191In those days, before Israel had a king, there was a Levite living far back in the hill country of Ephraim. He took a woman from Bethlehem in Judah to be his concubine, 2but she became angry with him, went back to her father's house in Bethlehem, and stayed there four months. 3Then the man decided to go after her and try to persuade her to return to him. He took his servant and two donkeys with him. The woman showed the Levite into the house, and when her father saw him, he gave him a warm welcome. 4The father insisted that he stay, and so he stayed for three days. The couple had their meals and spent the nights there. 5On the morning of the fourth day they woke up early and got ready to go. But the woman's father said to the Levite, “Have something to eat first. It will do you good. You can go later.”
6So the two men sat down and ate and drank together. Then the woman's father said to him, “Please spend the night here and enjoy yourself.”
7The Levite got up to go, but the father urged him to stay, so he spent another night there. 8Early in the morning of the fifth day he started to leave, but the woman's father said, “Eat something, please. Wait until later in the day.” So the two men ate together.
9When the man, his concubine, and the servant once more started to leave, the father said, “Look, it's almost evening now; you might as well stay all night. It will be dark soon; stay here and have a good time. Tomorrow you can get up early for your journey and go home.”
10-11But the man did not want to spend another night there, so he and his concubine started on their way, with their servant and two donkeys with pack saddles. It was late in the day when they came near Jebus (that is, Jerusalem), so the servant said to his master, “Why don't we stop and spend the night here in this Jebusite city?”
12-13But his master said, “We're not going to stop in a city where the people are not Israelites. We'll pass on and go a little farther and spend the night at Gibeah or Ramah.” 14So they went past Jebus and continued on their way. It was sunset when they came to Gibeah in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. 15They turned off the road to go and spend the night there. They went into the city and sat down in the square, but no one offered to take them home for the night.
16While they were there, an old man came by at the end of a day's work in the fields. He was originally from the hill country of Ephraim, but he was now living in Gibeah. (The other people there were from the tribe of Benjamin.) 17The old man noticed the traveller in the city square and asked him, “Where do you come from? Where are you going?”
18The Levite answered, “We have been to Bethlehem in Judah, and now we are on our way home19.18 One ancient translation home; Hebrew to the house of the LORD. deep in the hill country of Ephraim. No one will put us up for the night, 19even though we have fodder and straw for our donkeys, as well as bread and wine for my concubine and me and for my servant. We have everything we need.”
20The old man said, “You are welcome in my home! I'll take care of you; you don't have to spend the night in the square.” 21So he took them home with him and fed their donkeys. His guests washed their feet and had a meal.
They were enjoying themselves when all of a sudden some sexual perverts from the town surrounded the house and started beating on the door. They said to the old man, “Bring out that man that came home with you! We want to have sex with him!”
23But the old man went outside and said to them, “No, my friends! Please! Don't do such an evil, immoral thing! This man is my guest. 24Look! Here is his concubine and my own daughter, who is a virgin. I'll bring them out now, and you can have them. Do with them whatever you want. But don't do such an awful thing to this man!” 25But the men would not listen to him. So the Levite took his concubine and put her outside with them. They raped her and abused her all night long and didn't stop until morning.
26At dawn the woman came and fell down at the door of the old man's house, where her husband was. She was still there when daylight came. 27Her husband got up that morning, and when he opened the door to go on his way, he found his concubine lying in front of the house with her hands reaching for the door. 28He said, “Get up. Let's go.” But there was no answer. So he put her body across the donkey and started on his way home. 29
When he arrived, he went into the house and got a knife. He took his concubine's body, cut it into twelve pieces, and sent one piece to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 30Everyone who saw it said, “We have never heard of such a thing! Nothing like this has ever happened since the Israelites left Egypt! We have to do something about this! What will it be?”
201All the people of Israel from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, as well as from the land of Gilead in the east, answered the call. They gathered in one body in the LORD's presence at Mizpah. 2The leaders of all the tribes of Israel were present at this gathering of God's people, and there were 400,000 foot soldiers. 3Meanwhile the people of Benjamin heard that all the other Israelites had gathered at Mizpah.
The Israelites asked, “Tell us, how was this crime committed?” 4The Levite whose concubine had been murdered answered, “My concubine and I went to Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin to spend the night. 5The men of Gibeah came to attack me and surrounded the house at night. They intended to kill me; instead they raped my concubine, and she died. 6I took her body, cut it in pieces, and sent one piece to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. These people have committed an evil and immoral act among us. 7All of you here are Israelites. What are we going to do about this?”
8All the people stood up together and said, “None of us, whether he lives in a tent or in a house, will go home. 9This is what we will do: we will draw lots and choose some men to attack Gibeah.20.9 One ancient translation to attack Gibeah; Hebrew to Gibeah. 10One tenth of the men in Israel will provide food for the army, and the others will go and punish Gibeah20.10 One ancient translation Gibeah; Hebrew Geba. for this immoral act that they have committed in Israel.” 11So all the men in Israel assembled with one purpose — to attack the town.
12The Israelite tribes sent messengers all through the territory of the tribe of Benjamin to say, “What is this crime that you have committed? 13Now hand over those perverts in Gibeah, so that we can kill them and remove this evil from Israel.” But the people of Benjamin paid no attention to the other Israelites. 14From all the cities of Benjamin they came to Gibeah to fight against the other people of Israel. 15-16They called out 26,000 soldiers from their cities that day. Besides these, the citizens of Gibeah gathered 700 specially chosen men20.15–16 Some ancient translations men; Hebrew men. In all this number there were 700 specially chosen men. who were left handed. Every one of them could sling a stone at a strand of hair and never miss. 17The rest of the Israelite tribes gathered 400,000 trained soldiers.
18The Israelites went to the place of worship at Bethel, and there they asked God, “Which tribe should attack the Benjaminites first?”
The LORD answered, “The tribe of Judah.”
19So the Israelites started out the next morning and made camp near the city of Gibeah. 20They went to attack the army of Benjamin, and placed the soldiers in position facing the city. 21The army of Benjamin came out of the city, and before the day was over they had killed 22,000 Israelite soldiers. 22-23Then the Israelites went to the place of worship and mourned in the presence of the LORD until evening. They asked him, “Should we go again into battle against our brothers the Benjaminites?”
The LORD answered, “Yes.”
So the Israelite army was encouraged, and they placed their soldiers in the same position as they had been the day before. 24They marched against the army of Benjamin a second time. 25And for the second time the Benjaminites came out of Gibeah, and this time they killed 18,000 trained Israelite soldiers. 26Then all the people of Israel went up to Bethel and mourned. They sat there in the LORD's presence and did not eat until evening. They offered fellowship sacrifices and burnt some sacrifices whole — all in the presence of the LORD. 27-28God's Covenant Box was there at Bethel in those days, and Phinehas, the son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron, was in charge of it. The people asked the LORD, “Should we go out to fight our brothers the Benjaminites again, or should we give up?”
The LORD answered, “Fight. Tomorrow I will give you victory over them.”
29So the Israelites put some soldiers in hiding round Gibeah. 30Then for the third successive day they marched against the army of Benjamin and placed their soldiers in battle position facing Gibeah, as they had done before. 31The Benjaminites came out to fight and were led away from the city. As before, they began killing some Israelites in the open country on the road to Bethel and on the road to Gibeah. They killed about thirty Israelites. 32The Benjaminites said, “We've beaten them just as we did before.”
But the Israelites had planned to retreat and lead them away from the city on to the roads. 33So when the main army of the Israelites pulled back and regrouped at Baaltamar, the men surrounding Gibeah suddenly rushed out of their hiding places in the rocky country round the city.20.33 One ancient translation the city (that is, Gibeah); Hebrew Geba. 3410,000 men, specially chosen out of all Israel, attacked Gibeah, and the fighting was hard. The Benjaminites had not realized that they were about to be destroyed. 35The LORD gave Israel victory over the army of Benjamin. The Israelites killed 25,100 of the enemy that day, 36and the Benjaminites realized they were defeated.
