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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Judges 20

Judges 19-21. In the story of the outrage of Gibeah, there is a combination of history and midrash. Hosea ( Judges 9:9) makes allusion to the “ days of Gibeah,” as a time of notorious moral depravity in Israel, and the events which he had in view doubtless form the basis of the present chapter. But when Israel is called “ the congregation” ( Judges 20:18), when the “ elders of the congregation” are introduced, and when the tribes come automatically together “ as one man” ( Judges 20:1; Judges 20:11), making a national army ten times as great as Barak’ s, it is apparent that this is a modernised version of the story, written in the language of the “ congregation.” It is the task of criticism to separate the original narrative from its accretions.

Verses 1-48

Judges 20. The Outrage Avenged.—“ The congregation” (LXX Synagô gç ) is a post-exilic term. The words “ as one man” suggest a unity of action such as was not secured till long after the time of the Judges. “ The assembly of the people of God” was a phrase often heard in the second Temple, but not in the days of the Judges.

Judges 20:2 . Contrast the army mustered against Sisera, 40,000 men strong ( Judges 5:8).

Judges 20:10 . Each of the three clauses means precisely the same thing.

Judges 20:15 . The figures are in some confusion, the size of the Benjamite force being indicated three times, and each time differently (15, 35, 44– 47).

Judges 20:16 . According to the VSS, Judges 20:16 a should be omitted (note the repetition of “ 700 chosen men” ); and “ every one” means each of the 26,000 men who were all left-handed. The skill of the Benjamites as archers and slingers is alluded to in 2 Chronicles 12:2 f.

Judges 20:23 should evidently stand before Judges 20:22-27 f. The words in brackets were added by an editor or scribe who counted it improper to offer sacrifice except where the Ark was housed, and who therefore inferred that Bethel, instead of Shiloh, possessed the sacra for a time. History gives no hint of this arrangement.

Judges 20:30-48 . The account of the third day’ s fighting is extremely confused. In Judges 20:35 the battle is over; in Judges 20:36 b it begins again.

Judges 20:33 . Baal-tamar is unknown. For “ Maareh-geba” read (with LXX) “ the West of Gibeah.”

Judges 20:37 . The ruse practised is very like that employed by Joshua against Ai ( Joshua 8:14 f).

Judges 20:40 . The last words may be translated, “ And, behold, the holocaust of the city went up to heaven.” The smoking and blazing city are imaged as a sacrifice. Heaven has been offered many such “ holocausts of barbarian vengeance.”

Judges 20:43 . Text corrupt. Moore suggests “ they cut Benjamin to pieces from Nohah as far as opposite Geba, eastward.”

Judges 20:45 . The rock Rimmon is now Rammô n, 3 m. E. of Bethel.

Judges 20:48 . Benjamin is made a herem, as if it were a heathen tribe “ devoted” in war.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Judges 20". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/judges-20.html. 1919.