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Bible Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Judges 20

 

 

Introduction
1The Levite in a general assembly declares his wrong.
8The decree of the assembly.
12The Benjamites, being cited, make head against the Israelites.
18The Israelites in two battles lose forty thousand.
26They destroy by a stratagem all the Benjamites, except six hundred.

Verse 1
Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD in Mizpeh.
Then all
2,8,11; 21:5; Deuteronomy 13:12-18; Joshua 22:12
as one man
1 Samuel 11:7,8; 2 Samuel 19:14; Ezra 3:1; Nehemiah 8:1
from Dan
18:29; 1 Samuel 3:20; 2 Samuel 3:10; 24:2; 1 Chronicles 21:2; 2 Chronicles 30:5
with the
Numbers 32:1,40; Joshua 17:1; 2 Samuel 2:9
unto the
18,26; 11:11
in Mizpeh
10:17; 11:11; Joshua 15:38; 18:26; 1 Samuel 7:5,610:17; 2 Kings 25:23; It 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.

Verse 2
And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword.
drew sword
15,17; 8:10; 2 Samuel 24:9; 2 Kings 3:26

Verse 3
(Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel were gone up to Mizpeh.) Then said the children of Israel, Tell us, how was this wickedness?
the children of Benjamin
Proverbs 22:3; Matthew 5:25; Luke 12:58,59; 14:31,32
how was
19:22-27

Verse 4
And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was slain, answered and said, I came into Gibeah that belongeth to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge.
the Levite
Heb. the man the Levite. I came.
19:15-28

Verse 5
And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, and thought to have slain me: and my concubine have they forced, that she is dead.
And the men
19:22
beset
Genesis 19:4-8
and my concubine
19:25,26
forced
Heb. humbled.
Deuteronomy 22:24; Ezekiel 22:10,11

Verse 6
And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel: for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel.
cut her
19:29
folly in Israel
10; 19:23; Genesis 34:7; Joshua 7:15; 2 Samuel 13:12,13

Verse 7
Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.
ye are all
Exodus 19:5,6; Deuteronomy 4:6; 14:1,2; 1 Corinthians 5:1,6,10-12
give here
19:30; Joshua 9:14; Proverbs 20:18; 24:6; James 1:5

Verse 8
And all the people arose as one man, saying, We will not any of us go to his tent, neither will we any of us turn into his house.
as one man
1,11
We will not
21:1,5; Proverbs 21:3; Ecclesiastes 9:10

Verse 9
But now this shall be the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up by lot against it;
by lot against it
Joshua 14:2; 1 Samuel 14:41,42; 1 Chronicles 24:5; Nehemiah 11:1; Proverbs 16:33; Jonah 1:7; Acts 1:26

Verse 10

ten thousand: or, myriad, Genesis href="/desk/?q=ge+24:60&sr=1">Genesis 24:60


Verse 12
And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness is this that is done among you?
sent men
Deuteronomy 13:14; 20:10; Joshua 22:13-16; Matthew 18:15-18; Romans 12:18

Verse 13
Now therefore deliver us the men, the children of Belial, which are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel. But the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel:
deliver
2 Samuel 20:21,22
children of Belial
19:22; Deuteronomy 13:13; 1 Samuel 30:22; 2 Samuel 20:1; 23:6; 1 Kings 21:13; 2 Chronicles 13:7
put away
Deuteronomy 17:7,12; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21,24; 24:7; Ecclesiastes 11:10
would not
1 Samuel 2:25; 2 Chronicles 25:16,20; Proverbs 29:1; Hosea 9:9; 10:9; Romans 1:32; Revelation 18:4,5; The 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.

Verse 14
But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.
Numbers 20:20; 21:23; 2 Chronicles 13:13; Job 15:25,26

Verse 15
And the children of Benjamin were numbered at that time out of the cities twenty and six thousand men that drew sword, beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven hundred chosen men.
twenty
25,35,46,47; Numbers 26:41

Verse 16
Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.
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; 1 Chronicles 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.
1 Samuel 17:40,49,50; 25:29; 2 Chronicles 26:14

Verse 17
And the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew sword: all these were men of war.
four hundred
2; Numbers 1:46; 26:51; 1 Samuel 11:8; 15:4; 1 Chronicles 21:5; 2 Chronicles 17:14-18

Verse 18
And the children of Israel arose, and went up to the house of God, and asked counsel of God, and said, Which of us shall go up first to the battle against the children of Benjamin? And the LORD said, Judah shall go up first.
house of
18:31; 19:18; Joshua 18:1; Joel 1:14
asked
7,23,26,27; 1:1; Numbers 27:5,21; Joshua 9:14
Judah
1:1,2; Genesis 49:8-10

Verse 19
And the children of Israel rose up in the morning, and encamped against Gibeah.
rose up
Joshua 3:1; 6:12; 7:16

Verse 21
And the children of Benjamin came forth out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to the ground of the Israelites that day twenty and two thousand men.
the children
Genesis 49:27; Hosea 10:9
destroyed
Deuteronomy 23:9; 2 Chronicles 28:10; Psalms 33:16; 73:18,19; 77:19; Ecclesiastes 9:1-3; Jeremiah 12:1

Verse 22
And the people the men of Israel encouraged themselves, and set their battle again in array in the place where they put themselves in array the first day.
encouraged
15,17; 1 Samuel 30:6; 2 Samuel 11:25; Psalms 64:5

Verse 23
(And the children of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until even, and asked counsel of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And the LORD said, Go up against him.)
wept
26,27; Psalms 78:34-36; Hosea 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.

