Judges Chapter 20
Last week we read the story of the
Levite whose concubine ran away from him. He chased her down to her
father's house, where he stayed with them for several days eating
and drinking. When they began their journey home, the Levite, his
servant, and the concubine got to Gibeah where they stopped to spend
the night. It turned out to be a horrible night, and the story
closed with the sons of Belial abusing the concubine all night
causing her death. The Levite took her home, divided her body into
12 parts, and sent a portion of the body to each of the 12 tribes of
Israel to make them aware of the evil done. While this did get
their attention, we found many things the man did were not honoring
to the Lord. We pickup the story at Mizpeh where the people of
Israel are very upset.
I. The Gathering of Israel at Mizpeh
Judg 20:1 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.
Judg 20:2 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.
Judg 20:3 (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
The circulation of
the Levite's concubine and his story about her death aroused all the
people of Israel. A call went out for all of Israel to gather at
Mizpeh, a city which was on the border of Benjamin. It says in
verse 2 that there were 400,000 men all able to bear the sword in
battle. This was a large force, and we know that when God was in
the midst of the battle, it only took a few to win with the Lord on
their side. The verse says "If God be for us, who can be against
us?" When God fought the battles in these days, none could stand
against His chosen people. It says that all the tribes were
represented, even those east of the Jordan river. So they ask for
the Levite to retell the story, that they might be sure they
understood exactly what happened.
Judg 20:4 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,
We don't see the
Levite mentioning how he had been drinking with the old man n his
house that night. When we do wrong, it is certainly easy to
overlook some of the fine details when bad things befall us. I'm
afraid that many times the bad things come due to us not always
doing things right. Whatever God brings into our lives, when we are
saved, it is for our own good in the end. We may not understand the
trial when it happens, but it works to our good.
Judg 20:5 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.
Judg 20:6 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.
His story shows him
very innocent in the whole affair. It sounds as if he was a victim
of attempted murder and that the concubine was torn from him by the
Benjamites. If you remember, they gave the woman out to the men.
The Levite says that he cut the body into 12 pieces and sent it out
so they might see the lewdness and folly that had been committed in
II. The Levite Asked for Counsel
Judg 20:7 Behold,
ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.
Judg 20:8 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.
Judg 20:9 But now
this shall be the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up by
lot against it;
The Israelites give
their advice and make plans to go up against Gibeah. It says in
verse 8 that all rose up as one man. This is very pleasing to God
for his people to agree on issues. Remember when Paul instructed
the church at Corinth to be of one mind, and that mind was to be the
mind of Christ.
1 Cor 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by
the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing,
and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly
joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Mark 3:24 And if a kingdom be divided
against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
Mark 3:25 And if a house be divided against
itself, that house cannot stand.
Jesus said that a
kingdom divided against itself can not stand. We need to be of a
common mind, and our mind needs to be thinking like Jesus.
1 Cor 2:16 For who hath known the mind of
the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Rom 15:5 Now the God of patience and
consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according
to Christ Jesus:
Rom 15:6 That ye may with one mind and one
mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It appears from the
verses we have read that they had pretty much decided to destroy
Gibeah for the wrong that had been done. Yet, they had not even
requested that the guilty be turned over to them. Not everyone in
the city was at fault.
Judg 20:10 And we
will take ten men of an hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel,
and an hundred of a thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to
fetch victual for the people, that they may do, when they come to
Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have
wrought in Israel.
They intended to take
the people of each tribe to supply the fighting men with food so
that the battle would not be hindered. You know that in war, if you
can sever the supply lines to the troops, it is just a matter of
time until the victory is yours. Keeping the food coming to those
that are in battle is very important, and we find they had a good
Judg 20:11 So all
the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as
Judg 20:12 And the
tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying,
What wickedness is this that is done among you?
The 11 tribes were in
agreement. (Without Benjamin.) They decide to punish the tribe of
Benjamin (Gibeah) for the deed done to the concubine. In verse12 it
says that they sent out messengers to all the tribe of Benjamin
demanding that the guilty be surrendered. It is amazing how a few
people doing wrong can affect thousands. It is very important that
all serve God properly, and follow His commands.
III. Israel Demands the Surrender
of the Guilty Men
Judg 20:13 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:
refused to deliver the guilty men. We know that if they had
followed the Lord's command, the guilty parties would have been
Judg 20:14 But the
children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities
unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.
Judg 20:15 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.
Instead of turning
over the guilty men, Benjamin gathers their army to go to battle.
It says they had 26,000 troops plus 700 men who were very proficient
in using a sling.
Judg 20:16 Among
all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded;
every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.
Judg 20:17 And the
men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand
men that drew sword: all these were men of war.
But 26,000 was no
match for 400,000 which were against them. All of Israel's chosen
men go up to war against the tribe of Benjamin. Note how accurate
it says these men were with sling shots.
J. Vernon McGee had
an interesting comment about young David when he took on Goliath
with a slingshot.
I heard a liberal speak for fifteen
minutes one time on the fact that David could not have been accurate
enough to hit Goliath on the forehead. Consider this verse. These
men were as accurate in that day with their slings as we are today
with our missiles. If they could get in the range of a slingshot, it
would be fatal for anyone. These left-handed men could split a hair!
