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Israel Gets Ready for War

20 Then all the people of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and from the land of Gilead came out. The people gathered together as one man to the Lord at Mizpah. The leaders of all the people, all the families of Israel, showed themselves in the meeting of the people of God. There were 400,000 soldiers on foot who used the sword. (The people of Benjamin heard that the people of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) The people of Israel said, “Tell us. How did this sinful thing happen?” The Levite, the husband of the woman who was killed, answered, “I came with my woman to stay the night at Gibeah, a city of Benjamin. But the men of Gibeah came against me. They gathered around the house at night because of me. They wanted to kill me. But they did sex with my woman instead, so she died. I took my woman and cut her into pieces. I sent her out through all the land that was given to Israel. For they have done a sinful act of shame in Israel. All you people of Israel, say what should be done.”

All the people stood up as one man, saying, “Not one of us will go to his tent. Not one of us will return to his house. But this is what we will do to Gibeah. We will go against it by drawing names. 10 We will take ten men of every 100 among the families of Israel, and 100 of every 1,000, and 1,000 of every 10,000. They will take food for the people. So when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, they may punish them for all the acts of shame they have done in Israel.” 11 All the men of Israel were gathered against the city, together as one man.

12 The family groups of Israel sent men through the whole family group of Benjamin, saying, “What is this sin that has happened among you? 13 Now give us the sinful men of Gibeah. Then we will put them to death and take this sin away from Israel.” But the people of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the people of Israel. 14 The people of Benjamin gathered from the cities to Gibeah. They came to go out to battle against the people of Israel. 15 Out of the sons of Benjamin, there were 26,000 men who used the sword who came from the cities on that day. And there were 700 chosen men who lived in Gibeah. 16 There were 700 chosen men of all these people who were left-handed. Each one could use a sling to throw a stone at a hair and not miss.

17 Apart from Benjamin, there were 400,000 men of Israel who used the sword. All of them were men of war. 18 The people of Israel went up to Bethel. There they asked God, “Who should go first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin?” The Lord said, “Judah should go first.”

19 So the people of Israel got up in the morning and went to get ready to fight against Gibeah. 20 The men of Israel went to fight against Benjamin. They dressed themselves for battle against them at Gibeah. 21 The people of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and killed 22,000 men of Israel on that day. 22 But the men of Israel made their hearts strong. They got ready for battle again in the same place they had fought the first day. 23 The people of Israel went up and cried before the Lord until evening. They asked the Lord, “Should we go again in battle against our brothers the people of Benjamin?” And the Lord said, “Go fight against them.”

24 So the sons of Israel came to fight against the sons of Benjamin the second day. 25 Benjamin went out against them from Gibeah the second day. And they killed 18,000 men of Israel who used the sword. 26 Then all the people of Israel went up to Bethel and cried. They stayed that day before the Lord and would not eat until evening. They gave burnt gifts and peace gifts to the Lord. 27 The people of Israel asked the Lord what to do. (For the special box with the Law of God was there in those days. 28 Phinehas the son of Eleazar, Aaron’s son, served in front of it those days.) The people said, “Should we go again in battle against our brothers the people of Benjamin? Or should we stop?” The Lord said, “Go fight against them. For tomorrow I will give them into your hand.”

29 So Israel sent men to hide around Gibeah. 30 The sons of Israel went to fight against the sons of Benjamin on the third day. They dressed themselves for battle against Gibeah as they had done before. 31 The sons of Benjamin went out to fight the people and were taken away from the city. They began to fight and kill some of the people as they had done before. They killed about thirty men of Israel in the open country and on the roads. One road went up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah. 32 The sons of Benjamin said, “They are being killed in front of us as they were the first day.” But the sons of Israel said, “Let us run away so we can get them away from the city and to the roads.” 33 Then all the men of Israel left their place and went to fight at Baal-tamar. And the men of Israel who were hiding rushed out of their place in the plain of Geba. 34 When 10,000 chosen men of Israel came against Gibeah, the battle was hard. But the people of Benjamin did not know that such danger was so close to them. 35 The Lord destroyed Benjamin in front of Israel. The sons of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day. All these were men who used the sword. 36 So the people of Benjamin saw that they had lost the battle.

The men of Israel ran from Benjamin because they trusted in the men who were hiding and waiting to take Gibeah. 37 The men who had been hiding were quick to rush against Gibeah. They destroyed all of the city with the sword. 38 The men of Israel had agreed that the men who had been hiding should make a big cloud of smoke rise from the city. It would be something special for them to see. 39 Then the men of Israel turned around to fight in battle. Benjamin began to fight and kill about thirty men of Israel. They said, “For sure they are destroyed in front of us as in the first battle.” 40 But when the cloud of smoke started to rise from the city, the men of Benjamin looked behind them. They saw the whole city going up in smoke to heaven. 41 Then the men of Israel turned around. And the men of Benjamin were filled with fear. For they saw that they were in much danger. 42 So they turned their backs to the men of Israel and ran toward the desert. But they were caught in the battle. Those who came out of the cities destroyed them. 43 They gathered around the people of Benjamin. They ran after them without stopping to rest and came upon them at the east side of Gibeah. 44 So 18,000 men of Benjamin were killed. All of them were powerful soldiers. 45 The others turned and ran toward the desert to the rock of Rimmon. But Israel killed 5,000 of them on the roads, and 2,000 at Gidom. 46 So 25,000 men of Benjamin were killed that day. All of them were powerful soldiers who used the sword. 47 But 600 men ran toward the desert to the rock of Rimmon. They stayed there for four months. 48 Then the men of Israel returned to fight the people of Benjamin. They destroyed them, their whole city, the cattle and all they found, with the sword. And they set fire to all the cities they found.