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[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 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[c] 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.
Judges 20:33Some Septuagint manuscripts and Vulgate; the meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
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