A Holy Civil War
(It had something to do with rotting, concubine body-part messages)
Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was
gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of
Gilead, unto the LORD in Mizpeh.
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.
(20:1-2) After receiving the Levite's rotting concubine body part message (see the last chapter
for the gory details), the twelve tribes immediately assembled before the Lord in Mizpeh,
along with the entire population of Israel and 400,000 soldiers. (What else would you do if you got a hunk of rotting flesh in the mail?)
(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
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
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.
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.
Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.
(20:3-7) When they arrived at Mizpeh, the Israelites asked the meaning of the rotting flesh messages.
So the Levite told them the nasty story that
is found in Judges 19, except that he left out the part about
how he gave his concubine to the mob to do with as they pleased.
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.
But now this shall be the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up
by lot against it;
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.
So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as
(20:8-10) When the Israelites heard this, all of the Israelites including the 400,000 soldiers said the following words
together in complete unison:
(Must have taken some practice.)
"We will not any of us go to his tent,
neither will we any of us turn into his house. But now this shall be the thing which we will do to Gibeah;
we will go up by lot against it; 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."
And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin,
saying, What wickedness is this that is done among you?
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.
(20:12-13) The Israelites sent messengers to the tribe of Benjamin, demanding that they turn over the men
from Gibeah (the town whose men wanted to have sex with the Levite but settled for his concubine instead) so
they could put them to death.
But the Benjamites refused to hand over the "sons of Belial" in the town of Gibeah.
But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the
cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.
(20:14) So the other tribes of Israel decided to go to war against the tribe of Benjamin.
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.
Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded;
every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.
(20:15-16) There were 26,000 Benjamites, and 700 soldiers from Gibeah, plus 700 lefties who
"could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss."
And the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred
thousand men that drew sword: all these were men of war.
(20:17) On the other side, there were 400,000 soldiers from the other tribes of Israel.
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.
(20:18) But the Israelites didn't know which tribe should be first to fight the Benjamites.
So they asked God. He said the tribe of Judah should go first.
And the children of Israel rose up in the morning, and encamped against
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.
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.
(20:19-21) The Israelites (presumably from the tribe of Judah) fought the Benjamites. But God's plan didn't
work out too well. The triibe of Benjamin, with their sharp-shooting lefies, killed 22,000 men.
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
(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.)
And the children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the
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.
(20:22-25) After 22,000 Israelites were killed by the Benjamites, they cry all day before the Lord. Then they ask God (again) if they
should go to war against Benjamin. God said yes, so they try it again, and another 18,000 Israelites are killed.
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
And the children of Israel enquired of the LORD, (for the ark of the
covenant of God was there in those days,
(20:26-27) Once again all of the Israelites sit and weep before God, and ask him (for the third time)
if they should attack the Benjamites.
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.
And Israel set liers in wait round about Gibeah.
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.
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.
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.
And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place, and put themselves
in array at Baaltamar: and the liers in wait of Israel came forth out of
their places, even out of the meadows of Gibeah.
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.
(20:28) God gave them his usual answer: Attack. This time he promised that he would deliver them into their hands.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
And when the men of Israel turned again, the men of Benjamin were amazed:
for they saw that evil was come upon them.
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.
Thus they inclosed the Benjamites round about, and chased them, and trode
them down with ease over against Gibeah toward the sunrising.
(20:37) The Israelites kill everyone in the city of Gibeah with the edge of the sword.
20:44 And there fell of Benjamin eighteen thousand men; all these were men of
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.
20:46 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.
(20:44-46) Another 25,000 Benjamites are killed by the God-assisted Israelites. (See note for verse 35
But six hundred men turned and fled to the wilderness unto the rock
Rimmon, and abode in the rock Rimmon four months.
(20:47) Six hundred men survive the god-assisted genocide of the tribe of Benjamin. These are the only survivors
and they are the subject of the next and final chapter of the book of Judges.
20:48 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.
(20:48) The Israelites finish their massacre of the Benjamites by killing all the men, animals, and
everything they could find in every Benjamite city. Then they burned the cities to the ground.
(In this way God helped the Israelites make everything better after the rape and dismemberment of