Judges 20

1 The Levite in a general assembly declares his wrong.

8 The decree of the assembly.

12 The Benjamites, being cited, make head against the Israelites.

18 The Israelites in two battles lose forty thousand.

26 They destroy by a stratagem all the Benjamites, except six hundred.

Then all.

2,8,11; 21:5; De 13:12-18; Jos 22:12

as one man.

1Sa 11:7,8; 2Sa 19:14; Ezr 3:1; Ne 8:1

from Dan.

18:29; 1Sa 3:20; 2Sa 3:10; 24:2; 1Ch 21:2; 2Ch 30:5

with the.

Nu 32:1,40; Jos 17:1; 2Sa 2:9

unto the.

18,26; 11:11

in Mizpeh.

10:17; 11:11; Jos 15:38; 18:26; 1Sa 7:5,6; 10:17; 2Ki 25:23It does not appear that the Israelites on this occasion, were summoned by the authority of any one common head, but they came together by the consent and agreement, as it were, of one common heart, fired with a holy zeal for the honour of God and Israel. The place of their meeting was Mizpeh; they gathered together unto the Lord there; for Mizpeh was so very near to Shiloh, that their encampment might very well be supposed to reach from Mizpeh to Shiloh. Shiloh was a small town, and therefore, when there was a general meeting of the people to present themselves before God, they chose Mizpeh for their head quarters, which was the next adjoining city of note; perhaps, because they were not willing to give that trouble to Shiloh, which so great an assembly would occasion; it being the residence of the priests that attended the tabernacle.

drew sword.

15,17; 8:10; 2Sa 24:9; 2Ki 3:26

the children of Benjamin.

Pr 22:3; Mt 5:25; Lu 12:58,59; 14:31,32

how was.


the Levite. Heb. the man the Levite. I came.


And the men.



Ge 19:4-8

and my concubine.


forced. Heb. humbled.

De 22:24; Eze 22:10,11

cut her.


folly in Israel.

10; 19:23; Ge 34:7; Jos 7:15; 2Sa 13:12,13

ye are all.

Ex 19:5,6; De 4:6; 14:1,2; 1Co 5:1,6,10-12

give here.

19:30; Jos 9:14; Pr 20:18; 24:6; Jas 1:5

as one man.


We will not.

21:1,5; Pr 21:3; Ec 9:10

by lot against it.

Jos 14:2; 1Sa 14:41,42; 1Ch 24:5; Ne 11:1; Pr 16:33; Jon 1:7

Ac 1:26

Knit together as one man. Heb. fellows.

sent men.

De 13:14; 20:10; Jos 22:13-16; Mt 18:15-18; Ro 12:18


2Sa 20:21,22

children of Belial.

19:22; De 13:13; 1Sa 30:22; 2Sa 20:1; 23:6; 1Ki 21:13; 2Ch 13:7

put away.

De 17:7,12; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21,24; 24:7; Ec 11:10

would not.

1Sa 2:25; 2Ch 25:16,20; Pr 29:1; Ho 9:9; 10:9; Ro 1:32; Re 18:4,5The conduct of the Israelites was very equitable in this demand; but perhaps the rulers or elders of Gibeah ought previously to have been applied to, to deliver up the criminals to justice. However, the refusal of the Benjamites, and their protection of those who had committed this horrible wickedness, because they were of their own tribe, prove them to have been deeply corrupted, and (all their advantages considered) as ripe for divine vengeance as the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah had been. Confiding in their own valour and military skill, they seen to have first prepared for battle in this unequal contest with such superior numbers.

Nu 20:20; 21:23; 2Ch 13:13; Job 15:25,26


25,35,46,47; Nu 26:41

left-handed.{Itter yad yemeeno,} "obstructed in his right hand;" so the Chaldee Targum, {gemid beedaih deyammeena,} contracted or impeded in his right hand." Le Clerc observes, that the 700 men left-handed seem therefore to have been made slingers, because they could not use the right hand, which is employed in managing heavier arms; and they could discharge the stones from the sling in a direction against which their opponents were not upon their guard, and thus do the greater execution.

3:15; 1Ch 12:2

sling stones.The sling was a very ancient warlike instrument; and, in the hands of those who were skilled in the use of it, produced astonishing effects. The inhabitants of the islands of Baleares, now Majorca and Minorca, were the most celebrated slingers of antiquity. They did not permit their children to break their fast, till they had struck down the bread they had to eat from the top of a pole, or some distant eminence. Vegetius tells us, that slingers could in general hit the mark at 600 feet distance.

1Sa 17:40,49,50; 25:29; 2Ch 26:14

four hundred.

2; Nu 1:46; 26:51; 1Sa 11:8; 15:4; 1Ch 21:5; 2Ch 17:14-18

house of.

18:31; 19:18; Jos 18:1; Joe 1:14


7,23,26,27; 1:1; Nu 27:5,21; Jos 9:14


1:1,2; Ge 49:8-10

rose up.

Jos 3:1; 6:12; 7:16


the children.

