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20 Then all the children of Israel went out and gathered together as one man from Dan to Bersabee, with the land of Galaad, to the Lord in Maspha:

And all the chiefs of the people, and all the tribes of Israel met together in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen fit for war.

(Nor were the children of Benjamin ignorant that the children of Israel were come up to Maspha.) And the Levite the husband of the woman that was killed, being asked, how so great a wickedness had been committed,

Answered: I came into Gabaa of Benjamin with my wife, and there I lodged:

And behold the men of that city in the night beset the house wherein I was, intending to kill me, and abused my wife with an incredible fury of lust, so that at last she died.

And I took her and cut her in pieces, and sent the, parts into all the borders of your possession: because there never was so heinous a crime, and so great an abomination committed in Israel.

You are all here, O children of Israel, determine what you ought to do.

And all the people standing, answered as by the voice of one man: We will not return to our tents, neither shall any one of us go into his own house:

But this we will do in common against Gabaa:

10 We will take ten men of a hundred out of all the tribes of Israel, and a hundred out of a thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to bring victuals for the army, that we might fight against Gabaa of Benjamin, and render to it for its wickedness, what it deserveth.

11 And all Israel were gathered together against the city, as one man, with one mind, and one counsel:

12 And they sent messengers to all the tribe of Benjamin to say to them: Why hath so great an abomination been found among you?

13 Deliver up the men of Gabaa, that have committed this heinous crime, that they may die, and the evil may be taken away out of Israel. But they would not hearken to the proposition of their brethren the children of Israel:

14 But out of all the cities which were of their lot, they gathered themselves together into Gabaa, to aid them, and to fight against the whole people of Israel.

15 And there were found of Benjamin five and twenty thousand men that drew the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gabaa,

16 Who were seven hundred most valiant men, fighting with the left hand as well as with the right: and slinging stones so sure that they could hit even a hair, and not miss by the stone's going on either side.

17 Of the men of Israel also, beside the children of Benjamin, were found four hundred thousand that drew swords, and were prepared to fight.

18 And they arose and came to the house of God, that is, to Silo: and they consulted God, and said: Who shall be in our army the first to go to the battle against the children of Benjamin? And the Lord answered them: Let Juda be your leader.

19 And forthwith the children of Israel rising in the morning, camped by Gabaa:

20 And going out from thence to fight against Benjamin, began to assault the city.

21 And the children of Benjamin coming out of Gabaa, slew of the children of Israel that day two and twenty thousand men.

22 Again Israel trusting in their strength and their number, set their army in array in the same place, where they had fought before:

23 Yet so that they first went up and wept before the Lord until night: and consulted him, and said: Shall I go out any more to fight against the children of Benjamin my brethren, or not? And he answered them: Go up against them, and join battle.

24 And when the children of Israel went out the next day to fight against the children of Benjamin,

25 The children of Benjamin sallied forth out of the gates of Gabaa: and meeting them made so great a slaughter of them, as to kill eighteen thousand men that drew the sword.

26 Wherefore all the children of Israel came to the house of God, and sat and wept before the Lord: and they fasted that day till the evening, and offered to him holocausts, and victims of peace offerings,

27 And inquired of him concerning their state. At that time the ark of the covenant of the Lord was there,

28 And Phinees the son of Eleazar the son of Aaron was over the house. So they consulted the Lord and said: Shall we go out any more to fight against the children of Benjamin our brethren, or shall we cease? And the Lord said to them: Go up, for to morrow I will deliver them into your hands.

29 And the children of Israel set ambushes round about the city of Gabaa:

30 And they drew up their army against Benjamin the third time, as they had done the first and second.

31 And the children of Benjamin boldly issued out of the city, and seeing their enemies flee, pursued them a long way, so as to wound and kill some of them, as they had done the first and second day, whilst they fled by two highways, whereof one goeth up to Bethel, and the other to Gabaa, and they slew about thirty men:

32 For they thought to cut them off, as they did before. But they artfully feigning a flight, designed to draw them away from the city, and by their seeming to flee to bring them to the highways aforesaid.

33 Then all the children of Israel rising up out of the places where they were, set their army in battle array, in the place which is called Baalthamar. The ambushes also which were about the city, began by little and little to come forth,

34 And to march from the west side of the city. And other ten thousand men chosen out of all Israel attacked the inhabitants of the city. And the battle grew hot against the children of Benjamin: and they understood not that present death threatened them on every side.

