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The Slaughter of the Benjamites
The Levite recounts his wrongs to a full assemblage of the tribes, who decree punishment upon Benjamin. Their first two attacks are unsuccessful, but the third results in the almost total extermination of the Benjamites.
1-11. The Israelites assemble at Gibeah.
1. Congregation] This word is only used in the later books of the OT. after Israel had ceased at the exile to be a nation: see intro. Judges 19). Dan] see on Judges 18:29. Beer-sheba] the southernmost point of Palestine, 28 m. SW. of Hebron. See Genesis 21, 26; 1 Samuel 8:2; Amos 5:5.
2. Four hundred thousand] contrast Judges 5:8.
3. Mizpeh] not the place in Gilead mentioned in Judges 11:11, but on a hill about two hours’ journey NW. from Jerusalem.
12-29. The defeats of the Israelites.
12. The responsibility for the outrage is regarded as resting on the whole tribe.
15. In Judges 20:44-47 only 25,600 men are accounted for. LXX here reads 25,000, and neglects the 700 men of Judges 20:16.
16. See on Judges 3:16.
18. Cp. 12. Bethel (RV) would be some four hours’ distance to the N. After this journey the whole army marches back to Gibeah.
23. This v., placed in brackets, should really precede Judges 20:22, on which Judges 20:24 properly follows.
25. In these two battles the Israelites thus lose a tenth of their whole number.
26. House of God] RV ’Bethel.’ Burnt offerings.. peace offerings] Sacrifices in which the whole was consumed on the altar, and sacrifices in which part was eaten by the worshippers at a common meal.
27, 28. This parenthesis is added to explain why Bethel was visited, and not Shiloh, as might have been expected from the statements made in Joshua 18:10 and 1 Samuel 4:3. If the note about Phinehas is correct, these events must have taken place in the first generation after Joshua.
30-48. The destruction of Benjamin.
31. The same stratagem as that which had proved successful at Ai (Joshua 8:16). House of God] RV ’Bethel,’ as in Judges 20:26.
33. Baaltamar] unknown.
35. The Lord] Israel’s success is really Jehovah’s. This v. anticipates the end of the story. In the whole narrative there is a good deal of misplacement (e.g. Judges 20:37, Judges 20:39) and redundancy (e.g. Judges 20:31-32). Judges 20:36 commences what is really a second account of the battle, with a very much fuller conclusion.
37. Drew themselves along] ’moved forward.’
42. The wilderness] i.e. to the more desolate region lying to the E.
43. With ease] RV ’at their resting place,’ or, as RM, ’at Menuhah.’ The sunrising] i.e. the E.
45. Rimmon] 3 m. E. of Bethel. Gidom is unknown.
48. The men of every city] RV ’the entire city,’ or, as RM, ’the inhabited city.’
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Judges 20". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19