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2. We may observe, that idle, luxurious, careless people, are in a fair way to ruin. This was the case of the men of Laish : they dwelt at ease, had no business to mind : thus idleness begets vice. There was no magistrate to punish them, therefore these sinners grew impudent and bold, so that it was no wonder they were ruined. This is too just a description of many towns in this kingdom, where men live in idleness ; and magistrates, whose business it is to put sinners to shame, by bringing them to punishment, neglect their duty, and bear the sword in vain. How miserable are such places, and how near to ruin ! Every one therefore should endeavour to promote trade, and encourage diligence. All persons in private stations should labour to put vice out of countenance, and to keep up the reputation of virtue and religion ; they should be more attentive, in proportion to the degree in which magistrates are negligent ; and all should pray, that God would stir up those who have authority to use it for him ; to be a terror to evil doers, and a praise to them who do well.
3. Let us learn from the story of Micah, to judge what has the chief place in our hearts, what is the supreme object of our affection, by observing what we are most unwilling to part with ; what it is, the loss of which affects us most. If we lose our money, or health, or friends, or reputation, and act as if we had lost our all, and say, What have we more ? it is a sign we make those things idols, and set them up in the place of God. If our happiness be bound up in any creature comfort whatever, it usurps the regard we owe to him, and shows that we are real idolaters. An interest in God is our best treasure ; the loss of his favour is Qur greatest loss, and an irreparable damage ; Woe be to us if he depart, for what have we more ?
4. See how great a matter a little fire kindleth; what great mis. chief one tolerated sin may produce! Micah set up an idol to please his own vicious fancy, and a whole city, and probably all about it, were ensnared and corrupted by it, and the corruption con, tinued for many ages. Let us learn to be afraid of the least sin, for it will continually increase to more ungodliness ; the infection, phough small at first, will spread more and more ; the beginning of it is as when one letteth out water : let us therefore leave it off, before it be meddled with,
This and the two following chapters give us an account of the wick
edness of the Benjamites, and their punishment for it. The story in all respects is very melancholy. AND it came to pass in those days, when [there was]
1 no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite so• journing on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a
concubine out of Bethlehemjudah ; she was a lawful wife, 2 but had no dowry; he had no other. 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 3 months.* And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak
friendly unto her, (in the Hebrew, to her heart, [and] to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses; like an honest, worthy man, he had forgiven her offences, and went to fetch her home ; and he was received very gladly by her father: and she brought him into her father's house : and when
the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him. 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 5 lodged there. 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 ; he wished to detain him longer, that their mutual affection 6 might be strengthened. 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, 7 and let thine heart be merry. And when the man rose up to
depart, his father in law urged him : therefore he lodged 8 there again. 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, till the 9 day declined, and they did eat both of them. 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, (in the Hebrew, is weak,) I pray you, tarry all night : behold, the day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and
tomorrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go 10 home. 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, 11 his concubine also [was) with him. [And] when they (were]
* Our translation says, she played the whore ; the original word properly signifies, she was obstin ite and disobedient, she did not like his company, and went away from himin with ill humour.
by Jebus, the day was far spent ; and the servant said unto
his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in unto this city 12 of the Jebusites and lodge in it. 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 13 Gibeah. And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us
draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, 14 or in Ramah. And they passed on and went their way; and
the sun went down upon them (when they were) by Gibeah, 15 which [belongeth] to Benjamin. 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. Probably there was no public inn, and what was worse, there was no hospitality,
no common humanity, except in one poor old Ephraimite. 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] Benja27 mites. And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a way.
