War against Benjamin
1All the Israelites from Dan to Beer-sheba20:1 Gn 21:14; 22:19; 1Sm 3:20; 1Kg 4:25 and from the land of Gilead came out, and the community assembled as one body before the Lord at Mizpah.20:1 Jdg 11:11; 21:1,5,8; 1Sm 7:5–16; 10:17
2The leaders20:2 1Sm 14:38; Is 19:13 of all the people and of all the tribes of Israel presented themselves in the assembly of God’s people: four hundred thousand armed foot soldiers.
3The Benjaminites heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah.
The Israelites asked, “Tell us, how did this evil act happen?”
4The Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, answered, “I went to Gibeah in Benjamin with my concubine to spend the night.
5Citizens of Gibeah came to attack me and surrounded the house at night. They intended to kill me, but they raped my concubine, and she died.
6Then I took my concubine and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout Israel’s territory, because they have committed a wicked outrage in20:6 Lv 18:17; 19:29; Jr 13:27; Ezk 16:27,43 Israel.
7Look, all of you are Israelites. Give your judgment and verdict here and now.”
8Then all the people stood united and said, “None of us will go to his tent or return to his house.
9Now this is what we will do to Gibeah: we will attack it. By lot
10we will take ten men out of every hundred from all the tribes of Israel, and one hundred out of every thousand, and one thousand out of every ten thousand to get provisions for the troops when they go to Gibeah in Benjamin to punish them for all the outrage they committed in Israel.”
11So all the men of Israel20:11 Dt 29:10; Jos 10:24; Jdg 20:33; 1Sm 11:15; 17:19; 2Sm 16:18; 17:14,24; 19:41; 20:2; 1Kg 8:2; 1Ch 10:7; 2Ch 5:3 gathered united against the city.
12Then the tribes of Israel sent men throughout the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What is this evil act that has happened among you?
13Hand over the wicked men20:13 Dt 13:13; Jdg 19:22; 1Sm 2:12; 10:27; 25:17; 1Kg 21:10,13; 2Ch 13:7 in Gibeah so we can put them to death and purge evil20:13 Dt 13:5; 17:7,12; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21–24; 24:7 from Israel.” But the Benjaminites would not listen to their fellow Israelites.
14Instead, the Benjaminites gathered together from their cities to Gibeah to go out and fight against the Israelites.
15On that day the Benjaminites mobilized twenty-six thousand armed men20:15 Nm 1:36–37; 2:23; 26:41 from their cities, besides seven hundred fit young men rallied by the inhabitants of Gibeah.
16There were seven hundred fit young men who were left-handed among all these troops; all could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.
17The Israelites, apart from Benjamin, mobilized four hundred thousand armed men, every one an experienced warrior.
18They set out, went to Bethel, and inquired of God.20:18 Nm 27:21; Jdg 18:5; 1Sm 14:37; 1Ch 14:10 The Israelites asked, “Who is to go first to fight for us against the Benjaminites?”
And the Lord answered, “Judah will be first.”
19In the morning, the Israelites set out and camped near Gibeah.
20The men of Israel went out to fight against Benjamin and took their battle positions against Gibeah.
21The Benjaminites came out of Gibeah and slaughtered twenty-two thousand men of Israel on the field that day.
22But the Israelite troops rallied and again took their battle positions in the same place where they positioned themselves on the first day.
23They went up, wept20:23 Jos 7:6–7 before the Lord until evening,20:23 2Sm 1:12 and inquired of him, “Should we again attack our brothers the Benjaminites?”
And the Lord answered, “Fight against them.”
24On the second day the Israelites advanced against the Benjaminites.
25That same day the Benjaminites came out from Gibeah to meet them and slaughtered an additional eighteen thousand Israelites on the field; all were armed.
26The whole Israelite army went to Bethel where they wept and sat before the Lord.20:26 Jdg 21:2 They fasted that day until evening and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord.
27Then the Israelites inquired of the Lord. In those days, the ark of the covenant20:27 1Sm 4:4; 2Sm 15:24; 1Ch 16:6 of God was there,
28and Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron,20:28 Nm 25:7,11 was serving before it. The Israelites asked, “Should we again fight against our brothers the Benjaminites or should we stop?”
The Lord answered, “Fight, because I will hand them over to you tomorrow.”20:28 Jdg 7:9
29So Israel set up an ambush20:29 Jos 8:4 around Gibeah.
30On the third day the Israelites fought against the Benjaminites and took their battle positions against Gibeah as before.
31Then the Benjaminites came out against the troops and were drawn away from the city.20:31 Jos 8:31 They began to attack the troops as before, killing about thirty men of Israel on the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah through the open country.
32The Benjaminites said, “We are defeating them as before.”
But the Israelites said, “Let’s flee and draw them away from the city to the highways.”
33So all the men of Israel got up from their places and took their battle positions at Baal-tamar, while the Israelites in ambush charged out of their places west of20:33 LXX, Syr, Vg; MT reads places in the plain of, or places in the cave of Geba.20:33 Jos 8:19
34Then ten thousand fit young men from all Israel made a frontal assault against Gibeah, and the battle was fierce, but the Benjaminites did not know that disaster was about to strike them.
35The Lord defeated Benjamin in the presence of Israel, and on that day the Israelites slaughtered 25,100 men of Benjamin; all were armed.
36Then the Benjaminites realized they had been defeated.
The men of Israel had retreated before Benjamin, because they were confident in the ambush they had set against Gibeah.
37The men in ambush had rushed quickly against Gibeah; they advanced and put the whole city to the sword.20:37 Dt 13:15; Jos 10:37,39; 11:12,14; Jdg 1:8,25; 18:27; 20:48; 1Sm 22:19; 2Sm 15:14; 2Kg 10:25; Jr 21:7; Ezk 5:2
38The men of Israel had a prearranged signal with the men in ambush: when they sent up a great cloud of smoke from the city,
39the men of Israel would return to the battle. When Benjamin had begun to strike them down, killing about thirty men of Israel, they said, “They’re defeated before us, just as they were in the first battle.”20:39 Jdg 20:32
40But when the column of smoke began to go up from the city, Benjamin looked behind them, and the whole city was going up in smoke.20:40 Lit up to the sky
41Then the men of Israel returned, and the men of Benjamin were terrified when they realized that disaster had struck them.
42They retreated before the men of Israel toward the wilderness,20:42 Jos 8:15,24 but the battle overtook them, and those who came out of the cities20:42 LXX, Vg read city slaughtered those between them.
43They surrounded the Benjaminites, pursued them, and easily overtook them near Gibeah toward the east.
44There were eighteen thousand men who died from Benjamin; all were warriors.
45Then Benjamin turned and fled toward the wilderness to Rimmon Rock,20:45 Jdg 21:13 and Israel killed five thousand men on the highways. They overtook them at Gidom and struck two thousand more dead.
46All the Benjaminites who died that day were twenty-five thousand armed men; all were warriors.
47But six hundred men escaped into the wilderness to Rimmon Rock and stayed there four months.
48The men of Israel turned back against the other Benjaminites and killed them with their swords — the entire city, the animals, and everything that remained. They also burned all the cities that remained.