New International Version - UK
19 The next morning the Israelites got up and pitched camp near Gibeah. 20 The Israelites went out to fight the Benjaminites and took up battle positions against them at Gibeah. 21 The Benjaminites came out of Gibeah and cut down twenty-two thousand Israelites 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 until evening, and they enquired of the Lord. They said, ‘Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjaminites, 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 Benjaminites came out from Gibeah to oppose them, they cut down another eighteen thousand Israelites, 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. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord. 27 And the Israelites enquired of the Lord. (In those days the ark of the covenant of God was there, 28 with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, ministering before it.) They asked, ‘Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjaminites, our fellow Israelites, or not?’
The Lord responded, ‘Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.’
29 Then Israel set an ambush around Gibeah. 30 They went up against the Benjaminites on the third day and took up positions against Gibeah as they had done before. 31 The Benjaminites came out to meet them and were drawn away 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 and the other to Gibeah. 32 While the Benjaminites were saying, ‘We are defeating them as before,’ 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 on the west[a] of Gibeah.[b] 34 Then ten thousand of Israel’s able young men made a frontal attack on Gibeah. The fighting was so heavy that the Benjaminites did not realise how near disaster was. 35 The Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel, and on that day the Israelites struck down 25,100 Benjaminites, all armed with swords. 36 Then the Benjaminites saw that they were beaten.
Now the men of Israel had given way before Benjamin, because they relied on the ambush 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. 38 The Israelites had arranged with the ambush that they should send up a great cloud of smoke from the city, 39 and then the Israelites would counterattack.
The Benjaminites had begun to inflict casualties on the Israelites (about thirty), and they said, ‘We are defeating them as in the first battle.’ 40 But when the column of smoke began to rise from the city, the Benjaminites turned and saw the whole city going up in smoke. 41 Then the Israelites counterattacked, and the Benjaminites were terrified, because they realised that disaster had come 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 Benjaminites, chased them and easily[c] overran them in the vicinity of Gibeah on the east. 44 Eighteen thousand Benjaminites fell, all of them valiant fighters. 45 As they turned and fled towards the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, the Israelites cut down five thousand men along the roads. They kept pressing after the Benjaminites as far as Gidom and struck down two thousand more.
46 On that day twenty-five thousand Benjaminite 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 for 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.
Wives for the Benjaminites
21 The men of Israel had taken an oath at Mizpah: ‘Not one of us will give his daughter in marriage to a Benjaminite.’
2 The people went to Bethel,[d] where they sat before God until evening, raising their voices and weeping bitterly. 3 ‘Lord, God of Israel,’ they cried, ‘why has this happened to Israel? Why should one tribe be missing from Israel today?’
4 Early the next day the people built an altar and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.
5 Then the Israelites asked, ‘Who from all the tribes of Israel has failed to assemble before the Lord?’ For they had taken a solemn oath that anyone who failed to assemble before the Lord at Mizpah was to be put to death.
6 Now the Israelites grieved for the tribe of Benjamin, their fellow Israelites. ‘Today one tribe is cut off from Israel,’ they said. 7 ‘How can we provide wives for those who are left, since we have taken an oath by the Lord not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?’