Ge 49:27; Ho 10:9


De 23:9; 2Ch 28:10; Ps 33:16; 73:18,19; 77:19; Ec 9:1-3; Jer 12:1


15,17; 1Sa 30:6; 2Sa 11:25; Ps 64:5


26,27; Ps 78:34-36; Ho 5:15

And the.It seems most evident that the Israelites did not seek the protection of God. When they "went to the house of God," (ver. 18,) it was not to enquire concerning the expediency of the war, nor of its success, but which of the tribes should begin the attack: and here the question is, "Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother?" Having so much right on their side, they had no doubt of the justice of their cause, and the propriety of their conduct; and having such a superiority of numbers, they had no doubt of success. But God humbled them, and delivered them into the hands of their enemies; and shewed them that the race was not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.



21; Ge 18:25; Job 9:12,13; Ps 97:2; Ro 2:5; 3:5; 11:33

all the children.



1Sa 7:6; 2Ch 20:3; Ezr 8:21; 9:4,5; Joe 1:14; 2:12-18; Jon 3:5-10


18,23; Nu 27:21

the ark.

Jos 18:1; 1Sa 4:3,4; Ps 78:60,61; Jer 7:12The loss of two battles at length brought this stiff-necked people to enquire of the Lord; for all the company at this time met at Shiloh, and kept a day of fasting and prayer with great earnestness and solemnity. "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear."

Isa 59:1

Phinehas.It is evident, from this mention of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, that these transactions must have taken place not long after the death of Joshua.

Nu 25:7-13; Jos 22:13,30-32; 24:33


De 10:8; 18:5

Shall I yet.

Jos 7:7; 1Sa 14:37; 23:4-12; 30:8; 2Sa 5:19-24; 6:3,7-12; Pr 3:5,6

Jer 10:23

Go up.

1:2; 7:9; 2Ch 20:17

Israel.Though God had promised them success, they knew they could expect it only by the use of proper means. Hence they used all prudent precaution, and employed all their military skill.


34; Jos 8:4; 2Sa 5:23



Jos 8:14-16

smite of the people, and kill, as at. Heb. smite of thepeople wounded as at, etc. the house of God. or, Beth-el. Gibeah.

19:13,14; Isa 10:29


Jos 7:5

Let us flee.This was done, not only because they had placed an ambuscade behind Gibeah, which was to enter and burn the city as soon as the Benjamites left it; but it would seem, that the slingers, by being within the city and its fortifications, had great advantage over the Israelites by their slings, when they could not come among them with their swords, unless they got them in the plain country.

Jos 8:15,16

rose up.

Jos 8:18-22

put themselves.There appear to have been three divisions of the Israelitish army: one at Baal-tamar, (which was situated, says Eusebius, near Gibeah;) a second behind the city in ambush; and a third, who skirmished with the Benjamites before Gibeah.

ten thousand.


knew not.

Jos 8:14; Job 21:13; Pr 4:19; 29:6; Ec 8:11,12; 9:12; Isa 3:10,11

Isa 47:11; Mt 24:44; Lu 21:34; 21:34; 1Th 5:3


15,44-46; Job 20:5Though the numbers of the Israelites were immensely superior to those of Benjamin, though the stratagem was well laid and ingeniously executed, and the battle bravely fought, yet the inspired historian ascribes the victory to the hand of the Lord, as entirely as if he had smitten the Benjamites by a miracle.

for the man.

Jos 8:15-29

the liers in wait hasted.

Jos 8:19

drew themselves along. or, made a long sound with thetrumpets.

Ex 19:13; Jos 6:5

Now there.From this verse to the end of the chapter, we have the details of the same operations which are mentioned, in a general way, in the preceding verses of this chapter.

sign. or, time.

Ge 17:21; 2Ki 4:16; *marg:

and. Heb. with. flame. Heb. elevation.

And when.


smite and kill. Heb. smite the wounded.

a pillar.

Ge 19:28; So 3:6; Joe 2:30; Re 19:3


Jos 8:20

flame. Heb. whole consumption.

were amazed.

Ex 15:9,10; Isa 13:8,9; 33:14; Lu 17:27,28; 21:26; 1Th 5:3

2Pe 2:12; Re 6:15-17; 18:8-10

was come upon them. Heb. touched them.

the battle.

La 1:3; Ho 9:9; 10:9


Jos 8:20-22

with ease. or, from Menuchah, etc. over against. Heb. untoover against.



Jos 15:32; 1Ch 6:77; Zec 14:10



six hundred.

21:13; Ps 103:9,10; Isa 1:9; Jer 14:7; La 3:32; Hab 3:2

rock of Rimmon.The rock Rimmon was doubtless a strong place; but it is uncertain where situated. It is probable however, that it was near, and took its name from, the village of Remmon, mentioned by Eusebius, fifteen miles north from Jerusalem. It appears that rocks are still resorted to in the East, as places of security; and some of them are even capable of sustaining a siege. De La Roque says, that "The Grand Seignior, wishing to seize the person of the emir (Fakr-eddin, prince of the Druses,) gave orders to the pacha to take him prisoner: he accordingly came in search of him, with a new army, in the district of Chouf, which is part of mount Lebanon, wherein is the village of Gesin, and close to it, the rock which served for a retreat to the emir. It is named in Arabic, Magara Gesin, i.e., the cavern of Gessin, by which name it is famous. The pacha pressed the emir so closely, that this unfortunate prince was obliged to shut himself up in the cleft of a great rock, with a small number of his officers. The pacha besieged him there several months; and was going to blow up the rock by a mine, when the emir capitulated."

smote them.

De 13:15-17; 2Ch 25:13; 28:6-9; Pr 18:19

came to hand. Heb. was found. they came to. Heb. werefound.
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