The Period Of The Judges

 Chapter 86
Return Journey [Judges 19.10-19.15]


Scripture (KJV) Judges 19.10-15

10 But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him.
11 And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.
12 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 to Gibeah.
13 And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah.
14 And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin.
15 And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodging.


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Commentary

10 But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him.—Judges 19.10 (KJV) 
10 But this time the man was determined to leave. So he took his two saddled donkeys and his concubine and headed in the direction of Jebus (that is, Jerusalem).—Judges 19.10 (NLT)

But the man would not tarry that night
The Levite was anxious to return home with his wife and servant, but it seemed to him that his father-in-law was intent on preventing him from leaving, and there appeared to be no end to his solicitations, and therefore, he was resolved not to give into his appeals any longer. He would definitely leave that afternoon.

but he rose up and departed;
He got up from his seat, wished his father-in-law well, and proceeded on his journey.

and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem;
The first stage of their journey brought them over against (in sight of or in front of) Jerusalem. Jerusalem, the chief city of the Jebusites, was only six miles or a couple of hours traveling time from Bethlehem. At that time it was called Jebus (also Urusalim and Salem), because it was inhabited solely by Jebusites (see 2 Samuel 5.6); the following verse calls it “this city of the Jebusites.”

2 Sam 5:6 (KJV)  And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither. This city was now in the hands of the Jebusites; but how they got possession of it is not known; probably they took it during the wars between Ish-bosheth and David. After Joshua's death, what is called the lower city was taken by the Israelites; and it is evident that the whole city was in their possession in the time of Saul, for David brought the head of Goliath thither, 1 Samuel 17:54. It appears to have been a very strong fortress, and, from what follows, deemed impregnable by the Jebusites. It was right that the Israelites should repossess it; and David very properly began his reign over the whole country by the siege of this city.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

In the Conquest of the Promised Land, Joshua had, in fact, captured this city; but the Israelites had withdrawn and left the city entirely to the Jebusites (see Judges 1.21) who continued to hold it until David captured it and made it his capital.

Judges 1:21 (GW) The men of Benjamin did not force out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem. The Jebusites still live with the tribe of Benjamin in Jerusalem today. Jerusalem was situated partly in the tribe of Judah, and partly in the tribe of Benjamin, the northern part belonging to the latter tribe, the southern to the former. The Jebusites had their strongest position in the part that belonged to Benjamin, and from this place they were not wholly expelled till the days of David.

The note, "which is Jerusalem," must have been inserted at some later time by Ezra or some other scribe.

and there were with him two asses saddled;
He brought with him two asses when he came to Bethlehem (see Judges 19:3), now they are said to be "saddled", either for him and his concubine to ride on; or they were loaded with bread, and wine, and provisions; or it may be one of them was for him and his concubine to ride on by taking turns, and the other to carry the provisions:

Judges 19:3 (NLT) her husband set out for Bethlehem to speak personally to her and persuade her to come back. He took with him a servant and a pair of donkeys.

and his concubine also was with him;
Now that they had “made up” and “got back together”; she agreed to go with him. They are happy and anxious to begin their new life together, but what follows is the tragic part of their history.

 

11 And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.—Judges 19.11 (KJV)
11 It was late in the day when they neared Jebus, and the man’s servant said to him, “Let’s stop at this Jebusite town and spend the night there.”—Judges 19.11 (NLT)

And when they were by Jebus the day was far spent
This was Jerusalem, where after the death of Joshua it appears to have been partly conquered by the tribe of Judah, yet the Jebusites kept the strong hold of Zion till the days of David, by whom they were finally expelled. By the time they reached Jebus the sun was going down and was close to setting. It is called “the pitching time of the day”. You might say, it was near the time when travelers ordinarily pitched their tents, and make camp for the night. 

and the servant said unto his master, come, I pray thee:
The servant made his proposal to his master in a submissive manner, so that it might seem that he was concerned for his well-being and safety.

and let us turn in unto this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it;
The servant proposed that they should lodge in Jebus, which at that time was a divided city. The part of the city belonging to the tribe of Judah was taken by them after the death of Joshua, yet that part which belonged to the tribe of Benjamin was still possessed by the Jebusites, whom the Benjamites could not expel, (see Judges 1:21; above). However, Ben Gersom thinks, that this affair of this Levite, and his concubine, happened before the men of Judah fought against it, and took it; which is not unlikely, seeing it is called here a city of the Jebusites. In addition, the Levite objected going into it on that account; whereas he probably would not have objected if one part of it was in the possession of the men of Judah, and the other in the hands of the tribe of Benjamin, though they had some Jebusites living among them.

