The Holy See
           back          up     Help

New American Bible

2002 11 11
IntraText - Text
Previous - Next

Click here to show the links to concordance

Chapter 19


At that time, when there was no king in Israel, there was a Levite residing in remote parts of the mountain region of Ephraim who had taken for himself a concubine from Bethlehem of Judah.


His concubine was unfaithful to him and left him for her father's house in Bethlehem of Judah, where she stayed for some four months.


Her husband then set out with his servant and a pair of asses, and went after her to forgive her and take her back. She brought him into her father's house, and on seeing him, the girl's father joyfully made him welcome.


He was detained by the girl's father, and so he spent three days with this father-in-law of his, eating and drinking and passing the night there.


1 On the fourth day they rose early in the morning and he prepared to go. But the girl's father said to his son-in-law, "Fortify yourself with a little food; you can go later on."


So they stayed and the two men ate and drank together. Then the girl's father said to the husband, "Why not decide to spend the night here and enjoy yourself?"


The man still made a move to go, but when his father-in-law pressed him he went back and spent the night there.


On the fifth morning he rose early to depart, but the girl's father said, "Fortify yourself and tarry until the afternoon." When he and his father-in-law had eaten,


and the husband was ready to go with his concubine and servant, the girl's father said to him, "It is already growing dusk. 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."


The man, however, refused to stay another night; he and his concubine set out with a pair of saddled asses, and traveled till they came opposite Jebus, which is Jerusalem.


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."


But his master said to him, "We will not turn off to a city of foreigners, who are not Israelites, but will go on to Gibeah.


Come," he said to his servant, "let us make for some other place, either Gibeah or Ramah, to spend the night."


So they continued on their way till the sun set on them when they were abreast of Gibeah of Benjamin.


2 There they turned off to enter Gibeah for the night. The man waited in the public square of the city he had entered, but no one offered them the shelter of his home for the night.


In the evening, however, an old man came from his work in the field; he was from the mountain region of Ephraim, though he lived among the Benjaminite townspeople of Gibeah.


When he noticed the traveler in the public square of the city, the old man asked where he was going, and whence he had come.


He said to him, "We are traveling from Bethlehem of Judah far up into the mountain region of Ephraim, where I belong. I have been to Bethlehem of Judah and am now going back home; but no one has offered us the shelter of his house.


We have straw and fodder for our asses, and bread and wine for the woman and myself and for our servant; there is nothing else we need."


"You are welcome," the old man said to him, "but let me provide for all your needs, and do not spend the night in the public square."


So he led them to his house and provided fodder for the asses. Then they washed their feet, and ate and drank.


3 While they were enjoying themselves, the men of the city, who were corrupt, surrounded the house and beat on the door. They said to the old man whose house it was, "Bring out your guest, that we may abuse him."


The owner of the house went out to them and said, "No, my brothers; do not be so wicked. Since this man is my guest, do not commit this crime.


Rather let me bring out my maiden daughter or his concubine. Ravish them, or do whatever you want with them; but against the man you must not commit this wanton crime."


When the men would not listen to his host, the husband seized his concubine and thrust her outside to them. They had relations with her and abused her all night until the following dawn, when they let her go.


Then at daybreak the woman came and collapsed at the entrance of the house in which her husband was a guest, where she lay until the morning.


When her husband rose that day and opened the door of the house to start out again on his journey, there lay the woman, his concubine, at the entrance of the house with her hands on the threshold.


He said to her, "Come, let us go"; but there was no answer. So the man placed her on an ass and started out again for home.


4 On reaching home, he took a knife to the body of his concubine, cut her into twelve pieces, and sent them throughout the territory of Israel.


Everyone who saw this said, "Nothing like this has been done or seen from the day the Israelites came up from the land of Egypt to this day. Take note of it, and state what you propose to do."



1 [5-9] Such importuning of guests to prolong their stay at the home of their host is characteristic of Oriental hospitality.

2 [15] Private hospitality was the customary means of providing comfort to travelers where public facilities were so rare.

3 [22] Who were corrupt: literally "sons of Belial," indicating extreme perversion; cf Genesis 19:4-8. This crime and its punishment made the name Gibeah proverbial as a place of shameful wickedness; cf Hosea 9:9; 10:9.

4 [29] A drastic means for arousing the tribes to avenge the unheard of crime of the Benjaminites.

Previous - Next

Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana