[Judges 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.
<<FROM DAN EVEN TO BEERSHEBA>> This is a common expression in the Bible.
Here the verse is referring to provincial areas, i.e. the region dominated
by Beer Sheva to the south.
The Levite had sent portions of his dead wife's body to each of the Tribes.
From the very beginning each tribe was governed by its own prince and by a
council that was later named Sanhedrin. Each Tribal Sanhedrin had 23 elders
and met regularly to discuss communal and legal matters. The Levite would
have sent his portions to the places of Assembly of the Tribal Sanhedrins.
At this stage a central Sanhedrin for all Israel of 70 elders may also have
existed and gathered together at Mizpeh where there may have been a
sanctuary cf. 1-Samuel 10:23 (Yechezkiel Kaufman, "Safer Shoftim").
Incidentally the English word "sage" (wiseman, elder) may derive from the
Hebrew "sag", "sig", i.e. discuss.
<<MIZPEH>>: Somewhere just to the north of Jerusalem.
[Judges 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..
When they came out of Egypt they numbered around 600,000 males that went
out to war. Even allowing for the exclusion of Benjamin there still appears
a marked diminishment in population. Possibly the trouble of the Era of
Judges, wars and oppression by foreigners, idolatry, immorality, etc had
caused many causalities and/or a lowering of the birthrate. There are
sources that claim that a portion of the Israelites left the land of Israel
at an early stage long before the Ten Tribes were exiled by the Assyrians.
We have mentioned these sources elsewhere but prefer not to delve into the
Kaufman points out that the Israelites at this stage "drew the sword" and
were not chariot-drivers, archers, spearmen, or sling throwers apart from
[Judges 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 WICKEDNESS?
The wickedness polluted the whole body of Israel (Yairah Amit,
"Shoftim"). When you do bad you affect the whole of our peoples and when
you do good you help them.
[Judges 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, TO LODGE.. .
[Judges 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..
<<AND THOUGHT TO HAVE SLAIN ME>>: This is how the Hebrew can be
interpreted and how the Levite probably wanted his hearers to understand
him BUT the actual words chosen are (deliberately?) ambiguous and can also
imply: "They intended to kill me".
[Judges 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..
[Judges 20:7] BEHOLD, YE ARE ALL CHILDREN OF ISRAEL; GIVE HERE YOUR ADVICE
[Judges 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
[Judges 20:9] BUT NOW THIS SHALL BE THE THING WHICH WE WILL DO TO GIBEAH;
WE WILL GO UP BY LOT AGAINST IT.
[Judges 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
[Judges 20:11] SO ALL THE MEN OF ISRAEL WERE GATHERED AGAINST THE CITY,
KNIT TOGETHER AS ONE MAN..
[Judges 20:12] AND THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL SENT MEN THROUGH ALL THE TRIBE OF
BENJAMIN, SAYING, WHAT WICKEDNESS IS THIS THAT IS DONE AMONG
[Judges 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..
<<AND PUT AWAY EVIL FROM ISRAEL <<: Evildoers harm the Israelite people
[Judges 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
Why did they not hand over the culprits? We may never really know. Scott
Lively and Kevin E. Abrams wrote "The Pink Swastika" (1995)
Lively and Abrams follow the theory of Shmuel Igra ("Germany's Secret Vice").
They claim that Nazism arose at least partly due to the culture of
homosexuality that encouraged sadistic militarism. Shmuel Igra suggested
that this plague had also infested the Tribe of Benjamin in ancient times
as exemplified in the present chapter.
The Annotated Pink Swastika
Whatever the case according to written reports it does seem true that many
(much more than the national average) anti-semites are sexual perverts.
