New International Reader's Version

Judges 20:1-48

The Israelites Punish the Tribe of Benjamin

1Then all the Israelites came out. They came from the whole land between Dan and Beersheba. They also came from the land of Gilead. All of them gathered together in front of the Lord at Mizpah. 2The leaders of all the tribes of Israel came. They took their places among the people of God gathered together. There were 400,000 men carrying swords. 3The tribe of Benjamin heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah. The Israelites said, “Tell us how this awful thing happened.”

4So the Levite spoke. He was the husband of the woman who had been murdered. He said, “I and my concubine went to Gibeah in Benjamin. We spent the night there. 5During the night the men of Gibeah came after me. They surrounded the house. They were planning to kill me. They raped my concubine, and she died. 6I took my concubine and cut her into pieces. I sent one piece to each part of Israel’s territory. I did it because the men of Gibeah had done a very terrible thing in Israel. 7All you men of Israel, speak up now. Tell me what you have decided to do.”

8All the men got up together. They said, “None of us will go home. Not one of us will return to his house. 9Here is what we’ll do to Gibeah. We’ll cast lots to tell us how to attack the city. 10We’ll take ten men out of every 100 from all the tribes of Israel. We’ll take 100 from every 1,000. We’ll take 1,000 from every 10,000. The men we take will get supplies for the army. Then the army will go to Gibeah in Benjamin. They’ll give Gibeah exactly what they should get because of the terrible thing they did in Israel.” 11So all the men of Israel came together to fight against the city.

12The tribes of Israel sent people to carry a message through the whole tribe of Benjamin. They said, “What about this awful crime that was committed among you? 13Hand over to us those evil men of Gibeah. We’ll put them to death. In that way we’ll get rid of those evil people.”

But the people of Benjamin wouldn’t listen to the other Israelites. 14They came together at Gibeah from their towns. They came to fight against the other Israelites. 15Right away the people of Benjamin gathered together 26,000 men from their towns. They were carrying swords. These men were added to the 700 capable young men from Gibeah. 16Among all these men there were 700 who were left-handed. Each of them could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

17Israel gathered 400,000 men together. They were carrying swords. All of them were trained for battle. That number didn’t include the tribe of Benjamin.

18The Israelites went up to Bethel. There they asked God, “Who should go up first and fight against the people of Benjamin?”

The Lord answered, “The tribe of Judah will go first.”

19The next morning the Israelites got up. They set up camp near Gibeah. 20The Israelites went out to fight against the men of Benjamin. They took up their battle positions against them at Gibeah. 21The men of Benjamin came out of Gibeah. They killed 22,000 Israelites on the field of battle that day. 22But the Israelites cheered one another on. They again took up their positions in the places where they had been the first day. 23The Israelites went and wept in front of the Lord until evening. They asked the Lord, “Should we go up again to fight against the men of Benjamin? They are our fellow Israelites.”

The Lord answered, “Go up and fight against them.”

24The Israelites came near the men of Benjamin on the second day. 25The men of Benjamin came out from Gibeah to oppose them. That time they killed 18,000 more Israelites. All the men who died had been carrying swords.

26Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel. They sat there and wept in front of the Lord. They didn’t eat anything that day until evening. Then they brought burnt offerings and friendship offerings to the Lord. 27Again the Israelites spoke to the Lord. In those days the ark of the covenant of God was there. 28Phinehas was serving as priest at the ark. He was the son of Eleazar. Eleazar was the son of Aaron. The Israelites asked, “Should we go up again to fight against the men of Benjamin? They are our fellow Israelites.”

The Lord answered, “Go. Tomorrow I will hand them over to you.”

29Then Israel hid some men and had them wait all around Gibeah. 30They went up to fight against the men of Benjamin on the third day. They took up their positions against Gibeah, just as they had done before. 31The men of Benjamin came out to fight against them. They were drawn away from the city. They began to wound and kill the Israelites just as they had done before. About 30 men fell in battle. They fell in the open fields and on the roads. One of the roads led to Bethel. The other led to Gibeah. 32The men of Benjamin said, “We’re winning the battle over them, just as we did before.” But the men of Israel said, “Let’s pull back. Let’s draw them away from the city to the roads.”

33All the men of Israel moved away from their places. They took up new battle positions at Baal Tamar. The men who had been hiding charged out. They came from west of Gibeah. 34Then 10,000 of Israel’s capable young men attacked Gibeah. The men of Benjamin didn’t realize they were about to be destroyed. The fighting was very heavy. 35The Lord helped Israel win the battle over Benjamin. On that day the Israelites struck down 25,100 men of Benjamin. All the men who died had been carrying swords. 36Then the men of Benjamin saw that they had lost the battle.

The men of Israel had moved away from their positions in front of Benjamin. They had depended on the men they had hidden near Gibeah. 37Suddenly those men who had been hiding rushed into Gibeah. They spread out. Then they killed everyone in the city with their swords. 38The Israelites had made a plan with those who had been hiding. They had told them to send up a large cloud of smoke from the city. 39Then the Israelites would turn around and attack.

