Judges 19; Judges 20; Judges 21

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Judges 19

1 At that time Israel did not have a king. There was a Levite who lived in the faraway mountains of Ephraim. He had taken a slave woman from the city of Bethlehem in the land of Judah to live with him,
2 but she was unfaithful to him. She left him and went back to her father's house in Bethlehem in Judah and stayed there for four months.
3 Then her husband went to ask her to come back to him, taking with him his servant and two donkeys. When the Levite came to her father's house, she invited him to come in, and her father was happy to see him.
4 The father-in-law, the young woman's father, asked him to stay. So he stayed for three days and ate, drank, and slept there.
5 On the fourth day they got up early in the morning. The Levite was getting ready to leave, but the woman's father said to his son-in-law, "Refresh yourself by eating something. Then go."
6 So the two men sat down to eat and drink together. After that, the father said to him, "Please stay tonight. Relax and enjoy yourself."
7 When the man got up to go, his father-in-law asked him to stay. So he stayed again that night.
8 On the fifth day the man got up early in the morning to leave. The woman's father said, "Refresh yourself. Wait until this afternoon." So the two men ate together.
9 When the Levite, his slave woman, and his servant got up to leave, the father-in-law, the young woman's father, said, "It's almost night. The day is almost gone. Spend the night here and enjoy yourself. Tomorrow morning you can get up early and go home."
10 But the Levite did not want to stay another night. So he took his two saddled donkeys and his slave woman and traveled toward the city of Jebus (also called Jerusalem).
11 As the day was almost over, they came near Jebus. So the servant said to his master, "Let's stop at this city of the Jebusites, and spend the night here."
12 But his master said, "No. We won't go inside a foreign city. Those people are not Israelites. We will go on to the city of Gibeah."
13 He said, "Come on. Let's try to make it to Gibeah or Ramah so we can spend the night in one of those cities."
14 So they went on. The sun went down as they came near Gibeah, which belongs to the tribe of Benjamin.
15 They stopped there to spend the night. They came to the public square of the city and sat down, but no one invited them home to spend the night.
16 Finally, in the evening an old man came in from his work in the fields. His home was in the mountains of Ephraim, but now he was living in Gibeah. (The people of Gibeah were from the tribe of Benjamin.)
17 He saw the traveler in the public square and asked, "Where are you going? Where did you come from?"
18 The Levite answered, "We are traveling from Bethlehem in Judah to my home in the mountains of Ephraim. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah, but now I am going to the Holy Tent of the Lord. No one has invited me to stay in his house.
19 We already have straw and food for our donkeys and bread and wine for me, the young woman, and my servant. We don't need anything."
20 The old man said, "You are welcome to stay at my house. Let me give you anything you need, but don't spend the night in the public square."
21 So the old man took the Levite into his house, and he fed their donkeys. They washed their feet and had something to eat and drink.
22 While they were enjoying themselves, some wicked men of the city surrounded the house and beat on the door. They shouted to the old man who owned the house, "Bring out the man who came to your house. We want to have sexual relations with him."
23 The owner of the house went outside and said to them, "No, my friends. Don't be so evil. This man is a guest in my house. Don't do this terrible thing!
24 Look, here are my daughter, who has never had sexual relations before, and the man's slave woman. I will bring them out to you now. Do anything you want with them, but don't do such a terrible thing to this man."
25 But the men would not listen to him. So the Levite took his slave woman and sent her outside to them. They forced her to have sexual relations with them, and they abused her all night long. Then, at dawn, they let her go.
26 She came back to the house where her master was staying and fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.
27 In the morning when the Levite got up, he opened the door of the house and went outside to go on his way. But his slave woman was lying at the doorway of the house, with her hands on the doorsill.
28 The Levite said to her, "Get up; let's go." But she did not answer. So he put her on his donkey and went home.
29 When the Levite got home, he took a knife and cut his slave woman into twelve parts, limb by limb. Then he sent a part to each area of Israel.
30 Everyone who saw this said, "Nothing like this has ever happened before, not since the people of Israel came out of Egypt. Think about it. Tell us what to do."
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Judges 20

1 So all the Israelites from Dan to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead, joined together before the Lord in the city of Mizpah.
