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Sodom and Gomorrah Revisited

19 In those days Israel had no king. There was a Levite[a] living temporarily in the remote region of the Ephraimite hill country. He acquired a concubine[b] from Bethlehem in Judah. However, she[c] got angry at him[d] and went home[e] to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah. When she had been there four months, her husband came[f] after her, hoping he could convince her to return.[g] He brought with him his servant[h] and a pair of donkeys. When she brought him into her father’s house and the girl’s father saw him, he greeted him warmly.[i] His father-in-law, the girl’s father, persuaded him to stay with him for three days, and they ate and drank together, and spent the night there. On the fourth day they woke up early and the Levite got ready to leave.[j] But the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Have a bite to eat for some energy,[k] then you can go.” So the two of them sat down and had a meal together.[l] Then the girl’s father said to the man, “Why not stay another night and have a good time?”[m] When the man got ready to leave,[n] his father-in-law convinced him to stay another night.[o] He woke up early in the morning on the fifth day so he could leave, but the girl’s father said, “Get some energy![p] Wait until later in the day to leave.”[q] So they ate a meal together. When the man got ready to leave[r] with his concubine and his servant,[s] his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Look! The day is almost over.[t] Stay another night! Since the day is over,[u] stay another night here and have a good time. You can get up early tomorrow and start your trip home.”[v] 10 But the man did not want to stay another night. He left[w] and traveled as far as[x] Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). He had with him a pair of saddled donkeys and his concubine.[y]

11 When they got near Jebus, it was getting quite late[z] and the servant[aa] said to his master, “Come on, let’s stop at[ab] this Jebusite city and spend the night in it.” 12 But his master said to him, “We should not stop at a foreign city where non-Israelites live.[ac] We will travel on to Gibeah.” 13 He said to his servant,[ad] “Come on, we will go into one of the other towns[ae] and spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah.” 14 So they traveled on,[af] and the sun went down when they were near Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin.[ag] 15 They stopped there and decided to spend the night[ah] in Gibeah. They came into the city and sat down in the town square, but no one invited them to spend the night.[ai]

16 But then an old man passed by, returning at the end of the day from his work in the field.[aj] The man was from the Ephraimite hill country; he was living temporarily in Gibeah. (The residents of the town were Benjaminites.)[ak] 17 When he looked up and saw the traveler[al] in the town square, the old man said, “Where are you heading? Where do you come from?” 18 The Levite[am] said to him, “We are traveling from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote region of the Ephraimite hill country. That’s where I’m from. I had business in Bethlehem in Judah, but now I’m heading home.[an] But no one has invited me into their home. 19 We have enough straw and grain for our donkeys, and there is enough food and wine for me, your female servant,[ao] and the young man who is with your servants.[ap] We lack nothing.” 20 The old man said, “Everything is just fine.[aq] I will take care of all your needs. But don’t spend the night in the town square.” 21 So he brought him to his house and fed the donkeys. They washed their feet and had a meal.[ar]

22 They were having a good time,[as] when suddenly[at] some men of the city, some good-for-nothings,[au] surrounded the house and kept beating[av] on the door. They said to the old man who owned the house, “Send out the man who came to visit you so we can take carnal knowledge of him.”[aw] 23 The man who owned the house went outside and said to them, “No, my brothers! Don’t do this wicked thing! After all, this man is a guest in my house. Don’t do such a disgraceful thing! 24 Here are my virgin daughter and my guest’s[ax] concubine. I will send them out and you can abuse them and do to them whatever you like.[ay] But don’t do such a disgraceful thing to this man!” 25 The men refused to listen to him, so the Levite[az] grabbed his concubine and made her go outside.[ba] They raped[bb] her and abused her all night long until morning. They let her go at dawn. 26 The woman arrived back at daybreak and was sprawled out on the doorstep of the house where her master[bc] was staying until it became light.[bd] 27 When her master[be] got up in the morning, opened the doors of the house, and went outside to start on his journey, there was the woman, his concubine, sprawled out on the doorstep of the house with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up, let’s leave.” But there was no response. He put her on the donkey and went home.[bf] 29 When he got home, he took a knife, grasped his concubine, and carved her up into twelve pieces.[bg] Then he sent the pieces throughout Israel.[bh] 30 Everyone who saw the sight[bi] said, “Nothing like this has happened or been witnessed during the entire time since[bj] the Israelites left the land of Egypt![bk] Take careful note of it! Discuss it and speak!”