faring man in the street of the city : and the old man said, · Whither goest thou ? and whence comest thou ? the usual 18 questions put to travellers. 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, to Shiloh, to give God thanks for family mercies, and the return of my wife ; and to make atonement for her fault, and then return
home : and there [is] no man that receiyeth me to house, 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 20 is] no want of any thing but a lodging. And the old man
said, Peace [be] with thee ; howsoever [let] all thy wants
[lie] upon me ; only lodge not in the street; thou art welcome 21 to my house, and the best entertainment I have. So he brought
him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses : and they washed their feet, as was always customary in those hos
countries, and did eat and drink. 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
The lower part of the city was taken by Tudah; but Zion, or the Fort, was in the hands of the Jebusites till David's time; and they had such a command of the city, that the Israelites were forced to let them dwell with them, chap. i. 21. But this event might have happened before Judah had possession of it..
came into thine house, that we may know him. But he knew their wicked intentions and lewd manner ; probably it was a usual thing with them ; And therefore, the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, [nay,) I pray you, do not [se] wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly ; ex
postulating with them from the laws of hospitality, and the great24 ness of the sin ; and he adds, 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. This was quite an improper and unwarrantable offer ; but probably he
was in confusion and terror, and knew not or did not consider 25 what he said, like Lot in a similar case. But the men would
not hearken to him ; and, as we find in the next chapter, threatened to kill the Levite if he did not bring out his wife ; so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night unti)
the morning : and when the day began to spring, they let her 26 go, 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 ; those wretches had treated her so ill that she 27 died. 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 28 house, and her hands [were] upon the threshold. And, supo
posing her to be in a deep sleep, having come too late to be let in, 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 ; he returned home as fast
as he could, without going to Shiloh. 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 twelves pieces, and sent her into all the coast of Israel. There was no king in Israel to revenge such a erime, but the heads of the tribes met and consulted together on extraordinary occasions. In order to engage their help in this case, he sent a part of the dead body to every tribe, that the mournful story and the korrid spectacle might incense them against the authors of this execrable wickedness. 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.] It had the desired effect; they were highly incensed, and exhorted one another not to pass over such en horrid crime, but to consider how it ought to be punished.
1. TT becomes all men, and especially God's ministers, to be
I frugal of their time. This Levite, though well entertained, and upon a joyful occasion, wanted to be at home, and suffered greatly through the foolish importunity of his father in law. An honest man's heart is where his calling is ; and no one who has business to do, and understands the value of time, will trifle on a journey, and stay to oblige his friends, without necessity. The kindness of friends is very often a great injury, by obliging people to travel late, and thereby exposing them to danger, as well as wasting a great deal of time. It is good hearing when Levites are willing to make haste home to their proper business; and those friends do them harm who press them for frequent and long visits.
2. When we are in the most agreeable circumstances of life, we know not what evil may be before us, and therefore should never be secure. This Levite was pleased in having regained the affections of his wife ; she was pleased to return to him ; the father in law was pleased that the breach was made up ; and they were cheerful together in an hospitable house, when this calamity came upon them. ļf she was guilty of adultery, as our translation intimates, God was righteous in punishing her, though her husband had forgiven her. However, the story teaches us, that we know not what danger may be before us, nor how soon the end of our mirth may be heaviness. When we expect most comfort, God may be writing bitter things against us. Our creature comforts and enjoyments are all uncertain ; and there. fore we should be as though we possessed them not, and prepare for disappointments.. .,3. What horrible wickedness were these-Benjamites guilty of ! And it is matter of lamentation that such creatures should be found in Israel. They were undoubtedly acquainted with the fate of Sodom; nay, not many miles from them was that lake, where the city was buried : and yet so intolerably wicked were they, that the Levite had better have lodged among the Jebusites ; they could not þave used him worse. The first sign of their wickedness, was leaving a stranger, yea, a Levite, to lodge in the street. If the fear of God had been in any of their houses, his servants had not been excluded. But,' as Bp. Hall says,
the worst of pagans were saints to these Israelites. What avail. ed it to have Shiloh in their neighbourhood, and Sodom in their streets ? to have God's law in their hands, and upon their fringes, and the devil in their hearts ? Nothing but hell can yield a worse creature than a depraved Israelite.' See what wretched crea tures God's professing people are, when they are led away by fleshly lusts, and lose their purity and holiness. Let it teach us Vol. II.