2 The leaders of all the tribes of Israel took their places in the meeting of the people of God. There were 400,000 soldiers with swords.
3 (The people of Benjamin heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah.) Then the Israelites said to the Levite, "Tell us how this evil thing happened."
4 So the husband of the murdered woman answered, "My slave woman and I came to Gibeah in Benjamin to spend the night.
5 During the night the men of Gibeah came after me. They surrounded the house and wanted to kill me. They forced my slave woman to have sexual relations and she died.
6 I took her and cut her into parts and sent one part to each area of Israel because the people of Benjamin did this wicked and terrible thing in Israel.
7 Now, all you Israelites, speak up. What is your decision?"
8 Then all the people stood up at the same time, saying, "None of us will go home. Not one of us will go back to his house!
9 Now this is what we will do to Gibeah. We will throw lots.
10 That way we will choose ten men from every hundred men from all the tribes of Israel, and we will choose a hundred men from every thousand, and a thousand men from every ten thousand. These will find supplies for the army. Then the army will go to the city of Gibeah of Benjamin to repay them for the terrible thing they have done in Israel."
11 So all the men of Israel were united and gathered against the city.
12 The tribes of Israel sent men throughout the tribe of Benjamin demanding, "What is this evil thing some of your men have done?
13 Hand over the wicked men in Gibeah so that we can put them to death. We must remove this evil from Israel." But the Benjaminites would not listen to their fellow Israelites.
14 The Benjaminites left their own cities and met at Gibeah to fight the Israelites.
15 In only one day the Benjaminites got 26,000 soldiers together who were trained with swords. They also had 700 chosen men from Gibeah.
16 Seven hundred of these trained soldiers were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss!
17 The Israelites, except for the Benjaminites, gathered 400,000 soldiers with swords.
18 The Israelites went up to the city of Bethel and asked God, "Which tribe shall be first to attack the Benjaminites?" The Lord answered, "Judah shall go first."
19 The next morning the Israelites got up and made a camp near Gibeah.
20 The men of Israel went out to fight the Benjaminites and took their battle position at Gibeah.
21 Then the Benjaminites came out of Gibeah and killed 22,000 Israelites during the battle that day.
23 The Israelites went before the Lord and cried until evening. They asked the Lord, "Shall we go to fight our relatives, the Benjaminites, again?" The Lord answered, "Go up and fight them." The men of Israel encouraged each other. So they took the same battle positions they had taken the first day.
24 The Israelites came to fight the Benjaminites the second day.
25 The Benjaminites came out of Gibeah to attack the Israelites. This time, the Benjaminites killed 18,000 Israelites, all of whom carried swords.
26 Then the Israelites went up to Bethel. There they sat down and cried to the Lord and went without food all day until evening. They also brought burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord.
27 The Israelites asked the Lord a question. (In those days the Ark of the Agreement with God was there at Bethel.
28 A priest named Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, served before the Ark of the Agreement.) They asked, "Shall we go to fight our relatives, the Benjaminites, again, or shall we stop fighting?" The Lord answered, "Go, because tomorrow I will hand them over to you."
29 Then the Israelites set up ambushes all around Gibeah.
30 They went to fight against the Benjaminites at Gibeah on the third day, getting into position for battle as they had done before.
31 When the Benjaminites came out to fight them, the Israelites backed up and led the Benjaminites away from the city. The Benjaminites began to kill some of the Israelites as they had done before. About thirty Israelites were killed -- some in the fields and some on the roads leading to Bethel and to Gibeah.
32 The Benjaminites said, "We are winning as before!" But the Israelites said, "Let's run. Let's trick them into going farther away from their city and onto the roads."
33 All the Israelites moved from their places and got into battle positions at a place named Baal Tamar. Then the Israelites ran out from their hiding places west of Gibeah.
34 Ten thousand of the best trained soldiers from all of Israel attacked Gibeah. The battle was very hard. The Benjaminites did not know disaster was about to come to them.
35 The Lord used the Israelites to defeat the Benjaminites. On that day the Israelites killed 25,100 Benjaminites, all armed with swords.
36 Then the Benjaminites saw that they were defeated. The Israelites had moved back because they were depending on the surprise attack they had set up near Gibeah.