  1. Judges 19:1 tn Heb “a man, a Levite.”
  2. Judges 19:1 sn See the note on the word “concubine” in 8:31.
  3. Judges 19:2 tn Heb “and his concubine.” The pronoun (“she”) has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  4. Judges 19:2 tn Or “was unfaithful to him.” Many have understood the Hebrew verb וַתִּזְנֶה (vattizneh) as being from זָנָה (zanah, “to be a prostitute”), but it may be derived from a root meaning “to be angry; to hate” attested in Akkadian (see HALOT 275 s.v. II זנה).
  5. Judges 19:2 tn Heb “went from him.”
  6. Judges 19:3 tn Heb “arose and came.”
  7. Judges 19:3 tn Heb “to speak to her heart to bring her back.”
  8. Judges 19:3 tn Or “young man.”
  9. Judges 19:3 tn Heb “he was happy to meet him.”
  10. Judges 19:5 tn Heb “and he arose to go.”
  11. Judges 19:5 tn Heb “Sustain your heart [with] a bit of food.”
  12. Judges 19:6 tn Heb “And they sat and ate, the two of them together, and they drank.”
  13. Judges 19:6 tn Heb “Be willing and spend the night so that your heart might be good.”
  14. Judges 19:7 tn Heb “and the man arose to go.”
  15. Judges 19:7 tn Heb “his father-in-law persuaded him and he again spent the night there.”
  16. Judges 19:8 tn Heb “Sustain your heart.” He is once more inviting him to stay for a meal.
  17. Judges 19:8 tn Heb “Wait until the declining of the day.”
  18. Judges 19:9 tn Heb “the man arose to go.”
  19. Judges 19:9 tn Or “young man.”
  20. Judges 19:9 tn Heb “the day is sinking to become evening.”
  21. Judges 19:9 tn Or “declining.”
  22. Judges 19:9 tn Heb “for your way and go to your tent.”
  23. Judges 19:10 tn Heb “and he arose and went.”
  24. Judges 19:10 tn Heb “to the front of.”
  25. Judges 19:10 tc Some ancient witnesses add “and his servant.”
  26. Judges 19:11 tn Heb “and the day was descending greatly.”
  27. Judges 19:11 tn Or “young man.”
  28. Judges 19:11 tn Heb “turn aside” (also in the following verse).
  29. Judges 19:12 tn Heb “[in] which not any of the sons of Israel [are] here.”
  30. Judges 19:13 tn Or “young man.”
  31. Judges 19:13 tn Heb “we will enter one of the places.”
  32. Judges 19:14 tn Heb “and they passed by and went.”
  33. Judges 19:14 tn Heb “which belongs to Benjamin.”
  34. Judges 19:15 tn Heb “they turned aside there to enter to spend the night.”
  35. Judges 19:15 tn Heb “and he entered and sat down, and there was no one receiving them into the house to spend the night.”
  36. Judges 19:16 tn Heb “And look, an old man was coming from his work, from the field in the evening.”
  37. Judges 19:16 tn Heb “And the men of the place were Benjaminites.”
  38. Judges 19:17 tn Heb “the man, the traveler.”
  39. Judges 19:18 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Levite) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  40. Judges 19:18 tn Heb “I went to Bethlehem in Judah, but [to] the house of the Lord I am going.” The Hebrew text has “house of the Lord,” which might refer to the shrine at Shiloh. The LXX reads “to my house.”
  41. Judges 19:19 tn By calling his concubine the old man’s “female servant,” the Levite emphasizes their dependence on him for shelter.
  42. Judges 19:19 tc Some Hebrew mss and ancient witnesses read the singular, “your servant,” which would refer to the Levite. If one retains the plural, then both the Levite and his wife are in view. In either case the pronominal suffix emphasizes their dependence on the old man for shelter.
  43. Judges 19:20 tn Heb “Peace to you.”
  44. Judges 19:21 tn Heb “ate and drank.”
  45. Judges 19:22 tn Heb “they were making their heart good.”
  46. Judges 19:22 tn Heb “and look.”
  47. Judges 19:22 tn Heb “the men of the city, men, the sons of wickedness.” The phrases are in apposition; the last phrase specifies what type of men they were. It is not certain if all the men of the city are in view, or just a group of troublemakers. In 20:5 the town leaders are implicated in the crime, suggesting that all the men of the city were involved. If so, the implication is that the entire male population of the town were good-for-nothings.
  48. Judges 19:22 tn The Hitpael verb form appears to have an iterative force here, indicating repeated action.
  49. Judges 19:22 tn Heb “know.” The expression יָדַע (yadaʿ) “to know” is a euphemism for sexual relations. Elsewhere NET employs the English euphemism “be intimate with” for this use of יָדַע (yadaʿ), but uses a different euphemism here because of the perverse overtones of force in this context. Their intent is to molest him, but their rhetoric tries to minimize their wickedness.
  50. Judges 19:24 tn Heb “his”; the referent (the visiting Levite) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  51. Judges 19:24 tn Heb “what is good in your eyes.”
  52. Judges 19:25 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Levite) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  53. Judges 19:25 tn Heb “and he caused [her] to go outside to them.”
  54. Judges 19:25 tn Heb “knew,” in the sexual sense.
  55. Judges 19:26 tn The Hebrew term here translated “master,” is plural. The plural indicates degree here and emphasizes the Levite’s absolute sovereignty over the woman.
  56. Judges 19:26 tn Heb “The woman came at the turning of the morning and fell at the door of the house of the man where her master was until the light.”
  57. Judges 19:27 tn The Hebrew term here translated “master,” is plural. The plural indicates degree here and emphasizes the Levite’s absolute sovereignty over the woman.
  58. Judges 19:28 tn Heb “And the man took her on the donkey and arose and went to his place.”
  59. Judges 19:29 tn Heb “he carved her up by her bones into twelve pieces.”
  60. Judges 19:29 tn Heb “and he sent her through all the territory of Israel.”
  61. Judges 19:30 tn The words “the sight” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
  62. Judges 19:30 tn Heb “from the day.”
  63. Judges 19:30 tc Codex Alexandrinus (A) of the (original) LXX has the following additional words: “And he instructed the men whom he sent out, ‘Thus you will say to every male Israelite: “There has never been anything like this from the day the Israelites left Egypt till the present day.”’”