20
The war between the tribe of Benjamin and the other tribes of Israel
All the Israelis, from Dan city in the north to Beersheba city in the south, and even from the Gilead region on the east side of the Jordan River, heard what had happened. So they gathered together at Mizpah, at the place where they worshiped Yahweh. The leaders of eleven of the tribes of Israel stood in front of the people who gathered there. There were 400,000 men with swords who were there. The people of the tribe of Benjamin heard that the other Israelis had gone up to Mizpah, but none of the men from their tribe went to the meeting there.
The Israelis who had come to Mizpah asked about the evil thing that had happened. So the husband of the woman who had been killed replied, “My slave wife and I came to Gibeah city, wanting to stay there that night. That evening, the men of Gibeah came to attack me. They surrounded the house where I was staying and wanted to have sex with me and then kill me. They raped and abused my slave wife all night, and she died. I took her body home and cut it into pieces. Then I sent one piece to each area of Israel, because I wanted you all to know about this wicked and disgraceful/shameful thing that has been done here in Israel. So now, all you Israeli people, speak, and tell me what you think should be done!”
All the people stood up, and in unison said, “None of us will go home! Not one of us will return to his house! This is what we must do to the people of Gibeah. First, we will ◄cast lots/throw marked stones► to determine which group should attack them. 10 We will choose ◄one tenth/one from every ten► of the men from all the Israeli tribes. Those men will go and find food for the men who will go to attack the people of Gibeah. Then the other men will go to Gibeah to ◄pay the people back/punish them► for this terrible thing that they have done here in Israel.” 11 And all the Israeli people agreed that the people of Gibeah should be punished.
12 Then the Israeli men sent messengers throughout the tribe of Benjamin. They demanded, “Do you realize that some of your men have done a very evil thing? 13 Bring those wicked men to us, in order that we can execute them. By doing that, we will be doing what should be done because of this evil thing that has happened in Israel.”
But the people of the tribe of Benjamin did not pay attention to their fellow Israelis. 14 The men of the tribe of Benjamin left their cities and gathered at Gibeah to fight the other Israelis. 15 In that one day the men of the tribe of Benjamin recruited 26,000 soldiers who knew how to fight using swords. They also chose/recruited 700 men from Gibeah. 16 From all those soldiers there were 700 men who were left-handed, and each of them could sling a stone at a target that was very small and as narrow as a hair, and the stone always hit the target!
17 There were 400,000 men from the other Israeli tribes who had swords.
18 Those other Israelis went up to Bethel and asked God, “Which tribe should be the first to attack the men from the tribe of Benjamin?”
Yahweh answered, “ The men from the tribe of Judah should go first.”
19 The next morning, the Israeli men went and set up their tents near Gibeah. 20 Then they went to fight against the men from the tribe of Benjamin, and stood in their positions for fighting a battle, facing Gibeah. 21 The men of the tribe of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and fought against them, and they killed 22,000 Israeli men on that day. 22-23  Late that afternoon, the remaining Israeli men went to the place of worship and cried until the sun set. Then they asked Yahweh, “Should we attack the men of the tribe of Benjamin again, even though they are our fellow Israelis?”
Yahweh replied, “Yes, attack them again.” So the Israeli men encouraged each other. 24 The next day they again stood in their positions for fighting, just like they had done on the previous day. 25 The men of the tribe of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and attacked the Israelis, and killed 18,000 more of their men.
26  In the afternoon, all the people of Israel who had not been killed again went to Bethel. There they sat down and cried to Yahweh, and they ◄fasted/abstained from eating food► until it was evening. They brought some offerings which they burned completely on the altar, and they also brought some offerings to maintain fellowship with Yahweh. 27-28 At that time, the Sacred Chest that contained the stone tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments was there at Bethel. A priest named Phinehas, the son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron, often stood in front of that chest and talked with Yahweh. While he stood there on that day, he asked Yahweh, “Shall we go again to fight against our fellow Israelis from the tribe of Benjamin, or shall we stop fighting against them?”
Yahweh answered, “Go again tomorrow, because tomorrow I will enable you to defeat them.” 29 So the next day, 10,000 of the Israeli men ◄set up ambushes/went to hide► in the fields around Gibeah. 30  The other Israeli men went and stood in their positions for fighting a battle just like they had done on the previous days. 31 When the men of the tribe of Benjamin came out of the city to fight against them, the Israeli men retreated away from the city, and the men of the tribe of Benjamin pursued them. The men of the tribe of Benjamin killed many Israelis, like they had done before. They killed about thirty Israelis. They killed some in the fields, and they killed some on the road that went to Bethel and on the road that went to Gibeah.
32 The men of the tribe of Benjamin said, “We are defeating them like we did before!” But then Israeli men did what they had planned. The main group of Israeli men retreated a short distance from the city, to trick the men of Gibeah and cause them to pursue the Israeli men along the roads outside the city.
33 The main group of Israeli men left their positions and retreated, and then they stood in their battle positions again at a place named Baal-Tamar. 34 Then while the men of Gibeah were running out of the city toward them, the other 10,000 Israelis came out from the places where they had been hiding, west of Gibeah. They were men who had come from all parts of Israel. There was a very big battle. But the men of the tribe of Benjamin did not know that they were about to suffer a disastrous defeat. 35 Yahweh enabled the Israeli men to defeat the men of the tribe of Benjamin. They killed 25,000 of them, even though they all were using swords.
This is what happened: 36-38 The main group of Israeli men arranged with the men who would be hiding that they should send up a smoke signal to enable the main group of soldiers to know when they should attack. Then the main group of Israeli men retreated for a short distance, because they knew that the other Israeli men who had been hiding on the other side of Gibeah would attack the people of the tribe of Benjamin by surprise. So after the main group of Israeli men retreated a little distance, the men who had been hiding rushed out and ran into Gibeah and used their swords to kill everyone in the city. Then they started to burn the buildings.
39 By that time, the men of the tribe of Benjamin said, “We are winning the battle, as we did before!” 40 But then smoke from the burning buildings began to rise up from the city. The men of the tribe of Benjamin turned around and saw that the whole city was burning. 41 Then the main group of Israeli men also saw the smoke, and they knew that the smoke signaled that they should turn around and begin to attack. The men of the tribe of Benjamin were very afraid, because they realized that they were about to suffer a disastrous defeat. 42 So the men of the tribe of Benjamin tried to run away toward the desert to escape from the Israeli men, but they were not able to escape, because the Israeli men who had burned the two cities came out of those cities and killed many of them. 43 They surrounded some of the men of the tribe of Benjamin, and pursued the others to the area east of Gibeah. 44 They killed 18,000 strong soldiers of the tribe of Benjamin. 45 Then the rest of the men of the tribe of Benjamin realized that they had been defeated. They ran toward the desert to Rimmon Rock, but the Israeli men killed 5,000 more men of the tribe of Benjamin along the roads. They pursued the rest of them to Gidom, and they killed 2,000 more men of the tribe of Benjamin there.
46 Altogether, there were 25,000 men of the tribe of Benjamin who were killed, all of whom had swords. 47 But 600 men of the tribe of Benjamin ran to Rimmon Rock in the desert. They stayed there for four months. 48 Then the Israeli men went back to the land belonging to the tribe of Benjamin, and killed the people in every city. They also killed all the animals, and destroyed everything else that they found there. And they burned all the cities that they came to.