Judges 19-21 Revised Standard Version

<< Judges 18 | Judges 19-21 | Ruth 1 >>

The Levite and His Concubine

19 In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite was sojourning in the remote parts of the hill country of E'phraim, who took to himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. 2  And his concubine became angry with him, and she went away from him to her father's house at Bethlehem in Judah, and was there some four months. 3  Then her husband arose and went after her, to speak kindly to her and bring her back. He had with him his servant and a couple of asses. And he came to her father's house; and when the girl's father saw him, he came with joy to meet him. 4  And his father-in-law, the girl's father, made him stay, and he remained with him three days; so they ate and drank, and lodged there. 5  And on the fourth day they arose early in the morning, and he prepared to go; but the girl's father said to his son-in-law, "Strengthen your heart with a morsel of bread, and after that you may go." 6  So the two men sat and ate and drank together; and the girl's father said to the man, "Be pleased to spend the night, and let your heart be merry." 7  And when the man rose up to go, his father-in-law urged him, till he lodged there again. 8  And on the fifth day he arose early in the morning to depart; and the girl's father said, "Strengthen your heart, and tarry until the day declines." So they ate, both of them. 9  And when the man and his concubine and his servant rose up to depart, his father-in-law, the girl's father, said to him, "Behold, now the day has waned toward evening; pray tarry all night. Behold, the day draws to its close; lodge here and let your heart be merry; and tomorrow you shall arise early in the morning for your journey, and go home." 10  But the man would not spend the night; he rose up and departed, and arrived opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). He had with him a couple of saddled asses, and his concubine was with him. 11  When they were near Jebus, the day was far spent, and the servant said to his master, "Come now, let us turn aside to this city of the Jeb'usites, and spend the night in it." 12  And his master said to him, "We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners, who do not belong to the people of Israel; but we will pass on to Gib'e-ah." 13  And he said to his servant, "Come and let us draw near to one of these places, and spend the night at Gib'e-ah or at Ramah." 14  So they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down on them near Gib'e-ah, which belongs to Benjamin, 15  and they turned aside there, to go in and spend the night at Gib'e-ah. And he went in and sat down in the open square of the city; for no man took them into his house to spend the night.

16  And behold, an old man was coming from his work in the field at evening; the man was from the hill country of E'phraim, and he was sojourning in Gib'e-ah; the men of the place were Benjaminites. 17  And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the wayfarer in the open square of the city; and the old man said, "Where are you going? and whence do you come?" 18  And he said to him, "We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote parts of the hill country of E'phraim, from which I come. I went to Bethlehem in Judah; and I am going to my home; and nobody takes me into his house. 19  We have straw and provender for our asses, with bread and wine for me and your maidservant and the young man with your servants; there is no lack of anything." 20  And the old man said, "Peace be to you; I will care for all your wants; only, do not spend the night in the square." 21  So he brought him into his house, and gave the asses provender; and they washed their feet, and ate and drank.

22  As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, base fellows, beset the house round about, beating on the door; and they said to the old man, the master of the house, "Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him." 23  And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, "No, my brethren, do not act so wickedly; seeing that this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. 24  Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them and do with them what seems good to you; but against this man do not do so vile a thing." 25  But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine, and put her out to them; and they knew her, and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. 26  And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man's house where her master was, till it was light. 27  And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28  He said to her, "Get up, let us be going." But there was no answer. Then he put her upon the ass; and the man rose up and went away to his home. 29  And when he entered his house, he took a knife, and laying hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. 30  And all who saw it said, "Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day; consider it, take counsel, and speak."

The War against the Benjamites

20 Then all the people of Israel came out, from Dan to Beer-sheba, including the land of Gilead, and the congregation assembled as one man to the Lord at Mizpah. 2  And the chiefs of all the people, of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand men on foot that drew the sword. 3  (Now the Benjaminites heard that the people of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) And the people of Israel said, "Tell us, how was this wickedness brought to pass?" 4  And the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, "I came to Gib'e-ah that belongs to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to spend the night. 5  And the men of Gib'e-ah rose against me, and beset the house round about me by night; they meant to kill me, and they ravished my concubine, and she is dead. 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 abomination and wantonness in Israel. 7  Behold, you people of Israel, all of you, give your advice and counsel here." 8  And all the people arose as one man, saying, "We will not any of us go to his tent, and none of us will return to his house. 9  But now this is what we will do to Gib'e-ah: we will go up against it by lot, 10  and we will take ten men of a hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and a hundred of a thousand, and a thousand of ten thousand, to bring provisions for the people, that when they come they may requite Gib'e-ah of Benjamin, for all the wanton crime which they have committed in Israel." 11  So all the men of Israel gathered against the city, united as one man.

12  And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, "What wickedness is this that has taken place among you? 13  Now therefore give up the men, the base fellows in Gib'e-ah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel." But the Benjaminites would not listen to the voice of their brethren, the people of Israel. 14  And the Benjaminites came together out of the cities to Gib'e-ah, to go out to battle against the people of Israel. 15  And the Benjaminites mustered out of their cities on that day twenty-six thousand men that drew the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gib'e-ah, who mustered seven hundred picked men. 16  Among all these were seven hundred picked men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair, and not miss. 17  And the men of Israel, apart from Benjamin, mustered four hundred thousand men that drew sword; all these were men of war.