Also homosexuality encourages coercion and causes great suffering. By
allowing this abomination to take place society is bringing a curse upon
Homosexuality is strictly forbidden by the Torah:
Leviticus 18:22-30 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an
abomination. Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with
it...It is perversion...[F]or by all these the nations are
defiled...therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the
land vomits out its inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My statutes and
My judgments and shall not commit any of these abominations...I am the Lord
[Judges 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.
i.e. 26,700. Later it says 25,000 were killed in the final destruction of
Benjamin while 700 got away. The Radak explains the difference in that a
1000 warriors were killed in the preliminary skirmishes.
[Judges 20:16] AMONG ALL THIS PEOPLE THERE WERE SEVEN HUNDRED CHOSEN MEN
LEFTHANDED; EVERY ONE COULD SLING STONES AT AN HAIR BREADTH, AND NOT
>> LEFTHANDED : << This may have been a common characteristic amongst
Benjamin. Ehud the judge-hero who killed Eglon the king of Moab was
left-handed and he from the Tribe of Benjamin (Judges 3:15). Yair Davidiy
is left-handed. Left-handed people have advantages and disadvantages when
compared with the right-handed majority. On the one hand they often have
problems with coordination. On the other hand their reaction time is often
much less and when properly focused this quality can make for a good marksman.
<<AT AN HAIR BREADTH, AND NOT MISS>>: I do not think this is an
exaggeration but the literal truth. Things were different in the past and
so were people. Not better, just different. The "Good Old Days" were not
necessarily so good:
<<SAY NOT THOU, WHAT IS THE CAUSE THAT THE FORMER DAYS WERE BETTER THAN
THESE? FOR THOU DOST NOT ENQUIRE WISELY CONCERNING THIS>> [Ecclesiates-The
Later we find marksmen from Benjamin who were ambidextrous and could hit
their target with either hand:
"THEY WERE ARMED WITH BOWS, AND COULD USE BOTH THE RIGHT HAND AND THE
LEFT IN HURLING STONES AND SHOOTING ARROWS OUT OF A BOW, EVEN OF SAUL'S
BRETHREN OF BENJAMIN" [1-Chronicles 12:2].
WE noted that Benjamin appeared to have a large number of left-handed
warriors. A brief search on the Web suggested that lefthandedness is about
the same all over the world. It naturally occurs in ca 15% of the
population but due to social pressures comes down to ca 10% and very much
less in Japan and China presumably due to greater social pressure towards
I presume lefthandedness is somehow or other hereditary but not exactly so.
I am naturally lefthanded but neither of my parents were nor are my brother
and sisters. Likewise none of my children were lefthanded and as far as I
know none of my grandchildren though in other ways attributes of mine have
been inherited by them.
It may be that amongst the Tribe of Benjamin it was not that more people
were lefthanded but rather that those who were were encouraged to develop
the natural advantages that lefthanders may have whereas usually the
tendency is to suppress them?
See the extracts below for some sources.
Less than 1% of Japanese school-children were reported by Komai and Fukuoka
(1934) to use the left and for writing, but incidences of left-handed
throwing, cutting with scissors, striking a match, and kicking a football
(5-8.5%) were comparable to those found for English children today (Chapter
10). Chinese children were found to use the left hand rarely for eating
(1.5% or writing (.7%) in Taiwan but more often (6.5%) in the United States
(Teng, Lee, Yang, & Chang, 1976). A population sample of parents and
children in Hawaii is especially interesting because differences in
incidences of left-handed writing were found between parents of different
ethnic origin (Japanese versus European) but not between their children,
presumably because of an easing of social sanctions against left-handedness
in Japanese families living in Hawaii (Ashton, 1982). A difference between
generations, with more left-handers among children than parents, has been
found in all studies of the families of university students (Tables 3.6 and
16.7). It was also found for both ethnic groups in Ashton's (1982) sample,
which was not university-based. A questionnaire given to Londoners
attending a dental hospital for treatment found about 10% left-handed
writers in younger respondents (15-44 years) but only about 3% in older
