For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough

19:1.  “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 Bethlehem-judah.”

There being no king in Israel declares that those days were simply the foreshadowing of this present age, when it is not only in the world, but also in the professing church, as though Christ weren’t Lord.  The events recorded in this chapter therefore are meant to teach us truth relative to these present evil days.

It is significant that the divine spotlight focuses again upon a Levite, for as noted already, the Levite represents believers, with special emphasis upon their work or service; but as in the previous chapter we were shown a Levite out of his proper place, and engaged in evil, so here also we find another disobedient Levite, his disobedience being revealed in his having taken a concubine, for this was going beyond what God had ordained for man, His appointment being one man and one woman joined together in marriage.  It seems therefore, that the lesson here has to do with going beyond what the Word of God authorizes, and certainly no one can deny that this is the very evil rampant both in the world and in the professing church today.  But it has to do also with the pursuit of ease and pleasure, with its resultant neglect of God’s work, and again, it can’t be denied that this too is characteristic of the professing church today.

Since Bethlehem-judah means house of bread and praise, and is a figure or type of the written Word, his taking her from that town confirms that the evil being portrayed in this chapter has to do with taking out of, or reading into Scripture what isn’t there.  The folly of this is declared in Re 22:18-19.

19:2.  “And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father’s house to Bethlehem-judah, and was there four whole months.”

The distress caused him by her evil conduct portrays the grief which attends every activity not authorized by Scripture; and her departure from him declares the transience of everything not founded on God’s Word.

“... unto her father’s house” also furnishes instruction, for the activity of that house reveals it to have been a place of indolence and revelry; and again, no spiritual mind will fail to note that this is exactly the character both of the world and of the professing church today.  We live in an age when men “are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Tim 3:4), with the result that the professing church lies in ruins for lack of those willing to give themselves to God’s work.  This is the consequence of the license resulting from refusal of Scriptural restraints.

That her father’s house was in Bethlehem-judah, which we have already seen to be a figure or type of the Word of God, reminds us that this evil is to be found, not only in Satan’s apostate counterfeit, but also in the true Church.

The “four whole months” of her sojourn there is rendered in some versions as “a year and four months,” but in either case the factor is four, the number of testing.  It was designed to reveal whether he would be content to live without this evil woman, but as the sequel discloses, he wasn’t.

19:3.  “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.”

As the disobedient Levite went after the harlot concubine, so does the professing church reach out to embrace the error of going beyond what God’s Word authorizes.  Nor is the true Church blameless in this regard.  She too displays an eagerness to go beyond the authority of Scripture, as is evidenced all too clearly in her widespread adoption of the world’s methods relative to both worship and service.  The forbidden wine, once tasted, exercises a fatal fascination that lures even true believers out of the path of obedience to the simple order laid down in Scripture.

“... having his servant with him.”  This nameless servant, like the one sent to find the bride for Isaac, appears to be a type of the Holy Spirit, a fact which reminds us that the lessons of this chapter are as much for the true Church as for her apostate counterpart.  The presence of the servant reminds us that the Holy Spirit, Who never ceases to dwell in the body of the believer even when that believer chooses to live in sin, is often the sorrowful witness of what grieves and quenches Him.

“... and a couple of asses.”  As noted already, the ass represents the body as the servant of the old nature.  The Levite’s having two asses, therefore, indicates that the second was intended for the use of the harlot concubine on her way back to his house.  The lesson couldn’t be clearer.  It is the old nature, not the new, that accommodates the evil activity associated with departure from the simple order laid down in Scripture.  And the two asses declare that I may yield my body not only to the gratification of my own fleshly lusts, but also to the promotion of evil doctrine and unscriptural order within the church.

“... and she brought him into her father’s house.”  As noted already, her father’s house appears to have been a place of ease and pleasure, so that the Levite’s being brought into that house is the symbolic declaration of the truth that he who goes beyond what is written in Scripture is likely to find himself in the same place spiritually.  That the church, genuine, as well as professing, is in that “house” today, and for the same reason (going beyond Scripture), is all too apparent, for no honest man will refuse to admit that for the most part, our churches are little more than religious social clubs.