Verse 25
And Benjamin went forth against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed down to the ground of the children of Israel again eighteen thousand men; all these drew the sword.
destroyed
21; Genesis 18:25; Job 9:12,13; Psalms 97:2; Romans 2:5; 3:5; 11:33

Verse 26
Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the LORD, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.
all the children
18,23
wept
1 Samuel 7:6; 2 Chronicles 20:3; Ezra 8:21; 9:4,5; Joel 1:14; 2:12-18; Jonah 3:5-10

Verse 27
And the children of Israel enquired of the LORD, (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days,
enquired
18,23; Numbers 27:21
the ark
Joshua 18:1; 1 Samuel 4:3,4; Psalms 78:60,61; Jeremiah 7:12; The 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."; Isaiah 59:1

Verse 28
And Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days,) saying, Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? And the LORD said, Go up; for to morrow I will deliver them into thine hand.
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.
Numbers 25:7-13; Joshua 22:13,30-32; 24:33
stood
Deuteronomy 10:8; 18:5
Shall I yet
Joshua 7:7; 1 Samuel 14:37; 23:4-12; 30:8; 2 Samuel 5:19-24; 6:3,7-12; Proverbs 3:5,6; Jeremiah 10:23
Go up
1:2; 7:9; 2 Chronicles 20:17

Verse 29
And Israel set liers in wait round about Gibeah.
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.
liers
34; Joshua 8:4; 2 Samuel 5:23

Verse 31
And the children of Benjamin went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city; and they began to smite of the people, and kill, as at other times, in the highways, of which one goeth up to the house of God, and the other to Gibeah in the field, about thirty men of Israel.
drawn
Joshua 8:14-16
smite of the people, and kill, as at
Heb. smite of the people wounded as at, etc. the house of God. or, Beth-el. Gibeah.
19:13,14; Isaiah 10:29
thirty
Joshua 7:5

Verse 32
And the children of Benjamin said, They are smitten down before us, as at the first. But the children of Israel said, Let us flee, and draw them from the city unto the highways.
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.
Joshua 8:15,16

Verse 33
And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place, and put themselves in array at Baaltamar: and the liers in wait of Israel came forth out of their places, even out of the meadows of Gibeah.
rose up
Joshua 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.

Verse 34
And there came against Gibeah ten thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and the battle was sore: but they knew not that evil was near them.
ten thousand
knew not
Joshua 8:14; Job 21:13; Proverbs 4:19; 29:6; Ecclesiastes 8:11,12; 9:12; Isaiah 3:10,11; Isaiah 47:11; Matthew 24:44; Luke 21:34; 21:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:3

Verse 35
And the LORD smote Benjamin before Israel: and the children of Israel destroyed of the Benjamites that day twenty and five thousand and an hundred men: all these drew the sword.
twenty
15,44-46; Job 20:5; Though 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.

Verse 36
So the children of Benjamin saw that they were smitten: for the men of Israel gave place to the Benjamites, because they trusted unto the liers in wait which they had set beside Gibeah.
for the man
Joshua 8:15-29

Verse 37
And the liers in wait hasted, and rushed upon Gibeah; and the liers in wait drew themselves along, and smote all the city with the edge of the sword.
the liers in wait hasted
Joshua 8:19
drew themselves along
or, made a long sound with the trumpets.
Exodus 19:13; Joshua 6:5

Verse 38
Now there was an appointed sign between the men of Israel and the liers in wait, that they should make a great flame with smoke rise up out of the city.
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.
Genesis 17:21; 2 Kings 4:16; *marg:
and
Heb. with. flame. Heb. elevation.

Verse 39
And when the men of Israel retired in the battle, Benjamin began to smite and kill of the men of Israel about thirty persons: for they said, Surely they are smitten down before us, as in the first battle.
And when
smite and kill
Heb. smite the wounded.

Verse 40
But when the flame began to arise up out of the city with a pillar of smoke, the Benjamites looked behind them, and, behold, the flame of the city ascended up to heaven.
a pillar
Genesis 19:28; Song of Solomon 3:6; Joel 2:30; Revelation 19:3
looked
Joshua 8:20
flame
Heb. whole consumption.

Verse 41
And when the men of Israel turned again, the men of Benjamin were amazed: for they saw that evil was come upon them.
were amazed
Exodus 15:9,10; Isaiah 13:8,9; 33:14; Luke 17:27,28; 21:26; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; 2 Peter 2:12; Revelation 6:15-17; 18:8-10
was come upon them
Heb. touched them.

Verse 42
Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel unto the way of the wilderness; but the battle overtook them; and them which came out of the cities they destroyed in the midst of them.
the battle
Lamentations 1:3; Hosea 9:9; 10:9

Verse 43
Thus they inclosed the Benjamites round about, and chased them, and trode them down with ease over against Gibeah toward the sunrising.
inclosed
Joshua 8:20-22
with ease
or, from Menuchah, etc. over against. Heb. unto over against.

Verse 45
And they turned and fled toward the wilderness unto the rock of Rimmon: and they gleaned of them in the highways five thousand men; and pursued hard after them unto Gidom, and slew two thousand men of them.
Rimmon
Joshua 15:32; 1 Chronicles 6:77; Zechariah 14:10

Verse 46
So that all which fell that day of Benjamin were twenty and five thousand men that drew the sword; all these were men of valour.
twenty
15,35

Verse 47
But six hundred men turned and fled to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon, and abode in the rock Rimmon four months.
six hundred
21:13; Psalms 103:9,10; Isaiah 1:9; Jeremiah 14:7; Lamentations 3:32; Habakkuk 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."

Verse 48
And the men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that they came to.
smote them
Deuteronomy 13:15-17; 2 Chronicles 25:13; 28:6-9; Proverbs 18:19
came to hand
Heb. was found. they came to. Heb. were found.

 


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Bibliography Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Judges 20:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/judges-20.html.

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