March 24

Judges 20:1 — 21:25

20 Consequently all the sons of Israel went out and the assembly congregated themselves as one man, from Dan down to Beer-sheba along with the land of Gilead, to Jehovah at Mizpah. 2 So the keymen of all the people and all the tribes of Israel took their station in the congregation of the people of the [true] God, four hundred thousand men on foot who drew the sword.

3 And the sons of Benjamin got to hear that the sons of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.

Then the sons of Israel said: “SPEAK. How has this bad thing been brought about?” 4 At this the man, the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, answered and said: “It was to Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin, that I came, I and my concubine, to stay overnight. 5 And the landowners of Gibeah proceeded to rise up against me and to surround the house against me by night. It was I that they figured on killing, but it was my concubine that they raped, and she gradually died. 6 Hence I grasped my concubine and cut her up and sent her into every field of Israel’s inheritance, because they had carried on loose conduct and disgraceful folly in Israel. 7 Look! All YOU sons of Israel, give YOUR word and counsel here.”

8 So all the people rose up as one man, saying: “We shall not go any of us to his tent, nor shall we turn aside any of us to his house. 9 And now this is the thing that we shall do to Gibeah. Let us go up by lot against it. 10 And we must take ten men out of a hundred of all the tribes of Israel, and a hundred out of a thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to procure provisions for the people, that they may take action by going against Gibeah of Benjamin, in view of all the disgraceful folly that they did in Israel.” 11 Thus all the men of Israel were gathered against the city as one man, as allies.

12 Accordingly the tribes of Israel sent men to all the tribesmen of Benjamin, saying: “What is this bad thing that has been brought about among YOU? 13 And now give over the men, the good-for-nothing men, that are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and let us clear out what is bad from Israel.” And the sons of Benjamin did not want to listen to the voice of their brothers, the sons of Israel.

14 Then the sons of Benjamin went gathering together out of the cities to Gibeah to go out to battle against the sons of Israel. 15 So the sons of Benjamin got to be mustered on that day from the cities, twenty-six thousand men drawing sword, apart from the inhabitants of Gibeah, of whom seven hundred chosen men were mustered. 16 Out of all this people there were seven hundred chosen men left-handed. Every one of these was a slinger of stones to a hairbreadth and would not miss.

17 And the men of Israel were mustered apart from Benjamin, four hundred thousand men drawing sword. Every one of these was a man of war. 18 And they proceeded to rise up and go on up to Bethel and to inquire of God. Then the sons of Israel said: “Who of us should go up in the lead to the battle against the sons of Benjamin?” To this Jehovah said: “Judah in the lead.”

19 After that the sons of Israel rose up in the morning and camped against Gibeah.

20 The men of Israel now went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel proceeded to draw up in battle formation against them at Gibeah. 21 So the sons of Benjamin came on out from Gibeah and brought twenty-two thousand men in Israel down to ruin to the earth on that day. 22 However, the people, the men of Israel, showed themselves courageous and again went drawing up in battle formation in the place where they had drawn up in formation on the first day. 23 Then the sons of Israel went up and wept before Jehovah until the evening and inquired of Jehovah, saying: “Shall I again approach for battle against the sons of Benjamin my brother?” To this Jehovah said: “Go up against him.”

24 Accordingly the sons of Israel drew near to the sons of Benjamin on the second day. 25 In turn Benjamin came on out from Gibeah to meet them on the second day and brought a further eighteen thousand men among the sons of Israel down to ruin to the earth, all of these drawing sword. 26 At that all the sons of Israel, even all the people, went on up and came to Bethel and wept and sat there before Jehovah and fasted on that day until the evening and offered up burnt offerings and communion offerings before Jehovah. 27 After that the sons of Israel inquired of Jehovah, as it was there that the ark of the covenant of the [true] God was in those days. 28 Now Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, was standing before it in those days, saying: “Shall I go out yet again to battle against the sons of Benjamin my brother or shall I cease to?” To this Jehovah said: “Go up, because tomorrow I shall give him into your hand.” 29 Then Israel set men in ambush against Gibeah all around.

30 And the sons of Israel proceeded to go up against the sons of Benjamin on the third day, and to draw up in formation against Gibeah the same as at the other times. 31 When the sons of Benjamin went on out to meet the people, they were drawn away from the city. Then, the same as at the other times, they started to strike down some of the people mortally wounded on the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah, in the field, about thirty men in Israel. 32 So the sons of Benjamin began to say: “They are suffering defeat before us the same as at the first.” As for the sons of Israel, they said: “Let us flee, and we shall certainly draw them away from the city onto the highways.” 33 And all the men of Israel rose up from their places and went drawing up in formation at Baal-tamar, while those of Israel in ambush were making a charge out of their places in the vicinity of Gibeah. 34 Thus ten thousand chosen men out of all Israel came in front of Gibeah, and the fighting was heavy; and the Benjamites did not know that calamity was impending over them.

35 And Jehovah proceeded to defeat Benjamin before Israel, so that the sons of Israel on that day brought down to ruin in Benjamin twenty-five thousand one hundred men, all of these drawing sword.