Inasmuch as the harlot concubine herself is also a figure of the false church, her father is clearly a figure of Satan, the spiritual father of all apostasy.  His rejoicing therefore, at the coming of the Levite into his house, portrays the rejoicing of Satan over every activity of man beyond what is authorized in God’s Word.  The terrible condition of the church today (genuine and false alike), and for the same cause (going beyond God’s Word), brings immeasurable delight to Satan, and a corresponding measure of sorrow to God.

19:4.  “And his father in law, the damsel’s father, retained him; and he abode with him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there.”

“Retained” is from a root word meaning to fasten upon or seize - exactly what Satan does with all who place themselves in his power, as, for example, the believer who goes beyond what is written in Scripture.

Since three is the number of resurrection, the three days spent in that house remind us that believers (those who stand spiritually on resurrection ground) may be guilty of going beyond God’s Word to live in pleasure and ease instead of being about the Lord’s business.  His lodging and revelry there represent the Christian life wasted in ease and pleasure in the company of the unconverted.  How many Christians spend their lives in just such fashion! 

19:5.  And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he rose up to depart: and the damsel’s father said unto his son in law, Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way.”

Four is the Biblical number of testing, and the Levite’s intention to depart on the fourth day portrays the truth that there are some believers, tested by conscience and the Word of God, who become aware of their folly, and determine to extricate themselves from their bondage to ease and pleasure; but Satan doesn’t let his victims escape easily, a truth portrayed in the importunity of the Levite’s father-in-law, who thwarted the good intentions by urging just a little more indulgence.  So has Satan foiled many a good intention.  The warning of Pr 6:10 was never more needed than today, “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.”  Multitudes of true believers are impoverishing themselves for eternity by stifling the voice of conscience, and continuing to lie in beds of ease and pleasure, while precious time that others are using wisely, hurries by never to be recalled.

His “rising early in the morning” speaks of good intentions, for as has been noted in other studies, it is recorded of some of the worthies of faith that they rose up early in the morning to do God’s bidding, e.g., Abraham going to offer Isaac (Ge 22:3).  Someone, however, has commented aptly that the way to hell is paved with good intentions.  Good intentions not carried out are  worthless.

19:6.  “And they sat down, and did eat and drink both of them together: for the damsel’s father had said unto the man, Be content, I pray thee, and tarry all night, and let thine heart be merry.”

By just such persuasion to enjoy ease and pleasure has Satan enticed many a believer to fritter away a whole lifetime.  Every Biblical reference to literal night directs our attention to the spiritual darkness of the world during the absence of Him Who is the Light of the world.  Those who watch for their Lord’s return, spend that night sorrowing at the havoc being wrought by sin; but they weep in the assurance that “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Ps 30:5).  On that morning when darkness will be dispelled by the sudden appearance of Him Who is the bright and morning star (Re 22:16), their tears will be wiped away, and their labor rewarded.  Very different, however, will be the lot of those who have spent the night in revelry in the company of the unconverted.  Their laughter will give place to weeping as the light of that morning discloses the full extent of their folly.

19:7.  “And when the man rose up to depart, his father-in-law urged him: therefore he lodged there again.”

And so are the foolish enticed to spend in ease and pleasure time that ought to be invested for eternity in view of the judgment seat of Christ.

19:8.  “And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart: and the damsel’s father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee.  And they tarried until afternoon, and they did eat both of them.”

Five is the Biblical number of responsibility, and the determination of the Levite to depart that day declares the truth that there are some who, even though it may be late in life, do eventually discover their folly, and try to extricate themselves.

It is significant that it is recorded twice that “they did eat and drink,” but here it is said only that “they did eat.”  Drinking speaks of pleasure, while eating speaks of satisfaction, so that the absence of any reference to their drinking on that fifth day, may perhaps be the symbolic announcement of the truth that the pleasures of sin are of short duration.  But the fact that they ate declares the sad truth that the man who has spent the better part of his days finding his satisfaction in the things of earth, eventually loses the capacity to find satisfaction in things that are spiritual.  This is tragic, for all too quickly, earth’s ability to satisfy, like its ability to furnish pleasure, also fades away, leaving destitute those who have lived only for the things of earth rather than the things of heaven.

By afternoon the better part of the day was gone, and what disastrous consequences attended the wasting of the morning hours!  Only eternity will reveal how different the record of that day might have been had the Levite acted upon his good resolve, and left early in the morning.  How different the record of some of our lives would be had we also acted upon our good resolves!

