Judges Chapter 20  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Commentary on Judg 20
War against Benjamin

1Then all the children of Israel went out and the congregation was assembled as one man, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, along with the land of Gilead, to Yahweh at Mizpah.
  2The “cornerstones” of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, 400,000 foot soldiers who drew sword.
  3(Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel had gone up to Mizpah). The children of Israel said, “Tell us, how did this evil happen?”

4The Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered, “I came to Gibeah that belongs to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to spend the night.
  5And the men of Gibeah rose against me and surrounded the house against me at night. They intended to kill me, and they abused my concubine so that she died.
  6So I took my concubine and cut her in pieces and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel, for they have committed lewdness and a disgraceful folly in Israel.
  7Behold, all of you, O children of Israel, give your advice and counsel here.”

8And all the people arose as one man, saying, “None of us will go to his tent, nor will any of us turn aside to his house.
  9But now this is the thing that we will do to Gibeah: go up against it by lot,
  10and we will take ten men of 100 throughout all the tribes of Israel, and 100 of 1,000, and 1,000 out of 10,000, to get food for the people so that they may make it ready for when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin in accordance with all the disgraceful folly that they have committed in Israel.”

11So all the men of Israel were gathered together against the city, united as one man.
  12And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What is this evil that has happened among you?
  13So now give over the men, the sons of Belial who are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and put away evil from Israel.” But Benjamin did not want to listen to the voice of their brothers the children of Israel.
  14And the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities to Gibeah to go out to battle against the children of Israel.
  15The children of Benjamin were numbered on that day out of the cities 26,000 men who drew the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah who were 700 chosen men.
  16Out of all these people there were 700 chosen men who were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

17And the men of Israel, apart from Benjamin, numbered 400,000 men who drew the sword; all these were men of war.
  18The children of Israel arose and went up to Bethel and inquired of God, and they said, “Who is to go up first for us to battle against the children of Benjamin?” And Yahweh said, “Judah first.”

19So the children of Israel rose up in the morning and encamped against Gibeah.
  20And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin, and the men of Israel set themselves in battle formations against them at Gibeah.
  21And the children of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and destroyed of the Israelites on that day 22,000 men; cut them down to the ground.
  22But the people, the men of Israel, encouraged themselves and set battle formations again in the place where they had set battle formations on the first day.
  23And the children of Israel went up and wept before Yahweh until evening, and they inquired of Yahweh, saying, “Should I again draw near to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother?” And Yahweh said, “Go up against him.”

24So the children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin on the second day.
  25And Benjamin went forth against them out of Gibeah on the second day and again destroyed down to the ground 18,000 men of the children of Israel. All these drew the sword.

26Then all the children of Israel and all the army went up and came to Bethel, and wept, and sat there before Yahweh, and fasted that day until evening, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before Yahweh.
  27And the children of Israel inquired of Yahweh (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days
  28and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days), saying, “Should I once again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or should I cease?” Yahweh said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will give him into your hand.”
  29So Israel set ambushes all around against Gibeah.
  30The children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day and set battle formations against Gibeah as at other times.
  31And the children of Benjamin went out against the people and were drawn away from the city and they began to strike and kill of the people, as at other times, on the highways (of which one goes up to Bethel, and the other to Gibeah in the open country), about 30 men of Israel.
  32And the children of Benjamin said, “They are struck down before us, as at the first!” But the children of Israel said, “Let’s flee and draw them away from the city to the highways.”
  33And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place and set up battle formation at Baal-tamar, and the ambushers of Israel broke forth out of their place, out of Maareh-geba.
  34And 10,000 chosen men out of all Israel came over against Gibeah, and the battle was severe, but the Benjamites did not know that evil was coming upon them.
  35Yahweh struck Benjamin before Israel, and the children of Israel destroyed of Benjamin that day 25,100; all these drew the sword.
  36So the children of Benjamin saw that they were struck. The men of Israel gave ground to Benjamin because they trusted the ambushers whom they had set against Gibeah.
  37The ambushers hurried and rushed on Gibeah, and the ambushers spread out and struck the whole city with the mouth of the sword.
  38Now the appointed sign between the men of Israel and the ambushers was to send up a great cloud of smoke from the city.
  39The men of Israel had turned back in the battle and Benjamin had begun to strike and kill of the men of Israel about 30 persons, for they said, “Surely they are defeated, yes, defeated before us, as in the first battle.”
  40But when the cloud began to arise up out of the city in a pillar of smoke, Benjamin looked behind him, and behold, the whole city was going up in smoke to the heavens!
  41Then the men of Israel turned around, and the men of Benjamin were dismayed because they saw that evil had come on them.
  42So they turned from before the men of Israel to the way of the wilderness, but the battle overtook them, and those who were from the cities they destroyed in each city.
  43They surrounded the Benjamites, chased them and trod them down from Nohah to a point opposite Gibeah, toward the sunrise.
  44There fell of Benjamin 18,000 men; all these were men of valor.
  45They turned and fled toward the wilderness to the Rock of Rimmon, and they gleaned of them 5,000 men on the highways, and overtook them and cut them down, and struck another 2,000 men of them.

46So that all who fell that day of Benjamin were 25,000 men who drew the sword; all these were men of valor.
  47But 600 men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the Rock of Rimmon and stayed at the Rock of Rimmon four months.
  48Then the men of Israel returned to the cities of children of Benjamin and struck them with the mouth of the sword, both the entire city and the livestock and all that they found; moreover, all the cities that they found they sent up in fire.

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