36 However, the sons of Benjamin imagined that the men of Israel faced defeat when they kept giving ground to Benjamin because they trusted in the ambush that they had set against Gibeah. 37 As for the ambush, they acted quickly and went dashing toward Gibeah. Then the ambush spread out and struck all the city with the edge of the sword.

38 Now the men of Israel had come to the arrangement with the ambush for them to make a smoke signal go up from the city.

39 When the sons of Israel turned around in the battle, Benjamin started to strike down about thirty men mortally wounded among the men of Israel, for they said: “They are unquestionably suffering nothing but defeat before us just as in the first battle.” 40 And the signal started to go up from the city as a pillar of smoke. So when Benjamin turned his face back, look! the whole city went up heavenward. 41 And the men of Israel made an about-face, and the men of Benjamin were disturbed, for they saw that calamity had reached them. 42 Hence they turned before the men of Israel in the direction of the wilderness, and the battle followed them up closely, while the men from out of the cities were bringing them down to ruin in their midst. 43 They surrounded Benjamin. They pursued him without a place to rest. They trampled him down directly in front of Gibeah toward the rising of the sun. 44 Finally there fell eighteen thousand men of Benjamin, all of these being valiant men.

45 Thus they turned and went fleeing to the wilderness to the crag of Rimmon. And they made a gleaning of five thousand men of them on the highways, and they kept following closely after them as far as Gidom and so struck down two thousand more men of them. 46 And all those of Benjamin that fell on that day amounted at last to twenty-five thousand men drawing sword, all these being valiant men. 47 But six hundred men turned and went fleeing to the wilderness to the crag of Rimmon, and they continued to dwell on the crag of Rimmon four months.

48 And the men of Israel came back against the sons of Benjamin and went striking with the edge of the sword those of the city, [from] men to domestic animal up to all that were found. Also, all the cities that were found they consigned to the fire.

21 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying: “Not a man of us will give his daughter to Benjamin as a wife.” 2 Consequently the people came to Bethel and kept sitting there before the [true] God until the evening and continued to raise their voice and indulge in a great deal of weeping. 3 And they would say: “Why, O Jehovah the God of Israel, has this occurred in Israel, for one tribe to be missing today from Israel?” 4 And it came about the next day that the people proceeded to get up early and to build an altar there and to offer up burnt offerings and communion offerings.

5 Then the sons of Israel said: “Who is there out of all the tribes of Israel that has not come up in the congregation to Jehovah, for there is a great oath that has taken place respecting the one that has not come up to Jehovah at Mizpah, saying, ‘Let him be put to death without fail.’” 6 And the sons of Israel began to feel regret over Benjamin their brother. So they said: “Today one tribe has been chopped off from Israel. 7 What shall we do to those who are left over as to wives, now that we ourselves have sworn by Jehovah not to give them any of our daughters as wives?”

8 And they went on to say: “Which one out of the tribes of Israel is it that has not come up to Jehovah at Mizpah?” And, look! no one had come into the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the congregation. 9 When the people were counted, well, look! there was not a man there from the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead. 10 Hence the assembly proceeded to send twelve thousand of the most valiant men there and to command them, saying: “Go, and YOU must strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, even the women and the little ones. 11 And this is the thing that YOU should do: Every male and every woman that has experienced lying with a male YOU should devote to destruction.” 12 However, they found out of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred girls, virgins, that had not had intercourse with a man by lying with a male. So they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.

13 And all the assembly now sent and spoke to the sons of Benjamin that were on the crag of Rimmon and offered them peace. 14 Accordingly Benjamin came back at that time. Then they gave them the women that they had preserved alive from the women of Jabesh-gilead; but they did not find enough for them. 15 And the people felt regret over Benjamin because Jehovah had made a rupture between the tribes of Israel. 16 Consequently the older men of the assembly said: “What shall we do to the men that are left over as to wives, for womankind has been annihilated out of Benjamin?” 17 Then they said: “There should be a possession for those who have escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe might not be wiped out of Israel. 18 As for us, we are not allowed to give them wives from our daughters, because the sons of Israel have sworn, saying, ‘Cursed is the one that gives a wife to Benjamin.’”

19 Finally they said: “Look! There is a festival of Jehovah from year to year in Shiloh, which is to the north of Bethel, toward the east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem and toward the south of Lebonah.” 20 So they commanded the sons of Benjamin, saying: “Go, and YOU must lie in wait in the vineyards. 21 And YOU must look, and, there now, when the daughters of Shiloh come on out to dance in circle dances, YOU must also come out from the vineyards and carry off for yourselves by force each one his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and YOU must go to the land of Benjamin. 22 And it must occur that should their fathers or their brothers come to conduct a legal case against us, we also shall certainly say to them, ‘Do us a favor for their sakes, because we have not taken for each one his wife by war, for it was not YOU that did the giving to them at a time when YOU would become guilty.’”

23 Accordingly the sons of Benjamin did just that way, and they proceeded to carry off wives for their number from the women dancing around, whom they snatched away; after which they went off and returned to their inheritance and built the cities and took up dwelling in them.

24 And the sons of Israel began to disperse from there at that time, each one to his own tribe and his own family; and they went their way out from there, each one to his own inheritance.

25 In those days there was no king in Israel. What was right in his own eyes was what each one was accustomed to do.