19:9.  “And when the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father-in-law, the damsel’s father, said unto him, Behold, now the day draweth toward evening.  I pray you tarry all night: behold the day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and to morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go home.”

The departure of the Levite represents the departure of a believer from a place that he knows to be wrong; but it is ominously significant that he took with him the concubine, who as noted already, represents the evil of going beyond the authority of Scripture to indulge the lusts of the flesh.  Many a believer has been guilty of similar folly.  He has left an association that he has seen to be wrong, but has taken with him the very latitudinarianism that made it wrong, so that he takes with him that which will corrupt the new association.  It is that very spirit which has brought the world into the professing church, corrupting her.

We must note also, however, that his servant, type of the Holy Spirit, had been with him all the while, and now also goes with him.  We may quench and grieve the Holy Spirit, but once sealed as those who belong to God, that Holy Spirit never leaves us, even though often compelled by our folly to go with us into places and associations He must abhor.

It is also significant in connection with the words “that thou mayest go home,” that the literal rendering is “that thou mayest go to thy tent.”  The tent is the symbol of the pilgrim life, and in his father-in-law’s use of the term we see the subtlety of Satan.  Unable to detain the believer in the place of blatant error, he will pretend to send him back to a Scriptural pilgrim life, knowing full well that as long as the “concubine” also goes with him, there will be no pilgrim walk, the disobedience that goes beyond the authority of Scripture making such a life impossible.

19:10.  “But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him.”

The Levite finally broke free, but the terrible sequel raises the question as to whether he might just as well have remained eating and drinking in the house of his father-in-law.  There is a solemn lesson here relative to God’s time.  It isn’t just to the unconverted that the warning is sounded “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Co 6:2).”  It applies also to the believer.  As there is a point beyond which God’s Spirit will not strive with the sinner (Ge 6:3), so, it would appear, may there be also a point where He will cease to strive with the disobedient saint.  Note for example the reference to the homecall of the disobedient believers in 1 Co 6:30.  God’s Spirit very obviously had ceased to strive with them.  We should note also the case of the Israelites in Numbers 14.  Having refused to enter the land in God’s time, they were prevented from ever entering, in spite of their change of heart recorded in verse 40.

There is much in the narrative to indicate that the Levite whose life we are now considering, may well be a type of just such a believer; and the terrible events that followed his departure from the house of his father-in-law, should make us tremble to trifle with God’s time in any matter.

His journey brought him to “Jebus, which is Jerusalem,” the Canaanite name Jebus revealing that the city which Israel had once taken, had been repossessed by the enemy.  But Jerusalem speaks of the peace which God has made the portion of every obedient believer (Jerusalem means dual peace shall be taught: lay or set ye double peace, while Jebus means he will be trodden down).  Its having fallen again into the hands of the enemy, reminds us that when we, by disobedience, forfeit the peace which is the concomitant of obedience, Jerusalem will become Jebus: we will be trodden down by the circumstances we had lived above when we walked in obedience.

Having looked at the significance of the two asses in verse 3, it is necessary only to note here that they are said to be saddled, a condition we have already seen to represent the imposition of some measure of moral restraint upon the lusts of the flesh, and in perfect keeping with the spiritual picture presented by the Levite’s being on his way home.  Note that in verse 3 when he was departing, there is no mention of their being saddled, i.e., there was no rein on his lusts.   It is significant, however, that he had with him the harlot concubine.  There might be the curbing of lust in one direction, but free rein given it in another.  Similar inconsistency all too often marks our own lives.  When the divine standard is ignored every man sets his own, and does what is right in his own eyes.  It is as though there were no king in Israel.

Significantly there is no mention of the fact that his servant was also with him, though, of course, he was.  When the Holy Spirit is ignored, He might as well not be there at all.

19:11.  “And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.”

As noted already, that servant is a type of the Holy Spirit, and there is everything to indicate that the Levite would have done well to heed his advice, for certainly he could have fared no worse than he did in Gibeah.  Through the delinquency of Israel, Jerusalem may have lain under Jebusite control, but it was still the city of God.  His peace can still be enjoyed even in a world that lies under the control of Satan.  We ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit at our peril.

