And the children of Israel arose
From Mizpeh, where they were assembled, having heard that the Benjaminites were gathered together to defend the men of Gibeah:
and went up to the house of God;
to the tabernacle which was in Shiloh, ( Judges 18:31 ) , see ( Joshua 18:1 ) though the Targum takes Bethel for the name of a place so called; and so do Ben Gersom and Josephus F16, which was near Shiloh, for Shiloh is said to be on the north side of Bethel, ( Judges 21:19 ) but as there is no reason to believe the tabernacle was now removed from Shiloh thither, so it is not likely they would go to any other place but where the tabernacle ark, and high priest were:
and asked counsel of God;
before Phinehas the high priest, according to the judgment of Urim and Thummim, ( Judges 20:28 )
and said which of us shall go up first to the battle against the
children of Benjamin?
there being no supreme magistrate, judge, or general, to lead them; they did not ask whether they should go to war or no with their brethren; they made no doubt of that, taking it for granted they had sufficient reason for so doing, and that it was according to the will of God; nor did they inquire whether they should be victorious or not, they made no doubt of being victorious, both from their superior numbers, and the justness of their cause; they only inquire who should lead them on, having no general; and this they might do, to prevent any contentions among them about being precedence:
and the Lord said, Judah shall go up first:
which tribe pitched their standard first about the tabernacle, and marched first in their journeys in the wilderness, and was ordered to go up first and fight the Canaanites, being a powerful and warlike tribe.
F16 Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 2. sect. 10.)