18  The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel, and inquired of God, "Which of us shall go up first to battle against the Benjaminites?" And the Lord said, "Judah shall go up first." 19  Then the people of Israel rose in the morning, and encamped against Gib'e-ah. 20  And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel drew up the battle line against them at Gib'e-ah. 21  The Benjaminites came out of Gib'e-ah, and felled to the ground on that day twenty-two thousand men of the Israelites. 22  But the people, the men of Israel, took courage, and again formed the battle line in the same place where they had formed it on the first day. 23  And the people of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until the evening; and they inquired of the Lord, "Shall we again draw near to battle against our brethren the Benjaminites?" And the Lord said, "Go up against them." 24  So the people of Israel came near against the Benjaminites the second day. 25  And Benjamin went against them out of Gib'e-ah the second day, and felled to the ground eighteen thousand men of the people of Israel; all these were men who drew the sword.

26  Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept; they sat there before the Lord, and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 27  And the people of Israel inquired of the Lord (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28  and Phin'ehas the son of Elea'zar, son of Aaron, ministered before it in those days), saying, "Shall we yet again go out to battle against our brethren the Benjaminites, or shall we cease?" And the Lord said, "Go up; for tomorrow I will give them into your hand." 29  So Israel set men in ambush round about Gib'e-ah. 30  And the people of Israel went up against the Benjaminites on the third day, and set themselves in array against Gib'e-ah, as at other times. 31  And the Benjaminites went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city; and as at other times they began to smite and kill some of the people, in the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gib'e-ah, and in the open country, about thirty men of Israel. 32  And the Benjaminites said, "They are routed before us, as at the first." But the men of Israel said, "Let us flee, and draw them away from the city to the highways." 33  And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place, and set themselves in array at Ba'al-ta'mar; and the men of Israel who were in ambush rushed out of their place west of Geba. 34  And there came against Gib'e-ah ten thousand picked men out of all Israel, and the battle was hard; but the Benjaminites did not know that disaster was close upon them. 35  And the Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel; and the men of Israel destroyed twenty-five thousand one hundred men of Benjamin that day; all these were men who drew the sword. 36  So the Benjaminites saw that they were defeated. The men of Israel gave ground to Benjamin, because they trusted to the men in ambush whom they had set against Gib'e-ah. 37  And the men in ambush made haste and rushed upon Gib'e-ah; the men in ambush moved out and smote all the city with the edge of the sword. 38  Now the appointed signal between the men of Israel and the men in ambush was that when they made a great cloud of smoke rise up out of the city 39  the men of Israel should turn in battle. Now Benjamin had begun to smite and kill about thirty men of Israel; they said, "Surely they are smitten down before us, as in the first battle." 40  But when the signal began to rise out of the city in a column of smoke, the Benjaminites looked behind them; and behold, the whole of the city went up in smoke to heaven. 41  Then the men of Israel turned, and the men of Benjamin were dismayed, for they saw that disaster was close upon them. 42  Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel in the direction of the wilderness; but the battle overtook them, and those who came out of the cities destroyed them in the midst of them. 43  Cutting down the Benjaminites, they pursued them and trod them down from Nohah as far as opposite Gib'e-ah on the east. 44  Eighteen thousand men of Benjamin fell, all of them men of valor. 45  And they turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon; five thousand men of them were cut down in the highways, and they were pursued hard to Gidom, and two thousand men of them were slain. 46  So all who fell that day of Benjamin were twenty-five thousand men that drew the sword, all of them men of valor. 47  But six hundred men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and abode at the rock of Rimmon four months. 48  And the men of Israel turned back against the Benjaminites, and smote them with the edge of the sword, men and beasts and all that they found. And all the towns which they found they set on fire.

Wives for the Benjamites

21 Now the men of Israel had sworn at Mizpah, "No one of us shall give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin." 2  And the people came to Bethel, and sat there till evening before God, and they lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. 3  And they said, "O Lord, the God of Israel, why has this come to pass in Israel, that there should be today one tribe lacking in Israel?" 4  And on the morrow the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. 5  And the people of Israel said, "Which of all the tribes of Israel did not come up in the assembly to the Lord?" For they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah, saying, "He shall be put to death." 6  And the people of Israel had compassion for Benjamin their brother, and said, "One tribe is cut off from Israel this day. 7  What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by the Lord that we will not give them any of our daughters for wives?" 8  And they said, "What one is there of the tribes of Israel that did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah?" And behold, no one had come to the camp from Ja'besh-gil'ead, to the assembly. 9  For when the people were mustered, behold, not one of the inhabitants of Ja'besh-gil'ead was there. 10  So the congregation sent thither twelve thousand of their bravest men, and commanded them, "Go and smite the inhabitants of Ja'besh-gil'ead with the edge of the sword; also the women and the little ones. 11  This is what you shall do; every male and every woman that has lain with a male you shall utterly destroy." 12  And they found among the inhabitants of Ja'besh-gil'ead four hundred young virgins who had not known man by lying with him; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan. 13  Then the whole congregation sent word to the Benjaminites who were at the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace to them. 14  And Benjamin returned at that time; and they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Ja'besh-gil'ead; but they did not suffice for them. 15  And the people had compassion on Benjamin because the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.

16  Then the elders of the congregation said, "What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?" 17  And they said, "There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, that a tribe be not blotted out from Israel. 18  Yet we cannot give them wives of our daughters." For the people of Israel had sworn, "Cursed be he who gives a wife to Benjamin." 19  So they said, "Behold, there is the yearly feast of the Lord at Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, on the east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebo'nah." 20  And they commanded the Benjaminites, saying, "Go and lie in wait in the vineyards, 21  and watch; if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards and seize each man his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22  And when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we will say to them, 'Grant them graciously to us; because we did not take for each man of them his wife in battle, neither did you give them to them, else you would now be guilty.'" 23  And the Benjaminites did so, and took their wives, according to their number, from the dancers whom they carried off; then they went and returned to their inheritance, and rebuilt the towns, and dwelt in them. 24  And the people of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance. 25  In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.

<< Judges 18 | Judges 19-21 | Ruth 1 >>

Add Another Translation