The fact that “the day was far spent” sounds the warning that for all of us the day of grace is also far spent.  There isn’t much time left to put into effect whatever good intentions we may have.

19:12.  “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.”

He was forgetting that the children of Israel had become almost totally apostate, a state that rendered them worse than those who had never pretended to be in a right relationship with God.  Pilate, for example, would have delivered the Lord, but it was Christ’s own brethren who would be satisfied with nothing less than His blood.

His refusal of his servant’s advice is the symbolic portrait of the disobedient believer’s rejection of the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  The results of his refusal ought to preserve us from similar folly relative to the Holy Spirit’s direction.

Gibeah means a hill, and in the symbolic language of Scripture a hill seems to represent a place of separation from, and above the world.  It may therefore represent the godly separation of obedience, or the evil separation of mere asceticism or pride, and having regard to the spiritual state of Israel in the days of the Judges, there can be no question that it is the latter that is represented here.

It is also significant that Gibeah was the city of Saul, the bitter adversary of David and a type of the coming evil beast ruler who will seek to destroy God’s people in the soon-coming Tribulation era.  Small wonder that such evil as we read of should be found in this particular city.

19:13.  “And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah.”

Ramah means the height, and, like Gibeah, may have two connotations: the good being that it represents the godly separation enjoyed by obedience; the bad being that it represents the separation impelled by asceticism or pride.   The deplorable state of Israel at the time, compels us to accept only the latter significance; and the Levite’s determination to lodge in Gibeah or Ramah, rather than in Jerusalem, reminds us that today there are multitudes of professing Christians who are equally willing to condemn the world, while approving a religious travesty that is even more abominable to God.

19:14.  “And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin.”

No spiritual mind will fail to read the significance of its being said that “the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah,” for the literal darkness is but a figure of the denser spiritual darkness that enveloped Gibeah, and which must therefore also cast its pall over all who would seek fellowship in such a place.  He who refuses the Holy Spirit’s guidance must of necessity walk in darkness; and as already noted, that is what is portrayed in the Levite’s having refused the advice of his servant.

Its being described as belonging to Benjamin has also its lesson, for Benjamin, meaning son of the right hand, is a figure of the Lord Himself, so that the city of Gibeah represents an assembly, but an assembly sunk to unbelievable depths, and standing as a warning to every reader, of the terrible depths to which the first step of disobedience may lead the child of God.  We have only to consider the awful consequences that followed David’s first look at Bathsheba.  How quickly he would have turned away his eyes had he known that that look would lead to adultery, and finally murder!

19:15.  “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.”

This refusal to extend the courtesy of common eastern hospitality, declared at the outset the degeneracy of the men of Gibeah, and proved to be an omen of worse to come, for the sin of omission was quickly followed by that of commission. 

The Lord’s own words come to mind, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn 13:35).  The failure of believers to exercise a mutual care, is but the precursor of worse evils to follow, for, as with the men of Gibeah, the sin of omission is all too quickly followed by that of commission. 

That the professing church is following the same path, is apparent to all but the spiritually blind.  Those, for example, willing to receive itinerant evangelists and teachers into their homes, as in former days, are becoming rare.  And the day when a visitor to an assembly was offered hospitality by several of the believers, has all but vanished.  But the evil hasn’t stopped there.  The sins of omission have been followed by those of commission.  The same believers who refuse to minister to others, also refuse to assume any responsibility in the assembly, or to attend the scheduled meetings, and instead devote their time, energy, and money to the pursuit of the world’s pleasures, and quickly end up with a life style that is no different from that of the worldling, so that the sin abounding in the world, abounds also in the  professing church.

19:16.  “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.”

The hospitable old man, an Ephraimite living in that wicked Benjamite city, represents the obedient minority found today dwelling in the midst of a largely apostate mass of mere professors.  It is a sad reflection on the majority of the young in the church today, that with very few exceptions (and we thank God for those exceptions), it is the elderly believers who hold the assembly together, and do what little work is done.  For the most part, it is the elderly who extend hospitality, not only to strangers, but to the other members of the assembly.  It is mostly the elderly who are faithful in attending the meetings of the assembly, visiting the sick, and seeking the lost and the backsliding, while the young prefer to pursue careers, keep up with the Joneses, and enjoy the pleasures of a world fast ripening for judgment.

