Good News Translation (GNB)
20

Israel Prepares for War

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.

The War against the Benjaminites

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.

How the Israelites Won

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.

21

Wives for the Tribe of Benjamin

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: 3LORD 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.

25

21.25:
Judg 17.6
There was no king in Israel at that time. All the people did just as they pleased.