Israel’s War with the Benjamites
1 So all the children of Israel came out, from Dan to Beersheba, as well as from the land of Gilead, and the congregation gathered together as one man before the LORD at Mizpah. 2 And the leaders of all the people, all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand foot soldiers who drew the sword. 3 (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.)
Then the children of Israel said, “Tell us, how did this wicked deed happen?”
4 So the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, “My concubine and I went into Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin, to spend the night. 5 And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and surrounded the house at night because of me. They intended to kill me, but instead they ravished my concubine so that she died. 6 So I took hold of my concubine, cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of the inheritance of Israel, because they committed lewdness and outrage in Israel. 7 Look! All of you are children of Israel; give your advice and counsel here and now!”
8 So all the people arose as one man, saying, “None of us will go to his tent, nor will any turn back to his house; 9 but now this is the thing which we will do to Gibeah: We will go up against it by lot. 10 We will take ten men out of every hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, a hundred out of every thousand, and a thousand out of every ten thousand, to make provisions for the people, that when they come to Gibeah in Benjamin, they may repay all the vileness that they have done in Israel.” 11 So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united together as one man.
Then the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What is
this wickedness that has occurred among you? 13
Now therefore, deliver up the men, the perverted men[fn]
in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove the evil from Israel!” But the children of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brethren, the children of Israel. 14
Instead, the children of Benjamin gathered together from their cities to Gibeah, to go to battle against the children of Israel. 15
And from their cities at that time the children of Benjamin numbered twenty-six thousand men who drew the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah, who numbered seven hundred select men. 16
Among all this people were
seven hundred select men who were
left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair’s breadth
and not miss. 17
Now besides Benjamin, the men of Israel numbered four hundred thousand men who drew the sword; all of these were
men of war.
Then the children of Israel arose and went up to the house of God[fn]
to inquire of God. They said, “Which of us shall go up first to battle against the children of Benjamin?”
The LORD said, “Judah first!”
19 So the children of Israel rose 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 battle array to fight against them at Gibeah. 21 Then the children of Benjamin came out of Gibeah, and on that day cut down to the ground twenty-two thousand men of the Israelites. 22 And the people, that is, the men of Israel, encouraged themselves and again formed the battle line at the place where they had put themselves in array on the first day. 23 Then the children of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and asked counsel of the LORD, saying, “Shall I again draw near for battle against the children of my brother Benjamin?”
And the LORD said, “Go up against him.”
24 So the children of Israel approached the children of Benjamin on the second day. 25 And Benjamin went out against them from Gibeah on the second day, and cut down to the ground eighteen thousand more of the children of Israel; all these drew the sword.
Then all the children of Israel, that is, all the people, went up and came to the house of God[fn]
and wept. They sat there before the LORD
and fasted that day until evening; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD
So the children of Israel inquired of the LORD
(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 my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?”
And the LORD said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.”
29 Then Israel set men in ambush all around Gibeah. 30 And the children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day, and put themselves in battle array against Gibeah as at the other times. 31 So the children of Benjamin went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city. They began to strike down and kill some of the people, as at the other times, in the highways (one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah) and in the field, about thirty men of Israel. 32 And the children of Benjamin said, “They are defeated before us, as at first.”
But the children of Israel said, “Let us flee and draw them away from the city to the highways.” 33
So all the men of Israel rose from their place and put themselves in battle array at Baal Tamar. Then Israel’s men in ambush burst forth from their position in the plain of Geba. 34
And ten thousand select men from all Israel came against Gibeah, and the battle was fierce. But the Benjamites[fn]
did not know that disaster was
upon them. 35
defeated Benjamin before Israel. And the children of Israel destroyed that day twenty-five thousand one hundred Benjamites; all these drew the sword.
So the children of Benjamin saw that they were defeated. The men of Israel had given ground to the Benjamites, because they relied on the men in ambush whom they had set against Gibeah. 37
And the men in ambush quickly rushed upon Gibeah; the men in ambush spread out and struck the whole city with the edge of the sword. 38
Now the appointed signal between the men of Israel and the men in ambush was that they would make a great cloud of smoke rise up from the city, 39
whereupon the men of Israel would turn in battle. Now Benjamin had begun to strike and
kill about thirty of the men of Israel. For they said, “Surely they are defeated before us, as in
the first battle.” 40
But when the cloud began to rise from the city in a column of smoke, the Benjamites looked behind them, and there was the whole city going up in smoke
to heaven. 41
And when the men of Israel turned back, the men of Benjamin panicked, for they saw that disaster had come upon them. 42
Therefore they turned their backs
before the men of Israel in the direction of the wilderness; but the battle overtook them, and whoever came
out of the cities they destroyed in their midst. 43
They surrounded the Benjamites, chased them, and
easily trampled them down as far as the front of Gibeah toward the east. 44
And eighteen thousand men of Benjamin fell; all these were
men of valor. 45
turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon; and they cut down five thousand of them on the highways. Then they pursued them relentlessly up to Gidom, and killed two thousand of them. 46
So all who fell of Benjamin that day were twenty-five thousand men who drew the sword; all these were
men of valor.
47 But six hundred men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and they stayed at the rock of Rimmon for four months. 48 And the men of Israel turned back against the children of Benjamin, and struck them down with the edge of the sword—from every city, men and beasts, all who were found. They also set fire to all the cities they came to.
Wives Provided for the Benjamites
Now the men of Israel had sworn an oath at Mizpah, saying, “None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin as a wife.” 2
Then the people came to the house of God,[fn]
and remained there before God till evening. They lifted up their voices and wept bitterly, 3
and said, “O LORD
God of Israel, why has this come to pass in Israel, that today there should be one tribe missing
4 So it was, on the next morning, that the people rose early and built an altar there, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. 5 The children of Israel said, “Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who did not come up with the assembly to the LORD?” For they had made a great oath concerning anyone who had not come up to the LORD at Mizpah, saying, “He shall surely be put to death.” 6 And the children of Israel grieved for Benjamin their brother, and said, “One tribe is cut off from Israel today. 7 What shall we do for wives for those who remain, seeing we have sworn by the LORD that we will not give them our daughters as wives?”
8 And they said, “What one is there from the tribes of Israel who did not come up to Mizpah to the LORD?” And, in fact, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh Gilead to the assembly. 9 For when the people were counted, indeed, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead was there. 10 So the congregation sent out there twelve thousand of their most valiant men, and commanded them, saying, “Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead with the edge of the sword, including the women and children. 11 And this is the thing that you shall do: You shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman who has known a man intimately.” 12 So they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead four hundred young virgins who had not known a man intimately; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
13 Then the whole congregation sent word to the children of Benjamin who were at the rock of Rimmon, and announced peace to them. 14 So Benjamin came back at that time, and they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh Gilead; and yet they had not found enough for them.
15 And the people grieved for Benjamin, because the LORD had made a void in the tribes of Israel.
16 Then the elders of the congregation said, “What shall we do for wives for those who remain, since the women of Benjamin have been destroyed?” 17 And they said, “There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, that a tribe may not be destroyed from Israel. 18 However, we cannot give them wives from our daughters, for the children of Israel have sworn an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be the one who gives a wife to Benjamin.’ ” 19 Then they said, “In fact, there is a yearly feast of the LORD in Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.”
20 Therefore they instructed the children of Benjamin, saying, “Go, lie in wait in the vineyards, 21 and watch; and just when the daughters of Shiloh come out to perform their dances, then come out from the vineyards, and every man catch a wife for himself from the daughters of Shiloh; then go to the land of Benjamin. 22 Then it shall be, when their fathers or their brothers come to us to complain, that we will say to them, ‘Be kind to them for our sakes, because we did not take a wife for any of them in the war; for it is not as though you have given the women to them at this time, making yourselves guilty of your oath.’ ”
23 And the children of Benjamin did so; they took enough wives for their number from those who danced, whom they caught. Then they went and returned to their inheritance, and they rebuilt the cities and dwelt in them. 24 So the children of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family; they went out from there, every man to his inheritance.
25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.