Bible: Judges 19-21

Sodom and Gomorrah Revisited

19:1 In those days Israel had no king. There was a Levite 1  living temporarily in the remote region of the Ephraimite hill country. He acquired a concubine 2  from Bethlehem 3  in Judah. 19:2 However, she 4  got angry at him 5  and went home 6  to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah. When she had been there four months, 19:3 her husband came 7  after her, hoping he could convince her to return. 8  He brought with him his servant 9  and a pair of donkeys. When she brought him into her father’s house and the girl’s father saw him, he greeted him warmly. 10  19:4 His father-in-law, the girl’s father, persuaded him to stay with him for three days, and they ate and drank together, and spent the night there. 19:5 On the fourth day they woke up early and the Levite got ready to leave. 11  But the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Have a bite to eat for some energy, 12  then you can go.” 19:6 So the two of them sat down and had a meal together. 13  Then the girl’s father said to the man, “Why not stay another night and have a good time! 14  19:7 When the man got ready to leave, 15  his father-in-law convinced him to stay another night. 16  19:8 He woke up early in the morning on the fifth day so he could leave, but the girl’s father said, “Get some energy. 17  Wait until later in the day to leave!” 18  So they ate a meal together. 19:9 When the man got ready to leave 19  with his concubine and his servant, 20  his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Look! The day is almost over! 21  Stay another night! Since the day is over, 22  stay another night here and have a good time. You can get up early tomorrow and start your trip home.” 23  19:10 But the man did not want to stay another night. He left 24  and traveled as far as 25  Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). 26  He had with him a pair of saddled donkeys and his concubine. 27 

19:11 When they got near Jebus, it was getting quite late 28  and the servant 29  said to his master, “Come on, let’s stop at 30  this Jebusite city and spend the night in it.” 19:12 But his master said to him, “We should not stop at a foreign city where non-Israelites live. 31  We will travel on to Gibeah.” 19:13 He said to his servant, 32 Come on, we will go into one of the other towns 33  and spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah.” 19:14 So they traveled on, 34  and the sun went down when they were near Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin. 35  19:15 They stopped there and decided to spend the night 36  in Gibeah. They came into the city and sat down in the town square, but no one invited them to spend the night. 37 

19:16 But then an old man passed by, returning at the end of the day from his work in the field. 38  The man was from the Ephraimite hill country; he was living temporarily in Gibeah. (The residents of the town were Benjaminites.) 39  19:17 When he looked up and saw the traveler 40  in the town square, the old man said, “Where are you heading? Where do you come from? 19:18 The Levite 41  said to him, “We are traveling from Bethlehem 42  in Judah to the remote region of the Ephraimite hill country. That’s where I’m from. I had business in Bethlehem in Judah, but now I’m heading home. 43  But no one has invited me into their home. 19:19 We have enough straw and grain for our donkeys, and there is enough food and wine for me, your female servant, 44  and the young man who is with your servants. 45  We lack nothing.” 19:20 The old man said, “Everything is just fine! 46  I will take care of all your needs. But don’t spend the night in the town square.” 19:21 So he brought him to his house and fed the donkeys. They washed their feet and had a meal. 47 

19:22 They were having a good time, 48  when suddenly 49  some men of the city, some good-for-nothings, 50  surrounded the house and kept beating 51  on the door. They said to the old man who owned the house, “Send out the man who came to visit you so we can have sex with him.” 52  19:23 The man who owned the house went outside and said to them, “No, my brothers! Don’t do this wicked thing! After all, this man is a guest in my house. Don’t do such a disgraceful thing! 19:24 Here are my virgin daughter and my guest’s 53  concubine. I will send them out and you can abuse them and do to them whatever you like. 54  But don’t do such a disgraceful thing to this man! 19:25 The men refused to listen to him, so the Levite 55  grabbed his concubine and made her go outside. 56  They raped 57  her and abused her all night long until morning. They let her go at dawn. 19:26 The woman arrived back at daybreak and was sprawled out on the doorstep of the house where her master 58  was staying until it became light. 59  19:27 When her master 60  got up in the morning, opened the doors of the house, and went outside to start on his journey, there was the woman, his concubine, sprawled out on the doorstep of the house with her hands on the threshold. 19:28 He said to her, “Get up, let’s leave!” But there was no response. He put her on the donkey and went home. 61  19:29 When he got home, he took a knife, grabbed his concubine, and carved her up into twelve pieces. 62  Then he sent the pieces throughout Israel. 63  19:30 Everyone who saw the sight 64  said, “Nothing like this has happened or been witnessed during the entire time since 65  the Israelites left the land of Egypt! 66  Take careful note of it! Discuss it and speak!

