1 The people of Israel came from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, as well as from the land of Gilead in the east. They were united in Jehovahs presence at Mizpah.
2 The leaders of all the tribes of Israel were present at this gathering of Gods people. There were four hundred thousand foot soldiers.
3 Now the people of Benjamin heard that all the other Israelites had gathered at Mizpah. The Israelites asked: »Tell us, how did this wicked deed happen?«
4 »The Levite whose concubine had been murdered answered: »My concubine and I went to Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin to spend the night.
5 »The men of Gibeah came to get me. They surrounded the house at night. They intended to kill me. Instead they raped my concubine, and she died.
6 »I took her body and cut it in pieces. Then I sent one piece to each of the twelve tribes of Israel for these people have committed an evil and immoral act.
7 »What are you Israelites going to do about this?«
8 The people stood together and said: »None of us, whether he lives in a tent or in a house, will go home.
9 »This is what we will do: We will draw lots and choose some men to attack Gibeah.
10 »One tenth of the men in Israel will provide food for the army. The others will go and punish Gibeah for this immoral act they committed in Israel.«
11 The men of Israel assembled with one purpose, to attack the town.
12 The tribes of Israel sent messengers through the territory of the tribe of Benjamin to say: »What is this crime that you have committed?
13 »Hand over those perverts in Gibeah, so that we can kill them and remove this evil from Israel.« But the people of Benjamin would not listen to their brothers.
14 People from all the cities of Benjamin came to Gibeah to fight the other people of Israel.
15 They mobilized twenty-six thousand soldiers from their cities that day.
16 Besides these, the citizens of Gibeah gathered seven hundred specially chosen men who were left-handed. Every one of them could sling a stone at a strand of hair and never miss.
17 Not including the tribe of Benjamin, the well-trained soldiers of Israel numbered four hundred thousand.
18 The Israelites went to the house of God at Bethel, and there they asked God: »Which of us should attack the Benjaminites first?« Jehovah answered: »The tribe of Judah.«
19 So the Israelites started out the next morning and camped near the city of Gibeah.
20 They went to attack the army of Benjamin, and placed the soldiers in battle array to fight against Gibeah.
21 The army of Benjamin came out of the city. That day they killed twenty-two thousand Israelite soldiers.
22 The Israelite army was encouraged as they placed the soldiers in position again at the place where they put themselves the first day.
23 They mourned in the presence of Jehovah until evening. They asked him if they should go again in battle against their brothers the Benjaminites? Jehovahs answer was: »Yes.«
24 The Israelites marched against the army of Benjamin a second time.
25 The second time the Benjaminites came out of Gibeah. This time they killed eighteen thousand trained Israelite soldiers.
26 The people of Israel went up to Bethel and mourned. They sat there in Jehovahs presence and fasted until evening. They offered fellowship sacrifices and burned some sacrifices whole in the presence of Jehovah.
27 The Ark of the Covenant was there at Bethel in those days. Phinehas, the son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron, was in charge of it.
28 The people asked Jehovah: »Should we go to battle against our brothers the Benjaminites again, or should we cease?« Jehovah answered: »Fight. Tomorrow I will give you victory over them.«
29 The Israelites hid some soldiers around Gibeah.
30 Then for the third straight day they marched against the army of Benjamin. They placed their soldiers in battle position facing Gibeah, as they had done before.
31 The Benjaminites came out to fight and were drawn away from the city. Just as before they killed some Israelites in the open country, on the road to Bethel and on the road to Gibeah. They killed about thirty Israelites.
32 The Benjaminites said: »They are defeated just as before. But the Israelites planned to retreat and lead them away from the city onto the roads.«
33 The main army of the Israelites pulled back and regrouped at Baaltamar. The men surrounding Gibeah suddenly rushed out of hiding in the rocky country around the city.
34 Ten thousand, specially chosen men, out of all Israel, attacked Gibeah, and the fighting was fierce. The Benjaminites did not realize they were about to be destroyed.
35 Jehovah gave Israel victory over the army of Benjamin. The Israelites killed twenty five thousand one hundred of the enemy that day,
36 The Benjaminites knew they were defeated. The main body of the Israelite army had retreated from the Benjaminites. This is because they relied on the men that were hiding around Gibeah.
37 These men ran quickly toward Gibeah. They spread out and killed everyone there.
38 The main Israelite army and the men in hiding had a prearranged signal. When they saw a big cloud of smoke going up from the town,
39 the Israelites out on the battlefield were to turn around. By this time the Benjaminites had already killed the thirty Israelites. They told themselves: »We have beaten them.«
40 The signal appeared. A cloud of smoke rose above the town. The Benjaminites looked behind them to see the whole city going up in flames.
41 Then the Israelites turned around. The Benjaminites were thrown into panic because they could see that they were about to be destroyed.
42 They retreated from the Israelites. They ran toward the open country and could not escape. They were caught between the main army and the men now coming out of the city. They were destroyed.
43 The Israelites trapped the enemy. Without stopping they pursued them as far as a point east of Gibeah. They killed them as they advanced.
44 Eighteen thousand of the best Benjaminite soldiers were killed.
45 The others turned and ran to the open country to Rimmon Rock. Five thousand of them were killed on the roads. The Israelites continued to pursue the rest to Gidom, killing two thousand.
46 In all, twenty-five thousand brave Benjaminites were killed that day.
47 Six hundred men were able to escape to the open country to Rimmon Rock. They stayed there four months.
48 The Israelites turned back against the rest of the Benjaminites and killed them all, men and women, children and animals as well. They burned every town in the area.