The field is a picture of the world, so that the old man’s coming from his work in the field represents a faithful believer coming home at the end of a day of faithful service, a conclusion that appears to be confirmed by his being an Ephraimite, for as already noted, Ephraim speaks of fruitfulness.  His sojourning at Gibeah, which we have taken, in the present context, to represent the separation impelled by pride or asceticism, is the sad, but nonetheless true, announcement that many a faithful believer today has to sojourn in just such an assembly.

Since Benjamin means son of the right hand, its being said that the men of the place were Benjamites, is the symbolic declaration, that in spite of their terrible condition, they represent true believers, and show us therefore just how far a genuine believer can fall.

19:17.  “And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou?”

How much God would teach us in connection with the old man’s questions!  First, he had a concern for the stranger.  Do we have any concern for the “strangers” who cross our paths every day?  Does it matter to us that most of them are on their way to hell, and need to be warned, and pointed to the Savior?  How long is it since we asked someone, “Whither goest thou?”  The fate of men was of paramount concern to Christ, and should be also to us.

“And whence comest thou?”  Where a man is going is inseparably linked with where he is coming from, for the truth is that all of us come from Adam, in whom all die, and are therefore going to hell and the lake of fire.  But most men are unaware of either their origin or their end, and they need to be told.  That is the whole purpose of the Gospel.

The Levite, however, represents one already saved, but he was still in need of ministry, and so is every other believer.  Do we have any concern for our brethren, or are we indifferent to their needs?  The truth is that in many assemblies, Christians know very little about the needs of their brethren and sisters.  Some of them are in desperate need of our ministry.

19:18.  “And he said unto him, We are passing from Bethlehem-judah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehem-judah, but I am now going to the house of the Lord; and there is no man that receiveth me to house.”

In another context, this would have been good, for his going from the place that speaks of bread and praise, to the place that speaks of fruitfulness, is the spiritual ideal.  But as noted already, this present context is bad.  In an apostate Israel the place of bread and praise had degenerated into the place of mere worldly ease and pleasure.  There was neither food for the soul of man, nor praise for the heart of God.  So is it today in Christendom.  As for Ephraim, the fruitfulness was in evil, not good, and so also is it in the professing church today.

Whether he was going to the house of the Lord, as he claimed, is of little consequence, for such was the state of the people that the activity associated with that house had become an abomination to God, an empty ritual having taken the place of obedient worship.  And the fact that he had been left to spend the night in the street, is sufficient comment on the spiritual condition of the people.  The men of Gibeah stand indicted by their indifference, and so does many a believer, many an assembly today.

19:19.  “Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses: and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy servants: there is no want of anything.”

Since the ass represents the physical body, the straw and provender represent what is needful for the body; while the bread and wine (symbols of the Word: bread to nourish, wine to cheer) represent what is needful for the soul and spirit.  The sufficiency of both reminds us that no man will ever be impoverished by ministering to the needs of others, particularly to those who are of the household of faith, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Ga 6:10); the Lord’s assurance being, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward” (Mk 9:41), His further assurance being, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

19:20.  “And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.”

The old man displayed both love and wisdom.  He would gladly minister to this fellow Israelite, but by using his own supplies to do so would also lay up treasure for himself in heaven.  It is myopic economy that refuses to spend and be spent in ministering to others, the great folly of the professing church today being her refusal to minister either to saint or sinner out of the limitless store of the bread of life committed to her care by the Lord Who willingly gave Himself, and Who measures our love for Him by the love we have for those who are also His, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn 13:35).

His request that they not remain in the street may have been to remove from the men of Gibeah the reproach of having left the Levite to spend the night there; or it may well have been that his knowledge of those among whom he dwelt caused him to fear for the safety of the travellers.  Inasmuch as the street is a public place, it is symbolic of the sphere in which is displayed publicly what is in the heart.  Their having left the strangers there had already revealed the sin of omission on the part of the men of Gibeah; and in the darkness of night it was yet to be the stage upon which would be revealed their sins of commission.  As noted already, sins of omission are invariably followed by sins of commission.  This points up the need for elders to be watchful relative to attendance at the meetings of the assembly.  One of the first signs of departure is the absence of believers from the Lord’s table, and the prayer and Bible study meeting.

