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The Levite and Woman Who Acted as His Wife

19 There was no king in Israel in those days. And there was a certain Levite staying in a far away part of the hill country of Ephraim. He took a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to act as his wife. But his woman was not faithful to him. She left him and went to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah. She stayed there four months. Then her husband got up and went after her. He was gentle in speaking to her, asking her to return with him. He brought his servant and two donkeys with him. So she brought him into her father’s house. When her father saw him, he was glad to meet him. His father-in-law, the girl’s father, made him stay. So he stayed with him three days. They ate and drank and stayed there. They got up early in the morning on the fourth day to get ready to go. The girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Eat a piece of bread to get your strength. Then you may go.” So both of them sat down and ate and drank together. The girl’s father said to the man, “I beg you, agree to stay the night. Let your heart be happy.” The man stood up to go. But his father-in-law begged him so that he stayed another night there. He got up to go early in the morning on the fifth day. But the girl’s father said, “I beg you, get your strength first. Wait until later in the day.” So both of them ate. Then the man stood up to leave with his woman and his servant. His father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Now see, the day is ending. I beg you, stay the night. See, the day is coming to an end. Stay here through the night so your heart may be happy. Get up early tomorrow to go on your way home.”

10 But the man would not stay the night. He stood up and left and came to a place beside Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). He had his woman with him and two donkeys to carry them both. 11 The day was almost gone when they were near Jebus. The servant said to his owner, “Come, let us go in and stay the night in this city of the Jebusites.” 12 But his owner said to him, “We will not go into the city of strangers who are not of the people of Israel. We will go as far as Gibeah.” 13 And he said to his servant, “Come, let us go to one of these places. We will stay the night in Gibeah or Ramah.” 14 So they passed Jebus and went on their way. The sun went down when they were near Gibeah, a city of Benjamin. 15 They turned to go in and stay at Gibeah. They went in and sat down outside in the center of the city. For no one took them into his house to stay the night.

16 In the evening an old man came out of the field from his work. He was from the hill country of Ephraim and was staying in Gibeah. But the men of the place were Benjamites. 17 The old man looked up and saw the traveler in the center of the city, and said, “Where are you going? Where do you come from?” 18 The Levite said to him, “We are traveling from Bethlehem in Judah to a far away part of the hill country of Ephraim. I am from there. I went to Bethlehem in Judah, but am now returning home. But no one will take me into his house. 19 We have food for our donkeys. And we have bread and wine for me, my woman, and the young man who is with your servants. We have all we need.” 20 The old man said, “Peace to you. Let me take care of all your needs. But do not stay the night in the street.” 21 So he took him into his house and gave food to the donkeys. The people washed their feet and ate and drank.

22 While they were having a happy time, certain sinful men of the city gathered around the house. They beat on the door and said to the old man, the owner of the house, “Bring out the man who came into your house so we can have sex with him.” 23 The man, the owner of the house, went out to them and said, “No, my brothers. I beg you not to be so sinful. This man has come into my house. Do not do this sinful thing. 24 Here is my daughter who has never had a man. And here is the woman who belongs to the man. Let me bring them out. Put them to shame. Do to them whatever you wish. But do not do such a sinful act against this man.” 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the Levite took hold of his woman and brought her out to them. The men had sex with her all night until morning. When the sun came up, they let her go. 26 The woman came early in the morning and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her owner was. She lay there until it was light.

27 Her owner got up in the morning and opened the doors of the house. He went out to go on his way and saw his woman lying at the door of the house. Her hands were on the step. 28 He said to her, “Get up. Let us be going.” But there was no answer. He put her body across the donkey and started on his way home. 29 When he went into his house, he took a knife. He took hold of his woman and cut her into twelve pieces, arm by arm, leg by leg. Then he sent her out through all the land of Israel. 30 All who saw it said, “Nothing like this has happened before. Nothing like this has been seen from the day when the people of Israel came from the land of Egypt until now. Think about it. Listen to what is said about it. And say what you think.”

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) 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, 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. 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.

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.” 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) And when the man got up to go, his father-in-law persuaded him, so he stayed there that night. 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.

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)


  1. Judges 19:18 Hebrew, Vulgate, Syriac and Targum; Septuagint going home

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