New American Bible (Revised Edition)
The Levite from Ephraim. 1 In those days, when there was no king in Israel,[a](A) there was a Levite residing in remote parts of the mountain region of Ephraim(B) who had taken for himself a concubine from Bethlehem of Judah. 2 But his concubine spurned him and left him for her father’s house in Bethlehem of Judah, where she stayed for some four months. 3 Her husband then set out with his servant and a pair of donkeys, and went after her to soothe her and bring her back. He arrived at her father’s house, and when the young woman’s father saw him, he came out joyfully to meet him. 4 His father-in-law, the young woman’s father, urged him to stay, and so he spent three days eating and drinking and passing the night there. 5 On the fourth day they rose early in the morning and he prepared to go. But the young woman’s father said to his son-in-law, “Fortify yourself with a little food; you can go later on.” 6 So they stayed and the two men ate and drank together. Then the young woman’s father said to the husband, “Why not decide to spend the night here and enjoy yourself?” 7 The man made a move to go, but when his father-in-law pressed him he went back and spent the night there.
8 On the fifth morning he rose early to depart, but the young woman’s father said, “Fortify yourself!” He coaxed him, and he tarried until the afternoon, and the two of them ate. 9 Then when the husband was ready to go with his concubine and servant, the young woman’s father said to him, “See, the day is wearing on toward evening. Stay for the night. See, the day is coming to an end. Spend the night here and enjoy yourself. Early tomorrow you can start your journey home.” 10 The man, however, refused to stay another night; he and his concubine set out with a pair of saddled donkeys, and traveled until they came opposite Jebus, which is Jerusalem. 11 Since they were near Jebus with the day far gone, the servant said to his master, “Come, let us turn off to this city of the Jebusites and spend the night in it.” 12 But his master said to him, “We will not turn off to a foreigner’s city,(C) where there are no Israelites. We will go on to Gibeah. 13 Come,” he said to his servant, “let us make for some other place and spend the night in either Gibeah or Ramah.”(D) 14 So they continued on their way until the sun set on them when they were opposite Gibeah of Benjamin.
15 [b]There they turned off to enter Gibeah for the night.(E) The man went in and sat down in the town square, but no one took them inside to spend the night. 16 In the evening, however, an old man came from his work in the field; he was from the mountain region of Ephraim, though he was living in Gibeah where the local people were Benjaminites. 17 (F)When he noticed the traveler in the town square, the old man asked, “Where are you going, and where have you come from?” 18 He said to him, “We are traveling from Bethlehem of Judah far up into the mountain region of Ephraim, where I am from. I have been to Bethlehem of Judah, and now I am going home; but no one has taken me into his house. 19 We have straw and fodder for our donkeys, and bread and wine for myself and for your maidservant and the young man who is with your servant; there is nothing else we need.” 20 “Rest assured,” the old man said to him, “I will provide for all your needs, but do not spend the night in the public square.” 21 So he led them to his house and mixed fodder for the donkeys. Then they washed their feet, and ate and drank.(G)
The Outrage at Gibeah. 22 [c](H)While they were enjoying themselves, the men of the city, a bunch of scoundrels, surrounded the house and beat on the door. They said to the old man who was the owner of the house, “Bring out the man who has come into your house, so that we may get intimate with him.” 23 The man who was the owner of the house went out to them and said, “No, my brothers; do not be so wicked. This man has come into my house; do not commit this terrible crime. 24 Instead, let me bring out my virgin daughter and this man’s concubine. Humiliate them, or do whatever you want; but against him do not commit such a terrible crime.” 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and thrust her outside to them. They raped her and abused her all night until morning, and let her go as the sun was coming up. 26 At the approach of morning the woman came and collapsed at the entrance of the house in which her husband was, and lay there until morning. 27 When her husband rose in the morning and opened the door of the house to start out again on his journey, there was the woman, his concubine, collapsed at the entrance of the house with her hands on the threshold. 28 “Come, let us go,” he said to her, but there was no answer. So the man placed her on a donkey and started out again for home.
29 [d]On reaching home, he got a knife and took hold of the body of his concubine. He cut her up limb by limb into twelve pieces and sent them throughout the territory of Israel.(I) 30 He instructed the men whom he sent, “Thus you shall say to all the men of Israel: ‘Has such a thing ever happened from the day the Israelites came up from the land of Egypt to this day?[e](J) Take note of it; form a plan and give orders.’”