Hind sight is the best kind, because now we can see that if they had lodged in Jebus instead of going on to Gibeah they would have avoided the great tragedy that awaits them in Gebeah.

 

12 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 to Gibeah.—Judges 19.12 (KJV)
12 “No,” his master said, “we can’t stay in this foreign town where there are no Israelites. Instead, we will go on to Gibeah.—Judges 19.12 (NLT)

And his master said unto him, we will not turn aside hither into the city of a stranger
The Targum calls Jebus “a city of the children of the Gentiles,” which the Jebusites were, seeing that they were one of the seven nations of the land of Canaan, who were to be dispossessed and destroyed; and which, one would think, he would not have called it that, had it been inhabited, even partially, by the children of Judah and Benjamin. It appears from this, that this Levite was a good man, and conscientious, and shunned all appearance of evil, and the company of wicked men, which should be the character of all men of his profession. This Levite, would by no means billet, no, not one night, in a city of strangers, not because he questioned his safety among them, but he was not willing, if he could possibly avoid it, to have so much intimacy and familiarity with them as a night’s lodging would amount to, nor to be beholden to them for anything. By shunning this place he would witness against the wickedness of those that were friendly with those nations condemned by God.

City of a stranger - This shows how completely, even in these early days, the Jebusite population had expelled both the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

A stranger - That is, of a strange nation: which the Canaanites definitely were; for though the city of Jerusalem had been taken by Caleb, (see Judges 1:8), yet the strong fort of Zion was still in their hands, from where it is likely they molested, and afterwards by God's permission, drove out the Israelites who dwelt there.

Judges 1:8 (KJV) Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire. Had fought against Jerusalem—We read this verse in a parenthesis, because we suppose that it refers to the taking of this city by Joshua; for as he had conquered its armies and slew its king, Joshua 10:26, it is probable that he took the city: yet we find that the Jebusites still dwelt in it, Joshua 15:63; and that the men of Judah could not drive them out, which probably refers to the strong hold or fortress on Mount Zion, which the Jebusites held till the days of David, who took it, and totally destroyed the Jebusites. See 2 Samuel 5:6-9, and 1 Chronicles 11:4-8. It is possible that the Jebusites who had been discomfited by Joshua, had again become sufficiently strong to possess themselves of Jerusalem; and that they were now defeated, and the city itself set on fire: but that they still were able to keep possession of their strong fort on Mount Zion, which appears to have been the citadel of Jerusalem.

that is not of the children of Israel;
which further confirms the above conjecture, that this city was not as yet entirely in the hands of the Israelites; or if it had been, was retaken, and now in the hands of the Jebusites.

The Levite was unwilling to enter a city of the foreigners, where there were none of the sons of Israel, and he would go on a little farther, to Gibeah. "Come, we will draw near to one of the places (which he immediately names), and pass the night in Gibeah or Ramah."(see verse 13). These two towns, the present Jeba and er Rm, were not a full hour's journey apart, and stood opposite to one another, only about two and a half or three hours from Jerusalem.

we will pass over to Gibeah;
which was in the tribe of Benjamin, and inhabited by men of that tribe, and so it was more agreeable to this Levite, though it proved fatal to him. Gibeah was, as Josephus says thirty furlongs, or near four miles from Jebus or Jerusalem; and though it was near sundown, he chose to proceed on to this place rather than to lodge at Jebus, and there was the additional benefit of Gibeah being a Levitical city.

Now we know that it would have been better for the trio to have stayed in Jerusalem, rather than Gibeah, to have trusted themselves among aliens than among their own countrymen.

Gibeah— This place was only about two and one half hours beyond Jerusalem, and was also known as "Gibeah of Saul." It was Saul's birthplace, and was in the territory of Benjamin. It occupied a commanding site near the Nablus road, north of Jerusalem. It was one of the first Israelite settlements in the hill country. The present site of Gibeah is called Tel el-Ful, which was identified as Saul's city by the brilliant Palestinian explorer, Edward Robinson. The site was excavated in 1922 and 1923 by W. F. Albright. It is only four miles north of Jerusalem and just two miles south of Ramah.

 

13 And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah.—Judges 19.13 (KJV) 
13 Come on, let’s try to get as far as Gibeah or Ramah, and we’ll spend the night in one of those towns.”—Judges 19.13 (NLT)

And he said to his servant, come, and let us draw near
He said to his servant, “Let’s go to Gibeah or Ramah as soon as we can; before dark if possible.”

to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah;
Both Ramah and Gibeah were in the land belonging to the tribe of Benjamin, and therefore, they could go to either one, so the Levite left it up to his servant to decide on the one they would go to.  He decided on Gibeah because it was now late afternoon and the sun would be setting before long; distance was another factor to consider, since Gibeah was only four miles from Jerusalem whereas, Ramah was six miles away. So, they left Jerusalem and in a little more than an hour arrived at Gibeah.

