don’t spend the night in the square
Judges 19:1-21 (JDV)
Judges 19:1 In those days, and without a king in Israel, a Levite happened to be staying in a remote part of the hill country of Ephraim. He acquired a woman from Bethlehem in Judah as his concubine.
Judges 19:2 But she was was repulsed at him and left him for her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah. She was there for four months.
Judges 19:3 Then her husband got up and followed her to persuade her to come back. He had his servant with him and a pair of donkeys. So she brought him to her father’s house, and when the girl’s father saw him, he gladly welcomed him.
Judges 19:4 His father-in-law, the girl’s father, detained him, and he stayed with him for three days. They ate, drank, and spent the nights there.
Judges 19:5 On the fourth day, they got up early in the morning and prepared to go, but the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Have something to eat to keep up your strength and then you can go.”
Judges 19:6 So they sat down and the two of them ate and drank together. Then the girl’s father said to the man, “Please agree to stay overnight and enjoy yourself.”
Judges 19:7 The man got up to go, but his father-in-law persuaded him, so he stayed and spent another night there.
Judges 19:8 He got up early in the morning of the fifth day to leave, but the girl’s father said to him, “Please keep up your strength.” So they waited until late afternoon and the two of them ate.
Judges 19:9 The man got up to go with his concubine and his servant, when his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Notice, night is coming. Please spend the night. See, the day is almost over. Spend the night here, enjoy yourself, then you can get up early tomorrow for your journey and go home.”
Judges 19:10 But the man was unwilling to spend the night. He got up, departed, and arrived opposite Jebus (also known as Jerusalem). The man had his two saddled donkeys and his concubine with him.
Judges 19:11 When they were near Jebus and the day was almost gone, the servant said to his master, “Please, why not let us stop at this Jebusite city and spend the night here?”
Judges 19:12 But his master told him, “We should not stop at a foreign city where there are no Israelites. Let’s move on to Gibeah.”
Judges 19:13 “Come on,” he said, “let’s try to reach one of these places and spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah.”
Judges 19:14 So they continued on their journey, and the sun set as they neared Gibeah in Benjamin.
Judges 19:15 They stopped to go in and spend the night in Gibeah. The Levite went in and sat down in the city square, but no one took them into their home to spend the night.
Judges 19:16 In the evening, notice an old man came in from his work in the field. He was from the hill country of Ephraim, but he was residing in Gibeah where the people were Benjaminites.
Judges 19:17 When he looked up and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, “Where are you going, and where do you come from?”
Judges 19:18 He answered him, “We’re traveling from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote hill country of Ephraim, where I am from. I went to Bethlehem in Judah, and now I’m going to the house of Yahveh. No one has taken me into his home,
Judges 19:19 although there’s straw and feed for the donkeys, and I have bread and wine for me, my concubine, and the servant with us. There is nothing we lack.”
Judges 19:20 “Welcome!” said the old man. “I’ll take care of everything you need. Only don’t spend the night in the square.”
Judges 19:21 So he brought him to his house and fed the donkeys. Then they washed their feet and ate and drank.
don’t spend the night in the square
It is ironic that the Levite travelled further so that he could get to Gibeah — thinking that it would be safer than Jerusalem. When he got there, the local man urged him not to spend the night camping in the city square. He knew the depravity of Gibeah’s citizens.
Are we safe for strangers, or is that just a false assumption? Are we liable to bless the stranger, as the Good Samaritan did in Christ’s parable? Or would we more than likely take advantage of an immigrant passing through our town?