Judges 19-21 Bible in Basic English

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The Levite and His Concubine

19 1  Now in those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite was living in the inmost parts of the hill-country of Ephraim, and he got for himself a servant-wife from Beth-lehem-judah. 2  And his servant-wife was angry with him, and went away from him to her father's house at Beth-lehem-judah, and was there for four months. 3  Then her husband got up and went after her, with the purpose of talking kindly to her, and taking her back with him; he had with him his young man and two asses: and she took him into her father's house, and her father, when he saw him, came forward to him with joy. 4  And his father-in-law, the girl's father, kept him there for three days; and they had food and drink and took their rest there. 5  Now on the fourth day they got up early in the morning and he made ready to go away; but the girl's father said to his son-in-law, Take a little food to keep up your strength, and then go on your way. 6  So seating themselves they had food and drink, the two of them together; and the girl's father said to the man, If it is your pleasure, take your rest here tonight, and let your heart be glad. 7  And the man got up to go away, but his father-in-law would not let him go, so he took his rest there again for the night. 8  Then early on the morning of the fifth day he got up to go away; but the girl's father said, Keep up your strength; so the two of them had a meal, and the man and his woman and his servant did not go till after the middle of the day. 9  And when they got up to go away, his father-in-law, the girl's father, said to him, Now evening is coming on, so do not go tonight; see, the day is almost gone; take your rest here and let your heart be glad, and tomorrow early, go on your way back to your house. 10  But the man would not be kept there that night, and he got up and went away and came opposite to Jebus (which is Jerusalem); and he had with him the two asses, ready for travelling, and his woman. 11  When they got near Jebus the day was far gone; and the servant said to his master, Now let us go from our road into this town of the Jebusites and take our night's rest there. 12  But his master said to him, We will not go out of our way into a strange town, whose people are not of the children of Israel; but we will go on to Gibeah. 13  And he said to his servant, Come, let us go on to one of these places, stopping for the night in Gibeah or Ramah. 14  So they went on their way; and the sun went down when they were near Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. 15  And they went off the road there with the purpose of stopping for the night in Gibeah: and he went in, seating himself in the street of the town, for no one took them into his house for the night.

16  Now when it was evening they saw an old man coming back from his work in the fields; he was from the hill-country of Ephraim and was living in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites. 17  And when he saw the traveller in the street of the town, the old man said, Where are you going? and where do you come from? 18  And he said to him, We are on our way from Beth-lehem-judah to the inmost parts of the hill-country of Ephraim: I came from there and went to Beth-lehem-judah: now I am on my way back to my house, but no man will take me into his house. 19  But we have dry grass and food for our asses, as well as bread and wine for me, and for the woman, and for the young man with us: we have no need of anything. 20  And the old man said, Peace be with you; let all your needs be my care; only do not take your rest in the street. 21  So he took them into his house and gave the asses food; and after washing their feet they took food and drink.

22  While they were taking their pleasure at the meal, the good-for-nothing men of the town came round the house, giving blows on the door; and they said to the old man, the master of the house, Send out that man who came to your house, so that we may take our pleasure with him. 23  So the man, the master of the house, went out to them, and said, No, my brothers, do not this evil thing; this man has come into my house, and you are not to do him this wrong. 24  See, here is my daughter, a virgin, and his servant-wife: I will send them out for you to take them and do with them whatever you will. But do no such thing of shame to this man. 25  But the men would not give ear to him: so the man took his woman and sent her out to them; and they took her by force, using her for their pleasure all night till the morning; and when dawn came they let her go. 26  Then at the dawn of day the woman came, and, falling down at the door of the man's house where her master was, was stretched there till it was light. 27  In the morning her master got up, and opening the door of the house went out to go on his way; and he saw his servant-wife stretched on the earth at the door of the house with her hands on the step. 28  And he said to her, Get up and let us be going; but there was no answer; so he took her up and put her on the ass, and went on his way and came to his house. 29  And when he had come to his house, he got his knife, and took the woman, cutting her up bone by bone into twelve parts, which he sent through all Israel. 30  And he gave orders to the men whom he sent, saying, This is what you are to say to all the men of Israel, Has ever an act like this been done from the day when the children of Israel came out of Egypt to this day? Give thought to it, turning it over in your minds, and give your opinion of it.

