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A Battle Between Israel and Benjamin

20 Then all the sons of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead, came out, and the congregation assembled as one man to Yahweh at (A)Mizpah. And the [a]chiefs of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, took their stand in the assembly of the people of God, 400,000 foot [b]soldiers (B)who draw the sword. (Then the sons of Benjamin heard that the sons of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) And the sons of Israel said, “Tell us, how did this evil take place?” So the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, “I came with my concubine to spend the night at Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. Then the (C)men of Gibeah rose up against me and surrounded the house at night because of me. They intended to kill me; instead, they (D)violated my concubine, and she died. And I (E)seized my concubine and cut her in pieces and sent her throughout the land of Israel’s inheritance; for (F)they have committed a lewd and disgraceful act in Israel. Behold, all you sons of Israel, (G)give your advice and counsel here.”

Then all the people arose as one man, saying, “Not one of us will go to his tent, nor will any of us turn aside to his house. But now this is the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up against it by lot. 10 And we will take 10 men out of 100 throughout the tribes of Israel, and 100 out of 1,000, and 1,000 out of 10,000 in order to take up provisions for the people, that when they come to [c]Gibeah of Benjamin, they may do to them according to all the disgraceful acts that they have done in Israel.” 11 Thus all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united as one man.

12 Then the tribes of Israel sent men through the entire [d]tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What is this evil that has taken place among you? 13 So now, give up the men, the [e](H)vile fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and (I)purge this evil from Israel.” But the sons of Benjamin were not willing to listen to the voice of their brothers, the sons of Israel. 14 Then the sons of Benjamin gathered from the cities to Gibeah, to go out to battle against the sons of Israel. 15 And from the cities on that day the (J)sons of Benjamin were [f]numbered, 26,000 men who draw the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah who were [g]numbered, 700 choice men. 16 Out of all these people 700 (K)choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

17 And the men of Israel besides Benjamin were [h]numbered, 400,000 men who draw the sword; all these were men of war.

18 Then the sons of Israel arose, went up to Bethel, and (L)asked of God and said, “Who shall go up for us to begin the battle against the sons of Benjamin?” Then Yahweh said, “Judah shall begin it.”

19 So the sons of Israel arose in the morning and camped against Gibeah. 20 And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin, and the men of Israel arranged themselves for battle against them at Gibeah. 21 Then the sons of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and (M)destroyed to the ground on that day 22,000 men of Israel. 22 But the people, the men of Israel, strengthened themselves and arranged themselves for battle again in the place where they had arranged themselves the first day. 23 (N)And the sons of Israel went up and wept before Yahweh until evening and (O)asked of Yahweh, saying, “Shall we again approach for battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin?” And Yahweh said, “Go up against him.”

24 Then the sons of Israel drew near to the sons of Benjamin the second day. 25 And Benjamin went out to meet them from Gibeah the second day and destroyed to the ground again 18,000 men of the sons of Israel; all these drew the sword. 26 Then (P)all the sons of Israel and all the people went up and came to Bethel and wept; thus they remained there before Yahweh and fasted that day until evening. And they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before Yahweh. 27 Then the sons of Israel (Q)asked of Yahweh (now the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28 and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, Aaron’s son, stood before it to minister in those days), saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?” And Yahweh said, “Go up, (R)for tomorrow I will give them into your hand.”

29 (S)So Israel set men in ambush around Gibeah. 30 And the sons of Israel went up against the sons of Benjamin on the third day and arrayed themselves against Gibeah as at other times. 31 (T)So the sons of Benjamin went out to meet the people and were drawn away from the city, and they began to strike [i]and slay some of the people as at other times, on the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah, and in the field, about thirty men of Israel. 32 The sons of Benjamin said, “They are [j]defeated before us, as at the first.” But the sons of Israel said, “Let us flee that we may draw them away from the city to the highways.” 33 Then all the men of Israel arose from their place and arrayed themselves at Baal-tamar; (U)and the men of Israel in ambush burst forth of their place, even out of Maareh-geba. 34 Then 10,000 choice men from all Israel came against Gibeah, and the battle became heavy; (V)but [k]Benjamin did not know that [l]calamity was [m]about to reach them. 35 Then Yahweh [n]defeated Benjamin before Israel, so that the sons of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day, all [o]who drew the sword.

36 So the sons of Benjamin saw that they were [p]defeated. (W)Now the men of Israel had given [q]ground to Benjamin because they relied on the men in ambush whom they had set against Gibeah. 37 (X)So the men in ambush hurried and rushed against Gibeah. Then the men in ambush deployed and struck all the city with the edge of the sword. 38 Now the appointed sign between the men of Israel and the men in ambush was (Y)that they would make a great cloud of smoke rise from the city. 39 So the men of Israel had turned around in the battle, and Benjamin had begun to strike [r]and slay about thirty men of Israel, (Z)for they said, “Surely they are [s]defeated before us, as in the first battle.” 40 But the cloud began to rise from the city in a column of smoke, and Benjamin turned (AA)behind them; and behold, the whole city was going up in smoke to heaven. 41 Then the men of Israel turned around again, and the men of Benjamin were dismayed; for they saw that [t](AB)calamity had [u]reached them. 42 Therefore, they turned their backs before the men of Israel (AC)toward the direction of the wilderness, but the battle overtook them, and those who came out of the cities destroyed them in the midst of them. 43 (AD)They surrounded Benjamin, pursued them without rest, and trod them down opposite Gibeah to the east toward the sunrise. 44 Thus 18,000 men of Benjamin fell; all these were valiant men. 45 [v]And the rest turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of (AE)Rimmon, but they [w]caught 5,000 of them on the highways and overtook them [x]at Gidom and struck down 2,000 of them. 46 So all of Benjamin who fell that day were 25,000 men who drew the sword; all these were valiant men. 47 But 600 men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and they remained at the rock of Rimmon four months. 48 Now the men of Israel returned to the sons of Benjamin and struck them with the edge of the sword, both the entire city with the cattle and all that they found; they also set on fire all the cities which they found.


  1. Judges 20:2 Lit cornerstones
  2. Judges 20:2 Lit men
  3. Judges 20:10 Heb Geba
  4. Judges 20:12 Lit tribes
  5. Judges 20:13 Lit sons of Belial, cf. 2 Cor 6:15
  6. Judges 20:15 Or mustered
  7. Judges 20:15 Or mustered
  8. Judges 20:17 Or mustered
  9. Judges 20:31 Lit slain ones
  10. Judges 20:32 Lit smitten
  11. Judges 20:34 Lit they
  12. Judges 20:34 Lit evil
  13. Judges 20:34 Lit touching
  14. Judges 20:35 Lit smote
  15. Judges 20:35 Lit these
  16. Judges 20:36 Lit smitten
  17. Judges 20:36 Lit place
  18. Judges 20:39 Lit slain ones
  19. Judges 20:39 Lit smitten
  20. Judges 20:41 Lit evil
  21. Judges 20:41 Lit touched
  22. Judges 20:45 As in Gr; Heb And they
  23. Judges 20:45 Lit gleaned
  24. Judges 20:45 Lit as far as