19:21.  “So he brought them into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.”

This is a picture of the fellowship believers may enjoy here on earth even though they may be comparative strangers.  Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the bond that unites the household of faith.  The provender for the asses speaks of ministry to bodily needs, while the foot-washing, and eating and drinking speak of spiritual ministry.  Both are needed, and here God would remind us that the opportunity to offer hospitality, affords also the occasion for spiritual ministry.

In the present context, however, that house is a picture, not as much of a local church during this present Church age, as of an assembly of believers in the coming Tribulation era.  The same principle of mutual care governs the assemblies of God’s people in every age.

19:22.  “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.”

The scene is a virtual duplicate of that recorded in Ge 19 on the occasion of the angels’ visit to Lot in Sodom, the context there leaving no doubt that the literal events recorded are foreshadowings of what will be just prior to the rapture of the Church, and in the following Tribulation age.  The parallel with the verses now being considered indicate that here too we are being shown in symbol what will mark the end of the Church age, and the whole of the Tribulation era.

One of the signs given by the Lord relative to the end of this age is recorded in Lk 17:28-29 “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot .... even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”  Rampant homosexuality marked the days of Lot, and the proliferation of that very evil in the world today, warns us that we are living in the very last days of the age.  The Lord’s return to rapture His Church could be today!  The spiritual significance of this section therefore will be intelligible only as these verses are viewed in that context, nor are the details difficult to interpret.  The city, specifically designated as being Benjamite, is a figure of the professedly Christian western world today, while the old man’s house is just as clearly a figure of a local church, but the presence of the harlot concubine within his house declares the sad truth that there is found in every local church much that is of the apostate travesty, Satan’s harlot counterfeit of the virgin bride of Christ.  In spite of their Christian claims, however, the true spiritual parentage of the professedly Christian western world is declared in that the men of Gibeah are called “sons of Belial.”  The Lord Himself declared the apostate Jews of His day to be of the same evil spiritual father, “Ye are of your father the devil” (Jn 8:44), nor can we miss the peculiar significance of His further words, “and the lusts of your father ye will do.”  That same indulgence of lust has made western society a cesspool of moral corruption, and an execration in the eyes of the nations.

Their encircling the house, and beating upon the door, have also their message for spiritual ears.  This speaks in unmistakable language of what is happening today.  The present threat to the church isn’t from the “heathen” nations.  It is apostate western society that is hammering at her door, and breaking down her walls!  And as it was the old man’s having received the disobedient Levite and his concubine into his house, that occasioned the assault, so has it been with the Church.  She too has received the disobedient, and the apostate, their reception being facilitated by her refusal to examine the spiritual credentials of those seeking fellowship.  But she has compounded her guilt, for in her quest for numbers under any conditions, she has actively solicited the fellowship of the unconverted, and welcomed them without any question as to their spiritual state.

(It is necessary to note that the old man did conduct an inquiry, verse 17.  In spite of godly vigilance on the part of elders, the disobedient and the unbeliever may find their way into an assembly, but that is a very different matter from the blatant disobedience that refuses to conduct an examination.  It is that refusal that is largely responsible for the present condition of the professing church).

Since, as noted already, the Levite is a figure of any believer, the demand of the homosexual mob, that he be brought out to them for the gratification of their lust, is the symbolic announcement of the fact that the world not only seeks to corrupt the Church by intrusion, but would corrupt also by dragging believers down to its own depraved level.

19:23.  “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.”

We have noted already that the old man represents not only the small believing minority within the apostate mass of the professing church, but also the believing minority in the Tribulation.  His attempt to dissuade the mob therefore, portrays the protest of faith against the madness of professing but unbelieving society that would drag believers down to its own bestial level.

19:24.  “Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.”

A man’s children represent the perpetuation of his life, daughters portraying submission; sons, activity of the will.  The old man’s offer to hand his daughter over to the mob, speaks symbolically of the willingness of faith to submit to any indignity for the sake of God’s honor, and the deliverance of others from the consequences of their sin.  Since virginity is figurative of moral purity, her being a virgin reminds us that the new nature, which is marked by submission to God’s will, is also morally pure, for it is the nature of Christ Himself.