35 And the Lord defeated them before the children of Israel, and they slew of them in that day five and twenty thousand, and one hundred, all fighting men and that drew the sword.

36 But the children of Benjamin when they saw themselves to be too weak, began to flee. Which the children of Israel seeing, gave them place to flee, that they might come to the ambushes that were prepared, which they had set near the city.

37 And they that were in ambush arose on a sudden out of their coverts, and whilst Benjamin turned their backs to the slayers, went into the city, and smote it with the edge of the sword.

38 Now the children of Israel had given a sign to them, whom they had laid in ambushes, that after they had taken the city, they should make a fire: that by the smoke rising on high, they might shew that the city was taken.

39 And when the children of Israel saw this in the battle (for the children of Benjamin thought they fled and pursued them vigorously, killing thirty men of their army)

40 And perceived as it were a pillar of smoke rise up from the city; and Benjamin looking back, saw that the city was taken, and that the flames ascended on high:

41 They that before had made as if they fled, turning their faces stood bravely against them; which the children of Benjamin seeing, turned their backs,

42 And began to go towards the way of the desert, the enemy pursuing them thither also. And they that fired the city came also out to meet them.

43 And so it was, that they were slain on both sides by the enemies, and there was no rest of their men dying. They fell and were beaten down on the east side of the city Gabaa.

44 And they that were slain in the same place were eighteen thousand men, all most valiant soldiers.

45 And when they that remained of Benjamin saw this, they fled into the wilderness and made towards the rock that is called Remmon. In that flight, also as they were straggling and going different ways, they slew of them five thousand men. And as they went farther, they still pursued them, and slew also other two thousand.

46 And so it came to pass, that all that were slain of Benjamin in divers places, were five and twenty thousand fighting men, most valiant for war.

47 And there remained of all the number of Benjamin only six hundred men that were able to escape, and flee to the wilderness: and they abode in the rock Remmon four months.

48 But the children of Israel returning, put all the remains of the city to the sword, both men and beasts, and all the cities and villages of Benjamin were consumed with devouring flames.

The Israelites Punish the Benjamites

20 Then all Israel(A) from Dan to Beersheba(B) and from the land of Gilead came together as one(C) and assembled(D) before the Lord in Mizpah.(E) The leaders of all the people of the tribes of Israel took their places in the assembly of God’s people, four hundred thousand men(F) armed with swords. (The Benjamites heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah.) Then the Israelites said, “Tell us how this awful thing happened.”

So the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, said, “I and my concubine came to Gibeah(G) in Benjamin to spend the night.(H) During the night the men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me.(I) They raped my concubine, and she died.(J) I took my concubine, cut her into pieces and sent one piece to each region of Israel’s inheritance,(K) because they committed this lewd and outrageous act(L) in Israel. Now, all you Israelites, speak up and tell me what you have decided to do.(M)

All the men rose up together as one, saying, “None of us will go home. No, not one of us will return to his house. But now this is what we’ll do to Gibeah: We’ll go up against it in the order decided by casting lots.(N) 10 We’ll take ten men out of every hundred from all the tribes of Israel, and a hundred from a thousand, and a thousand from ten thousand, to get provisions for the army. Then, when the army arrives at Gibeah[a] in Benjamin, it can give them what they deserve for this outrageous act done in Israel.” 11 So all the Israelites got together and united as one against the city.(O)

12 The tribes of Israel sent messengers throughout the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What about this awful crime that was committed among you?(P) 13 Now turn those wicked men(Q) of Gibeah over to us so that we may put them to death and purge the evil from Israel.(R)

But the Benjamites would not listen to their fellow Israelites. 14 From their towns they came together at Gibeah to fight against the Israelites. 15 At once the Benjamites mobilized twenty-six thousand swordsmen from their towns, in addition to seven hundred able young men from those living in Gibeah. 16 Among all these soldiers there were seven hundred select troops who were left-handed,(S) each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

17 Israel, apart from Benjamin, mustered four hundred thousand swordsmen, all of them fit for battle.

18 The Israelites went up to Bethel[b](T) and inquired of God.(U) They said, “Who of us is to go up first(V) to fight(W) against the Benjamites?”

