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Judges 19-20 Expanded Bible (EXB)

A Levite and His Servant

19 At that time Israel did not have a king [17:6].

There was a Levite who lived in the ·faraway [remote] ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim. He had taken a ·slave woman [concubine; 8:31] from the city of Bethlehem in the land of Judah to live with him, but she ·was unfaithful to [or became angry with] him. She left him and went back to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah and stayed there for four months. Then her husband went to ·ask her [persuade her; L speak to her heart] to come back to him, taking with him his servant and two donkeys. When the Levite came to her father’s house, she invited him to come in, and her father was happy to ·see [welcome; meet] him. The father-in-law, the young woman’s father, ·asked [urged; persuaded] him to stay. So he stayed for three days and ate, drank, and slept there [C hospitality was (and is) a very high cultural value in the Middle East].

On the fourth day they got up early in the morning. The Levite was getting ready to leave, but the woman’s father said to his son-in-law, “·Refresh [Strengthen] yourself by eating something. Then go.” So the two men sat down to eat and drink together. After that, the father said to him, “Please stay tonight. Relax and enjoy yourself.” When the man got up to go, his father-in-law ·asked [urged; persuaded] him to stay. So he stayed again that night. On the fifth day the man got up early in the morning to leave. The woman’s father said, “·Refresh [Strengthen] yourself. Wait until this afternoon.” So the two men ate together.

When the Levite, his ·slave woman [concubine; v. 1], and his servant got up to leave, the father-in-law, the young woman’s father, said, “It’s almost night. The day is almost gone. Spend the night here and enjoy yourself. Tomorrow morning you can get up early and go home.” 10 But the Levite did not want to stay another night. So he took his two saddled donkeys and his ·slave woman [concubine] and ·traveled toward [L arose and went and came opposite] the city of Jebus (also called Jerusalem).

11 As the day was almost over, they came near Jebus. So the servant said to his master, “Let’s stop at this city of the Jebusites, and spend the night here.”

12 But his master said, “No. We won’t go inside a foreign city. Those people are not ·Israelites [L of the sons/T children of Israel]. We will go on to the city of Gibeah.” 13 He said, “Come on. Let’s try to make it to Gibeah or Ramah so we can spend the night in one of those cities.” 14 So they went on. The sun went down as they came near Gibeah, which belongs to the tribe of Benjamin. 15 They stopped there to spend the night. They came to the public square [C an open area inside the city gate, the hub for business, government, and social interaction] of the city and sat down, but no one invited them home to spend the night [C a mark of shame for the city, since hospitality was of great importance; contrast this with vv. 3–9].

16 Finally, in the evening an old man came in from his work in the fields. His home was in the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim, but now he was ·living [residing; staying] in Gibeah. (The people of Gibeah were from the tribe of Benjamin.) 17 He saw the traveler in the public square and asked, “Where are you going? Where did you come from?”

18 The Levite answered, “We are traveling from Bethlehem in Judah to my home in a remote area of the ·mountains [hill country] of Ephraim. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah, but now I am going to the ·Holy Tent [L House] of the Lord [C probably the shrine at Shiloh; 18:31; Josh. 18:1].[a] No one has invited me to stay in his house. 19 We already have straw and food for our donkeys and bread and wine for me, ·the young woman [L your maidservant], and my ·servant [L the young man with your servants; C politely referring to himself and his servants as the old man’s servants]. We don’t need anything.”

20 The old man said, “You are welcome to stay at my house. Let me give you anything you need, but don’t spend the night in the public square.” 21 So the old man took the Levite into his house, and he fed their donkeys. They washed their feet and had something to eat and drink.

22 While they were enjoying themselves, [L look; T behold] some ·wicked [worthless; troublemaking] men of the city surrounded the house and beat on the door. They shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house. We want to ·have sexual relations with [L know; C a euphemism for sex] him.” [C The Benjamites had become as evil as the men of Sodom; Gen. 19:1–11.]

23 The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my ·friends [brothers]. Don’t be so evil. This man is a guest in my house. Don’t do this ·terrible [outrageous; disgraceful; vile] thing! 24 Look, here are my ·daughter, who has never had sexual relations before [L virgin daughter], and the man’s ·slave woman [concubine; v. 1]. I will bring them out to you now. You can ·abuse [violate] them and do ·anything you want [L what is good in your eyes] with them, but don’t do such a ·terrible [outrageous; disgraceful; vile] thing to this man.”

25 But the men would not listen to him. So the Levite took his ·slave woman [concubine; v. 1] and sent her outside to them. They ·forced her to have sexual relations with them [raped her], and they abused her all night long. Then, at dawn, they let her go. 26 She came back to the house where her master was staying and fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.