respondents (55-64 years) (Fleminger, Dalton, & Standage, 1977). Burt
(1937) reported incidences of 3-4% in his studies in his schools of 1913
and 1923, at about the time the older Londoners were at school. Studies of
trends in adult populations in the United States (Porac, Coren & Duncan,
1980) and in Australia (Brackenbridge, 1981) have documented falling
incidences of left-handedness with increasing age." (Annett, Marian (1985)
Left, Right, Hand and Brain: The Right Shift Theory London: Lawrence
Erlbaum pp. 68-9)
"There is no reason to believe, on present evidence, that the distribution
of L-R skill differs between Oriental and Western samples (Ashton, 1982),
or that there are differences in extent of right shift." (Annett, Marian
(1985) Left, Right, Hand and Brain: The Right Shift Theory London: Lawrence
Erlbaum pp. 258)
NEW FINDINGS ON THE FREQUENCY OF LEFT- AND RIGHT-HANDEDNESS IN MEDIAEVAL
In the last two centuries modern industrial societies have been among those
exerting strong cultural pressures for right hand use, a trend strongly
associated with the emergence of mass literacy. But as these pressures have
been relaxed in the later decades of this century, so the frequency of
left-handedness in industrialised societies (as indexed by census data) has
increased. This is clearly visible in recent surveys: for instance, in
Britain Fleminger et al. (1977) found that in a sample of the population in
the 1970s, 3% of the 55-64 age group reported that they had developed
patterns of hand usage corresponding to left-handedness, compared with 11%
of the 15-24 age group.
A systematic study of the distribution of manipulative skill has been
carried out by Marian Annett and colleagues from the Department of
Psychology at Leicester University. Annett and Kilshaw (1983) found that in
a group of 1480 adolescents and adults, using a simple peg-moving task
apparatus to assay hand skill, 82 % were more skilled with the right hand,
3 % were equally skilled with each hand, and 15 % were more skilled with
the left hand.
Steele and Mays took measurements of the lengths of the humerus and the
radius in adult mediaeval skeletons excavated from the cemetery of the
mediaeval village of Wharram Percy, in Yorkshire. They reasoned that this
would give the best skeletal indicator of arm length. They then quantified
the frequencies with which the left arm was longer, the right arm longer,
and the frequencies with which both arms were equally long (within the
limits of measurement error). Intriguingly, they found a pattern in the
remains of these illiterate peasant agriculturalists which closely
replicated Annett and Kilshaw's findings for behavioural handedness in a
contemporary British sample. Of the 80 adults whose bones were sufficiently
complete to be measured, 81% were longer in the right arm, 3 % were of
equal length on each side, and 16% were longer in the left arm.
Furthermore, the histogram of arm length asymmetries had the same shape as
that plotted for Annett and Kilshaw's contemporary data (Figure 2). It
seems, therefore, that the inhabitants of this later mediaeval community
had a distribution of hand use preferences which was either unconstrained
by, or resistant to, cultural pressures for conformity.
Steele and Mays now want to gather information from other skeletal samples,
to see if this pattern is a universal in human populations from different
regions of the world. Earlier studies suggest that this could be
interesting. Data from a study in the 1930s of arm length asymmetry in
adult human skeletons from different regional populations of the world
(Schultz 1937) give a pooled mean of 79% longer in the right arm, 3% of
equal length on either side, and 18% longer on the left side - results
strikingly similar to those found by Steele and Mays, and by Annett and
Kilshaw using the behavioural measure.
[Judges 20:17] AND THE MEN OF ISRAEL, BESIDE BENJAMIN, WERE NUMBERED FOUR
HUNDRED THOUSAND MEN THAT DREW SWORD: ALL THESE WERE MEN OF WAR.
[Judges 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.
After the death of Joshua when they still had to conquer the Land from the
Canaanites, they asked the same question and got the same answer.
<<NOW AFTER THE DEATH OF JOSHUA IT CAME TO PASS, THAT THE CHILDREN OF
ISRAEL ASKED THE LORD, SAYING, WHO SHALL GO UP FOR US AGAINST THE
CANAANITES FIRST, TO FIGHT AGAINST THEM
<<AND THE LORD SAID, JUDAH SHALL GO UP: BEHOLD, I HAVE DELIVERED THE LAND
INTO HIS HAND [Judges 1:1-2].