The War against the Benjamites

20 1  Then all the children of Israel took up arms, and the people came together like one man, from Dan to Beer-sheba, and the land of Gilead, before the Lord at Mizpah. 2  And the chiefs of the people, out of all the tribes of Israel, took their places in the meeting of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen armed with swords. 3  (Now the children of Benjamin had word that the children of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) And the children of Israel said, Make clear how this evil thing took place. 4  Then the Levite, the husband of the dead woman, said in answer, I came to Gibeah in the land of Benjamin, I and my servant-wife, for the purpose of stopping there for the night. 5  And the townsmen of Gibeah came together against me, going round the house on all sides by night; it was their purpose to put me to death, and my servant-wife was violently used by them and is dead. 6  So I took her, cutting her into parts which I sent through all the country of the heritage of Israel: for they have done an act of shame in Israel. 7  Here you all are, you children of Israel; give now your suggestions about what is to be done. 8  Then all the people got up as one man and said, Not one of us will go to his tent or go back to his house: 9  But this is what we will do to Gibeah: we will go up against it by the decision of the Lord; 10  And we will take ten men out of every hundred, through all the tribes of Israel, a hundred out of every thousand, a thousand out of every ten thousand, to get food for the people, so that they may give to Gibeah of Benjamin the right punishment for the act of shame they have done in Israel. 11  So all the men of Israel were banded together against the town, united like one man.

12  And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin saying, What is this evil which has been done among you? 13  Now give up those good-for-nothing persons in Gibeah so that we may put them to death, clearing away the evil from Israel. But the children of Benjamin would not give ear to the voice of their brothers, the children of Israel. 14  And the children of Benjamin came together from all their towns to Gibeah, to go to war with the children of Israel. 15  And the children of Benjamin who came that day from the towns were twenty-six thousand men armed with swords, in addition to the people of Gibeah, numbering seven hundred of the best fighting-men, 16  Who were left-handed, able to send a stone at a hair without error. 17  And the men of Israel, other than Benjamin, were four hundred thousand in number, all armed with swords; they were all men of war.

18  And they got up and went up to Beth-el to get directions from God, and the children of Israel said, Who is to be the first to go up to the fight against the children of Benjamin? And the Lord said, Judah is to go up first. 19  So the children of Israel got up in the morning and put themselves in position against Gibeah. 20  And the men of Israel went out to war against Benjamin (and the men of Israel put their forces in fighting order against them at Gibeah). 21  Then the children of Benjamin came out from Gibeah, cutting down twenty-two thousand of the Israelites that day. 22  But the people, the men of Israel, taking heart again, put their forces in order and took up the same position as on the first day. 23  Now the children of Israel went up, weeping before the Lord till evening, requesting the Lord and saying, Am I to go forward again to the fight against the children of Benjamin my brother? And the Lord said, Go up against him. 24  So the children of Israel went forward against the children of Benjamin the second day. 25  And the second day Benjamin went out against them from Gibeah, cutting down eighteen thousand men of the children of Israel, all swordsmen.

26  Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up to Beth-el, weeping and waiting there before the Lord, going without food all day till evening, and offering burned offerings and peace-offerings before the Lord. 27  And the children of Israel made request to the Lord, (for the ark of the agreement of the Lord was there in those days, 28  And Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, was in his place before it,) and said, Am I still to go on with the fight against the children of Benjamin my brother, or am I to give it up? And the Lord said, Go on; for tomorrow I will give him into your hands. 29  So Israel put men secretly all round Gibeah to make a surprise attack on it. 30  And the children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day, and put themselves in fighting order against Gibeah as before. 31  And the children of Benjamin went out against the people, moving away from the town; and as before, at their first attack, they put to death about thirty men of Israel on the highways, of which one goes up to Beth-el and the other to Gibeah, and in the open country. 32  And the children of Benjamin said, They are giving way before us as at first. But the children of Israel said, Let us go in flight and get them away from the town, into the highways. 33  So all the men of Israel got up and put themselves in fighting order at Baal-tamar: and those who had been waiting secretly to make a surprise attack came rushing out of their place on the west of Geba. 34  And they came in front of Gibeah, ten thousand of the best men in all Israel, and the fighting became more violent; but the children of Benjamin were not conscious that evil was coming on them. 35  Then the Lord sent sudden fear on Benjamin before Israel; and that day the children of Israel put to death twenty-five thousand, one hundred men of Benjamin, all of them swordsmen. 36  So the children of Benjamin saw that they were overcome: and the men of Israel had given way before Benjamin, putting their faith in the watchers who were to make the surprise attack on Gibeah. 37  And the watchers, rushing on Gibeah and overrunning it, put all the town to the sword without mercy. 38  Now the sign fixed between the men of Israel and those making the surprise attack was that when they made a pillar of smoke go up from the town, 39  The men of Israel were to make a turn about in the fight. And Benjamin had overcome and put to death about thirty of the men of Israel, and were saying, Certainly they are falling back before us as in the first fight. 40  Then the sign went up out of the town in the pillar of smoke, and the Benjamites, turning back, saw all the town going up in smoke to heaven. 41  And the men of Israel had made a turn about, and the men of Benjamin were overcome with fear, for they saw that evil had overtaken them. 42  So turning their backs on the men of Israel, they went in the direction of the waste land; but the fight overtook them; and those who came out of the town were heading them off and putting them to the sword. 43  And crushing Benjamin down, they went after them, driving them from Nohah as far as the east side of Gibeah. 44  Eighteen thousand men of Benjamin came to their death, all strong men of war. 45  And turning, they went in flight to the rock of Rimmon in the waste land: and on the highways five thousand of them were cut off by the men of Israel, who, pushing on hard after them to Geba, put to death two thousand more. 46  So twenty-five thousand of the swordsmen of Benjamin came to their end that day, all strong men of war. 47  But six hundred men, turning back, went in flight to the rock of Rimmon in the waste land, and were living on the rock of Rimmon for four months. 48  And the men of Israel, turning again against the children of Benjamin, put to the sword without mercy all the towns and the cattle and everything there was, burning every town which came into their hands.

