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Explaining the Book

Bible Study Guide

Judges

Judges 20 Commentary

The actions of the sexually perverted mob was shocking. But the coldness of this Levite is almost worse. You mean to say he slept comfortably through the night, knowing what was happening to his concubine? And then he just barks at her to get up when he sees her lifeless body?

And dwelling on the process that would have been involved in the dividing of the body of the Levite’s concubine is a little more than I care to meditate upon. So, we’ll move on.

20:1 ¶ 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. 2 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. 3 (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 wickedness? 4 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 lodge. 5 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.

So, the Levite conveniently leaves out the part about how he threw her to the wolves.

6 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. 7 Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel. 8 ¶ 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. 9 But now this shall be the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up by lot against it; [To fight them.] 10 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,

So, some will feed the troops who attack Gibeah.

that they may do, when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have wrought in Israel. 11 So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.

Wow, finally, some unity in Israel. Too bad it took a Civil War to accomplish that unity.

12 ¶ And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness is this that is done among you? 13 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.

That’s a reasonable request. They committed a crime. Now they pay.

But the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel: 14 But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel. 15 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. [So 26,700 warriors.] 16 Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss. 17 And the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew sword: all these were men of war. [400,000:26,700]

18 ¶ 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.

Does this sound familiar? It should. This is eerily reminiscent of chapter 1 of this book. Only, back then Israel was fighting external enemies. Now they’re fighting themselves. So, God commands Judah to go first.

19 ¶ And the children of Israel rose up 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 array to fight against them at Gibeah. 21 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.

Oh, but I thought God told them to go. But they lost. That’s concerning.

22 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 first day. 23 (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.)

God again gives them the green light.

24 ¶ And the children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the second day. 25 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.

40,000 Israelites dead so far. 10% of their forces.

26 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 the LORD. [They’re serious now.] 27 And the children of Israel enquired of the LORD, (for 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,) [So, the events recorded here, just like last lesson, happened relatively soon after Joshua died. Again, how far and how fast Israel fell.] 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.

Finally, the Lord gives assurance of victory.

29 ¶ And Israel set liers in wait round about Gibeah.

Sounds like Bethel again…

30 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. 31 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. 32 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. 33 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. 34 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. 35 And the LORD [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, Benjamin started with 26,700 men. They just lost 25,100 men. That leaves 1,600 men.

Then verses 36 through 46 retells the events we just heard about, but in greater detail. That’s not uncommon in Hebrew narrative.

Skip to verse 47.

47 But six hundred men [Of Benjamin] turned and fled to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon, and abode in the rock Rimmon four months.

Which is also the same amount of time the Levite’s concubine fled from him.

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.

Basically, Israel is doing to Benjamin what it should have been doing to the Canaanites – destroy every last one of them. Now, Israel had to do what they just did. But what a sad state of affairs that led to the need to almost completely wipe out an entire tribe in Israel.

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