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The Children of Israel Punish the Benjamites

20 All the children of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, and also from the land of Gilead, went out and gathered together in an assembly as one man before the Lord at Mizpah. The leaders of all the people from all the tribes of Israel presented themselves in an assembly of the people of God, who numbered four hundred thousand infantrymen bearing swords. (The Benjamites heard that the children of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) The children of Israel said, “Tell how this evil happened!”

So the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, answered, “My concubine and I came to Gibeah, in Benjamin, to spend the night. Then the leaders of Gibeah rose up against me. At night they surrounded the house where I was staying. They wanted to kill me; instead they ravished my concubine so that she died. I seized my concubine, cut her into pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel, because they committed an infamous and disgraceful act in Israel. Now, all of you are children of Israel. Give your advice and counsel here.”

All the people arose as one man and said, “Not a man among us will go to his tent, and no one will turn aside to his house. Now this is what we will do to Gibeah. We will go against it by lot. 10 We will take ten men out of every hundred, from every tribe of Israel, a hundred from every thousand, and a thousand from every ten thousand, to bring provisions for the troops. Then when they come to Gibeah in Benjamin, they may repay them for all the evil that they committed in Israel.” 11 So all the men of Israel gathered at the city, united like one man.

12 The tribes of Israel sent men throughout the whole tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What is this evil that has been committed among you? 13 Now hand over the wicked men in Gibeah, so that we can kill them and purge the evil from Israel.”

Yet the Benjamites were not willing to listen to their fellow children of Israel. 14 The Benjamites gathered from their cities at Gibeah in order to go out and wage war against the children of Israel. 15 That day, the Benjamites mustered twenty-six thousand armed men from the cities and seven hundred specially chosen men from Gibeah. 16 Out of all these people there were seven hundred specially chosen men who were left-handed, all of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

17 The men of Israel, apart from Benjamin, gathered four hundred thousand armed men who drew the sword; all of them were men of war.

18 The children of Israel arose, went up to Bethel, and asked God, “Who should go up first to wage war against the Benjamites?”

The Lord said, “Judah first.”

19 The children of Israel got up in the morning and camped against Gibeah. 20 The men of Israel went out for battle with Benjamin, and the men of Israel lined up for battle at Gibeah. 21 Then the Benjamites came out from Gibeah and struck twenty-two thousand Israelite men down to the ground. 22 The people, the men of Israel, rallied and lined up for battle again in the place where they had lined up on the first day. 23 Then the children of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until evening. They asked the Lord, “Should we advance and fight our brother-tribesmen the Benjamites again?”

The Lord said, “Advance against them.”

24 So the children of Israel advanced against the Benjamites for the second day. 25 And on the second day, the Benjamites went out from Gibeah to meet them and again struck eighteen thousand men down to the ground, every one of them armed.

26 Then all the children of Israel, all the people, went up to Bethel where they wept and sat before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 27 The children of Israel asked the Lord (because the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28 and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it then), “Should we go out again to wage war with our brother-tribesmen the Benjamites, or should we not?”

The Lord said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.”

29 So Israel set an ambushing force around Gibeah. 30 The children of Israel went up against the Benjamites on the third day and lined up at Gibeah as before. 31 The Benjamites went out to engage the people and were drawn away from the city. They began to strike the people down as before. On the main roads that go up to Bethel and Gibeah and in the field, they struck down about thirty children of Israel. 32 The Benjamites said, “They are struck down before us like at the beginning.” But the children of Israel said, “Let us retreat and draw them away from the city toward the main roads.”

33 So all the men of Israel rose up out of their place and assumed their battle positions at Baal Tamar. Then the men of Israel in ambush charged out of their places, out of the meadows of Gibeah. 34 Ten thousand specially chosen men from all of Israel came against Gibeah. The battle was fierce, and the Benjamites did not know that disaster was upon them. 35 The Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel, and that day the children of Israel struck down twenty-five thousand one hundred Benjamites, every one of them armed. 36 The Benjamites saw that they were defeated.

Now the men of Israel had withdrawn from Benjamin, because they relied on the men in ambush whom they had set against Gibeah. 37 So the ambushing force rushed on and attacked Gibeah. They struck down the whole city with the edge of the sword. 38 The men of Israel had made an agreement with the ambushing force that when they sent up a large amount of smoke from the city, 39 the children of Israel would turn around in battle.

When the Benjamites had begun to strike the children of Israel down, about thirty men, they said, “Surely they are struck down before us like at the beginning.” 40 Yet when the smoke began to rise up from the city in a column, the Benjamites looked behind them and suddenly noticed the whole city going up in smoke to the sky. 41 Then the men of Israel turned around, and the men of Benjamin were horrified because they saw that disaster had come on them. 42 So they fled from the men of Israel toward the direction of the wilderness, but the battle overtook them. Whoever came out of the cities destroyed them in their midst. 43 They surrounded the Benjamites, chased them without rest, and trampled them down near Gibeah toward the east. 44 Eighteen thousand men from Benjamin fell; all these were men of valor. 45 The rest turned and fled toward the wilderness to Rimmon Rock, and they cut down five thousand men on the main roads. They pursued them relentlessly until they reached Gidom and killed two thousand of them.

46 So the Benjamites who fell that day numbered twenty-five thousand, every one of them armed, valorous men. 47 However, six hundred men turned and fled toward the wilderness, to Rimmon Rock. They dwelled at Rimmon Rock for four months. 48 Yet the men of Israel turned back against the Benjamites and struck them with the edge of the sword—city inhabitants, animals, and everything that could be found. Indeed, they set on fire every city that could be found.