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Free Bible Version - Judges

Judges 20

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1All the Israelites from Dan to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead, went and gathered at Mizpah before the Lord. The assembly was united in purpose.
2The leaders of all the people of every Israelite tribe took their assigned positions in the assembled army of God's people, four hundred thousand soldiers armed with swords.
3The tribe of Benjamin found out that the Israelites had assembled at Mizpah. The Israelites asked, “Tell us, how could such an evil act have happened?”
4The Levite, the husband of the woman who had been murdered, explained, “I and my concubine came to spend the night at the town of Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin.
5The leaders of Gibeah came to attack me at night. They surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They raped my concubine and she died.
6I took my concubine and cut her into pieces, and I sent these pieces of her to every part of the country that had been given to Israel, because those men had done something shameful and disgusting in Israel.
7So all of you Israelites have to decide here and now what you're going to do about it!”
8Everyone stood up and unitedly declared, “None of us are going home to our tents! None of us are going home to our houses!
9This is what we're going to do to Gilboah: we will attack it with our forces chosen by lot.
10We'll take ten men from a hundred from all the Israelite tribes, then a hundred from a thousand, then a thousand from ten thousand, to arrange food for the army, so when the troops reach Gibeah in Benjamin, they can pay them back for all these disgusting things they've done in Israel.”
11All the men of Israel were in agreement and gathered to attack the town.
12The Israelite tribes also sent men throughout the territory of Benjamin, asking the people, “What are you doing about this terrible evil that has taken place among you?
13Hand over these wicked men so we can execute them and get rid of this evil from Israel!” But the Benjamites refused to listen to what their fellow Israelites had to say.
14They left their towns and assembled at Gibeah to go and fight the other Israelites.
15That day a total of twenty-six thousand men armed with swords were called up from the towns of Benjamin, in addition to the seven hundred seasoned warriors from Gibeah.
16Making up part of this army were seven hundred experienced soldiers who used their left hands. All of them could fire a slingshot and not miss by even a hair's breadth.
17The Israelite army (excluding Benjamin) numbered four hundred thousand seasoned warriors, all armed with swords.
18The Israelites went to Bethel and asked God, “Which ones of us should be the first to go and fight the Benjamites?” “Judah is to go first,” the Lord replied.

19The next morning the Israelites left and set up their camp near Gibeah.
20Then they marched out for battle with the army of Benjamin, taking up their positions to attack Gibeah.
21But the Benjamites came out of Gibeah and slaughtered twenty-two thousand Israelites on the battlefield that day.
22But the Israelites encouraged one other to be confident, and they took up the same positions they had on the first day.
23The Israelites went and cried before the Lord until the evening and asked, “Should we go and attack the Benjamites again, our relatives?” “Go and attack them,” the Lord replied.
24So the second day they advanced to attack the army of Benjamin.
25However, Benjamites came out of Gibeah once more and slaughtered eighteen thousand Israelites, all armed with swords.
26Then all the Israelites and all their army went to Bethel, and sat crying there before the Lord. That day they fasted until evening and gave burnt offerings and friendship offerings to the Lord.
27The Israelites asked the Lord what to do. At that time the Ark of God's Agreement was kept there.
28Phinehas, son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron, was the priest. The Israelites asked the Lord, “Should go and we fight again against our relatives from Benjamin, or not?” “Yes, go! Tomorrow I will hand them over to you,” the Lord replied.
29Then the Israelites set up an ambush around Gibeah.
30On the third day they took up the same positions they had as before.
31The Benjamites came out to attack them and were lured away from the town as they began to kill Israelites as they had before. Some thirty Israelites died on the battlefield and along the roads, the one that goes towards Bethel and the other that goes back towards Gibeah.
32“We're defeating them, just like before,” the Benjamites shouted. But the Israelites said, “Let's run away from them and lure them away from the town towards the roads.”
33The main army of Israelites left where they were and took up positions at Baal-tamar, while those in the ambush west of Gibeah charged out to attack from where they had been hiding.
34Ten thousand seasoned Israelite warriors attacked Gibeah, and the fighting was so intense the Benjamites didn't realize they were on the brink of disaster.
35So the Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel. That day the Israelites killed twenty-five thousand one hundred Benjamites, all armed with swords.
36The Benjamites saw that they were defeated. The Israelites had fallen back before the Benjamites because they were confident the ambush they had put in place near Gibeah would be successful.

37The men from the ambush raced to attack the town, and they killed everyone in it.
38The agreement was that they would send up a great cloud of smoke to show the town had fallen.
39The Israelite army turned to attack the Benjamites, who had already killed about thirty Israelites. The Benjamites were saying, “We're completely defeating them, just like the first battle!”
40However, when the Israelites saw the columns of smoke rising heavenwards to form a great cloud over the whole of the town,
41they turned on their enemies. The Benjamites were horrified when they saw it and realized they were doomed.
42They turned and ran from the Israelites towards the desert, but the battle caught up with them, and the Israelites also killed those who left the towns on the way.
43Chasing after the Benjamites, the Israelites surrounded them, easily overtaking them east of Gibeah.
44Eighteen thousand Benjamites were killed, all of them courageous warriors.
45Some of the Benjamites that were left ran towards Pomegranate Rock in the desert, and the Israelites killed another five thousand men on the way. They chased another group of Benjamites as far as Gidom and killed another thousand.
46So that day twenty-five thousand Benjamite were killed, all armed with swords and all courageous warriors.
47There were six hundred who ran away to Pomegranate Rock in the desert and they stayed there four months.
48The Israelites went back into the territory of the Benjamites, and going from town to town, they killed everything: people, animals, everything they found. Then they burned down every town on their way.