27 In the morning when the Levite got up, he opened the door of the house and went outside to go on his way. But his slave woman was lying at the doorway of the house, with her hands on the ·doorsill [threshold]. 28 The Levite said to her, “Get up; let’s go.” But she did not answer. So he put her on his donkey and went home.

29 When the Levite got home, he took a knife and cut his ·slave woman [concubine; v. 1] into twelve parts, limb by limb. Then he sent a part to each area of Israel. 30 Everyone who saw this said, “Nothing like this has ever happened before, not since the ·people [L sons; T children] of Israel came out of Egypt. Think about it [Consider this; or Just imagine!]. Discuss it [Take counsel; or Make a plan]. Tell us what to do [or Speak out against this!].”

The War Between Israel and Benjamin

20 So all the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] from Dan to Beersheba [C from the farthest north to the farthest south], including the land of Gilead [C on the east side of the Jordan River], ·joined together [assembled] before the Lord in the city of Mizpah. The ·leaders [L cornerstones; Is. 19:13] of all the tribes of Israel took their places in the ·meeting [assembly] of the people of God. There were 400,000 soldiers ·with swords [L who drew the sword]. (The ·people [L sons; descendants] of Benjamin heard that the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] had gone up to Mizpah.) Then the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] said to the Levite, “Tell us how this evil thing happened.”

So the husband of the murdered woman answered, “My ·slave woman [concubine; 8:31] and I came to Gibeah in Benjamin to spend the night. During the night the ·men [leaders; lords] of Gibeah came after me. They surrounded the house and wanted to kill me. They ·forced my slave woman to have sexual relations [abused/raped my concubine] and she died. I took her and cut her into parts and sent ·one part [L her] to ·each area [every region of the inheritance] of Israel because the people of Benjamin did this ·wicked [lewd; abominable] and ·terrible [outrageous; shameful] thing in Israel. Now, all you ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel], speak up. What is your decision?”

Then all the people stood up at the same time, saying, “None of us will go ·home [L to his tent]. Not one of us will go back to his house! Now this is what we will do to Gibeah. We will ·throw lots [L go against it by lot]. 10 That way we will choose ten men from every hundred men from all the tribes of Israel, and we will choose a hundred men from every thousand, and a thousand men from every ten thousand. These will find ·supplies [provisions; food] for the army. Then the army will go to the city of Gibeah of Benjamin to ·repay [punish] them for the ·terrible [outrageous; shameful] thing they have done in Israel.” 11 So all the men of Israel were united and gathered against the city.

12 The tribes of Israel sent men throughout the tribe of Benjamin demanding, “What is this ·evil [wicked; terrible] thing ·some of your men have done [that has taken place among you]? 13 Hand over the ·wicked [worthless; troublemaking] men in Gibeah so that we can put them to death. We must ·remove [purge] this evil from Israel.”

But the ·Benjaminites [L sons of Benjamin] would not listen to their ·fellow Israelites [L brothers, the sons of Israel]. 14 The ·Benjaminites [L sons of Benjamin] left their own cities and met at Gibeah to fight the Israelites. 15 In only one day the ·Benjaminites [L sons of Benjamin] ·got [mobilized; mustered] 26,000 soldiers together who ·were trained with swords [L drew the sword]. They also had 700 ·chosen [elite; well-trained] men from Gibeah. 16 Among all these trained soldiers, seven hundred were left-handed [3:15], each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss [1 Sam. 17:49]!

17 The Israelites, except for the Benjaminites, gathered 400,000 ·soldiers with swords [men who drew the sword, all of them men of war].

18 The ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] went up to the ·city of Bethel [or house of God; C the meaning of the name “Bethel”] and asked God, “·Which tribe [L Who] shall be first to attack the Benjaminites?”

The Lord answered, “Judah shall go first.”

19 The next morning the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] got up and ·made a camp near [or encamped against] Gibeah. 20 The men of Israel went out to fight the Benjaminites and took their battle position at Gibeah. 21 Then the ·Benjaminites [L sons/descendants of Benjamin] came out of Gibeah and killed 22,000 Israelites during the battle that day. The ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] went before the Lord and cried until evening. They asked the Lord, “Shall we go to fight ·our relatives, the Benjaminites [L the sons of my brother Benjamin], again?”

The Lord answered, “Go up and fight them.” The men of Israel encouraged each other. So they took the same battle positions they had taken the first day.

