23a So the Israelites went back up and wept before the LORD until evening. They asked the LORD, "Should we move in again to fight our relatives the Benjaminites?" And the LORD replied, "March out against them."
The Israelites moved in against the Benjaminites the second day.
But the Benjaminites marched out of Gibeah to meet them on that second day and cut down another eighteen thousand Israelite men, all of whom were armed with swords.
Then all the Israelite troops went back up to Bethel and wept, just sitting there in the LORD's presence. They fasted that whole day until evening. Then they offered entirely burned offerings and well-being sacrifices to the LORD.
Now in those days the chest containing God's covenant was there,
and Phinehas, Eleazar's son and Aaron's grandson, was in charge of ministering before it. The Israelites asked the LORD, "Should we march out once again to fight our relatives the Benjaminites or should we give up?" And the LORD replied, "March up, for I'll hand them to you tomorrow."
So the Israelites set ambushes around Gibeah.
Three days later, the Israelites marched out against the Benjaminites. They lined up for battle against Gibeah as before.
When the Benjaminites came out to meet them, they were drawn away from the city. They began to strike down some of the troops just like the last time, about thirty Israelites along the main roads, one of which goes up to Bethel and one to Gibeah, as well as in the open fields.
The Benjaminites thought, They're being wiped out before us like the first time. But the Israelites had planned, We'll retreat and draw them away from the city toward the main roads.
The Israelites moved from their position and reformed their battle lines at Baal-tamar. Then the Israelites who had been set in ambush charged out from their positions west of Gibeah.b