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Verses 29-48

The Benjamites Defeated and Almost Exterminated

v. 29. And Israel set liers-in-wait round about Gibeah; they no longer relied upon superior force, but made use of strategic arts in placing various details of soldiers in ambush.

v. 30. And the children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day, moving forward to attack the city, and put themselves in array against Gibeah as at other times.

v. 31. And the children of Benjamin, in total ignorance of the ambush in their rear, went out against the people, and were drawn away, torn away, severed, from the city; and they began to smite of the people and kill, to wound, disable, and slay, as at other times, in the highways, at the intersection of two roads, of which one goeth up to the house of God, to Bethel, and the other to Gibeah in the field, to the fields near the city, about thirty men of Israel.

v. 32. And the children of Benjamin said, They are smitten down before us, as at the first. But the children of Israel, relying upon their ambuscade, said, Let us flee, and draw them from the city unto the highways, as just related.

v. 33. And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place, they relinquished their advanced position, and put themselves in array, forming a new line of battle, at Baal-tamar (place of palms); and the liers-in-wait of Israel came forth out of their places, even out of the meadows of Gibeah, a slope near the city denuded of forest growth, but probably covered with bushes which offered sufficient shelter to the men in ambush.

v. 34. And there came against Gibeah ten thousand chosen men out of all Israel, that being the sum total of the men who had been placed in ambush, and the battle was sore; but they, the Benjamites, knew not that evil was near them, that misfortune had overtaken them.

v. 35. And the Lord smote Benjamin before Israel, this fact being brought out here with great emphasis; and the children of Israel destroyed of the Benjamites that day twenty and five thousand and an hundred men; all these drew the sword.

v. 36. So the children of Benjamin saw that they were smitten, they had thought, when they rushed forward to attack the invading army that the Israelites were once more overcome; for the men of Israel gave place to the Benjamites, because they trusted unto the liers-in-wait, which they had set beside Gibeah.

v. 37. And the liers-in-wait hasted and rushed upon Gibeah, all these details being added here in a description of the battle ; and the liers-in-wait drew themselves along, they moved forward steadily, and smote all the city with the edge of the sword.

v. 38. Now there was an appointed sign, one which both the attacking party and the ambush had agreed upon, between the men of Israel and the liers-in-wait, that they should make a great flame with smoke, a mighty pillar which could not be overlooked, rise up out of the city.

v. 39. And when the men of Israel retired in the battle, Benjamin began to smite and kill of the men of Israel about thirty persons, as related above,

v. 31. for they said, Surely they are smitten down before us as in the first battle.

v. 40. But when the flame began to arise up out of the city with a pillar of smoke, the whole city, apparently, going up in smoke, the Benjamites looked behind them, and, behold, the flame of the city ascended up to heaven, literally, "there went up the whole of the city heavenward. "

v. 41. And when the men of Israel turned again, making a sudden firm stand after their apparent flight, the men of Benjamin were amazed, filled with terror; for they saw that evil was come upon them.

v. 42. Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel unto the way of the wilderness, trying to escape toward the northeast; but the battle overtook them; and them which came out of the cities they destroyed in the midst of them, literally, "and they out of the cities destroyed them in their midst," that is, wherever the fugitives came, the inhabitants of the cities fell upon them and slew them, for the feeling again et Benjamin was bitter everywhere.

v. 43. Thus they inclosed the Benjamites round about, completely surrounding them, and chased them, and trode them down with ease, or, from Menuchah, over against Gibeah toward the sun-rising.

v. 44. And there fell of Benjamin, in this part of the battle, eighteen thousand men; all these were men of valor.

v. 45. And they turned, trying to escape in another direction, and fled toward the wilderness unto the rock of Rimmon, about fifteen miles north of Jerusalem; and they, the Israelites, gleaned of them, killed in this running skirmish after the main battle, in the highways five thousand men; and pursued hard after them unto Gidom, in the direction toward Rimmon, and slew two thousand men of them.

v. 46. So that all which fell that day of Benjamin were twenty and five thousand men that drew the sword; all these were men of valor. This is a round number, the exact number included one hundred men more,

v. 35. In addition, there were evidently a thousand men who had fallen in the first battles, making the total of the slain Benjamites twenty-six thousand and one hundred.

v. 47. But six hundred men turned and tied to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon, they effected their escape and fortified themselves in the fastnesses of this rocky wilderness, and abode in the rock Rimmon four months.

v. 48. And the men of Israel, in a fury which knew no mercy, turned again upon the children of Benjamin, on the defenseless part of the population, old people, women, and children, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city as the beast, and all that came to hand, whatever living thing they happened to strike; also they set on fire all the cities that they came to. It was a campaign of extermination much more savage than any undertaken against any of the heathen nations. But it was the punishment of God upon the tribe which had taken the part of the criminals of Gibeah; for the holiness of God cannot bear the abominations of the heathen in the midst of His people. All those who know His command and truth, and still persist in doing according to the manner of the heathen, should be excluded from the company of the believers, eventually to be punished by the wrath of Him who is a jealous God.

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