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Judges 20:1-11

Civil War Breaks Out

20:1 All the Israelites from Dan to Beer Sheba 1  and from the land of Gilead 2  left their homes 3  and assembled together 4  before the Lord at Mizpah. 20:2 The leaders 5  of all the people from all the tribes of Israel took their places in the assembly of God’s people, which numbered 6  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, 7  the husband of the murdered woman, spoke up, “I and my concubine stopped in 8  Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin 9  to spend the night. 20:5 The leaders of Gibeah attacked me and at night surrounded the house where I was staying. 10  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 11  throughout the territory occupied by Israel, 12  because they committed such an unthinkable atrocity 13  in Israel. 20:7 All you Israelites, 14  make a decision here!” 15 

20:8 All Israel rose up in unison 16  and said, “Not one of us will go home! 17  Not one of us will return 18  to his house! 20:9 Now this is what we will do to Gibeah: We will attack the city as the lot dictates. 19  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. 20  When they arrive in Gibeah of Benjamin they will punish them for the atrocity which they committed in Israel.” 21  20:11 So all the men of Israel gathered together at the city as allies. 22 

1 sn Dan was located in the far north of the country, while Beer Sheba was located in the far south. This encompassed all the territory of the land of Canaan occupied by the Israelites.

2 sn The land of Gilead was on the eastern side of the Jordan River.

3 tn Heb “went out.”

4 tn Heb “and the assembly was convened as one man.”

5 tn Heb “the cornerstones”; or “the supports.” The word is used of leaders in only three other texts – 1 Sam 14:38; Isa 19:13; Zech 10:4.

6 tn The words “which numbered” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

7 tn Heb “The man, the Levite.”

8 tn Heb “came to.”

9 tn Heb “which belongs to Benjamin.”

10 tn Heb “arose against me and surrounded against me the house at night.”

11 tn Heb “her”; the referent is more naturally stated in English as “the pieces.”

12 tn Heb “throughout all the territory of the inheritance of Israel.”

13 tn Heb “a wicked and disgraceful [thing].”

14 tn Heb “Look, all of you sons of Israel.”

15 tn Heb “give for yourselves a word and advice here.”

16 tn Heb “as one man.”

17 tn Heb “to his tent.”

18 tn Or “turn aside.”

19 tn Heb “against her by lot.” The verb “we will go up” (נַעֲלֶה, naaleh) has probably been accidentally omitted before “against her” (עָלֶיהָ, ’aleha).

sn As the lot dictates. The Israelite soldiers intended to cast lots to determine which tribe would lead the battle charge (see v. 18).

20 tn Or “people.”

21 tn Heb “to do at their arrival in Geba of Benjamin according to all the disgraceful [thing] which he [collective = “Benjamin”] did in Israel.” Here “Geba” must be an error for “Gibeah.”

22 tn Heb “gathered at the city as one man, united.”

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