Civil War Breaks Out

20:1 All the Israelites from Dan to Beer Sheba 67  and from the land of Gilead 68  left their homes 69  and assembled together 70  before the Lord at Mizpah. 20:2 The leaders 71  of all the people from all the tribes of Israel took their places in the assembly of God’s people, which numbered 72  four hundred thousand sword-wielding foot soldiers. 20:3 The Benjaminites heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah. Then the Israelites said, “Explain how this wicked thing happened! 20:4 The Levite, 73  the husband of the murdered woman, spoke up, “I and my concubine stopped in 74  Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin 75  to spend the night. 20:5 The leaders of Gibeah attacked me and at night surrounded the house where I was staying. 76  They wanted to kill me; instead they abused my concubine so badly that she died. 20:6 I grabbed hold of my concubine and carved her up and sent the pieces 77  throughout the territory occupied by Israel, 78  because they committed such an unthinkable atrocity 79  in Israel. 20:7 All you Israelites, 80  make a decision here! 81 

20:8 All Israel rose up in unison 82  and said, “Not one of us will go home! 83  Not one of us will return 84  to his house! 20:9 Now this is what we will do to Gibeah: We will attack the city as the lot dictates. 85  20:10 We will take ten of every group of a hundred men from all the tribes of Israel (and a hundred of every group of a thousand, and a thousand of every group of ten thousand) to get supplies for the army. 86  When they arrive in Gibeah of Benjamin they will punish them for the atrocity which they committed in Israel.” 87  20:11 So all the men of Israel gathered together at the city as allies. 88 

20:12 The tribes of Israel sent men throughout the tribe 89  of Benjamin, saying, “How could such a wicked thing take place? 90  20:13 Now, hand over the good-for-nothings 91  in Gibeah so we can execute them and purge Israel of wickedness.” 92  But the Benjaminites refused to listen to their Israelite brothers. 20:14 The Benjaminites came from their cities and assembled at Gibeah 93  to make war against the Israelites. 20:15 That day the Benjaminites mustered from their cities twenty-six thousand sword-wielding soldiers, besides seven hundred well-trained soldiers from Gibeah. 94  20:16 Among this army 95  were seven hundred specially-trained left-handed soldiers. 96  Each one could sling a stone and hit even the smallest target. 97  20:17 The men of Israel (not counting Benjamin) had mustered four hundred thousand sword-wielding soldiers, every one an experienced warrior. 98 

20:18 The Israelites went up to Bethel 99  and asked God, 100 Who should lead the charge against the Benjaminites?” 101  The Lord said, “Judah should lead.” 20:19 The Israelites got up the next morning and moved 102  against Gibeah. 20:20 The men of Israel marched out to fight Benjamin; they 103  arranged their battle lines against Gibeah. 20:21 The Benjaminites attacked from Gibeah and struck down twenty-two thousand Israelites that day. 104 

20:22 The Israelite army 105  took heart 106  and once more arranged their battle lines, in the same place where they had taken their positions the day before. 20:23 The Israelites went up and wept before the Lord until evening. They asked the Lord, “Should we 107  again march out to fight 108  the Benjaminites, our brothers?” 109  The Lord said, “Attack them!” 110  20:24 So the Israelites marched toward 111  the Benjaminites the next day. 20:25 The Benjaminites again attacked them from Gibeah and struck down eighteen thousand sword-wielding Israelite soldiers. 112 

20:26 So all the Israelites, the whole army, 113  went up to 114  Bethel. 115  They wept and sat there before the Lord; they did not eat anything 116  that day until evening. They offered up burnt sacrifices and tokens of peace 117  to the Lord. 20:27 The Israelites asked the Lord (for the ark of God’s covenant was there in those days; 20:28 Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, was serving the Lord 118  in those days), “Should we 119  once more march out to fight the Benjaminites our brothers, 120  or should we 121  quit?” The Lord said, “Attack, for tomorrow I will hand them 122  over to you.”

20:29 So Israel hid men in ambush outside Gibeah. 20:30 The Israelites attacked the Benjaminites the next day; 123  they took their positions against Gibeah just as they had done before. 20:31 The Benjaminites attacked 124  the army, leaving the city unguarded. 125  They began to strike down their enemy 126  just as they had done before. On the main roads (one leads to Bethel, 127  the other to Gibeah) and in the field, they struck down 128  about thirty Israelites. 20:32 Then the Benjaminites said, “They are defeated just as before.” But the Israelites said, “Let’s retreat 129  and lure them 130  away from the city into the main roads.” 20:33 131  All the men of Israel got up from their places and took their positions at Baal Tamar, while the Israelites hiding in ambush jumped out of their places west of Gibeah. 20:34 Ten thousand men, well-trained soldiers from all Israel, then made a frontal assault against Gibeah – the battle was fierce. 132  But the Benjaminites did not realize that disaster was at their doorstep. 133  20:35 The Lord annihilated Benjamin before Israel; the Israelites struck down that day 25,100 sword-wielding Benjaminites. 134  20:36 Then the Benjaminites saw they were defeated.