37 The men in hiding rushed into Gibeah, spread out, and killed everyone in the city with their swords.
38 Now the Israelites had set up a signal with the men in hiding. The men in the surprise attack were to send up a cloud of smoke from the city.
39 Then the army of Israel turned around in the battle. The Benjaminites had killed about thirty Israelites. They were saying, "We are winning, as in the first battle!"
40 But then a cloud of smoke began to rise from the city. The Benjaminites turned around and saw that the whole city was going up in smoke.
41 Then the Israelites turned and began to fight. The Benjaminites were terrified because they knew that disaster was coming to them.
42 So the Benjaminites ran away from the Israelites toward the desert, but they could not escape the battle. And the Israelites who came out of the cities killed them.
43 They surrounded the Benjaminites and chased them and caught them in the area east of Gibeah.
44 So 18,000 brave Benjaminite fighters were killed.
45 The Benjaminites ran toward the desert to the rock of Rimmon, but the Israelites killed 5,000 Benjaminites along the roads. They chased them as far as Gidom and killed 2,000 more Benjaminites there.
46 On that day 25,000 Benjaminites were killed, all of whom had fought bravely with swords.
47 But 600 Benjaminites ran to the rock of Rimmon in the desert, where they stayed for four months.
48 Then the Israelites went back to the land of Benjamin and killed the people in every city and also the animals and everything they could find. And they burned every city they found.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Judges 21

1 At Mizpah the men of Israel had sworn, "Not one of us will let his daughter marry a man from the tribe of Benjamin."
2 The people went to the city of Bethel and sat before God until evening, crying loudly.
3 They said, "Lord, God of Israel, why has this terrible thing happened to us so that one tribe of Israel is missing today?"
4 Early the next day the people built an altar and put burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to God on it.
5 Then the Israelites asked, "Did any tribe of Israel not come here to meet with us in the presence of the Lord?" They asked this question because they had sworn that anyone who did not meet with them at Mizpah would be killed.
6 The Israelites felt sorry for their relatives, the Benjaminites. They said, "Today one tribe has been cut off from Israel.
7 We swore before the Lord that we would not allow our daughters to marry a Benjaminite. How can we make sure that the remaining men of Benjamin will have wives?"
8 Then they asked, "Which one of the tribes of Israel did not come here to Mizpah?" They found that no one from the city of Jabesh Gilead had come.
9 The people of Israel counted everyone, but there was no one from Jabesh Gilead.
10 So the whole group of Israelites sent twelve thousand soldiers to Jabesh Gilead to kill the people with their swords, even the women and children.
11 "This is what you must do: Kill every man in Jabesh Gilead and every married woman."
12 The soldiers found four hundred young unmarried women in Jabesh Gilead, so they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in Canaan.
13 Then the whole group of Israelites sent a message to the men of Benjamin, who were at the rock of Rimmon, offering to make peace with them.
14 So the men of Benjamin came back at that time. The Israelites gave them the women from Jabesh Gilead who had not been killed, but there were not enough women.
15 The people of Israel felt sorry for the Benjaminites because the Lord had separated the tribes of Israel.
16 The older leaders of the Israelites said, "The women of Benjamin have been killed. Where can we get wives for the men of Benjamin who are still alive?
17 These men must have children to continue their families so a tribe in Israel will not die out.
18 But we cannot allow our daughters to marry them, because we swore, 'Anyone who gives a wife to a man of Benjamin is cursed.'
19 We have an idea! There is a yearly festival of the Lord at Shiloh, which is north of the city of Bethel, east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, and south of the city of Lebonah."
20 So the older leaders told the men of Benjamin, "Go and hide in the vineyards.
21 Watch for the young women from Shiloh to come out to join the dancing. Then run out from the vineyards and take one of the young Shiloh women and return to the land of Benjamin.
22 If their fathers or brothers come to us and complain, we will say: 'Be kind to the men of Benjamin. We did not get wives for Benjamin during the war, and you did not give the women to the men from Benjamin. So you are not guilty.'"
23 So that is what the Benjaminites did. While the young women were dancing, each man caught one of them, took her away, and married her. Then they went back to the land God had given them and rebuilt their cities and lived there.
24 Then the Israelites went home to their own tribes and family groups, to their own land that God had given them.
25 In those days Israel did not have a king. Everyone did what seemed right.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.