Wives for the Benjamites

21 1  Now the men of Israel had taken an oath in Mizpah, saying, Not one of us will give his daughter as a wife to Benjamin. 2  And the people came to Beth-el, waiting there till evening before God, and gave themselves up to bitter weeping. 3  And they said, O Lord, the God of Israel, why has this fate come on Israel, that today one tribe has been cut off from Israel? 4  Then on the day after, the people got up early and made an altar there, offering burned offerings and peace-offerings. 5  And the children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel, who did not come up to the Lord at the meeting of all Israel? For they had taken a great oath that whoever did not come up to Mizpah to the Lord was to be put to death. 6  And the children of Israel were moved with pity for Benjamin their brother, saying, Today one tribe has been cut off from Israel. 7  What are we to do about wives for those who are still living? For we have taken an oath by the Lord that we will not give them our daughters for wives. 8  And they said, Which one of the tribes of Israel did not come up to Mizpah to the Lord? And it was seen that no one had come from Jabesh-gilead to the meeting. 9  For when the people were numbered, not one man of the people of Jabesh-gilead was present. 10  So they (the meeting) sent twelve thousand of the best fighting-men, and gave them orders, saying, Go and put the people of Jabesh-gilead to the sword without mercy, with their women and their little ones. 11  And this is what you are to do: every male, and every woman who has had sex relations with a man, you are to put to the curse, but you are to keep safe the virgins. And they did so. 12  Now there were among the people of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins who had never had sex relations with a man; these they took to their tents in Shiloh in the land of Canaan. 13  And all the meeting sent to the men of Benjamin who were in the rock of Rimmon, offering them peace. 14  Then Benjamin came back; and they gave them the women whom they had kept from death among the women of Jabesh-gilead: but still there were not enough for them. 15  And the people were moved with pity for Benjamin, because the Lord had let his wrath loose on the tribes of Israel.

16  Then the responsible men of the meeting said, What are we to do about wives for the rest of them, seeing that the women of Benjamin are dead? 17  And they said, How is the rest of Benjamin to be given offspring so that one tribe of Israel may not be put out of existence, 18  Seeing that we may not give them our daughters as wives? For the children of Israel had taken an oath, saying, Cursed is he who gives a wife to Benjamin. 19  And they said, See, every year there is a feast of the Lord in Shiloh, which is to the north of Beth-el, on the east side of the highway which goes up from Beth-el to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah. 20  And they said to the men of Benjamin, Go into the vine-gardens, waiting there secretly, 21  And watching; and if the daughters of Shiloh come out to take part in the dances, then come from the vine-gardens and take a wife for every one of you from among the daughters of Shiloh, and go back to the land of Benjamin. 22  And when their fathers or their brothers come and make trouble, you are to say to them, Give them to us as an act of grace; for we did not take them as wives for ourselves in war; and if you yourselves had given them to us you would have been responsible for the broken oath. 23  So the men of Benjamin did this, and got wives for themselves for every one of their number, taking them away by force from the dance; then they went back to their heritage, building up their towns and living in them. 24  Then the children of Israel went away from there, every man to his tribe and his family, every man went back to his heritage. 25  In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did what seemed right to him.

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