Judges 20
International Standard Version Par ▾ 

The Israelis Attack the Tribe of Benjamin

1Then the entire Israeli nation—from Dan to Beer-sheba, including the territory of Gilead—came out for war. The army assembled as one united force to God at Mizpah. 2The officials of the entire nation, including every tribe of Israel, took their stand in the assembly of the people of God: 400,000 foot soldiers, all of thema expert swordsmen. 3While the descendants of Benjamin were learning that the Israelis had gone up to Mizpah, the Israelis asked, “Somebody tell us how this evil could happen?”

4So the descendant of Levi, the husband of the murdered woman, spoke up and replied, “I came to spend the night at Gibeah, which is part of Benjamin, along with my mistress. 5But the officials of Gibeah attacked me and surrounded the house because of me. They intended to kill me, but instead they tortured my mistress to death. 6So I grabbed my mistress, cut her in pieces, and sent her remainsb throughout the territory of Israel’s inheritance, because they’ve committed a vile, stupid outrage in Israel. 7So look, all you Israelis! Speak up and give us your advice!”

8Then the entire army stood up as a single unit and declared, “Nobody’s going back to his tent, and nobody’s going home! 9This is what we’ll do to Gibeah: we’re going to assemble an army by lottery. 10We’ll take ten men out of 100 from all of the tribes of Israel. We’ll appoint 100 out of 1,000 and 1,000 out of 10,000 to supply provisions for the army. And when we reach Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin, we’ll punish them for all of the stupid things that they’ve done in Israel.” 11That’s how the army of Israel came to be gathered together to attack the city, united as a single unit.

12The tribes of Israel sent men throughout the entire tribe of Benjamin to ask them, “What is this evil thing that has occurred among you? 13Now then, hand over the men—those ungodly men,c and we’ll execute them in order to remove this evil from Israel.”

But the descendants of Benjamin wouldn’t obey the request of their own relatives, the Israelis, 14so the descendants of Benjamin assembled from the cities of Gibeah to fight the Israelis in battle. 15The day of the battle,d the army from the descendants of Benjamin numbered 26,000 expert swordsmen from their cities, not including the inhabitants of Gibeah, who numbered 700 special forces soldiers. 16Out of all these soldiers, 700 of them were left-handed—and each one could sling a stone at a hair and never miss. 17But the Israeli army—not counting the tribe of Benjamin—numbered 400,000 expert swordsmen, all of them battle-hardened soldiers.e

Civil War Lays Waste to the Tribe of Benjamin

18The Israelis mounted up, traveled to Bethel, and asked God what to do.f They said, “Who is to lead us in our opening attack against the descendants of Benjamin?”

The LORD replied, “Judah is to open the attack.”

19So the Israelis got up in the morning, encamped near Gibeah, 20and the army of Israel went out to fight the tribe of Benjamin, assembling in battle array against them at Gibeah. 21The descendants of Benjamin came out of Gibeah, and 22,000 soldiers of Israel fell in battle that day.

22But the army—the men of Israel—encouraged themselves and arrayed for battle again the next day in the same place where they had gathered the day before. 23From thereg the Israelis went up and wept in the LORD’s presence until evening. Then they asked the LORD, “Should we attack the descendants ofh Benjamin again?”

The LORD replied, “Attack them.”i

24So the Israelis attacked the descendants of Benjamin for a second day, 25and the tribe of Benjamin went to war against them from Gibeah during that second day, and 18,000 soldiers from the Israelis—all of them expert swordsmen—fell to the ground. 26All the Israelis, including its army, went up from there to Bethel and wept, remaining there in the LORD’s presence, fasting throughout the day until dusk, when they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings in the LORD’s presence. 27The Israelis inquired of the LORD, since the Ark of the Covenant was therej at that time 28while Eleazar’s son Phinehas, a descendant of Aaron, served before it in those days. They asked, “Should we go out to war again against the descendants of our relative Benjamin, or shall we cease?”

And the LORD answered, “Go out, and tomorrow I will deliver them into your control.”