This same liberal said that the reason
David picked up five stones was so that he would have a reserve
supply in case he missed with the first stone. Well, that liberal
was wrong. Goliath had four sons in the army of the Philistines, and
David had a stone for each one of them. David knew how accurate he
Now the men of Benjamin were overcome by
sheer numbers. In fact, the tribe of Benjamin was almost
IV. Israel Goes to the House of
God and asks Counsel
Judg 20:18 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.
There is wisdom in
the children seeking the Lord's guidance. In all things that we do,
we should seek the will of God in our plans. One thing that seems
unusual about this is that there is no record that they sought the
Lord as to whether they should go to war against Benjamin in the
first place. This is an indication of a weak spiritual condition at
this time. It shows they did not ask if they should go up to
battle, but rather which tribe should lead them. Sometimes that is
how you and I are. We get ourselves into a jam, and then we sort of
skip asking the Lord how He would get us out of the trouble, but go
on and ask for something specific that may or may not be in God's
Will for our lives. The Lord allows them to go on to war, for they
were in need of chastisement. God designates that Judah was to lead
in battle. Always remember that there are two wills of God for our
lives. His perfect will, and then there is the permissive will of
God. That means that we are not in the perfect will, but he allows
us to go on in our stubborn position. But normally, if we continue,
we will be chastised in time.
Judg 20:19 And the
children of Israel rose up in the morning, and encamped against
Judg 20:20 And the
men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of
Israel put themselves in array to fight against them at Gibeah.
Judg 20:21 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.
On day one, Israel
suffers a tremendous defeat in the first battle. It says in verse
19 that they rose up and encamped against Benjamin. And at the end
of the battle, 22,000 of the 11 tribes of Israel were slain.
Judg 20:22 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
On the second day,
they come out against Benjamin the same way as in day one. In verse
23, it says that they went up and wept before the Lord until
Judg 20:23 (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.)
Judg 20:24 And the
children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the
This time they ask if
they should go up to battle against Benjamin, not just who should
lead in the battle. So God tells them to go forth.
Judg 20:25 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.
The results were
almost the same. They lose 18,000 men in the second battle.
Now 1/10th of
their forces had been destroyed in just two battles.
Judg 20:26 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.
Judg 20:27 And the
children of Israel inquired of the LORD, (for the ark of the
covenant of God was there in those days,
Judg 20:28 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.
Again, the children
of Israel go up to the tabernacle and seek counsel of the Lord.
They are very serious about this, and they come the proper way with
Phinehas, a descendant of Aaron, going before them and asking if
they should try again in the battle or cease. The entire camp had
came and wept bitterly before the Lord and had fasted all the day.
They were serious about finding the true will of the Lord. This
time, not only does God say to go, but he says he will deliver them
into their hands in the upcoming battle.
V. Israel is
Given Victory over Benjamin
Judg 20:29 And
Israel set liers in wait round about Gibeah.
Judg 20:30 And the
children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the
third day, and put themselves in array against Gibeah, as at other
Judg 20:31 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
They pulled a
surprise attack by hiding men round about Gibeah. The men of Israel
went out as before in array, and then fled as if being defeated to
get the Benjamites to chase after them. They then closed the
entrance of the city.
Judg 20:32 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.
Judg 20:33 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.
Judg 20:34 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.
Judg 20:35 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.
The battle was of the
Lord, and he smote Benjamin before Israel. It says that they
destroyed 25,100 men in that third battle. That means that there
were only 900 men remaining if none of them were killed in the first
two battles. When they saw they were cut off from the city, they
tried to escape by going east toward the wilderness.
Judg 20:36 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.
Judg 20:37 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
Judg 20:38 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.
Judg 20:39 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.
Judg 20:40 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.
Judg 20:41 And when
the men of Israel turned again, the men of Benjamin were amazed: for
they saw that evil was come upon them.
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.
Judg 20:43 Thus
they enclosed the Benjamites round about, and chased them, and trode
them down with ease over against Gibeah toward the sunrising.
Judg 20:44 And
there fell of Benjamin eighteen thousand men; all these were men of
Judg 20:45 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.
Judg 20:46 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.
So 18,000 of the
Benjamites were killed on the battleground, and another 5,000 were
slain in flight toward the rock of Rimmon. Then another 2,000 fell
on the road to Gidom.
VI. Benjamin Almost Destroyed
Judg 20:47 But six
hundred men turned and fled to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon,
and abode in the rock Rimmon four months.
Only 600 men survived
the battle. It says they took refuge in the rugged country around
the Rock Rimmon. This was a large limestone mountain rising up from
the Jordan valley on the ascent toward the mountains of Bethel.
They found security here for 4 months from the fury of their
Judg 20:48 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 upon.
During this time, the
rest of the tribes went through Benjamin, killing all the men and
beasts in every town. They burned the cities with fire, and
virtually exterminated the tribe of Benjamin. All of this loss of
life, over the fact that they would not bring forth the guilty men
who had committed the sin. Protecting those in sin is never a wise
decision. We should care for them, and try our best to reach them
for the Lord, but we should hate their sin just like the Lord hates
sin. Love the sinner, hate the sin.
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Prov 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that
shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
Practice Random Acts of Kindness. Each act spreads, and many will
J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary
[computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System,
(Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.