0 A holy civil war (Judges 20)

Episode 98: A holy civil war

Judges 20

1-2 All of the Israelites assembled before the Lord in Mizpeh, along with the entire population of Israel and 400,000 soldiers.

3 The children of Israel said, "What is this wickedness?"

4 And the Levite (the husband of the woman that was killed) said,

I came to Gibeah (that belongs to Benjamin) with my concubine to look for a place to stay. And the men of Gibeah tried to kill me, but raped and killed my concubine instead.

6 So I cut my concubine into pieces and sent the pieces throughout Israel.

7 You are all Israelites. What should be done about it?

8 When the Israelites heard this, all of the Israelites including the 400,000 soldiers said the following words together in complete unison:

None of us will go home.

9-11 We will take 10% of our men to fight against Gibeah of Benjamin.

12 The Israelites sent messengers to the tribe of Benjamin, saying,

13 Deliver to us the men of Gibeah so we can put them to death.

But the Benjaminites refused to hand over the "children of Belial" in the town of Gibeah.

14 And the men of Benjamin gathered to fight against the rest of the Israelites.

15-16 There were 26,000 Benjaminites, and 700 soldiers from Gibeah, plus 700 lefties who "could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss."

17 And against them were 400,000 soldiers from the other tribes of Israel.

18 The Israelites went to the house of God and asked him,

Which of us should go first to fight the children of Benjamin?

God said, "The tribe of Judah should go first."

19-20 The Israelites fought the Benjaminites.

21 But the tribe of Benjamin, with their sharp-shooting lefties, killed 22,000 men.

Then the children of Israel cried all day before the Lord, and asked him,

Should we go to war against Benjamin?

And God said, "Yes, go fight against them."

24-25 So the Israelites fought the Benjaminites again the second day, and another 18,000 Israelites are killed.

26 Once again all of the Israelites sit and weep all day before God.

27 And they enquired of the Lord (because they had the ark of the covenant there in those days).

28 Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, stood in front of the ark and said,

Should I fight against the children of Benjamin?

God said,

Go fight against them; tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.

30 So the children of Israel fought against Benjamin.

35 And God smote the tribe of Benjamin, helping the Israelites kill 25,100 men.

37 Then Israelites killed everyone in the city of Gibeah with the edge of the sword.

47 But six hundred men survived from the tribe of Benjamin

48 The Israelites then killed all the men, animals, and everything they could find in every Benjamite city. Then they burned the cities to the ground.

A few more words about this episode

All of the Israelites assembled before the Lord in Mizpeh (20:1-2)
This was after each of the twelve tribes received a rotting piece of the Levite's concubine. See Judges 19, Episode 97
700 lefties (20:15)
The tribe of Benjamin seemed to favor left-handed people. Remember Ehud from Judges 3, Episode 85?
Phinehas (20:28)
This is the same Phinehas (the grandson of Moses) who impaled the Israelite man and the Midianite woman back in Numbers 25:6-15 (Episode 66). So he would be about 450 years old - or the story is completely out of place chronologically and should have been one of the first chapters of Judges - not at the end of the book.
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