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You remember where we left the sad story back in Judges 19 – the Levite’s concubine had been raped and left for dead by the wicked men in the town of Gibeah in the tribe of Benjamin. The Levite responded by hauling her back home and then hacking her up into 12 pieces to send throughout the 12 tribes as a call to arms to galvanize troops to take action. What seemed like an isolated event that only impacted one woman of low standing and her nondescript Levite husband who lived out in the sticks in Ephraim is going to escalate into a national crisis. In fact, this story is placed as an appendix to the book of Judges because it highlights the Pervasiveness of Perversity that has consumed the nation. Israel has sunk into the depths of both religious and moral depravity.

Sin impacts more people than we will ever realize. It is described in the NT as the leaven which leavens the whole lump. It is like a cancer that may be unseen but grows and spreads in malicious fashion. People try to minimize the effects of sin and call for us to leave others alone to pursue alternative life choices – even when those choices have clearly been revealed by God as destructive to our overall society.

It is going to be a Painful Process to try to exercise judgment against this outrageous and reprehensible behavior. Especially because God’s people take a sanctimonious attitude like they have no skin in the game; like they are pure and holy when in fact they themselves have been assimilated into a worldly culture of humanistic compromise with the Canaanites around them.

A civil war is about to erupt that will leave over 65,000 choice fighting men slaughtered on the field of battle in just a very brief time period. Think about those numbers and all of the heartache associated with those families. The entire tribe of Benjamin will almost be eradicated. How sad that the people of God degenerated to such a point that they reaped such tragic discipline from their covenant God.

Remember the counsel of the Apostle Paul regarding the process of trying to address sin in the family of God: [Not exactly parallel since civil govt involved in nation of Israel]

Gal. 6:1 – “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”

As we work through this rather lengthy passage, we will see the antithesis of this spirit of gentleness reflected in the presumption and self confidence of the other eleven tribes.





A. (:1-11) The Unity of God’s People in Moral Outrage Over Wickedness

1. (:1-2) Demand for Action Unifies God’s People — What does it take to unify God’s people and cause them to take a stand against Moral Depravity?

“Then all the sons of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead, came out, and the congregation assembled as one man to the LORD at Mizpah. And the chiefs of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, took their stand in the assembly of the people of God, 400,000 foot soldiers who drew the sword.”

Look at all of the references to unity in this paragraph – very impressive —

Something that other judges were not able to achieve throughout the book as we have studied it (Deborah 5:15b-17; 8:1-3 the complaints of the men of Ephraim; 15:11)

Certainly something of a mixed bag – not saying that everyone had pure motives of wanting to yield to God and be used by Him as righteous instruments of discipline; they had their own thoughts of revenge and desire to slaughter those involved

Why couldn’t Israel have been this united in the beginning to drive out the enemies of the land as God had instructed?? Now they are united against their own countrymen

“from Dan to Beersheba” – northernmost portion of the land to southernmost

“land of Gilead” = Transjordan tribes

Mizpah was only four miles north of Gibeah (eight miles north of Jerusalem)

2. (:3-6) Danger of Selective Reporting — Be careful to get all of the facts about the situation –

“(Now the sons of Benjamin heard that the sons of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) And the sons of Israel said, ‘Tell us, how did this wickedness take place?’ So the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, ‘I came with my concubine to spend the night at Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. But the men of Gibeah rose up against me and surrounded the house at night because of me. They intended to kill me; instead, they ravished my concubine so that she died. And I took hold of my concubine and cut her in pieces and sent her throughout the land of Israel’s inheritance; for they have committed a lewd and disgraceful act in Israel.’”

Levite paints his actions in the best possible light; leaves out some very embarrassing details

PreceptAustin: “Lewd” is zimma, used often of sexual perversions worthy of death (cf. Lv18:17; 19:29).

“Disgraceful” is nebala, a strong term for active moral rebellion against the divine standards, as in rape (2 Sa 13:14), homosexual acts (Jud 19:23,24) and general promiscuity (Deut. 22:21).

3. (:7-11) Details of Practical Steps That Need to be Taken

“’Behold, all you sons of Israel, give your advice and counsel here.’ Then all the people arose as one man, saying, ‘Not one of us will go to his tent, nor will any of us return to his house. But now this is the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up against it by lot. And we will take 10 men out of 100 throughout the tribes of Israel, and 100 out of 1,000, and 1,000 out of 10,000 to supply food for the people, that when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, they may punish them for all the disgraceful acts that they have committed in Israel.’ Thus all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united as one man.”

– Call for Counsel – let’s devise a wise plan of action

– Sense of Urgency – address the situation at once; nothing gets better by just wasting time and procrastinating – address the evil

– Provide for the practical necessities of the anticipated upcoming battle; count the cost and be prepared to stay the course; don’t act too quickly and then bow out when the pressure intensifies

– Maintain our united stance

Keil & Delitzsch: vs 9 — Consequently the meaning is simply this: “Let us proceed with the lot against Gibeah,” i.e., let us deal with it as with the towns of the Canaanites, conquer it, lay it in ashes, and distribute its territory by lot.

B. (:12-17) The Stubbornness of Misplaced Loyalties on the Part of the Tribe of Benjamin

“Then the tribes of Israel sent men through the entire tribe of Benjamin, saying, ‘What is this wickedness that has taken place among you? Now then, deliver up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove this wickedness from Israel’ But the sons of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the sons of Israel. And the sons of Benjamin gathered from the cities to Gibeah, to go out to battle against the sons of Israel. And from the cities on that day the sons of Benjamin were numbered, 26,000 men who draw the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah who were numbered, 700 choice men. Out of all these people 700 choice men were left- handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss. Then the men of Israel besides Benjamin were numbered, 400,000 men who draw the sword; all these were men of war.”

