And when he was come into his house
Having taken the dead body of his wife from off the ass, and brought it in thither, and laid it in a proper place and order:
he took a knife;
a carving knife, such as food is cut with, as the word signifies; the Targum is, a sword:
and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her
bones, into twelve pieces;
cut off her limbs at the joints of her bones, and made twelve pieces of them, according to the number of the tribes of Israel:
and sent her into all the coasts of Israel;
that is, to every tribe, as Josephus says F25: there was now no supreme magistrate to apply unto for justice, nor the court of seventy elders, and therefore he took this strange and unheard of method to acquaint each of the tribes with the fact committed; this he did not out of disrespect to his wife, but to express the vehement passion he was in on account of her death, in the way it was, and to raise their indignation at the perpetrators of it. Ben Gersom thinks he did not send to the tribe of Benjamin, where the evil was done; but Abarbinel is of another mind, and as Levi was not a tribe that lay together in one part of the land, but was scattered in it, pieces might be sent to the two half tribes of Manasseh, as the one lay on the one side Jordan, and the other on the other, and so there were twelve for the twelve pieces to be sent unto. So Ptolemy king of Egypt killed his eldest son, and divided his members, and put them in a box, and sent them to his mother on his birthday F26. Chytraeus F1 writes, that about A. C. 140, a citizen of Vicentia, his daughter being ravished by the governor Carrarius, and cut to pieces, who had refused to send her to him, being sent back again, he put up the carcass in a vessel, and sent it to the senate of Venice, and invited them to punish the governor, and seize upon the city.
F25 Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 2. sect. 8.)
F26 Justia. e Trogo, l. 38. c. 8.
F1 Apud Quistorp. in loc.