The concubine, however, we have already seen to represent, not only the false church, but also the error that would go beyond God’s Word to justify the gratification of lust.  His willingness to hand her over also, is the symbolic declaration of the truth that true faith is also willing to give up everything that is dishonoring to God.

We have noted also that the Levite represents a genuine believer walking in disobedience, and gratifying the lusts of the flesh, and because he is a true child of God, the old man would do everything in his power to preserve him from harm.  This reminds us that each of us is his brother’s keeper, and we are to make every effort to seek the restoration of the erring, and to be equally diligent in seeking to preserve them from the consequences of their folly.

The old man’s viewing the intended rape of his guest as being even more heinous than that of his own daughter, and of the Levite’s concubine, is the OT portrayal of the truth that the Lord views what is done to His own as being done to Him.  His care for Israel is declared in the words of the prophet, “For he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his (God’s) eye” (Zec 2:8).  His care for us is no less, for in Mt 25:40 the assurance is given, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

19:25.  “But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.”

Significantly, it was the harlot concubine alone who was handed over to the mob.  She who had willingly played the harlot against her husband, was now compelled to fulfill that office, and it was to cost her her life.  The mills of God may grind slowly, but they grind surely.  Death was the sentence pronounced by God Himself against the woman who violated the marriage bond, Dt 22:22.

As noted already, however, this harlot concubine represents, not only the lusts of the flesh, but also the religious travesty which masquerades as the true Church, but which is described in Re 17:5 as “the mother of harlots,” and in verses 15 and 16 as “the whore.”  That same chapter, verse 16, describes her destruction in the coming Tribulation era, at the hands of the ten kingdom coalition which will be the Roman empire revived.   There can be little question that the fate of the harlot concubine here in Judges 19 is the OT foreshadowing of that coming event.

The refusal of the rabble to listen to the old man, is the symbolic declaration of the truth all too apparent even today: a world bent on the gratification of lust, will not listen to the voice of God’s representatives in the Gospel.

The fact that all of this occurred in the darkness of night, reminds us that a world preparing itself for judgment, gratifies its lust in the midst of spiritual darkness resulting from man’s refusal of the light of the knowledge of God, see Jn 3:19-21.  And as the light of morning brought an end to their evil activity, so will the return of Him Who is the Sun of righteousness (Mal 4:2), bring an end to the evil activity of a world upon which the judgment of God is ready even now to fall.

19:26.  “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.”

The dawn was just breaking, but it wasn’t yet light.  This is the symbolic portrait of the coming Tribulation age.  It too will be the dawn darkness preceding the full light of the millennial day.

As noted already, the old man’s house represents a company of believers, and it is significant that she who had been in that house briefly, but who had left it in the darkness of night, returned, but died outside the door.  She who had been so close to being wife to a Levite, died as a harlot concubine.  This continues to be the portrait of the great harlot travesty that masquerades today as the true church.  She too has sought to occupy the place that belongs only to the bride of Christ, but she will never be anything but a spiritual harlot concubine, to be ravished in the Tribulation by the Roman “beast,” dying as it were, at the very threshold of the door of heaven.

There can surely be no greater tragedy than for a man to die as an apostate, having known the truth, having been at the very door of heaven, and yet to perish. 

19:27.  “And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.”

Morning, time of light, speaks of spiritual enlightenment, so that the Levite’s rising by the light of morning, ought to convey some truth relative to the enlightenment, not only of believers during this present age, but also in the coming Tribulation.  But what was it in regard to which he had been enlightened?  Surely it was that Israelite Gibeah was no better than

Canaanite Jebus.  That same lesson is much needed today.  The religious separation prompted by pride or asceticism is no better than the undisguised sin of the unprofessing world, see comments on verse 13.

His opening the doors to go on his way, to leave that house in Gibeah, is the symbolic portrait of the awakening of an erring saint to the folly of disobedience, and of the beginning of his return to his God-appointed place.  And there was much to impel obedience.  The harlot with whom he had foolishly associated himself, lay dead outside the door, terrible reminder that sin brings death, that but for God’s protecting care, it could have been he who would have lain there dead.

“... and her hands upon the threshold.”  This confirms what we have taken to be the interpretation of verse 26: the tragedy of apostasy is that the apostate dies on the very threshold of heaven, for unlike the unenlightened, he has rejected revealed truth, refused given light.