- 19:1 No king in Israel: see note on 17:6. The violent story that follows is offered as another example of the disorder that prevailed before the inauguration of the monarchy.
- 19:15–21 The narrative casts a very unfavorable light on Gibeah of Benjamin, the town from which Israel’s first king would come (cf. 1 Sm 9:1–2). No Benjaminite offers hospitality to the Levite and his travel party, who are obliged to wait at night in the town square until an Ephraimite residing in Gibeah welcomes them into his home.
- 19:22–25 This part of the grim story closely parallels that of the assault on Lot’s angelic visitors in Gn 19:4–8.
- 19:29 The Levite’s gruesome way of summoning the tribes is a drastic version of that used by Saul in 1 Sm 11:7, where he dismembers a yoke of oxen.
- 19:30 Has such a thing ever happened…?: the outrage became a byword in Israel, so that in the eighth century the prophet Hosea could invoke “the days of Gibeah” (Hos 9:9; cf. 10:9) to signify corruption and wrongdoing.
New International Version
A Levite and His Concubine
19 In those days Israel had no king.
Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim(A) took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah.(B) 2 But she was unfaithful to him. She left him and went back to her parents’ home in Bethlehem, Judah. After she had been there four months, 3 her husband went to her to persuade her to return. He had with him his servant and two donkeys. She took him into her parents’ home, and when her father saw him, he gladly welcomed him. 4 His father-in-law, the woman’s father, prevailed on him to stay; so he remained with him three days, eating and drinking,(C) and sleeping there.
5 On the fourth day they got up early and he prepared to leave, but the woman’s father said to his son-in-law, “Refresh yourself(D) with something to eat; then you can go.” 6 So the two of them sat down to eat and drink together. Afterward the woman’s father said, “Please stay tonight and enjoy yourself.(E)” 7 And when the man got up to go, his father-in-law persuaded him, so he stayed there that night. 8 On the morning of the fifth day, when he rose to go, the woman’s father said, “Refresh yourself. Wait till afternoon!” So the two of them ate together.
9 Then when the man, with his concubine and his servant, got up to leave, his father-in-law, the woman’s father, said, “Now look, it’s almost evening. Spend the night here; the day is nearly over. Stay and enjoy yourself. Early tomorrow morning you can get up and be on your way home.” 10 But, unwilling to stay another night, the man left and went toward Jebus(F) (that is, Jerusalem), with his two saddled donkeys and his concubine.
11 When they were near Jebus and the day was almost gone, the servant said to his master, “Come, let’s stop at this city of the Jebusites(G) and spend the night.”
12 His master replied, “No. We won’t go into any city whose people are not Israelites. We will go on to Gibeah.” 13 He added, “Come, let’s try to reach Gibeah or Ramah(H) and spend the night in one of those places.” 14 So they went on, and the sun set as they neared Gibeah in Benjamin.(I) 15 There they stopped to spend the night.(J) They went and sat in the city square,(K) but no one took them in for the night.
16 That evening(L) an old man from the hill country of Ephraim,(M) who was living in Gibeah (the inhabitants of the place were Benjamites), came in from his work in the fields. 17 When he looked and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, “Where are you going? Where did you come from?”(N)
18 He answered, “We are on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim where I live. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going to the house of the Lord.[a](O) No one has taken me in for the night. 19 We have both straw and fodder(P) for our donkeys(Q) and bread and wine(R) for ourselves your servants—me, the woman and the young man with us. We don’t need anything.”
20 “You are welcome at my house,” the old man said. “Let me supply whatever you need. Only don’t spend the night in the square.” 21 So he took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After they had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.(S)
22 While they were enjoying themselves,(T) some of the wicked men(U) of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.(V)”
23 The owner of the house went outside(W) and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this outrageous thing.(X) 24 Look, here is my virgin daughter,(Y) and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But as for this man, don’t do such an outrageous thing.”
25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her(Z) and abused her(AA) throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. 26 At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.
27 When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up; let’s go.” But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.
29 When he reached home, he took a knife(AB) and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel.(AC) 30 Everyone who saw it was saying to one another, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt.(AD) Just imagine! We must do something! So speak up!(AE)”
- Judges 19:18 Hebrew, Vulgate, Syriac and Targum; Septuagint going home