Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

Judges 20

Verses 1-48

CHAPTER 20 The Horrible War

1. The Levite’s story ( 20:1-7)

2. The uprising ( 20:8-11)

3. The slaying of the Israelites ( 20:12-25)

4. Benjamin exterminated except six hundred men ( 20:26-48)

This and the concluding chapter bring before us the awful harvest of what had been sown. “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). They had sown the wind and now reaped the whirlwind. Violence and lawlessness result in the slaying of 40,000 Israelites and 23,000 of the tribe of Benjamin. Nearly the entire tribe was wiped out. From Dan to Beersheba into the land of Gilead they gathered at Mizpeh to hear the story of the Levite. Benjamin refused to give up the wicked men and instead of humbling themselves, acknowledging the dreadful guilt and bringing the guilty ones to judgment, they gathered themselves together to fight their own brethren. Their company was small in comparison with the mighty host of Israel. The divine counsel was that Judah should go up first to battle with Benjamin. What a contrast with the beginning of the book! There they were to fight against the common foe; here against their own brethren.

“But to be fit to be used of God to deal with evil involves much more than readiness to be His instrument. They are too ready, as we see in the result. Their wrath is too prompt, too implacable, too unsparing. Theirs is the reckless haste of vengeance, and not the solemn discrimination of divine judgment. They remember not their own sins, bring no sin offering to God, no tears of penitence. They build on their numbers; no doubt on the justice of their cause, also, but in self-righteousness and without self-suspicion. Thus they go up to smite, and they are smitten heavily, disastrously. Benjamin, the wrong-doer, is wholly victorious.”

Here too are the lessons for God’s people in judging what is evil amongst them. Then the children of Israel went to Bethel (House of God) and with prayer and fasting waited on the Lord and brought the offerings. Then the Lord gave them the assurance of victory. Benjamin is smitten, their women and children are wiped out. Only six hundred men escaped to the rock of Rimmon. All their cities were burned.

To even greater scenes of violence, bloodshed and desolution this poor world, which has rejected God and His beloved Son, is hastening on.

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Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Judges 20". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/judges-20.html. 1913-1922.