In the opinion of the Commentary "Daat Mikra" this sums up the tragedy of
the Period of Judges: Judah was supposed to lead the way and all the other
tribes follow in driving out the heathen nations. They did not do it. They
let the heathen remain. (Judges 1:28-36) and consequently it was decreed
that the Canaanites would remain as a thorn in their side (Judges 2:1-3).
They degenerated morally and religiously. In the end instead of Judah
leading the way in fighting against the non-Israelites he had to take the
lead in warring against a tribe of his own people. Take heed.
[Judges 20:19] AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL ROSE UP IN THE MORNING, AND
ENCAMPED AGAINST GIBEAH.
Commentators have different opinions concerning this entire incident.
Elchanan bin-Nun ("Harari Oz") discussses these questions: Why? Why did the
Tribes go up to battle to wipe out another tribe? Was it justified? Why did
Benjamin refuse to punish the wrongdoers? Why did Benjamin set itself
against the others in what must obviously have been a suicidal stand? Why
does it seem that the Almighty twice agreed that the Israelites attack
Benjamin and each time they were defeated with great loss of life? Only on
the third attempt was Benjamin defeated.
There are no answers that are agreed upon only perhaps general lines of
When the people of Israel unite they can make decisions that are binding
even though they may not be entirely consistent with the Torah. This is
similar to the authority that the Great Sanhedrin was given to decide on
matters of Law. The decisions had to be obeyed even if they were mistaken
since the Torah subjected itself to the decision-making body (Deuteronomy
17:8-13). The Tribes decided that women must be protected and honored and
all those involved in the crime had to be killed and all those who
protected the guilty had also to be killed even if it meant wiping out a
whole tribe. This was despite the fact that only the men of Gibeah had
committed the rape and perhaps not all of them had participated. Even those
who had been party to the mob crime of rape that resulted in death probably
had not intended to kill the woman. Perhaps a less demanding approach on
the part of the other Israelites would have resulted in the ringleaders
being punished, an example made, and a degree of justice effected.
Benjamin may have been in a similar situation to that of the South before
the Civil War. Whether or not slavery was the real cause of that conflict
it was the excuse given. Most Southerners did not own slaves. Many (such as
General Robert E. Lee) were actually against slavery but they felt imposed
upon and closed in on by arrogant outsiders.
Rachel the mother of Benjamin had died giving birth to him.
[Genesis 35:18] AND IT CAME TO PASS, AS HER SOUL WAS IN DEPARTING, (FOR
SHE DIED) THAT SHE CALLED HIS NAME BENONI: BUT HIS FATHER CALLED HIM
<<BENONI>>: Can means both "son of my suffering" (i.e. that I bore
through suffering) and "son of my strength".
<<BENJAMIN>> In Hebrew, "BIN-YAMIN" means "Son of My Right Hand" which is
somewhat ironic considering the prominence of left-handed people amongst
the Bnejaminites. Jacob doted on his son Benjamin to such a degree that
Judah was prepared to sacrifice himself in place of Benjamin for the sake
of their father (Genesis 44:18-34) .
At all events Commentators point out that there was a trait of aristocratic
defiance amongst the Benjaminites. The first king Saul was from Benjamin.
Michal the daughter of Saul criticized David for not conducting himself in
a regal manner. Mordechai "the Jew" was from Benjamin [Esther 2:5] and he
refused to bow down to Haman even though it may have been permissible (by
Law) to do so and by not doing so he endangered himself and all the Jewish
people [Esther 3:4-6]. In the case of Mordechai the end result was a
positive one but it did not necessarily always have to be that way.