The Israelites retreated before 135  Benjamin, because they had confidence in the men they had hid in ambush outside Gibeah. 20:37 The men hiding in ambush made a mad dash 136  to Gibeah. They 137  attacked 138  and put the sword to the entire city. 20:38 The Israelites and the men hiding in ambush had arranged a signal. When the men hiding in ambush 139  sent up a smoke signal from the city, 20:39 the Israelites counterattacked. 140  Benjamin had begun to strike down the Israelites; 141  they struck down 142  about thirty men. They said, “There’s no doubt about it! They are totally defeated as in the earlier battle.” 20:40 But when the signal, a pillar of smoke, began to rise up from the city, the Benjaminites turned around and saw the whole city going up in a cloud of smoke that rose high into the sky. 143  20:41 When the Israelites turned around, the Benjaminites panicked 144  because they could see that disaster was on their doorstep. 145  20:42 They retreated before the Israelites, taking the road to the wilderness. But the battle overtook 146  them as men from the surrounding cities struck them down. 147  20:43 They surrounded the Benjaminites, chased them from Nohah, 148  and annihilated 149  them all the way to a spot east of Geba. 150  20:44 Eighteen thousand Benjaminites, all of them capable warriors, fell dead. 20:45 The rest 151  turned and ran toward the wilderness, heading toward the cliff of Rimmon. But the Israelites 152  caught 153  five thousand of them on the main roads. They stayed right on their heels 154  all the way to Gidom and struck down two thousand more. 20:46 That day twenty-five thousand 155  sword-wielding Benjaminites fell in battle, all of them capable warriors. 156  20:47 Six hundred survivors turned and ran away to the wilderness, to the cliff of Rimmon. They stayed there four months. 20:48 The Israelites returned to the Benjaminite towns 157  and put the sword to them. They wiped out the cities, 158  the animals, and everything they could find. They set fire to every city in their path. 159 

600 Brides for 600 Brothers

21:1 The Israelites had taken an oath in Mizpah, saying, “Not one of us will allow his daughter to marry a Benjaminite.” 21:2 So the people came to Bethel 160  and sat there before God until evening, weeping loudly and uncontrollably. 161  21:3 They said, “Why, O Lord God of Israel, has this happened in Israel?” An entire 162  tribe has disappeared from Israel today!

21:4 The next morning the people got up early and built an altar there. They offered up burnt sacrifices and token of peace. 163  21:5 The Israelites asked, “Who from all the Israelite tribes has not assembled before the Lord?” They had made a solemn oath that whoever did not assemble before the Lord at Mizpah must certainly be executed. 164  21:6 The Israelites regretted what had happened to 165  their brother Benjamin. They said, “Today we cut off an entire 166  tribe from Israel! 21:7 How can we find wives for those who are left? 167  After all, we took an oath in the Lord’s name not to give them our daughters as wives.” 21:8 So they asked, “Who from all the Israelite tribes did not assemble before the Lord at Mizpah?” Now it just so happened no one from Jabesh Gilead had come to the gathering. 168  21:9 When they took roll call, 169  they noticed 170  none of the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead were there. 21:10 So the assembly sent 12,000 capable warriors 171  against Jabesh Gilead. 172  They commanded them, “Go and kill with your swords 173  the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead, including the women and little children. 21:11 Do this: 174  exterminate every male, as well as every woman who has had sexual relations with a male. 175  But spare the lives of any virgins.” So they did as instructed. 176  21:12 They found among the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead four hundred young girls who were virgins – they had never had sexual relations with a male. 177  They brought them back to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan.

21:13 The entire assembly sent messengers to the Benjaminites at the cliff of Rimmon and assured them they would not be harmed. 178  21:14 The Benjaminites returned at that time, and the Israelites 179  gave to them the women they had spared from Jabesh Gilead. But there were not enough to go around. 180 

21:15 The people regretted what had happened to 181  Benjamin because the Lord had weakened 182  the Israelite tribes. 21:16 The leaders 183  of the assembly said, “How can we find wives for those who are left? 184  After all, the Benjaminite women have been wiped out. 21:17 The 185  remnant of Benjamin must be preserved. An entire Israelite tribe should not be wiped out. 186  21:18 But we can’t allow our daughters to marry them, 187  for the Israelites took an oath, saying, ‘Whoever gives a woman to a Benjaminite will be destroyed!’ 188  21:19 However, there is an annual festival to the Lord in Shiloh, which is north of Bethel 189  (east of the main road that goes up from Bethel to Shechem) and south of Lebonah.” 21:20 So they commanded the Benjaminites, “Go hide in the vineyards, 21:21 and keep your eyes open. 190  When you see 191  the daughters of Shiloh coming out to dance in the celebration, 192  jump out from the vineyards. Each one of you, catch yourself a wife from among the daughters of Shiloh and then go home to the land of Benjamin. 21:22 When their fathers or brothers come and protest to us, 193  we’ll say to them, “Do us a favor and let them be, 194  for we could not get each one a wife through battle. 195  Don’t worry about breaking your oath! 196  You would only be guilty if you had voluntarily given them wives.’ 197 

21:23 The Benjaminites did as instructed. 198  They abducted two hundred of the dancing girls to be their wives. 199  They went home 200  to their own territory, 201  rebuilt their cities, and settled down. 202  21:24 Then the Israelites dispersed from there to their respective tribal and clan territories. Each went from there to his own property. 203  21:25 In those days Israel had no king. Each man did what he considered to be right. 204 

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