but this time they had a different plan. They said, “When the men of Benjamin attack, we will run off and let them chase us away from the town and into the country roads.” The soldiers of Benjamin attacked the Israelite army and started pushing it back from the town. They killed about thirty Israelites in the fields and along the road between Gibeah and Bethel. The men of Benjamin were thinking, “We’re mowing them down like we did before.” The Israelites were running away, but they headed for Baal-Tamar, where they regrouped. They had set an ambush, and they were sure it would work. Ten thousand of Israel’s best soldiers had been hiding west of Gibeah, and as soon as the men of Benjamin chased the Israelites into the countryside, these ten thousand soldiers made a surprise attack on the town gates. They dashed in and captured Gibeah, killing everyone there. Then they set the town on fire, because the smoke would be the signal for the other Israelite soldiers to turn and attack the soldiers of Benjamin. The fighting had been so heavy around the soldiers of Benjamin, that they did not know the trouble they were in. But then they looked back and saw clouds of smoke rising from the town. They looked in front and saw the soldiers of Israel turning to attack. This terrified them, because they realized that something horrible was happening. And it was horrible—over twenty-five thousand soldiers of Benjamin died that day, and those who were left alive knew that the Lord had given Israel the victory.
But the children of Benjamin when they saw themselves to be too weak, began to flee. Which the children of Israel seeing, gave them place to flee, that they might come to the ambushes that were prepared, which they had set near the city.
Then the ·Benjaminites [L sons/descendants of Benjamin] saw that they were defeated. The Israelites had ·moved back [retreated] because they were depending on the ·surprise attack [ambush] they had set up near Gibeah [C verses 36b–45 now detail the account summarized in verses 29–36a)].
and the Benjaminites realized they were defeated. The main body of the Israelite army had retreated from the Benjaminites because they were relying on the men that they had put in hiding around Gibeah.
So the Lord helped Israel defeat Benjamin, and the Israeli army killed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day, leaving but a tiny remnant of their forces. Summary of the Battle: The army of Israel retreated from the men of Benjamin in order to give the ambush more room for maneuvering. When the men of Benjamin had killed about thirty of the Israelis, they were confident of a massive slaughter just as on the previous days. But then the men in ambush rushed into the village and slaughtered everyone in it, and set it on fire. The great cloud of smoke pouring into the sky was the signal for the Israeli army to turn around and attack the army of Benjamin,
Ten crack divisions from all over Israel now arrived at Gibeah—intense, bloody fighting! The Benjaminites had no idea that they were about to go down in defeat—God routed them before Israel. The Israelites decimated twenty-five divisions of Benjamin that day—25,100 killed. They were all swordsmen. The Benjaminites saw that they were beaten. The men of Israel acted like they were retreating before Benjamin, knowing that they could depend on the ambush they had prepared for Gibeah.
Then the people of Benjamin realized their crushing defeat. The warriors of Israel had retreated before their foes, trusting the men lying in ambush who had rushed upon Gibeah and destroyed the entire city.
Soothly the sons of Benjamin began to flee, when they saw, that they were the lower. And the sons of Israel saw this, and gave to them place to flee, that they should come to the ambushments made ready, which they had set beside the city. (And the Benjaminites began to flee, when they saw, that they were losing. And the Israelites saw this, and gave them a place to which to flee, so that they would come to the men who were waiting in ambush, that they had positioned outside the city.)
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