Re: Judges 20-3
At 01:34 PM 10/15/2004, Gary S wrote:
re. <<Benjamin may have been in a similar situation to that of the South
before the Civil War. Whether or not slavery was the real cause of that
conflict it was the excuse given. Most Southerners did not own slaves. Many
(such as General Robert E. Lee) were actually against slavery but they felt
imposed upon and closed in on by arrogant outsiders.>>
THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN!
Brit-Am Comment: The name Binyamin means son of my right hand but it can
also mean Southerner. In Hebrew (as in the Western Celtic tongues) the
directions were indicated by the body facing eastwards:
Eastward was "mizrach" or "kedem" i.e. front.
Southward was "derom" or "yamin" i.e. right and thus we have Bin-Yamin
which can also mean "southerner".
Westward was "maariv" or "yam" i.e. sea.
North was "tsefon" or "small" i.e. left.
Both Joseph and Benjamin were the sons of Rachel.
Benjamin and Ephraim (from Joseph) were aristocratic type tribes.
We have traced Benjamin to the ancient Belgae and to the Normans. The
Normans conquered England but not Scotland. Even so Scottish monarchs
frequently invited English nobles of Norman descent to settle in Scotland
and help rule the land. In the course of time these nobles became as
"Scottish" as anybody else. Similarly in Ireland were settled those who
came from the Normans.
The USA according to our studies is dominated by Joseph especially
Manasseh. In The Southern and Western States there may be a higher
proportion from Ephraim than in the others. The old Southern society was
riddled with concepts of nobility and aristocratic conduct. Mark Twain
describes and criticizes this. He considered the fact that works by Sir
Walter Scott were especially popular as symptomatic of the Romantic
Idealizing of Aristocratic concepts that appeared out of place.
It is interesting that the two main leaders of the Southern Confederacy
were Jefferson Davis (from David of Judah?) and Benjamin who had been
Jewish. At the beginning of their acquaintance Benjamin challenged Davis to
a duel because of what he took to be an anti-Jewish innuendo. Jefferson
Davis however apologized and it appears he had genuinely not intended such
a slight. Later Benjamin wished to publicly take upon himself the blame for
Government mishandling of the situation but Davis would not let him.
Judah P. Benjamin: Attorney General, February 25 to September 17, 1861;
Secretary of War, September 17, 1861, to March 18, 1862; acting Secretary
of War, March 18 to 23, 1862; Secretary of State, March 18, 1862, until the
end of the war.
Even so Benjamin could not escape the fate of the Jewish people in exile.
He was blamed for the fall of the south by some southerners. Later he was
suspected of involvement in the assassination of Lincoln and so fled to
England where he became a successful lawyer and died a wealthy if unhappy
man. He had been married to the daughter of a Catholic Creole family. They
had one daughter. The marriage was not successful though his daughter
revered his memory and wrote a book about him.
Fascinating Fact: Judah Benjamin had a broader viewpoint than most of the
Confederate leaders. As secretary of state, he urged Jefferson Davis to
emancipate the slaves so that Britain and France might support the South.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the American Civil War may have been it
was for the good of man kind that the nation remained undivided.
[Judges 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
>> AND THE MEN OF ISRAEL WENT OUT>> In Hebrew "Ish Yisrael" literally "the
man of Israel" in the singular representing the whole .
[Judges 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
The sages said that these events took place around the time of the
Sanctuary of Micah (Judges ch.18) that contained idols and was close to
Shiloh where the tabernacle was located at that time. God was angry at
their idolatry. By going out to war against Benjamin they showed that they
were capable of concerted action to correct a wrong. Idolatry was also
wrong and no-one seemed to be concerting themselves against it.
[Judges 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 FIRST DAY.
[Judges 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.
[Judges 20:24] AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL CAME NEAR AGAINST THE CHILDREN OF
BENJAMIN THE SECOND DAY.
[Judges 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..
[Judges 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..
[Judges 20:27] AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL ENQUIRED OF THE LORD, (FOR THE
ARK OF THE COVENANT OF GOD WAS THERE IN THOSE DAYS,
[Judges 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..
