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Judges 20:33-43

20:33 1  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. 2  But the Benjaminites did not realize that disaster was at their doorstep. 3  20:35 The Lord annihilated Benjamin before Israel; the Israelites struck down that day 25,100 sword-wielding Benjaminites. 4  20:36 Then the Benjaminites saw they were defeated.

The Israelites retreated before 5  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 6  to Gibeah. They 7  attacked 8  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 9  sent up a smoke signal from the city, 20:39 the Israelites counterattacked. 10  Benjamin had begun to strike down the Israelites; 11  they struck down 12  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. 13  20:41 When the Israelites turned around, the Benjaminites panicked 14  because they could see that disaster was on their doorstep. 15  20:42 They retreated before the Israelites, taking the road to the wilderness. But the battle overtook 16  them as men from the surrounding cities struck them down. 17  20:43 They surrounded the Benjaminites, chased them from Nohah, 18  and annihilated 19  them all the way to a spot east of Geba. 20 

1 sn Verses 33-36a give a condensed account of the battle from this point on, while vv. 36b-48 offer a more detailed version of how the ambush contributed to Gibeah’s defeat.

2 tn Heb “heavy”; or “severe.”

3 tn Heb “And they did not know that touching against them was disaster.”

4 tn Heb “And the sons of Israel struck down in Benjamin that day 25,100 men, all of these wielding the sword.”

5 tn Heb “gave place to.”

6 tn Heb “hurried and put off [their hiding place].”

7 tn Heb “the men hiding in ambush.”

8 tn Or “deployed.” The verb normally means “to lead” or “to draw.”

9 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the men hiding in ambush) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

10 tn Heb “turned in the battle.”

11 tn Heb “And Benjamin began to strike down wounded ones among the men of Israel.”

12 tn The words “they struck down” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

13 tn Heb “Benjamin turned after him and, look, the whole city went up toward the sky.”

14 tn Or “were terrified.”

15 tn Heb “disaster touched against them.”

16 tn Heb “clung to”; or “stuck close.”

17 tn Heb “and those from the cities were striking them down in their midst.”

18 tc The translation assumes the reading מִנּוֹחָה (minnokhah, “from Nohah”; cf. 1 Chr 8:2) rather than the MT’s מְנוּחָה (mÿnukhah, “resting place”).

19 tn Heb “tread down, walk on.”

20 tn Heb “unto the opposite of Gibeah toward the east.” Gibeah cannot be correct here, since the Benjaminites retreated from there toward the desert and Rimmon (see v. 45). A slight emendation yields the reading “Geba.”

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