The Lord replied, “Judah(X) shall go first.”

19 The next morning the Israelites got up and pitched camp near Gibeah. 20 The Israelites went out to fight the Benjamites and took up battle positions against them at Gibeah. 21 The Benjamites came out of Gibeah and cut down twenty-two thousand Israelites(Y) on the battlefield that day. 22 But the Israelites encouraged one another and again took up their positions where they had stationed themselves the first day. 23 The Israelites went up and wept before the Lord(Z) until evening,(AA) and they inquired of the Lord.(AB) They said, “Shall we go up again to fight(AC) against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites?”

The Lord answered, “Go up against them.”

24 Then the Israelites drew near to Benjamin the second day. 25 This time, when the Benjamites came out from Gibeah to oppose them, they cut down another eighteen thousand Israelites,(AD) all of them armed with swords.

26 Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the Lord.(AE) They fasted(AF) that day until evening and presented burnt offerings(AG) and fellowship offerings(AH) to the Lord.(AI) 27 And the Israelites inquired of the Lord.(AJ) (In those days the ark of the covenant of God(AK) was there, 28 with Phinehas son of Eleazar,(AL) the son of Aaron, ministering before it.)(AM) They asked, “Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites, or not?”

The Lord responded, “Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.(AN)

29 Then Israel set an ambush(AO) around Gibeah. 30 They went up against the Benjamites on the third day and took up positions against Gibeah as they had done before. 31 The Benjamites came out to meet them and were drawn away(AP) from the city. They began to inflict casualties on the Israelites as before, so that about thirty men fell in the open field and on the roads—the one leading to Bethel(AQ) and the other to Gibeah. 32 While the Benjamites were saying, “We are defeating them as before,”(AR) the Israelites were saying, “Let’s retreat and draw them away from the city to the roads.”

33 All the men of Israel moved from their places and took up positions at Baal Tamar, and the Israelite ambush charged out of its place(AS) on the west[c] of Gibeah.[d] 34 Then ten thousand of Israel’s able young men made a frontal attack on Gibeah. The fighting was so heavy that the Benjamites did not realize(AT) how near disaster was.(AU) 35 The Lord defeated Benjamin(AV) before Israel, and on that day the Israelites struck down 25,100 Benjamites, all armed with swords. 36 Then the Benjamites saw that they were beaten.

Now the men of Israel had given way(AW) before Benjamin, because they relied on the ambush(AX) they had set near Gibeah. 37 Those who had been in ambush made a sudden dash into Gibeah, spread out and put the whole city to the sword.(AY) 38 The Israelites had arranged with the ambush that they should send up a great cloud of smoke(AZ) from the city,(BA) 39 and then the Israelites would counterattack.

The Benjamites had begun to inflict casualties on the Israelites (about thirty), and they said, “We are defeating them as in the first battle.”(BB) 40 But when the column of smoke began to rise from the city, the Benjamites turned and saw the whole city going up in smoke.(BC) 41 Then the Israelites counterattacked,(BD) and the Benjamites were terrified, because they realized that disaster had come(BE) on them. 42 So they fled before the Israelites in the direction of the wilderness, but they could not escape the battle. And the Israelites who came out of the towns cut them down there. 43 They surrounded the Benjamites, chased them and easily[e] overran them in the vicinity of Gibeah on the east. 44 Eighteen thousand Benjamites fell, all of them valiant fighters.(BF) 45 As they turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon,(BG) the Israelites cut down five thousand men along the roads. They kept pressing after the Benjamites as far as Gidom and struck down two thousand more.

46 On that day twenty-five thousand Benjamite(BH) swordsmen fell, all of them valiant fighters. 47 But six hundred of them turned and fled into the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, where they stayed four months. 48 The men of Israel went back to Benjamin and put all the towns to the sword, including the animals and everything else they found. All the towns they came across they set on fire.(BI)

Footnotes

  1. Judges 20:10 One Hebrew manuscript; most Hebrew manuscripts Geba, a variant of Gibeah
  2. Judges 20:18 Or to the house of God; also in verse 26
  3. Judges 20:33 Some Septuagint manuscripts and Vulgate; the meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
  4. Judges 20:33 Hebrew Geba, a variant of Gibeah
  5. Judges 20:43 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.

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