<<PHINEHAS, THE SON OF ELEAZAR, THE SON OF AARON>>: Yehudah Elitzur
("Daat Mikra") brings two opinions: (a) This was the very same Phinehas son
of Eleazar son of Aaron (Numbers 25:7-10) who came out of Egypt with Moses
and these events actually occurred soon after they entered the land of Canaan.
(b) It was another Phinehas who was descended from the historical Eleazar
son of Aaron but some generations back.
Similarly, we have "ACHAN, THE SON OF CARMI, THE SON OF ZABDI, THE SON OF
ZERAH" [Joshua 7:18] who is later referred to in short as, "ACHAN THE SON
OF ZERAH" [Joshua 22:20] with the intermediate generations deleted.
This phenomenon repeats itself in Scripture and is worth remembering: "son
of" can also mean "descended from".
The Zohar points out that until now they had not asked through PHINEHAS but
through a lesser agency.
The Talmud (Yoma 73;b Shevuoth 35;b) points out also that until now they
had been told to go up but they had not been promised victory, now they
were so assured.
Also until now, even though they had been fasting and weeping, they had
in a sense prepared the answer in advance. It was as if they were deciding
for the Almighty how He should answer them. Now they changed their attitude
and the answer was no longer ambiguous.
This is a possibility that the verses do indicate. We do not have to have
all the answers. Our purpose at present is to obtain an overall picture,
note points of interest especially from a Brit-Am perspective, as well as
here and there a notion of the depth involved.
[Judges 20:29] AND ISRAEL SET LIERS IN WAIT ROUND ABOUT GIBEAH.
Yehudah Elitsur (Daat Mikra) points out that this time they did not rely on
miraculous intervention to do the work for them. They now realized that
those who want help from above must make their own efforts here below.
[Judges 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 TIMES..
[Judges 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 OF ISRAEL. .
[Judges 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. .
[Judges 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.
[Judges 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..
[Judges 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.
[Judges 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.
[Judges 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 SWORD..
The simplest way to understand these verses is to view them as giving a
more detailed explanation of the account above. An attack was made on the
city and then fled drawing the defenders out after them. Meanwhile a
section of the Israelites had hidden themselves. When the Benjaminites had
been drawn away and gone some distance in pursuit of the attacking body
those Israelites whop had hidden themselves rushed the gates and took the
city and sent up a smoke signal. The group of Israelites who were
pretending to flee saw the signal and turned around facing their
Benjaminite pursuers. The Benjaminites realized that their city had been
taken and they were trapped. They attempted to flee into the wilderness but were overtaken.
[Judges 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..
[Judges 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..
[Judges 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..
[Judges 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..
[Judges 20:42] 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
[Judges 20:43] THUS THEY INCLOSED THE BENJAMITES ROUND ABOUT, AND CHASED
THEM, AND TRODE THEM DOWN WITH EASE OVER AGAINST GIBEAH TOWARD THE SUNRISING..
[Judges 20:44] AND THERE FELL OF BENJAMIN EIGHTEEN THOUSAND MEN; ALL THESE
WERE MEN OF VALOUR. .
[Judges 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..
A tradition (quoted by Radak, Megaleh Emukot, Ginzburg) claims that about a
hundred men of Benjamin fled at this time to Rome and Germany where they
increased and multiplied. Another tradition has the Land of "Rumania" in
place of "Rome". Rome and Germany later were considered to be ruled by Esau
but other elements must also have been present as we have mentioned several times.
[Judges 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. .
[Judges 20:47] BUT SIX HUNDRED MEN TURNED AND FLED TO THE WILDERNESS UNTO
THE ROCK RIMMON, AND ABODE IN THE ROCK RIMMON FOUR MONTHS..
[Judges 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 TO..
According to the simple meaning they wiped out all the women and children.
This seems difficult to comprehend and impossible to justify but we have to
accept it as something that was done.