24 The ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] ·came to fight [L drew near to] the ·Benjaminites [L sons/descendants of Benjamin] the second day. 25 The Benjaminites came out of Gibeah to attack the Israelites. This time, the Benjaminites killed 18,000 ·Israelites [L men of the sons/T children of Israel], all of whom ·carried swords [drew the sword].

26 Then all the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel], the whole army, went up to Bethel [v. 18]. There they sat down and cried to the Lord and fasted all day until evening. They also brought burnt offerings and ·fellowship [or peace] offerings to the Lord. 27 The ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] asked the Lord a question. (In those days the Ark of the ·Agreement with God [Covenant; Treaty] was there. 28 A priest named Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, served before ·the Ark of the Agreement [L it].) They asked, “Shall ·we [L I] go to fight ·our relatives [L my brother], the Benjaminites, again, or shall we stop fighting?”

The Lord answered, “Go, because tomorrow I will ·hand them over to you [give them into your hand].”

29 Then the Israelites set up ambushes all around Gibeah. 30 They went to fight against the Benjaminites at Gibeah on the third day, getting into position for battle as they had done before. 31 When the Benjaminites came out to fight them, the ·Israelites [L people] backed up and drew them away from the city. The ·Benjaminites [L sons/descendants of Benjamin] began to kill some of the ·Israelites [L people] as they had done before. About thirty Israelites were killed—some in the fields and some on the roads leading to Bethel and to Gibeah.

32 The ·Benjaminites [L sons/descendants of Benjamin] said, “We are winning as before!”

But the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] said, “Let’s ·run [retreat; flee]. Let’s ·trick them into going farther away [L draw/lure them away] from their city and onto the roads.”

33 All the Israelites moved from their places and got into battle positions at a place named Baal Tamar. Then the Israelites ·ran out [charged; jumped up] from their hiding places ·west of Gibeah [or from Maareh-geba]. 34 Ten thousand of the ·best trained [elite; chosen] soldiers from all of Israel attacked Gibeah. The battle was very hard. The Benjaminites did not know disaster was ·about to come to them [close at hand; L touching against them]. 35 The Lord ·used the Israelites to defeat the Benjaminites [L struck Benjamin in front of Israel]. On that day the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] killed 25,100 Benjaminites, ·all armed with swords [L who drew the sword]. 36 Then the ·Benjaminites [L sons/descendants of Benjamin] saw that they were defeated.

The Israelites had ·moved back [retreated] because they were depending on the ·surprise attack [ambush] they had set up near Gibeah [C verses 36b–45 now detail the account summarized in verses 29–36a)]. 37 The men in ·hiding [ambush] rushed into Gibeah, spread out, and killed everyone in the city with ·their swords [L the edge of the sword]. 38 Now the Israelites had set up a signal with the men in hiding. The men in the ·surprise attack [ambush] were to send up a cloud of smoke from the city. 39 Then the army of Israel ·turned around in the battle [counterattacked; C a similar strategy was used against Ai; Josh. 8].

The Benjaminites had killed about thirty Israelites. They were saying, “·We are winning [They are defeated], as in the first battle!” 40 But then a cloud of smoke began to rise from the city. The Benjaminites turned around and ·saw that [L look; T behold] the whole city was going up ·in smoke [L into the sky/heavens]. 41 Then the Israelites turned and began to fight. The Benjaminites were terrified because they knew that disaster was ·coming to them [close at hand; L touching against them]. 42 So the Benjaminites ran away from the Israelites toward the ·desert [wilderness], but ·they could not escape the battle [the battle pursued/overtook them]. And the Israelites who came out of the cities ·killed [struck; destroyed] them. 43 They surrounded the Benjaminites and chased them and ·caught [overtook; stomped on] them in the area east of ·Gibeah [or Geba]. 44 So 18,000 ·brave [valiant; capable] Benjaminite fighters were killed. 45 The Benjaminites ·ran [fled; retreated] toward the ·desert [wilderness] to the rock of Rimmon, but the Israelites ·killed [cut down; L gleaned] 5,000 Benjaminites along the roads. They chased them as far as Gidom and ·killed [struck down] 2,000 more Benjaminites there.

46 On that day 25,000 Benjaminites were killed, ·all of whom had fought bravely with swords [L valiant/capable men who drew the sword]. 47 But 600 Benjaminites ran to the rock of Rimmon in the ·desert [wilderness], where they stayed for four months. 48 Then the Israelites went back to the ·land [L sons] of Benjamin and killed the people in every city and also the animals and everything they could find. And they burned every city they ·found [came to].


  1. Judges 19:18 going to the Holy Tent of the Lord Some Greek copies read “going home.”
Expanded Bible (EXB)

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