The men of Benjamin had begun to wound and kill the men of Israel. They had struck down about 30 of them. They had said, “We’re winning the battle over them, just as we did the first time.” 40But a large cloud of smoke began to go up from the city. The men of Benjamin turned around. They saw the whole city going up in smoke. 41Then the Israelites turned around and attacked them. The men of Benjamin were terrified. They realized they were going to be destroyed. 42So they ran away from the men of Israel. They ran toward the desert. But they couldn’t escape the battle. Other Israelites came out of the towns. There they struck down the men of Benjamin. 43Here’s how it happened. The Israelites had surrounded them. They had chased them and easily caught up with them east of Gibeah. 44So 18,000 men of Benjamin fell in battle. All of them were brave fighters. 45Some men of Benjamin turned back. They ran toward the desert to the rock of Rimmon. As they did, the Israelites struck down 5,000 of them along the roads. They kept chasing the men of Benjamin all the way to Gidom. Along the way they struck down 2,000 more.

46On that day 25,000 men of Benjamin fell in battle. They had been carrying swords. All of them were brave fighters. 47But 600 of them turned back. They ran into the desert to the rock of Rimmon. They stayed there for four months. 48The men of Israel went back to Benjamin. In all the towns they killed the people with their swords. They even killed the animals. So they killed everything they found. They set on fire all the towns they came to.

New International Version

Judges 20:1-48

The Israelites Punish the Benjamites

1Then all Israel from Dan to Beersheba and from the land of Gilead came together as one and assembled before the Lord in Mizpah. 2The leaders of all the people of the tribes of Israel took their places in the assembly of God’s people, four hundred thousand men armed with swords. 3(The Benjamites heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah.) Then the Israelites said, “Tell us how this awful thing happened.”

4So the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, said, “I and my concubine came to Gibeah in Benjamin to spend the night. 5During the night the men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They raped my concubine, and she died. 6I took my concubine, cut her into pieces and sent one piece to each region of Israel’s inheritance, because they committed this lewd and outrageous act in Israel. 7Now, all you Israelites, speak up and tell me what you have decided to do.”

8All the men rose up together as one, saying, “None of us will go home. No, not one of us will return to his house. 9But now this is what we’ll do to Gibeah: We’ll go up against it in the order decided by casting lots. 10We’ll take ten men out of every hundred from all the tribes of Israel, and a hundred from a thousand, and a thousand from ten thousand, to get provisions for the army. Then, when the army arrives at Gibeah20:10 One Hebrew manuscript; most Hebrew manuscripts Geba, a variant of Gibeah in Benjamin, it can give them what they deserve for this outrageous act done in Israel.” 11So all the Israelites got together and united as one against the city.

12The tribes of Israel sent messengers throughout the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What about this awful crime that was committed among you? 13Now turn those wicked men of Gibeah over to us so that we may put them to death and purge the evil from Israel.”

But the Benjamites would not listen to their fellow Israelites. 14From their towns they came together at Gibeah to fight against the Israelites. 15At once the Benjamites mobilized twenty-six thousand swordsmen from their towns, in addition to seven hundred able young men from those living in Gibeah. 16Among all these soldiers there were seven hundred select troops who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

17Israel, apart from Benjamin, mustered four hundred thousand swordsmen, all of them fit for battle.

18The Israelites went up to Bethel20:18 Or to the house of God; also in verse 26 and inquired of God. They said, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Benjamites?”

The Lord replied, “Judah shall go first.”

19The next morning the Israelites got up and pitched camp near Gibeah. 20The Israelites went out to fight the Benjamites and took up battle positions against them at Gibeah. 21The Benjamites came out of Gibeah and cut down twenty-two thousand Israelites on the battlefield that day. 22But the Israelites encouraged one another and again took up their positions where they had stationed themselves the first day. 23The Israelites went up and wept before the Lord until evening, and they inquired of the Lord. They said, “Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites?”

The Lord answered, “Go up against them.”

24Then the Israelites drew near to Benjamin the second day. 25This time, when the Benjamites came out from Gibeah to oppose them, they cut down another eighteen thousand Israelites, all of them armed with swords.

26Then 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. 27And the Israelites inquired of the Lord. (In those days the ark of the covenant of God was there, 28with 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.”

29Then Israel set an ambush around Gibeah. 30They went up against the Benjamites on the third day and took up positions against Gibeah as they had done before. 31The 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. 32While 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.”

33All 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 west20:33 Some Septuagint manuscripts and Vulgate; the meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain. of Gibeah.20:33 Hebrew Geba, a variant of Gibeah 34Then 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. 35The Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel, and on that day the Israelites struck down 25,100 Benjamites, all armed with swords. 36Then 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. 37Those who had been in ambush made a sudden dash into Gibeah, spread out and put the whole city to the sword. 38The Israelites had arranged with the ambush that they should send up a great cloud of smoke from the city, 39and 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.” 40But when the column of smoke began to rise from the city, the Benjamites turned and saw the whole city going up in smoke. 41Then the Israelites counterattacked, and the Benjamites were terrified, because they realized that disaster had come on them. 42So 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. 43They surrounded the Benjamites, chased them and easily20:43 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain. overran them in the vicinity of Gibeah on the east. 44Eighteen thousand Benjamites fell, all of them valiant fighters. 45As 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.

46On that day twenty-five thousand Benjamite swordsmen fell, all of them valiant fighters. 47But six hundred of them turned and fled into the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, where they stayed four months. 48The 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.