Judges Chapter 20

The men of Gibeah, which was a city within the land of Benjamin, had wickedly caused the death of a Levite’s concubine. (see Judges Chapter 19) As a result, the Levite had sent pieces of her to every tribe in Israel and made all known of what had happened against him. This chapter continues by telling what happened to the people after this had occurred. It begins:

1 Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the Lord in Mizpeh.
2 And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword.
3 (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel were gone up to Mizpeh.) Then said the children of Israel, Tell us, how was this wickedness?
4 And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was slain, answered and said, I came into Gibeah that belongeth to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge.
5 And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, and thought to have slain me: and my concubine have they forced, that she is dead.
6 And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel: for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel.
7 Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.

400,000 Israelites from across the nation, gathered together as one against the tribe of Benjamin. The Israelite army desired to know what had happened, and the Levite told them his story against the men of Gibeah. He told them he sent her pieces throughout the tribes of Israel, because these men had committed lewdness and folly, or wickedness against him and disgrace to Israel. He asked them what was to be done.

8 And all the people arose as one man, saying, We will not any of us go to his tent, neither will we any of us turn into his house.
9 But now this shall be the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up by lot against it;
10 And we will take ten men of an hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and an hundred of a thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to fetch victual for the people, that they may do, when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have wrought in Israel.
11 So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.

The Israelites would not do anything to the Levite, but they decided to take their army towards Gibeah and stand united against the wickedness there.

12 And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness is this that is done among you?
13 Now therefore deliver us the men, the children of Belial, which are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel. But the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel:
14 But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.
15 And the children of Benjamin were numbered at that time out of the cities twenty and six thousand men that drew sword, beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven hundred chosen men.
16 Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.
17 And the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew sword: all these were men of war.

The tribes of Israel sent men through the land of Benjamin to learn what they were doing about the wickedness there. They wanted the men of Belial in Gibeah, to be delivered for punishment for their wickedness. The tribe of Benjamin would not deliver the men of Gibeah, and instead they gathered together to protect Gibeah and fight the the Israelite army. Benjamin had 26,700 men to fight, among whom were many who could use the sling with precision and accuracy. The Israelites had 400,000 men who were men of the army with swords.

18 And the children of Israel arose, and went up to the house of God, and asked counsel of God, and said, Which of us shall go up first to the battle against the children of Benjamin? And the Lord said, Judah shall go up first.
19 And the children of Israel rose up in the morning, and encamped against Gibeah.
20 And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel put themselves in array to fight against them at Gibeah.
21 And the children of Benjamin came forth out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to the ground of the Israelites that day twenty and two thousand men.
22 And the people the men of Israel encouraged themselves, and set their battle again in array in the place where they put themselves in array the first day.
23 (And the children of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until even, and asked counsel of the Lord, saying, Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And the Lord said, Go up against him.)
24 And the children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the second day.
25 And Benjamin went forth against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed down to the ground of the children of Israel again eighteen thousand men; all these drew the sword.

The Israelite sought the wisdom of God, as to whom should fight first of their men. The tribe of Judah was called to go first. 22,000 men of Israel were destroyed by the men of Gibeah. The Israelites gained courage the second day, after praying to the Lord to know if they should return to fight, and went back to fight the men of Benjamin. Again, the Israelites were beaten and lost 18,000 men.