The main body of the Israelite army had retreated from the Benjaminites because they were relying on the men that they had put in hiding round Gibeah. 37These men ran quickly towards Gibeah; they spread out in the city and killed everyone there. 38The main Israelite army and the men in hiding had arranged a signal. When they saw a big cloud of smoke going up from the town, 39the Israelites out on the battlefield were to turn round. By this time the Benjaminites had already killed the thirty Israelites. They told themselves, “Yes, we've beaten them just as we did before.” 40Then the signal appeared; a cloud of smoke began to go up from the town. The Benjaminites looked behind them and were amazed to see the whole city going up in flames. 41Then the Israelites turned round, and the Benjaminites were thrown into a panic because they realized that they were about to be destroyed. 42They retreated from the Israelites and ran towards the open country, but they could not escape. They were caught between the main army and the men who were now coming out of the city,20.42 Probable text city; Hebrew cities. and they were destroyed. 43The Israelites had the enemy trapped, and without stopping they pursued them as far as a point east of Gibeah, killing them as they went.20.43 Verse 43 in Hebrew is unclear. 4418,000 of the best Benjaminite soldiers were killed. 45The others turned and ran towards the open country to the Rock of Rimmon. 5,000 of them were killed along the road. The Israelites continued to pursue the rest to Gidom, killing 2,000. 46In all, 25,000 Benjaminites were killed that day — all of them brave soldiers.
47But 600 men were able to escape to the open country to the Rock of Rimmon, and they stayed there four months. 48The Israelites turned back against the rest of the Benjaminites and killed them all — men, women, and children, and animals as well. They burnt every town in the area.
211When the Israelites had gathered at Mizpah, they had made a solemn promise to the LORD: “None of us will allow a Benjaminite to marry a daughter of ours.” 2So now the people of Israel went to Bethel and sat there in the presence of God until evening. Loudly and bitterly they mourned: 3“LORD God of Israel, why has this happened? Why is the tribe of Benjamin about to disappear from Israel?”
4Early the next morning the people built an altar there, offered fellowship sacrifices and burnt some sacrifices whole. 5They asked, “Is there any group out of all the tribes of Israel that did not go to the gathering in the LORD's presence at Mizpah?” (They had taken a solemn oath that anyone who had not gone to Mizpah would be put to death.) 6The people of Israel felt sorry for their brothers the Benjaminites and said, “Today Israel has lost one of its tribes. 7What shall we do to provide wives for the men of Benjamin who are left? We have made a solemn promise to the LORD that we will not give them any of our daughters.”
8When they asked if there was some group out of the tribes of Israel that had not gone to the gathering at Mizpah, they found out that no one from Jabesh in Gilead had been there; 9at the roll call of the army no one from Jabesh had responded. 10So the assembly sent 12,000 of their bravest men with the orders, “Go and kill everyone in Jabesh, including the women and children. 11Kill all the males, and also every woman who is not a virgin.” 12Among the people in Jabesh they found 400 young virgins, so they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
13Then the whole assembly sent word to the Benjaminites who were at the Rock of Rimmon and offered to end the war. 14The Benjaminites came back, and the other Israelites gave them the girls from Jabesh whom they had not killed. But there were not enough of them.
15The people felt sorry for the Benjaminites because the LORD had broken the unity of the tribes of Israel. 16So the leaders of the gathering said, “There are no more women in the tribe of Benjamin. What shall we do to provide wives for the men who are left? 17Israel must not lose one of its twelve tribes. We must find a way for the tribe of Benjamin to survive, 18but we cannot allow them to marry our daughters, because we have put a curse on anyone of us who allows a Benjaminite to marry one of our daughters.”
19Then they thought, “The yearly festival of the LORD at Shiloh is coming soon.” (Shiloh is north of Bethel, south of Lebonah, and east of the road between Bethel and Shechem.) 20They said to the Benjaminites, “Go and hide in the vineyards 21and watch. When the young women of Shiloh come out to dance during the festival, you come out of the vineyards. Each of you take a wife by force from among them and take her back to the territory of Benjamin with you. 22If their fathers or brothers come to you21.22 One ancient translation you; Hebrew us. and protest, you21.22 Probable text you; Hebrew we. can say, ‘Please let us keep them, because we did not take them from you in battle to be our wives. And since you did not give them to us, you are not guilty of breaking your promise.’ ”
23The Benjaminites did this; each of them chose a wife from the women who were dancing at Shiloh and carried her away. Then they went back to their own territory, rebuilt their towns, and lived there. 24At the same time the rest of the Israelites left, and every man went back to his own tribe and family and to his own property.
There was no king in Israel at that time. All the people did just as they pleased.