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Judges 20 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

The Other Tribes Attack Benjamin

20 Then all the people of Israel came out, from Dan to Beer-sheba, including the land of Gilead, and the congregation assembled as one man to the Lord at Mizpah. And the chiefs of all the people, of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand men on foot that drew the sword. (Now the Benjaminites heard that the people of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) And the people of Israel said, “Tell us, how was this wickedness brought to pass?” And the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, “I came to Gib′e-ah that belongs to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to spend the night. And the men of Gib′e-ah rose against me, and beset the house round about me by night; they meant to kill me, and they ravished my concubine, and she is dead. And I took my concubine and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel; for they have committed abomination and wantonness in Israel. Behold, you people of Israel, all of you, give your advice and counsel here.”

And all the people arose as one man, saying, “We will not any of us go to his tent, and none of us will return to his house. But now this is what we will do to Gib′e-ah: we will go up against it by lot, 10 and we will take ten men of a hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and a hundred of a thousand, and a thousand of ten thousand, to bring provisions for the people, that when they come they may requite Gib′e-ah of Benjamin, for all the wanton crime which they have committed in Israel.” 11 So all the men of Israel gathered against the city, united as one man.

12 And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What wickedness is this that has taken place among you? 13 Now therefore give up the men, the base fellows in Gib′e-ah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel.” But the Benjaminites would not listen to the voice of their brethren, the people of Israel. 14 And the Benjaminites came together out of the cities to Gib′e-ah, to go out to battle against the people of Israel. 15 And the Benjaminites mustered out of their cities on that day twenty-six thousand men that drew the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gib′e-ah, who mustered seven hundred picked men. 16 Among all these were seven hundred picked men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair, and not miss. 17 And the men of Israel, apart from Benjamin, mustered four hundred thousand men that drew sword; all these were men of war.

18 The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel, and inquired of God, “Which of us shall go up first to battle against the Benjaminites?” And the Lord said, “Judah shall go up first.”

19 Then the people of Israel rose in the morning, and encamped against Gib′e-ah. 20 And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel drew up the battle line against them at Gib′e-ah. 21 The Benjaminites came out of Gib′e-ah, and felled to the ground on that day twenty-two thousand men of the Israelites. 22 But the people, the men of Israel, took courage, and again formed the battle line in the same place where they had formed it on the first day. 23 And the people of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until the evening; and they inquired of the Lord, “Shall we again draw near to battle against our brethren the Benjaminites?” And the Lord said, “Go up against them.”

24 So the people of Israel came near against the Benjamnites the second day. 25 And Benjamin went against them out of Gib′e-ah the second day, and felled to the ground eighteen thousand men of the people of Israel; all these were men who drew the sword. 26 Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept; they sat there before the Lord, and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 27 And the people of Israel inquired of the Lord (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28 and Phin′ehas the son of Elea′zar, son of Aaron, ministered before it in those days), saying, “Shall we yet again go out to battle against our brethren the Benjaminites, or shall we cease?” And the Lord said, “Go up; for tomorrow I will give them into your hand.”

29 So Israel set men in ambush round about Gib′e-ah. 30 And the people of Israel went up against the Benjaminites on the third day, and set themselves in array against Gib′e-ah, as at other times. 31 And the Benjaminites went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city; and as at other times they began to smite and kill some of the people, in the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gib′e-ah, and in the open country, about thirty men of Israel. 32 And the Benjaminites said, “They are routed before us, as at the first.” But the men of Israel said, “Let us flee, and draw them away from the city to the highways.” 33 And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place, and set themselves in array at Ba′al-ta′mar; and the men of Israel who were in ambush rushed out of their place west[a] of Geba. 34 And there came against Gib′e-ah ten thousand picked men out of all Israel, and the battle was hard; but the Benjaminites did not know that disaster was close upon them. 35 And the Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel; and the men of Israel destroyed twenty-five thousand one hundred men of Benjamin that day; all these were men who drew the sword. 36 So the Benjaminites saw that they were defeated.

The men of Israel gave ground to Benjamin, because they trusted to the men in ambush whom they had set against Gib′e-ah. 37 And the men in ambush made haste and rushed upon Gib′e-ah; the men in ambush moved out and smote all the city with the edge of the sword. 38 Now the appointed signal between the men of Israel and the men in ambush was that when they made a great cloud of smoke rise up out of the city 39 the men of Israel should turn in battle. Now Benjamin had begun to smite and kill about thirty men of Israel; they said, “Surely they are smitten down before us, as in the first battle.” 40 But when the signal began to rise out of the city in a column of smoke, the Benjaminites looked behind them; and behold, the whole of the city went up in smoke to heaven. 41 Then the men of Israel turned, and the men of Benjamin were dismayed, for they saw that disaster was close upon them. 42 Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel in 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 Cutting down[b] the Benjaminites, they pursued them and trod them down from Nohah[c] as far as opposite Gib′e-ah on the east. 44 Eighteen thousand men of Benjamin fell, all of them men of valor. 45 And they turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon; five thousand men of them were cut down in the highways, and they were pursued hard to Gidom, and two thousand men of them were slain. 46 So all who fell that day of Benjamin were twenty-five thousand men that drew the sword, all of them men of valor. 47 But six hundred men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and abode at the rock of Rimmon four months. 48 And the men of Israel turned back against the Benjaminites, and smote them with the edge of the sword, men and beasts and all that they found. And all the towns which they found they set on fire.

Footnotes:

  1. Judges 20:33 Gk Vg: Heb in the plain
  2. Judges 20:43 Gk: Heb surrounding
  3. Judges 20:43 Gk: Heb (at their) resting place
Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Judges 20 New International Version (NIV)

The Israelites Punish the Benjamites

20 Then all Israel from Dan to Beersheba and from the land of Gilead came together as one and assembled before the Lord in Mizpah. 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 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 in Benjamin to spend the night. During the night the men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They raped my concubine, and she died. I took my concubine, cut her into pieces and sent one piece to each region of Israel’s inheritance, because they committed this lewd and outrageous act in Israel. Now, all you Israelites, speak up and tell me what you have decided to do.

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. 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.

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

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, 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] and inquired of God. They said, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Benjamites?”

The Lord replied, “Judah 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 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 inquired of the Lord. They said, “Shall we go up again to fight 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, 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 inquired 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 Benjamites, 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 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 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 Benjamites 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[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 how near disaster was. 35 The Lord defeated Benjamin 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 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 Benjamites 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 Benjamites turned and saw the whole city going up in smoke. 41 Then the Israelites counterattacked, and the Benjamites were terrified, because they realized 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 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. 45 As they turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, 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 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.

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.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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