Then the Israelites drew near to Benjamin the second day.
This time, when the Benjamites came out from Gibeah to oppose them, they cut down another eighteen thousand Israelites,1 all of them armed with swords.
Then the Israelites, all the people, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the LORD.2 They fasted3 that day until evening and presented burnt offerings4 and fellowship offeringsa5 to the LORD.627
And the Israelites inquired of the LORD.7 (In those days the ark of the covenant of God8 was there,
with Phinehas son of Eleazar,9 the son of Aaron, ministering before it.)10 They asked, "Shall we go up again to battle with Benjamin our brother, or not?" The LORD responded, "Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.11"
Then Israel set an ambush12 around Gibeah.
They went up against the Benjamites on the third day and took up positions against Gibeah as they had done before.
The Benjamites came out to meet them and were drawn away13 from the city. They began to inflict casualties on the Israelites as before, so that about thirty men fell in the open field and on the roads--the one leading to Bethel14 and the other to Gibeah.
While the Benjamites were saying, "We are defeating them as before,"15 the Israelites were saying, "Let's retreat and draw them away from the city to the roads."
All the men of Israel moved from their places and took up positions at Baal Tamar, and the Israelite ambush charged out of its place16 on the westb of Gibeah.c34
Then ten thousand of Israel's finest men made a frontal attack on Gibeah. The fighting was so heavy that the Benjamites did not realize17 how near disaster was.1835
The LORD defeated Benjamin19 before Israel, and on that day the Israelites struck down 25,100 Benjamites, all armed with swords.
Then the Benjamites saw that they were beaten. Now the men of Israel had given way20 before Benjamin, because they relied on the ambush21 they had set near Gibeah.
The men who had been in ambush made a sudden dash into Gibeah, spread out and put the whole city to the sword.2238
The men of Israel had arranged with the ambush that they should send up a great cloud of smoke23 from the city,2439
and then the men of Israel would turn in the battle. The Benjamites had begun to inflict casualties on the men of Israel (about thirty), and they said, "We are defeating them as in the first battle."2540
But when the column of smoke began to rise from the city, the Benjamites turned and saw the smoke of the whole city going up into the sky.2641
Then the men of Israel turned on them,27 and the men of Benjamin were terrified, because they realized that disaster had come28 upon them.
So they fled before the Israelites in the direction of the desert, but they could not escape the battle. And the men of Israel who came out of the towns cut them down there.
They surrounded the Benjamites, chased them and easilyd overran them in the vicinity of Gibeah on the east.
Eighteen thousand Benjamites fell, all of them valiant fighters.2945
As they turned and fled toward the desert to the rock of Rimmon,30 the Israelites cut down five thousand men along the roads. They kept pressing after the Benjamites as far as Gidom and struck down two thousand more.
On that day twenty-five thousand Benjamite31 swordsmen fell, all of them valiant fighters.
But six hundred men turned and fled into the desert to the rock of Rimmon, where they stayed four months.
The men of Israel went back to Benjamin and put all the towns to the sword, including the animals and everything else they found. All the towns they came across they set on fire.32