And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah.
A. concubine — Heb. a wife, a concubine, that is, such a concubine as was also his wife: called a concubine, only because she was not endowed. Perhaps he had nothing to endow her with, being himself only a sojourner.
 And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father's house to Bethlehemjudah, and was there four whole months.
Against him — That is, against her faith given to him.
Went away — Either for fear of punishment; or, because her heart was alienated from him; wherein not only she sinned, but her father by connivance at her sin, and neglect of just endeavours for her reconciliation to her husband.
 And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him into her father's house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him.
Friendly — To offer her pardon and reconciliation.
 And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over to Gibeah.
A stranger — That is, of a strange nation: which the Canaanites possess; for though the city Jerusalem had been taken by Caleb, chap. 1:8, yet the strong fort of Zion was still in their hands, whence it is likely they did much molest, and afterwards by God's permission, drive out the Israelites who dwelt there.
 And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodging.
To lodge — Though they were soft and effeminate in other respects, yet they were hard-hearted to strangers, and at that time there were no public-houses in that country.
 And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites.
Ephraim — Whence also the Levite was, which enclined him to shew the more kindness to his country-man.
Benjamites — This was indeed one of the cities belonging to the priests; but the cities which were given to the priests, and whereof they were owners, were not inhabited by the priests or Levites only, especially at this time when they were but few in number, but by many other persons of different professions.
 And he said unto him, We are passing from Bethlehemjudah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehemjudah, but I am now going to the house of the LORD; and there is no man that receiveth me to house.
House of the Lord — Which was in Shiloh. Thither he went, either because he lived there, for that was in the tribe of Ephraim; or, rather, because he would there offer prayers and praises, and sacrifices to God, for his mercy in reconciling him and his wife.
 And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.
Let all, … — It matters not whether thou wantest nothing or everything, I will take care to supply all thy wants.
 So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.
Washed — As they used to do to travellers in those hot countries.
 Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.
Merry — That is, refreshing themselves with the provisions set before them.
Sons of belial — Children of the devil, wicked and licentious men.
 And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly.
Into my house — And therefore I am obliged to protect him by the laws of hospitality.
 Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man's house where her lord was, till it was light.
Fell down — Namely, dead; killed partly with grief of heart, and partly with excessive abuse. Thus the sin she formerly chose, verse 2, is now her destruction; and though her husband pardoned her, God would punish her, at least as to this life.
 And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.
Sent — By several messengers, with a relation of the fact.
 And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.
Speak — Let us meet together, and seriously consider, and every one freely speak what is to be done in this case.