The Tribe of Benjamin Is Attacked by the Other Tribes
20 Then all of the people of Israel came out. They came from the whole land between Dan and Beersheba. They also came from the land of Gilead. All of them gathered together in the sight of the Lord at Mizpah. 2The leaders of all of the tribes of Israel came. They took their places among the people of God who were gathered together. There were 400,000 fighting men who were carrying swords. 3The tribe of Benjamin heard that the people of Israel had gone up to Mizpah. The people of Israel said, “Tell us how that awful thing happened.”
4So the Levite spoke. He was the husband of the woman who had been murdered. He said, “I and my concubine went to Gibeah in Benjamin. We spent the night there. 5During the night the men of Gibeah came after me. They surrounded the house. They were planning to kill me. They raped my concubine, and she died.
6“I took my concubine and cut her into pieces. I sent one piece to each part of Israel’s territory. I did it because they had done a very terrible thing in Israel. 7All of you men of Israel, speak up now. Give your decision.”
8All of the men got up together. They said, “None of us will go home. Not one of us will return to his house. 9Here is what we’ll do to Gibeah. We’ll use lots to tell us how to attack the city. 10We’ll take ten men out of every 100 from all of the tribes of Israel. We’ll take 100 from every 1,000. We’ll take 1,000 from every 10,000. The men we take will get supplies for the army. Then the army will go to Gibeah in Benjamin. They’ll give Gibeah exactly what they should get because of the evil thing they did in Israel.”
11So all of the men of Israel came together to fight against the city.
12The tribes of Israel sent men through the whole tribe of Benjamin. They said, “What about this awful crime that was committed among you? 13Hand over those evil men of Gibeah. We’ll put them to death. In that way we’ll get rid of those evil people.”
But the people of Benjamin wouldn’t listen to the other people of Israel. 14They came together at Gibeah from their towns. They came to fight against the other people of Israel.
15Right away the people of Benjamin gathered together 26,000 men from their towns. They were carrying swords. The men were added to the 700 who had been chosen from those who were living in Gibeah. 16Among all of those men there were 700 who were left-handed. Each of them could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.
17Israel gathered 400,000 men together. They were carrying swords. All of them were fighting men. That number didn’t include the tribe of Benjamin.
18The people of Israel went up to Bethel. There they spoke to God. They asked him, “Who will go up first and fight for us against the people of Benjamin?”
The Lord answered, “The tribe of Judah will go first.”
19The next morning the people of Israel got up. They set up camp near Gibeah. 20The men of Israel went out to fight against the men of Benjamin. They took up their battle positions against them at Gibeah. 21The men of Benjamin came out of Gibeah. They killed 22,000 men of Israel on the field of battle that day. 22But the men of Israel cheered each other on. They again took up their positions in the places where they had been the first day.
23The men of Israel went and sobbed in the sight of the Lord until evening. They spoke to the Lord. They asked, “Should we go up again to fight against the men of Benjamin? They are our fellow Israelites.”
The Lord answered, “Go up and fight against them.”
24The men of Israel came near the men of Benjamin on the second day. 25The men of Benjamin came out from Gibeah to oppose them. That time they killed 18,000 more men of Israel. All of the men who died had been carrying swords.
26Then all of the people of Israel went up to Bethel. They sat there and sobbed in the sight of the Lord. They didn’t eat anything that day until evening. Then they brought burnt offerings and friendship offerings to the Lord.
27Again the people of Israel spoke to the Lord. In those days the ark of the covenant of God was there. 28Phinehas was serving as priest at the ark. He was the son of Eleazar. Eleazar was the son of Aaron. The people of Israel asked, “Should we go up again to fight against the men of Benjamin? They are our fellow Israelites.”
The Lord answered, “Go. Tomorrow I will hand them over to you.”
29Then Israel hid some men and had them wait all around Gibeah. 30They went up to fight against the men of Benjamin on the third day. They took up their positions against Gibeah, just as they had done before.
31The men of Benjamin came out to fight against them. They were drawn away from the city. They began to wound and kill the men of Israel just as they had done before. About 30 men fell in battle. They fell in the open fields and on the roads. One of the roads led to Bethel. The other led to Gibeah.
32The men of Benjamin said, “We’re winning the battle over them, just as we did before.”
But the men of Israel said, “Let’s pull back. Let’s draw them away from the city to the roads.”
33All of the men of Israel moved away from their places. They took up new battle positions at Baal Tamar. The men who had been hiding charged out. They came from west of Gibeah.
34Then 10,000 of Israel’s finest men attacked Gibeah. The men of Benjamin didn’t realize they were about to be destroyed. The fighting was very heavy.
35The Lord helped Israel win the battle over Benjamin. On that day the men of Israel struck down 25,100 men of Benjamin. All of the men who died had been carrying swords. 36Then the men of Benjamin saw that they had lost the battle.
The men of Israel had moved away from their positions in front of Benjamin. They had depended on the men they had hidden near Gibeah. 37Suddenly the men who had been hiding rushed into Gibeah. They spread out. Then they killed everyone in the city with their swords.
38The men of Israel had made a plan with those who had been hiding. They had told them to send up a large cloud of smoke from the city. 39Then the men of Israel would turn around and attack.
The men of Benjamin had begun to wound and kill the men of Israel. They had struck down about 30 of them. They had said, “We’re winning the battle over them, just as we did the first time.”
40But a column of smoke began to go up from the city. The men of Benjamin turned around. They saw the smoke of the whole city going up into the sky.
41Then the men of Israel turned around and attacked them.
The men of Benjamin were terrified. They realized they were going to be destroyed. 42So they ran away from the men of Israel. They ran toward the desert. But they couldn’t escape the battle. Other men of Israel came out of the towns. There they struck the men of Benjamin down. 43They surrounded them. They chased them and easily caught up with them. That happened east of Gibeah.
44So 18,000 men of Benjamin fell in battle. All of them were brave fighters.
45Some men of Benjamin turned back. They ran toward the desert to the rock of Rimmon. As they did, the men of Israel struck down 5,000 of them along the roads. They kept chasing the men of Benjamin all the way to Gidom. Along the way they struck down 2,000 more.
46On that day 25,000 men of Benjamin fell in battle. They had been carrying swords. All of them were brave fighters. 47But 600 men turned back. They ran into the desert to the rock of Rimmon. They stayed there for four months.
48The men of Israel went back to Benjamin. They killed the people in all of the towns with their swords. They even killed the animals. So they killed everything they found. They set on fire all of the towns they came to.
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