Sodom and Gomorrah Revisited
1 In those days Israel had no king. There was a Levitetn Heb “a man, a Levite.” living temporarily in the remote region of the Ephraimite hill country. He acquired a concubinesn See the note on the word “concubine” in 8:31. from Bethlehemmap For location see Map5-B1; Map7-E2; Map8-E2; Map10-B4. in Judah.
2 However, shetn Heb “and his concubine.” The pronoun (“she”) has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons. got angry at himtn 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). and went hometn Heb “went from him.” to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah. When she had been there four months,
3 her husband cametn Heb “arose and came.” after her, hoping he could convince her to return.tn Heb “to speak to her heart to bring her back.” He brought with him his servanttn Or “young man.” 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.tn Heb “he was happy to meet him.”
4 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.
5 On the fourth day they woke up early and the Levite got ready to leave.tn Heb “and he arose to go.” But the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Have a bite to eat for some energy,tn Heb “Sustain your heart [with] a bit of food.” then you can go.”
6 So the two of them sat down and had a meal together.tn Heb “And they sat and ate, the two of them together, and they drank.” Then the girl’s father said to the man, “Why not stay another night and have a good time!”tn Heb “Be willing and spend the night so that your heart might be good.”
7 When the man got ready to leave,tn Heb “and the man arose to go.” his father-in-law convinced him to stay another night.tn Heb “his father-in-law persuaded him and he again spent the night there.”
8 He woke up early in the morning on the fifth day so he could leave, but the girl’s father said, “Get some energy.tn Heb “Sustain your heart.” He is once more inviting him to stay for a meal. Wait until later in the day to leave!”tn Heb “Wait until the declining of the day.” So they ate a meal together.
9 When the man got ready to leavetn Heb “the man arose to go.” with his concubine and his servant,tn Or “young man.” his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Look! The day is almost over!tn Heb “the day is sinking to become evening.” Stay another night! Since the day is over,tn Or “declining.” stay another night here and have a good time. You can get up early tomorrow and start your trip home.”tn Heb “for your way and go to your tent.”
10 But the man did not want to stay another night. He lefttn Heb “and he arose and went.” and traveled as far astn Heb “to the front of.” Jebus (that is, Jerusalem).map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. He had with him a pair of saddled donkeys and his concubine.tc Some ancient witnesses add “and his servant.”
11 When they got near Jebus, it was getting quite latetn Heb “and the day was descending greatly.” and the servanttn Or “young man.” said to his master, “Come on, let’s stop attn Heb “turn aside” (also in the following verse). 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.tn Heb “who are not from the sons of Israel.” We will travel on to Gibeah.”
13 He said to his servant,tn Or “young man.” “Come on, we will go into one of the other townstn Heb “we will enter one of the places.” and spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah.”
14 So they traveled on,tn Heb “and they passed by and went.” and the sun went down when they were near Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin.tn Heb “which belongs to Benjamin.”
15 They stopped there and decided to spend the nighttn Heb “they turned aside there to enter to spend the night.” in Gibeah. They came into the city and sat down in the town square, but no one invited them to spend the night.tn Heb “and he entered and sat down, and there was no one receiving them into the house to spend the night.”
16 But then an old man passed by, returning at the end of the day from his work in the field.tn Heb “And look, an old man was coming from his work, from the field in the evening.” The man was from the Ephraimite hill country; he was living temporarily in Gibeah. (The residents of the town were Benjaminites.)tn Heb “And the men of the place were Benjaminites.”
17 When he looked up and saw the travelertn Heb “the man, the traveler.” in the town square, the old man said, “Where are you heading? Where do you come from?”
18 The Levitetn Heb “he”; the referent (the Levite) has been specified in the translation for clarity. said to him, “We are traveling from Bethlehemmap For location see Map5-B1; Map7-E2; Map8-E2; Map10-B4. 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.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.” 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,tn By calling his concubine the old man’s “female servant,” the Levite emphasizes their dependence on him for shelter. and the young man who is with your servants.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. We lack nothing.”
20 The old man said, “Everything is just fine!tn Heb “Peace to you.” 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.tn Heb “ate and drank.”
22 They were having a good time,tn Heb “they were making their heart good.” when suddenlytn Heb “and look.” some men of the city, some good-for-nothings,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. surrounded the house and kept beatingtn The Hitpael verb form appears to have an iterative force here, indicating repeated action. 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 have sex with him.”tn Heb “so we can know him.” On the surface one might think they simply wanted to meet the visitor and get to know him, but their hostile actions betray their double-talk. The old man, who has been living with them long enough to know what they are like, seems to have no doubts about the meaning of their words (see v. 23).
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’stn Heb “his”; the referent (the visiting Levite) has been specified in the translation for clarity. concubine. I will send them out and you can abuse them and do to them whatever you like.tn Heb “what is good in your eyes.” But don’t do such a disgraceful thing to this man!”
25 The men refused to listen to him, so the Levitetn Heb “he”; the referent (the Levite) has been specified in the translation for clarity. grabbed his concubine and made her go outside.tn Heb “and he caused [her] to go outside to them.” They rapedtn Heb “knew,” in the sexual sense. 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 mastertn The Hebrew term here translated “master,” is plural. The plural indicates degree here and emphasizes the Levite’s absolute sovereignty over the woman. was staying until it became light.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.”
27 When her mastertn The Hebrew term here translated “master,” is plural. The plural indicates degree here and emphasizes the Levite’s absolute sovereignty over the woman. 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.tn Heb “And the man took her on the donkey and arose and went to his place.”
29 When he got home, he took a knife, grabbed his concubine, and carved her up into twelve pieces.tn Heb “he carved her up by her bones into twelve pieces.” Then he sent the pieces throughout Israel.tn Heb “and he sent her through all the territory of Israel.”
30 Everyone who saw the sighttn The words “the sight” are supplied in the translation for clarification. said, “Nothing like this has happened or been witnessed during the entire time sincetn Heb “from the day.” the Israelites left the land of Egypt!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.”’” Take careful note of it! Discuss it and speak!”