29So Israel set soldiers in ambush around Gibeah. 30The Israelis went out against the descendants of Benjamin on the third day, arraying themselves against Gibeah as they had done previously. 31They attacked the army and were drawn away from the city as they began to inflict casualties on the soldiers along the roads to Bethel and Gibeah, just as they had done the other times. About 30 soldiers from Israel fell in battle therek and in the fields.

32Then the descendants of Benjamin told themselves,l “They’re falling right in front of us, just like before!”

But the army of Israel told themselves, “Let’s draw them away by escaping to the highways from the city.” 33So the entire army of Israel moved from their location and arrayed themselves at Baal-tamer while that part of their army moved from their ambush positions from Maareh-geba. 34As 10,000 of Israel’s best soldiers came to fight Gibeah, the battle became fierce, but the army of Benjamin didn’t know that disaster was close at hand. 35The LORD struck Benjamin in the full view of Israel. As a result, the Israelis destroyed 25,100 soldiers of Benjamin that day, all expert swordsmen.

36Then the descendants of Benjamin realized that they had been defeated. The army of Israel pretended to retreat from the army of Benjamin, knowing that they had set some soldiers in ambush near Gibeah. 37The soldiers in ambush rushed out to attack Gibeah, deploying in forcem and executing the entire city with swords. 38Meanwhile, the army of Israel had arranged to signal their soldiers who had been hiding in ambush by sending up a cloud of smoke from the city. 39The army of Israel turned around in the battle, and the army of Benjamin began to attack and kill about 30 soldiers, thinking, “Now we’re really defeating them,n just like before.”

40But then the smoke began to rise from the city in a column. The army of Benjamin observed behind them that the whole city was going up in flameso straight into the sky! 41At that point, as the army of Israel turned back to face the army of Benjamin,p the army of Benjamin was filled with terror, because they realized that disaster was about to overtake them. 42So they turned tail and ran away from the army of Israel toward the wilderness, but they were overtaken in battle when soldiers came out from the cities to destroy them.q 43They surrounded the army of Benjamin, pursuing them ceaselessly until they defeated them near the east-facingr border of Gibeah. 44That’s how 18,000 men from the tribe of Benjamin fell in battle, all of whom were valiant soldiers. 45The rest of them turned and ran into the wilderness in the direction of the rock of Rimmon, but 5,000 of them were killed on the highways while 2,000 of them were overtaken and killed near Gidom.

46To sum up, the soldiers from the tribe of Benjamin who died that day totaled 25,000 men, all of them expert swordsmen and valiant soldiers. 47However, 600 soldiers ran into the wilderness in the direction of the rock of Rimmon, where they remained as fugitives for four months. 48Meanwhile, the army of Israel went back to fight the survivings descendants of Benjamin. They attacked the entire city with swords, including its cattle and everyone they could find. Then they set fire to all of the cities that they could find.

a 20:2 The Heb. lacks all of them
b 20:6 The Heb. lacks remains
c 20:13 Lit. men of Belial; i.e. men so wicked as to be worthy of death
d 20:15 The Heb. lacks of the battle
e 20:17 Lit. them men of war
f 20:18 The Heb. lacks what to do
g 20:23 Lit. Then
h 20:23 Lit. of my brother; the descendants of Benjamin personified as an individual
i 20:23 Lit. him; i.e. the descendants of Benjamin personified as an individual
j 20:27 The Heb. lacks there
k 20:31 The Heb. lacks fell in battle there
l 20:32 The Heb. lacks told themselves
m 20:37 The Heb. lacks in force
n 20:39 Lit. Now they are defeated in front of us
o 20:40 The Heb. lacks in flames
p 20:41 The Heb. lacks back to face the army of Benjamin
q 20:42 Lit. them among them
r 20:43 Lit. near the rising of the sun
s 20:48 The Heb. lacks surviving

The Holy Bible: International Standard Version® Release 2.1
Copyright © 1996-2012 The ISV Foundation

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