There may be here also the symbolic revelation of yet another truth.  Inasmuch as the Levite, for all his error, represents a true believer, his leaving the old man’s house (which we have seen to represent a local church) “in the morning” may portray the rapture of the saints just before the Tribulation begins, for the Tribulation will be but the dawn preceding the full light of the millennial day.  The deadly internecine strife amongst the tribes of apostate Israel resulting from that night’s evil activity may very well be the foreshadowing of what will result from the terrible Tribulation age judgments.

19:28.  “And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going.  But none answered.  Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.”

The Levite’s callous indifference to her state is unbelievable, but is explained by the spiritual truth being conveyed, for it must not be forgotten that this Levite is the figure of an erring saint; and the harlot concubine, a figure, not only of the harlot church, but also of the lusts of the flesh.  The true believer may be enticed by fleshly lust, but in his heart he can have no love for the flesh and its lusts.  Her corpse carried on an ass is the symbolic declaration of the truth that even when lust itself is dead, it remains associated with these earthly bodies in the form of desires and imaginations which the body is no longer capable of gratifying.

His returning “unto his place” pictures the return of an erring believer to his proper place of obedience.

19:29.  “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.”

This was the gruesome, and dramatic, announcement of the consequences of sin, and it speaks of the attempt of a recovered saint to warn others of the folly of indulging the lusts of the flesh.  The knife represents the Word, and his using it reminds us that apart from the Word there can be no proper comprehension of the enormity of the folly that would gratify the lusts of the flesh.

The harlot concubine, as far as he was concerned, was dead, and out of his house; but significantly, a part of her body was now in every tribe in Israel: grim reminder that the same apostasy and fleshly lusts which she represents, were in the midst of God’s people - and with what awful consequences is revealed in the sequel.

Since twelve is the number of divine government on display, the twelve pieces scattered throughout Israel were the symbolic announcement that while all creation is under God’s government, His people are uniquely so.  Because they are His own, He will chastise them, but leave others to reap the consequences of their folly in eternity (He 12:5-13).  That truth is dramatically illustrated in the frightful slaughter that attended the ensuing internecine warfare. 

We will have missed much of the lesson, however, if we fail to remember, that as noted already, the spiritual state of the Levite was but typical of the state of the nation.  Note for example, that as he had formed an unauthorized alliance with the harlot concubine, so also had the men of Benjamin, during that dreadful night in Gibeah.  Such was the state of the nation at that time that the crime might have been perpetrated in any city in Israel.  This explains the terrible slaughter throughout Israel in the course of their conflict with Benjamin.  What Benjamin had done, the others were capable of doing, as God, Who discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart, knew all too well.

Its being emphasized that he “divided her, together with her bones,” is also significant, for the bones would remain long after the flesh had gone.  The lesson is easily read.  The bones in the present context, represent lust as an abiding thing, whereas the flesh represents the relatively short-lived ability of the body to gratify lust.

The lesson will still have been but partially learned, however, if we fail to see that as it was with Israel in the days of the Judges, so is it also with the professing church today.

And finally, there is every reason to believe that in those twelve body parts distributed throughout Israel, God is pointing symbolically to the fact that in the Tribulation era the world will learn that sin brings judgment, and that God is the Governor of His creation.

19:30.  “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.”

We should note that nothing like it had been seen in Israel since the day they left Egypt.  This leaves the subtle implication that such vileness might have been seen prior to their departure from Egypt, but inasmuch as the night of the Passover is a figure of the salvation of a sinner, the truth being taught is that the sinful activity of our unsaved days is to have no part in our lives as redeemed men and women.

The terrible truth, however, is that in spite of their pious exclamation, this awful crime had occurred in Israel.  It is the height of folly to believe that saints are incapable of committing the same sins as when they were sinners.  They are!  David stands as the dramatic contradiction of such complacency.  Israelites had committed this wickedness.  The flesh in the believer is the very same flesh that dwelt in him when he was an unbeliever.  It will produce the same evil deeds in the careless saint as in the sinner.

That Israel was blind to their true state, however, is declared in their pious words.  Similar blindness has fallen upon the professing church.

[Judges 20]



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough