brotherhood and the sense of having a  common cause must have put them at so much ease that they acted as one man. This indicates a humble attitude and desire to seek help from God for the people.

It does not appear that they were summoned by the authority of any one common headman or a council of men from the tribes; but from scripture we can only conclude that they came together by the consent and agreement, so to speak, of one common heart, fired with a holy zeal for the honor of God and Israel. These were the “good guys”, or so they thought. After-all, it was horrible, what had been done to the Levite’s wife, and they were going to punish Gibeah and the Benjamites for her murder.  That was the purpose for holding a national assembly at which "the foremost men among all the people" from all parts of the land, appeared as delegates.

It is good to see that the nation can gather for such a reason; because, it shows they are willing to deal with the problem of sin in their midst. Deuteronomy 13:12-18 (see below) instructs Israel how to deal with such abominations in their midst; it tells them to make inquiries, and then if the charges are true, to utterly destroy those who committed such an abomination. The crime of Gibeah was so offensive that it shocked the conscience of the nation of Israel; sadly, it seems that nothing will shock us anymore. Today, the crime at Gibeah would have been material for tabloid news, Court TV, daytime talk shows, and talk radio.

This verse confounds and frustrates the critics, who declare that such unity in Israel is utterly unlike the disunity exhibited in the other episodes of Judges. The critics argue:
• “This unity of Israel and the greatly exaggerated figures indicate later expansion.”
• “The word ‘congregation’ is a post-exilic term.”

Such remarks are irresponsible. The word congregation was frequently used throughout the Pentateuch and in the Book of Joshua. What such critics fail to see is that the events of this chapter are closely related to the times of Joshua, perhaps within twenty years of his death. Congregation here is a technical term for the whole community of Israel and is an indication of the early date of these transactions.

As these final chapters stand, they provide a summary explanation of “How Israel developed into the disunited apostate people of the entire era of the Judges.” As terrible as the events of these chapters most certainly are, there is a glimmer of hope for Israel, because they knew that the Law of God had been violated, and that judgment must be rendered. Nevertheless, the bitterness of this disastrous civil war was directly responsible for the gross disunity, and Israel's subsequent attitude: "everybody is on his own," and "doing what was right in his own eyes." These conditions made the institution of the monarchy imperative if Israel as a united people was to survive.

Deut 13:12-18 (KJV) If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the LORD thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again. And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers; When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the LORD thy God.

from Dan even to Bersheba,
Israelites from every tribe, except Benjamin were gathered near Mizpeh. They are described here as coming from Dan even to Beersheba. The city of Dan, was in the most northern part of the land of Canaan (see Judges 18:29), to Beersheba, a city in the most southern part (see Genesis 21:31), and between these two cities lay all the tribes in the land of Canaan.

We cannot safely infer from this expression that the settlement of Dan, recorded in Judges 18 had taken place by this time. It only proves that in the writer's time, from Dan to Beersheba was a proverbial expression for all Israel. Although, it cannot be inferred with certainty that the Danite occupation of Laish had taken place by this time, it may have, because we do not know when this narrative was written, and the phrase is only used as a proverbial expression familiar in the writer’s time. It is unlikely that this event took place chronologically after the capture of Laish by the Danites, but was probably inserted in the final editing of the book to clarify the extent of Israel’s territory and the extensive nature of the response of the people to this challenge.

Myers even branded the expression, "from Dan to Beersheba" as evidence of the "late date" he ascribes to this event. Although it is true that the expression "from Dan to Beersheba" resulted from the migration of the Danites after the events of this chapter, the expression was certainly well known in the days of Samuel whom we have established as the author of Judges. Armerding observed that the events of Judg. 20--21 are included here at the end of Judges, "For theological reasons; but there is good reason to believe that the events took place much closer to the beginning of Judges."

Judges 18:29 (ASV) And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first.

Gen 21:31 (ASV) Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba. Because there they sware both of them.

with the land of Gilead;
This line may have been added to highlight the fact that the tribes on the East side of the Jordan, in the land of Gilead, also sent representatives to this meeting which must have been deemed to be very important to the nation. Three tribes had to cross the Jordan to attend the meeting; the two tribes of Reuben and Dan, and the half tribe of Manasseh.

When the two phrases are tied together; from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, it gives the meaning that all the tribes (with Benjamin being the only exception) are present.

unto the Lord in Mizpeh (see Article 11.5; Page 470);
Mizpeh was a city which lay upon the borders of Judah and Benjamin, and therefore, it was assigned to both of them, (see Joshua 15.20 and 15:38 ) (see Judges18.20 and18:26 ). This was not the Mizpeh in the land of Gilead, but a city near Shiloh and in the heart of the Benjamites territory; and, according to Fuller, it was eight miles from Gibeah, and so it was a convenient place to have this particular meeting.

It is wrong to think that the tribes met here, as a result of a secret impulse upon their minds, but they came after receiving a summons from an important person or persons in one of the tribes, very probably in the tribe of Ephraim, where the Levite had his home, and where the tabernacle of the Lord was kept at this time, and it was the tribe that gave birth to Israel’s last supreme magistrate, namely, Joshua.

Everyone seemed to understand why they were there; that the meeting was important to the future of Israel and they were glad to be a part of it. They said, they gathered unto the Lord, because they assembled in the name and fear of God, and it was in the cause of God, and it was a solemn assembly, and a judicial one, in which God was usually present. There at Mizpeh they sought for direction and counsel from Him in the affair before them. The phrase unto the Lord could also mean that they were in the presence of the Tabernacle, which was likely brought to Mizpeh from Shiloh, because it was such a solemn occasion. We can’t say with certainty that the tabernacle was there for this meeting, but one thing we can say is “God was there,” because wherever God's people are, there is God himself; and it is as true today as it was back then, THAT WHEREVER TWO OR THREE WERE ASSEMBLED IN HIS NAME, HE WAS IN THE MIDST OF THEM.

Mizpeh—This Mizpeh was called “the place of convention”, since there were other Mizpehs. It was situated on the borders of Judah and Benjamin, and is sometimes attributed to the one side, and sometimes to the other (see Joshua 15.20 and 15:38 ) (see Judges18.20 and18:26 ). Assemblies were frequently held there after this incident (1 Samuel 7:11 , 10:17 ); the reason being, that it was only a short distance from Shiloh. It seems that there was a place here in which the Lord was consulted, as well as at Shiloh; in 1Mac 3:46, we read, "In Maspha was the place where they prayed aforetime in Israel." These two passages cast light on each other.
In ancient times Mizpeh was the central assembly point for the tribes (see I Sam 7:5). It is usually identified today with Tell-en-nasbeh, about eight miles north of Jerusalem. Mizpeh was so very near to Shiloh that their encampment might have reached from Mizpeh to Shiloh.

Josh 15:20 (KJV) and Josh 15:38 (KJV) This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Judah according to their families … And Dilean, and Mizpeh, and Joktheel,

Josh 18:20 (KJV) and Josh 18:26 (KJV) This was the inheritance of the children of Benjamin, by the coasts thereof round about, according to their families … And Mizpeh, and Chephirah, and Mozah,

1 Sam 7:11 (KJV) and 1 Sam 10:17 (ASV) And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar … And Samuel called the people together unto Jehovah to Mizpeh;

1 Sam 7:5 (KJV) And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD

 

2 And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword.—Judges 20.2 (KJV)
2 The leaders of all the people and all the tribes of Israel—400,000 warriors armed with swords—took their positions in the assembly of the people of God.—Judges 20.2 (NLT)

And the chief of all the people
By the phrase, the chief of all the people is meant the princes of the tribes and heads of families, rulers of thousands, and hundreds, and fifties, and tens. They are the "corners", who were like the corner stones in a building, which are not only the most valuable and decorative, but is said to be the strength of the building, since it supports it, and holds it together. In this assembly of all Israel, the chief (or corners) of the people (for rulers are the corner-stones of the people, that keep all of them together) presented themselves as the representatives of the rest. Hence Christ is called the chief corner-stone. They seated themselves at their respective posts, at the head of the thousands and hundreds, the fifties and tens, over which they presided; since we may suppose that Israel had at least this amount of government, though they had no general or commander-in-chief. Their presence at this great meeting is mentioned to show that it was a properly constituted assembly of all Israel.

even of all the tribes of Israel;
except for the tribe of Benjamin:

presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God;
The tribal leaders had the support of the people behind them and they were authorized to determine the action to be taken in the matter of the Levite’s wife. So what we have here is (1.) a general congress of the tribes, whose chiefs presented themselves as the leaders who would direct in this affair. (2.) A general rendezvous of the militia, who would take action against those who murdered the Levite’s wife. They were all men of war, not mercenaries or men who were enlisted against their will; they volunteers and the best and most experienced fighters available.

Israel had above 600,000 fighting men when they came into Canaan, and we have reason to think there were many more by now. All men between twenty and sixty were considered to be available for military service. Now, if we suppose more than one half of those were exempted from bearing arms to cultivate the land; then these men were trained militia. The militia of the two tribes and a half were 40,000 (see Jos. 4:12-13), but the tribes had many more.

The people of God, those assembled there, were 400,000 footmen that drew the sword, that is, those men who were armed and disciplined, and fit for service, and it may be that some of them saw service during the wars of Canaan (see Judges 3:1). Benjamin must have a very large army for Israel to call 400,000 men to this meeting at Mizpeh.

Josh 4:12-13 (KJV) And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them: About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the LORD unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.

Judges 3:1 (NLT) These are the nations that the LORD left in the land to test those Israelites who had not experienced the wars of Canaan.

four hundred thousand footmen (men) that drew sword;
There were 400,000 armed men in the assembly; but there were 600,000 or more in Israel able to bear arms; but since the wars in Canaan were pretty much at an end, the militia of the nation was not maintained at the previous high level of men and efficiency. Many men had quit the militia and were employed in tilling the ground, and dressing the vines, and the like; and besides, seeing that there were none of the tribe of Benjamin present; the question then is not “why didn’t more men come to the assembly,” but rather one might wonder “why so many should be gathered together on such an occasion.” The answer may be that the severe nature of such an atrocity, in a nation that considered itself to be a theocracy, would have brought the greatest possible response at this point. The fact that so many men showed up in response to the Levite’s call does not mean that these men were a normally standing army, but rather, that every man who was capable of holding a sword arrived in angry retaliation for the hideous nature of the deed that had been done.

It should be noted that this was the only incident in all of the time of the judges when the entire nation, and all the tribes, rallied in a concerted effort for any reason. In later times only a few tribes would rally to support one another; and by the time of Samson, which closes the period of the judges, he was unable to rally anyone to support his cause.

 

3 (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel were gone up to Mizpeh.) Then said the children of Israel, Tell us, how was this wickedness?—Judges 20.3 (KJV)
3 (Word soon reached the land of Benjamin that the other tribes had gone up to Mizpeh.) The Israelites then asked how this terrible crime had happened.—Judges 20.3 (NLT)

Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel were gone up to Mizpeh
The tribe of Benjamin, in all probability, got the same notice as the rest of the tribes; but the accusation was made against some in their tribe. They should have examined the accused lawbreakers, but instead they were lackadaisical about it and entirely indifferent to the case. They believed they were secure and safe because their brethren would never go to war with them about it; or they were proud and haughty, and chose to pay no regard to the summons given them.

Some suppose that Benjamin had been passed over; that they were never notified of the meeting, since the crime had been perpetrated within the territory of that tribe (see Judges 19:16 ). They say, in view of the fact that the concubine's corpse had been divided into twelve pieces (see Judges 19:29) that two had been sent to Manasseh, one respectively to the western and eastern divisions. But it is more probable that Benjamin had received a summons like the other tribes, but chose to treat it with indifference, or arrogant disdain. It’s more likely that the notice hardened and exasperated them instead of awakening within them feelings of peace and honor.

It would be difficult to believe that the Benjamites had not heard that the children of Israel (the rest of the Israelites, the eleven tribes) had come up to Mizpeh, given that Gibeah was only a few miles away and Mizpeh lay on the borders of Benjamin and Judah; but they did not attend the meeting. This follows from the fact that nothing is said about the Benjamites coming, and still more clearly from Judges 20:13 (see below), where it is stated that the assembled tribes sent men to the Benjaminites, after holding their deliberations and forming their resolutions, to call them to account for the crime that had been committed in the midst of them. Consequently the question with which the whole affair was opened, "Say, how did this wicked deed take place?" is not to be regarded as addressed to the two parties, the inhabitants of Gibeah of the Benjaminites and the Levite, but as a summons to all who were assembled to relate what they knew about what had taken place.

Judges 19:16 (KJV) And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites.

Judges 19:29 (KJV) And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.

Judges 20:13 (KJV) Now therefore deliver us the men, the children of Belial, which are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel. But the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel:

then said the children of Israel, tell us, how was this wickedness?
A solemn examination is made of the crime with which the men of Gibeah are charged. A very horrible version of it had been told by the report carried by the messengers that were sent to call them together, but it was appropriate to more closely enquire into it, because such things are often made worse than they really were; a committee therefore was appointed to examine the witnesses (upon oath, no doubt) and to report the matter. It is only the testimony of the Levite himself that is recorded here, but it is probable his servant, and the old man, were examined, and gave their testimony, because the law stated that no one should be put to death, much less so many, upon the testimony of only one witness.


 

4 And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was slain, answered and said, I came into Gibeah that belongeth to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge.—Judges 20.4 (KJV) 
4 The Levite, the husband of the woman who had been murdered, said, “My concubine and I came to spend the night in Gibeah, a town that belongs to the people of Benjamin.—Judges 20.4 (NLT)

And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was slain, answered, and said
Most likely the proceedings began with a proclamation that anyone who knew something about the incident should come forward and tell their story. He rose up, and, in answer to their request, declared what he knew about the whole affair; we have his testimony in the following verses. Certainly, no one could tell it better and no one else knew the whole truth of the matter better than he did, because he was there when it was done, and he was the closest relation to the deceased, and therefore he had a right to demand justice to be done; she was, in spite of everything, his lawful wife, though she is called a concubine.

I came into Gibeah, that belongeth to Benjamin;
which he so specifically describes, to distinguish it from another town of the same name in the tribe of Judah, because he didn’t want to take a chance on a mistake being made that would result in innocent people suffering damage to their reputation, or losing their lives; and this would also account for the tribe of Benjamin not being present at this convention. The injured husband will give a brief and unvarnished recital of the tragic outrage (see Article 20.1, below), from which it will appear that force was used, which he could not resist. His testimony will no doubt be corroborated by his servant and the old Ephraimite. There was no need of a strong or highly colored description of the tragedy to work upon the feelings of the audience. The facts spoke for themselves and produced one common sentiment of loathing and vengeance.

I and my concubine, to lodge;
The Levite gives a particular account of the matter: that he came into Gibeah only as a traveler wanting to lodge there; without any intention to stay, to sojourn there, and much less to do them any harm, or to infringe upon any of their rights and privileges; and he would not be burdensome to them in any way, since they brought all necessary provisions with them for themselves, servants, and cattle; all they wanted was a night's lodging.

Article 20.1: THE LEVITE'S HALF-TRUE REPORT (Judges 20:4-7)

{"And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was murdered, answered and said, I came into Gibeah that belongeth to Benjamin, And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about me by night; me they thought to have slain, and my concubine they forced, and she is dead. And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel; for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel. Behold, ye children of Israel, all of you, give your advice and counsel."}

Some have referred to this report as a fair account of what happened, but this writer does not see it that way. Seven times the Levite used the pronouns, "I," "me" and "my" along with very slight mention of the concubine. Furthermore, he failed to report that it was his own shameful cowardice that handed the concubine over to her abusers. Also, the text does NOT say that the men of Gibeah attempted to kill him; they wanted to abuse him homosexually. We agree with Boling that the Levite's report aroused all Israel to a state of frenzied wrath, "Persuaded by one man telling half the truth."

 

5 And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, and thought to have slain me: and my concubine have they forced, that she is dead.—Judges 20.5 (KJV) 
5 That night some of the leading citizens of Gibeah surrounded the house, planning to kill me, and they raped my concubine until she was dead.—Judges 20.5 (NLT)

And the men of Gibeah rose against me
The men of Gibeah
means the citizens of that town. All the men of Gibeah did not want to have homosexual sex with this Levite; but some did, and we don’t know how many that was. These men of Gibeah went to the house where he was spending the night. They appeared to be stirred-up and were acting in a riotous and violent manner.  But note that he avoids giving them the character they justly deserved, since he could have called them sons of Belial.

From here the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, described the whole affair.

and beset the house round about upon me by night;
The men of Gibeah, even those that were well off and important persons, that should have protected the strangers within their city, violently set upon the house where he lodged. They surrounded it so that he could not make his escape, because they were determined to get him into their hands, and then to commit homosexual acts on his person. 
and thought to have slain me;

At first they intended to commit the unnatural sin on him, and, if he resisted, they would kill him; but his modestly conceals their homosexual intent, since it was a sin that was not mentioned when one was in the company of the people of God; but the men of Gibeah were not ashamed to make those demands (see Judges 19.22). When they said; Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him, they declared their sin was Sodomy; the sin of Sodom. He could say they thought to have slain me, because he chose to be slain rather than to submit to their lust. He knew they would kill him if he rejected their demands and refused to leave the old man’s house; and even if he had yielded to their desires, they would have overpowered him, and in the end they would have abused him until he was dead, as they had his wife: They have forced her that she is dead, v. 5. He certainly believed he was in danger of losing his life; but he almost certainly shaped his narrative to conceal his own cowardice in the transaction.

Judges 19:22 (KJV) Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain 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, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.

and my concubine have they forced, that she is dead;
Today, we would say “they raped her, and when they were done they killed her.” Theirs was a more modest time, so they used words like “forced,” “afflicted”, or “humbled,” but they understood that she was raped and murdered.


 

6 And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel: for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel.—Judges 20.6 (KJV) 
6 So I cut her body into twelve pieces and sent the pieces throughout the territory assigned to Israel, for these men have committed a terrible and shameful crime.—Judges 20.6 (NLT)


And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces
The Levite is perhaps more generous with the Gibeahites than he should be, when he admits that he is the one that cut her body into twelve pieces (see Judges 19.29).  His confession clarified the events of her death.  While it is true that these barbarous creatures had raped her and caused her death, they did not cut her into pieces.

Judges 19:29 (KJV) And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.

and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel;
This would be regarded as a very disgusting act when viewed from the aspect of our modern sensitivities. But it did get their attention and raised their indignation against the Benjamites and particularly those living in Gibeah. It even brought them to Mizpeh and kept them stirred-up; so I would say that it had the desired effect, and the Levite was most likely pleased over how it turned out.

“All the country of the inheritance of Israel,” refers to all the land of the Israelites.

for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel;
The Levite certainly gave a first-rate account of the awful deed, showing how the rape of his concubine had brought about her death; and undoubtedly a homosexual assault on him would have done the same. However, it is also important to note that his account of the incident leaves himself blameless, whereas, the inspired historian’s account makes it clear that he was not blameless in his actions.

The Levite excited his countrymen to action by sending a piece of his concubine’s mangled body to each tribe. This brought all Israel together at Mizpeh to hear testimony against the lewdness and folly committed in Israel. All lewdness is folly, but especially lewdness in Israel. For those to defile their own bodies who have the honorable seal of the covenant in their flesh, for those to defy the divine vengeance to whom it is so clearly revealed from heaven—Nabal (See 1 Sam 25:2-38 and Article 20.2; pg. 883) is their name, and folly is their game.

The Levite’s incomplete account of the events in Gibeah revealed the lack of justice and the violence experienced by the weaker members of this society. Furthermore, the Levite sought justice because of the tribal system’s emphasis on loyalty; yet he himself failed to show loyalty to his closest neighbor, his concubine.

God’s law forbids having sexual relations with another man’s wife and the penalty for breaking that law was death (see Lev 18.20, 29). Even looking at a naked woman, which was classified as the vice of lewdness was forbidden and punished by death (see Lev. 18.17).

Lev 18:20, 29 (KJV) Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour's wife, to defile thyself with her... For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. the souls that commit them shall be cut off -- This strong denunciatory language is applied to all the crimes specified in the chapter without distinction: to incest as truly as to bestiality, and to the eleven cases of affinity [Lev. 18:7-16], as fully as to the six of consanguinity [Lev. 18:17-20]. Death is the punishment sternly denounced against all of them. No language could be more explicit or universal; none could more strongly indicate intense loathing and abhorrence.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

Lev 18:17 (KJV) Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son's daughter, or her daughter's daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness.

Article 20.2: Nabal
Nabal (Foolish), a descendant of Caleb who dwelt at Maon (1Sa 25), the modern Main, 7 miles south-east of Hebron. He was "very great, and he had 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats... but the man was churlish and evil in his doings." During his wanderings David came into that district, and hearing that Nabal was about to shear his sheep, he sent ten of his young men to ask "whatsoever cometh unto thy hand for thy servants." Nabal insultingly resented the demand, saying, "Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse?" (1Sa 25:10, 11). One of the shepherds that stood by and saw the reception David's messengers had met with, informed Abigail, Nabal's wife, who at once realized the danger that threatened her household. She forthwith proceeded to the camp of David, bringing with her ample stores of provisions (1Sa 25:18). She so courteously and persuasively pled her cause that David's anger was appeased, and he said to her, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel which sent thee this day to meet me."
On her return she found her husband incapable from drunkenness of understanding the state of matters, and not till the following day did she explain to him what had happened. He was stunned by a sense of the danger to which his conduct had exposed him. "His heart died within him, and he became as a stone." and about ten days after "the Lord smote Nabal that he died" (1Sa 25:37, 38). Not long after David married Abigail (q.v.).—Easton's Illustrated Dictionary

 


7 Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.—Judges 20.7 (KJV) 
7 Now then, all of you—the entire community of Israel—must decide here and now what should be done about this!”—Judges 20.7 (NLT)

Behold, ye are all children of Israel
He concludes his testimony with an appeal to the judgment of the court: You are the descendants of one man that feared the Lord; You are all children of Israel, you are one nation, having one religion, and professing godliness, and therefore you ought to bear testimony against sin and wickedness of every sort, and especially such appalling abominations as these. “You are a holy people to God, and have a dread of everything which will dishonor God and defile the nation; you are of the same community, members of the same body; and therefore you know the law and judgment" (see Esth. 1:13). He appeals to them as men obligated to wipe away the shame and disgrace of their common country. He speaks with force and dignity under the sense of the grievous wrong and a crushing sorrow done to his wife and concubine You are children of Israel, that ought to take particular care of the Levites, God’s tribe, among you, and therefore give your advice and counsel; what is to be done?

Give here your advice and counsel:
Now is the time and this is the place; you have assembled on this occasion to consult together on what is best to be done; therefore, let every man speak his mind freely, and say what step he thinks should be taken for the glory of God, and honor of religion, and let’s bring those persons to justice who had committed this foul act.

Esth 1:13 (KJV) Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment:

 

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