 

14 And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin —Judges 19.14 (KJV)
14 So they went on. The sun was setting as they came to Gibeah, a town in the land of Benjamin,—Judges 19.14 (NLT)

And they passed on, and went their way
The trio proceeded on in their journey, going from Jebus to Gibeah. Remember, earlier they had gone the five or six miles from Bethlehem to Jebus, and now they had another four miles before they could rest in Ramah.

and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin
The words “which belongeth to Benjamin” were added, to distinguish this Gibeah from another Gibeah in the tribe of Judah, (see Joshua 15:57). By sunset, the Levite, with his wife and, servant, arrived at Gibeah. They had made only about a ten-mile journey that afternoon, indicating that their departure could not have been much earlier than 3:00 P.M.: Ramah, mentioned as an alternate stop, was yet two miles further north. Note: Darkness almost immediately follows sunset in Palestine, so they had to find lodging quickly.

Josh 15:57 (KJV) Cain, Gibeah, and Timnah; ten cities with their villages: Three cities of Judah according to Joshua 15:20.

 

15 And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodging.—Judges 19.15 (KJV)
15 so they stopped there to spend the night. They rested in the town square, but no one took them in for the night.—Judges 19.15 (NLT)

And they turned aside thither to go in and to lodge in Gibeah,
And they turned aside
is a common expression found in scripture, and here it means that they left the highway and went into the city of Gibeah to seek lodging. Evidentially, the man was amply provided with goods and money, but no place opened to receive them.  Now their problems begin; it seems that the people living in Gibeah, though they were soft and effeminate in other respects, they were hard - hearted when it came to strangers, and at that time there were no community-houses in that country.

and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city;
to see whether any person would invite him into any of their houses, as was usual in those hospitable times and countries, and where there were few inns for the entertainment of travelers and strangers, or none at all, and especially in cities; if they were anywhere, it was outside the cities and beside the public roads.

The towns of Palestine at this distant period could not, it seems, furnish any establishment to serve as an inn or public lodging-house; and so we conclude that the custom, which is still frequently witnessed in the cities of the East, was not uncommon back then. Travelers who were late in arriving and who didn’t have friends, family or acquaintances they could stay with, would spread their bedding in the streets, or wrapping themselves up in their cloaks, pass the night in the open air. In the Arab towns and villages, however, the sheik, or some other person, usually comes out and urgently invites the strangers to his house. This was done also in ancient Palestine (see Genesis 18:4 , 19:2). It is surprising that the same hospitality was not shown to these three travelers in Gibeah, but it seems to have been due to the bad character of the people.

Judges 18:4 (KJV) And he said unto them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his priest.

There the three sat down in the street, but nobody offered them lodging. In these countries, at that time, there were no inns, or public-houses, in which, as with us, travelers might have entertainment for their money, but they carried entertainment along with them, as this Levite did (see verse 19), and depended upon the courtesy and hospitality of the inhabitants for lodging.

Judges 19:19 (KJV) Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy servants: there is no want of any thing.

Let us take the occasion, when we are traveling, to thank God for this, among other conveniences of travelling, that there are motels and hotels to entertain strangers, and in which they may be welcome and well accommodated for their money. Surely there is no country in the world where one may stay at home with more satisfaction, or go abroad with more comfort, than in our own nation. This traveler, though a Levite (and to those of that tribe God had particularly commanded his people to be kind to them on all occasions), met with a very cold reception at Gibeah: No man took them into his house. It was to avoid such inhospitable treatment that they had deliberately by-passed the city of the Jebusites. If they had any reason to think he was a Levite perhaps that made those inhospitable people even more hostile toward him. There are those who will hear the Lord of heaven and earth make this charge against them on the Great Judgment Day, I was a stranger and you took me not in.

Yates pointed out that the man, along with his servant and his concubine, went to the open area at the city gate, which was something like a public market, where the magistrates of the city sat, and where a stranger would have waited to receive hospitality. "He waited in the public square, inside the gate of the city; but no man of Gibeah offered him hospitality." However, the failure to offer hospitality was a breach of etiquette rarely found in the ancient East. That’s why I believe there were some in the city that would have taken them in for a night, but they were afraid, because of their wicked neighbors, who would assault their houses to abuse strangers, and that is what happens as we continue to unfold this bit of Israel’s history.

 

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