26 Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the Lord, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.
27 And the children of Israel inquired of the Lord, (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days,
28 And Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days,) saying, Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? And the Lord said, Go up; for to morrow I will deliver them into thine hand.
29 And Israel set liers in wait round about Gibeah.
30 And the children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day, and put themselves in array against Gibeah, as at other times.
31 And the children of Benjamin went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city; and they began to smite of the people, and kill, as at other times, in the highways, of which one goeth up to the house of God, and the other to Gibeah in the field, about thirty men of Israel.
32 And the children of Benjamin said, They are smitten down before us, as at the first. But the children of Israel said, Let us flee, and draw them from the city unto the highways.
33 And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place, and put themselves in array at Baal-tamar: and the liers in wait of Israel came forth out of their places, even out of the meadows of Gibeah.
34 And there came against Gibeah ten thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and the battle was sore: but they knew not that evil was near them.
35 And the Lord smote Benjamin before Israel: and the children of Israel destroyed of the Benjamites that day twenty and five thousand and an hundred men: all these drew the sword.
36 So the children of Benjamin saw that they were smitten: for the men of Israel gave place to the Benjamites, because they trusted unto the liers in wait which they had set beside Gibeah.
37 And the liers in wait hasted, and rushed upon Gibeah; and the liers in wait drew themselves along, and smote all the city with the edge of the sword.
38 Now there was an appointed sign between the men of Israel and the liers in wait, that they should make a great flame with smoke rise up out of the city.
39 And when the men of Israel retired in the battle, Benjamin began to smite and kill of the men of Israel about thirty persons: for they said, Surely they are smitten down before us, as in the first battle.
40 But when the flame began to arise up out of the city with a pillar of smoke, the Benjamites looked behind them, and, behold, the flame of the city ascended up to heaven.
41 And when the men of Israel turned again, the men of Benjamin were amazed: for they saw that evil was come upon them.
42 Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel unto the way of the wilderness; but the battle overtook them; and them which came out of the cities they destroyed in the midst of them.
43 Thus they inclosed the Benjamites round about, and chased them, and trode them down with ease over against Gibeah toward the sunrising.
44 And there fell of Benjamin eighteen thousand men; all these were men of valour.
45 And they turned and fled toward the wilderness unto the rock of Rimmon: and they gleaned of them in the highways five thousand men; and pursued hard after them unto Gidom, and slew two thousand men of them.
46 So that all which fell that day of Benjamin were twenty and five thousand men that drew the sword; all these were men of valour.
47 But six hundred men turned and fled to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon, and abode in the rock Rimmon four months.
48 And the men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that they came to.

The Israelites returned to the tabernacle to plead with the Lord. They fasted, prayed and made sacrifices to the Lord. They prayed to know if they should return again to fight the tribe of Benjamin. The Lord promised them that the Benjamites would be delivered into their hands that next day. The army of Israel surrounded Gibeah with men waiting to attack. On the third day, they gathered against Gibeah and the army of Benjamin. The men of Benjamin went out to fight them, killing about thirty of the Israelite army. In the process, they were drawn out away from the city of Gibeah. The men of Benjamin felt that they were defeating the Israelites again. The Israelites began to flee, to draw them away from the city. Then, the 10,000 Israelites that were hiding, went against the city of Gibeah, and after a difficult fight, they destroyed the city. The Israelites defeated 25,000 men of the tribe of Bejamin, because the Lord was with them. The Israelites had chosen a sign between the army and those that were hidden, which was that a large flame would rise from the city. The Israelites had stopped fighting the men of Benjamin, which caused the Benjamites to feel they were defeating them. The men of Benjamin attacked the Israelites, killing about 30 more men. Then, they saw that the city was on fire behind them. The Israelites knew it was time, and turned against the men of Benjamin. The Benjamites were surprised and knew they had been outwitted. They tried to run away into the wilderness, but they could not get away. 18,000 men of Benjamin were killed in that part of the battle. Then 5,000 more were killed as they tried to escape to the highways. Also, 2,000 more who fled towards Gidom. 25,000 Benjamites had fallen that day. 600 of their men escaped and hid in the rock Rimmon for 4 months. The Israelites turned and destroyed all the cities of Benjamin.

This battle was a loss to the tribes of Israel. How hard it must have been to fight against fellow Israelites, whose ancestors had fought with their own, to gain the land of promise. However, the Lord had given commandments, that they were to remove wickedness from among them, and so the rest of Israel was doing their duty by standing against the men of Gibeah. The Benjamites aligned themselves with the men who had brought disgrace to their nation, and became the enemy of righteousness. The Israelites aligned themselves with the Lord. They fasted, prayed and gave sacrifice to the Lord, for His support in their fight. The Lord was there for them, and they were victorious in this battle against wickedness. We can look to the example of the Israelites, and know that if we will turn to the Lord and stand against those things that are wicked in our own lives, He will be there for us and help us to withstand the blows of our enemies. Those things that will draw us to God and show Him that we desire his help, are the same for us as for the Israelites, even prayer, fasting, and sacrifice of those things that the Lord has asked of us in our day.

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