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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

Chapter 20

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Assembly of Israelites. 1So all the Israelites came out as one man: from Dan to Beer‐sheba,* and from the land of Gilead, the community was gathered to the LORD at Mizpah. 2The leaders of all the people and all the tribesmen of Israel, four hundred thousand foot soldiers who were swordsmen, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God. 3Meanwhile, the Benjaminites heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah. The Israelites asked to be told how the crime had taken place, 4and the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, testified: “My concubine and I went into Gibeah of Benjamin o Jgs 19, 14f . for the night. 5 p Jgs 19, 22–27 . But the citizens of Gibeah rose up against me by night and surrounded the house in which I was. Me they attempted to kill, and my concubine they abused so that she died. 6 q Jgs 19, 29 . So I took my concubine and cut her up and sent her through every part of the territory of Israel, because of the monstrous crime they had committed in Israel. 7 *Now that you are all here, O Israelites, state what you propose to do.” r Jgs 19, 30 . 8All the people rose as one man to say, “None of us is to leave for his tent or return to his home. 9Now as for Gibeah, this is what we will do: We will proceed against it by lot, 10taking from all the tribes of Israel ten men for every hundred, a hundred for every thousand, a thousand for every ten thousand, and procuring supplies for the soldiers who will go to deal fully and suitably with Gibeah of Benjamin for the crime it committed in Israel.”

11When, therefore, all the men of Israel without exception were leagued together against the city, 12 *the tribes of Israel sent men throughout the tribe of Benjamin to say, “What is this evil which has occurred among you? 13Now give up these corrupt men of Gibeah, that we may put them to death and thus purge the evil from Israel.” But the Benjaminites refused to accede to the demand of their brothers, the Israelites. 14Instead, the Benjaminites assembled from their other cities to Gibeah, to do battle with the Israelites. 15The number of the Benjaminite swordsmen from the other cities on that occasion was twenty‐six thousand, in addition to the inhabitants of Gibeah. 16Included in this total were seven hundred picked men who were left‐handed, every one of them able to sling a stone at a hair without missing. 17Meanwhile the other Israelites who, without Benjamin, mustered four hundred thousand swordsmen ready for battle, 18moved on to Bethel and consulted God. When the Israelites asked who should go first in the attack on the Benjaminites, s Jgs 1, 1f . the LORD said, “Judah shall go first.”* 19The next day the Israelites advanced on Gibeah with their forces.

War with Benjamin. 20On the day the Israelites drew up in battle array at Gibeah for the combat with Benjamin, 21the Benjaminites came out of the city and felled twenty‐two thousand men of Israel. 23Then the Israelites went up and wept before the LORD until evening. “Shall I again engage my brother Benjamin in battle?” they asked the LORD; and the LORD answered that they should. 22But though the Israelite soldiers took courage and again drew up for combat in the same place as on the previous day, 24when they met the Benjaminites for the second time, 25once again the Benjaminites who came out of Gibeah against them felled eighteen thousand Israelites, all of them swordsmen. 26So the entire Israelite army went up to Bethel, where they wept and remained fasting before the LORD until evening of that day, besides offering holocausts and peace offerings before the LORD. 27 t 1 Sm 4, 3f . When the Israelites consulted the LORD (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28and Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, was ministering to him in those days), and asked, “Shall I go out again to battle with Benjamin, my brother, or shall I desist?” the LORD said, “Attack! for tomorrow I will deliver him into your power.” 29 u 29–46: Jos 8, 4–24 . So Israel set men in ambush around Gibeah.*

30The Israelites went up against the Benjaminites for the third time and formed their line of battle at Gibeah as on other occasions. 31The Benjaminites went out to meet them, and in the beginning they killed off about thirty of the Israelite soldiers in the open field, just as on the other occasions. 32Therefore the Benjaminites thought, “We are defeating them as before”; not realizing that disaster was about to overtake them. The Israelites, however, had planned the flight so as to draw them away from the city onto the highways. They were drawn away from the city onto the highways, of which the one led to Bethel, the other to Gibeon. 33And then all the men of Israel rose from their places. They re‐formed their ranks at Baal‐tamar, and the Israelites in ambush rushed from their place west of Gibeah, 34ten thousand picked men from all Israel, and advanced against the city itself. In a fierce battle, 35the LORD defeated Benjamin before Israel; and on that day the Israelites killed twenty‐five thousand one hundred men of Benjamin, all of them swordsmen.

36To the Benjaminites it had looked as though the enemy were defeated, for the men of Israel gave ground to Benjamin, trusting in the ambush they had set at Gibeah. 37But then the men in ambush made a sudden dash into Gibeah, overran it, and put the whole city to the sword. 38Now, the other Israelites had agreed with the men in ambush on a smoke signal they were to send up from the city. 39And though the men of Benjamin had begun by killing off some thirty of the men of Israel, under the impression that they were defeating them as surely as in the earlier fighting, the Israelites wheeled about to resist 40as the smoke of the signal column began to rise up from the city. It was when Benjamin looked back and saw the whole city in flames against the sky 41that the men of Israel wheeled about. Therefore the men of Benjamin were thrown into confusion, for they realized the disaster that had overtaken them. 42They retreated before the men of Israel in the direction of the desert, with the fight being pressed against them. In their very midst, meanwhile, those who had been in the city were spreading destruction. 43The men of Benjamin had been surrounded, and were now pursued to a point east of Gibeah, 44while eighteen thousand of them fell, warriors to a man. 45The rest turned and fled through the desert to the rock Rimmon. v Jgs 21, 13 . But on the highways the Israelites picked off five thousand men among them, and chasing them up to Gidom, killed another two thousand of them there. 46Those of Benjamin who fell on that day were in all twenty‐five thousand swordsmen, warriors to a man. 47But six hundred others who turned and fled through the desert reached the rock Rimmon, where they remained for four months.

48The men of Israel withdrew through the territory of the Benjaminites, putting to the sword the inhabitants of the cities, the livestock, and all they chanced upon. Moreover they destroyed by fire all the cities they came upon.


o: Jgs 19, 14f .

p: Jgs 19, 22–27 .

q: Jgs 19, 29 .

r: Jgs 19, 30 .

s: Jgs 1, 1f .

t: 1 Sm 4, 3f .

u: 29–46: Jos 8, 4–24 .

v: Jgs 21, 13 .

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