Then all the Israelites, from Dan to Beersheba and from the land of Gilead, came together in one large assembly and stood in the presence of the LORD at Mizpah.
The leaders of all the people and all the tribes of Israel -- 400,000 warriors armed with swords -- took their positions in the assembly of the people of God.
(Word soon reached the land of Benjamin that the other tribes had gone up to Mizpah.) The Israelites then asked how this terrible crime had happened.
The Levite, the husband of the woman who had been murdered, said, "My concubine and I came to Gibeah, a town in the land of Benjamin, to spend the night.
That night some of the leaders of Gibeah surrounded the house, planning to kill me, and they raped my concubine until she was dead.
So I cut her body into twelve pieces and sent the pieces throughout the land of Israel, for these men have committed this terrible and shameful crime.
Now then, the entire community of Israel must decide what should be done about this!"
And all the people stood up together and replied, "Not one of us will return home.
Instead, we will draw lots to decide who will attack Gibeah.
One tenth of the men from each tribe will be chosen to supply the warriors with food, and the rest of us will take revenge on Gibeah a for this shameful thing they have done in Israel."
So all the Israelites were united, and they gathered together to attack the town.
The Israelites sent messengers to the tribe of Benjamin, saying, "What a terrible thing has been done among you!
Give up these evil men from Gibeah so we can execute them and purge Israel of this evil." But the people of Benjamin would not listen.
Instead, they came from their towns and gathered at Gibeah to fight the Israelites.
Twenty-six thousand of their warriors armed with swords arrived in Gibeah to join the seven hundred warriors who lived there.
Seven hundred of Benjamin's warriors were left-handed, each of whom could sling a rock and hit a target within a hairsbreadth, without missing.
Israel had 400,000 warriors armed with swords, not counting Benjamin's warriors.
Before the battle the Israelites went to Bethel and asked God, "Which tribe should lead the attack against the people of Benjamin?" The LORD answered, "Judah is to go first."
So the Israelites left early the next morning and camped near Gibeah.
Then they advanced toward Gibeah to attack the men of Benjamin.
But Benjamin's warriors, who were defending the town, came out and killed twenty-two thousand Israelites in the field that day.
But the Israelites took courage and assembled at the same place they had fought the previous day.
(For they had gone up to Bethel and wept in the presence of the LORD until evening. Then they asked the LORD, "Should we fight against our relatives from Benjamin again?" And the LORD said, "Go out and fight against them.")
So they went out to fight against the warriors of Benjamin,
but the men of Benjamin killed another eighteen thousand Israelites, all of whom were experienced with a sword.
Then all the Israelites went up to Bethel and wept in the presence of the LORD and fasted until evening. They also brought burnt offerings and peace offerings to the LORD.
And the Israelites went up seeking direction from the LORD. (In those days the Ark of the Covenant of God was in Bethel,
and Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron was the priest.) The Israelites asked the LORD, "Should we fight against our relatives from Benjamin again or should we stop?" The LORD said, "Go! Tomorrow I will give you victory over them."
So the Israelites set an ambush all around Gibeah.
They went out on the third day and assembled at the same place as before.
When the warriors of Benjamin came out to attack, they were drawn away from the town. And as they had done before, they began to kill the Israelites. About thirty Israelites died in the open fields and along the roads leading to Bethel and Gibeah.
Then the warriors of Benjamin shouted, "We're defeating them as we did in the first battle!" But the Israelites had agreed in advance to run away so that the men of Benjamin would chase them along the roads and be drawn away from the town.
When the main group of Israelite warriors reached Baal-tamar, they turned and prepared to attack. Then the Israelites hiding in ambush west of Gibeah jumped up from where they were
and advanced against Benjamin from behind. The fighting was so heavy that Benjamin didn't realize the impending disaster.
So the LORD helped Israel defeat Benjamin, and that day the Israelites killed 25,100 of Benjamin's warriors, all of whom were experienced with a sword.
Then the men of Benjamin saw that they were beaten.The Israelites had retreated from Benjamin's warriors in order to give those hiding in ambush more room to maneuver.
Then those who were in hiding rushed in from all sides and killed everyone in the town.
They sent up a large cloud of smoke from the town,
which was the signal for the Israelites to turn and attack Benjamin's warriors. By that time Benjamin's warriors had killed about thirty Israelites, and they shouted, "We're defeating them as we did in the first battle!"
But when the warriors of Benjamin looked behind them and saw the smoke rising into the sky from every part of the town,
the Israelites turned and attacked. At this point Benjamin's warriors realized disaster was near and became terrified.
So they ran toward the wilderness, but the Israelites chased after them and killed them.
The Israelites surrounded the men of Benjamin and were relentless in chasing them down, finally overtaking them east of Gibeah.
Eighteen thousand of Benjamin's greatest warriors died in that day's battle.
The survivors fled into the wilderness toward the rock of Rimmon, but Israel killed five thousand of them along the road. They continued the chase until they had killed another two thousand near Gidom.
So the tribe of Benjamin lost twenty-five thousand brave warriors that day,
leaving only six hundred men who escaped to the rock of Rimmon, where they lived for four months.
Then the Israelites returned and slaughtered every living thing in all the towns -- the people, the cattle -- everything. They also burned down every town they came to.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)