If we don’t humble ourselves and judge ourselves, God will take more extreme measures to discipline us – the tribe of Benjamin was given the opportunity to participate with the nation in “removing this wickedness from Israel”

What wickedness are we tolerating in our lives and in our church when God says to remove, to purge the evil??

Look at how this can work itself out in terms of church politics –

– rather than supporting the decision of the elders in a matter of church discipline, a family could choose to shield their relative from such action

– when it comes to church leadership, people can easily push aside and disregard God’s revealed standards and qualifications and throw their loyalty behind certain individuals for the wrong reasons

These things happen all of the time in our churches

PreceptAustin: Like many today (even in the church), the Benjaminites were unable to accept reproof. And so they would have to learn the disastrous hard way. (Pr 29:1, 6:15). Their refusal to cooperate was definitely an act of rebellion against the Lord. By coming to the aid of Gibeah rather than joining in the punishment of that city the tribe identified with the wicked men and merited their punishment. When sin isn’t exposed, confessed, and punished, it pollutes society and defiles the land. The wicked men of Gibeah were like a cancerous tumor in the body that had to be cut out. (1Co5:6, 15:33). . .

The men of Benjamin had a good reputation as excellent soldiers, true to the prediction of Jacob in [Ge49:27]. Their prowess with the bow and the sling was well known, and even in the time of Saul some Benjamites could use the sling with either hand (1Ch8:40; 12:2)

Not very good odds for the tribe of Benjamin – about 27,000 vs 400,000

Inrig: Benjamin was hilly country, easier to defend than to attack.

Dale Ralph Davis: Their crack Seven Hundred Unit (v. 16) will have to be reckoned with. This number formed an elite corps of left-handed super-slingers, renowned for their deadly accuracy. They may have been the reason Benjamin had initial success against the other tribes. Most soldiers were probably right-handed and carried their shields on their left arms. That would provide normal defense against right-handed slingers, but lefty slingers would be hurling at a different angle toward the unguarded side, and, if these left-handers could hit a hair (v. 16), they could surely smash a right ear.

Gibeah only contributed 700 men – so they were rather a small town relative to the tribe as a whole – yet the Benjamites rallied around these worthless men because of pride and tribal loyalty; the offense was clear; certainly judgment was justified; what was their justification for resisting?

Application: In Engaging in the process of purging evil, make sure that we are committed to God’s Word and God’s Agenda rather than motivated by misplaced loyalties and our own personal agenda. Don’t let pride and a sectarian spirit make us so stubborn that we end up resisting God’s revealed standards of justice and righteousness.



A. (:18-22) First Inquiry and Battle – Presumptuous in Self Confidence

“Now the sons of Israel arose, went up to Bethel, and inquired of God, and said, ‘Who shall go up first for us to battle against the sons of Benjamin?’ Then the LORD said, ‘Judah shall go up first.’ So the sons of Israel arose in the morning and camped against Gibeah. And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin, and the men of Israel arrayed for battle against them at Gibeah. Then the sons of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and felled to the ground on that day 22,000 men of Israel. But the people, the men of Israel, encouraged themselves and arrayed for battle again in the place where they had arrayed themselves the first day.”

Thought process: going up first would be the position of honor since they were so confident in their superior numbers; but here God was disciplining Judah as well; they should have taken the leadership in purging the wicked Canaanites from the land

Wolf: Gibeah’s proximity to the territory of Judah insured familiarity with the terrain. . . The mention of Bethel poses a problem, since the tabernacle was located at Shiloh (cf. 18:31). . . The ark of the covenant may have been moved from Shiloh to Bethel (cf. vv. 26-27) to be nearer to the scene of battle. The ark frequently accompanied Israel into battle (cf. Num 10:35).

Block: “Judah shall go up first.” This response is appropriate because the victims were from Bethlehem in Judah.

A. C. Gaebelein: But to be fit to be used of God to deal with evil involves much more than readiness to be His instrument. They are too ready, as we see in the result. Their wrath is too prompt, too implacable, too unsparing. Theirs is the reckless haste of vengeance, and not the solemn discrimination of divine judgment. They remember not their own sins, bring no sin offering to God, no tears of penitence. They build on their numbers; no doubt on the justice of their cause, also, but in self-righteousness and without self-suspicion. Thus they go up to smite, and they are smitten heavily, disastrously. Benjamin, the wrong-doer, is wholly victorious

Dale Ralph Davis: Israel receives the favor of divine guidance (vv. 18, 23) and yet sees no evidence of divine help. Does this not constitute one of the enigmas of Christian experience – being certain of the divine will (because a matter is clearly taught in Scripture) and yet finding that path marked more by trouble than by success? Does that mean we are out of the divine will or simply that Yahweh is dealing with us in one of his hidden ways?

B. (:23-25) Second Inquiry and Battle – Confused by Unexpected Results

“And the sons of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall we again draw near for battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin?’ And the LORD said, ‘Go up against him.’ Then the sons of Israel came against the sons of Benjamin the second day. And Benjamin went out against them from Gibeah the second day and felled to the ground again 18,000 men of the sons of Israel; all these drew the sword.”

Wolf: The combination of burnt offerings and fellowship offerings was usually an expression of devotion and commitment. Solomon offered both kinds of sacrifices at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:64), and Joshua had built an altar on Mount Ebal as the nation renewed its allegiance to the Lord (Josh 8:31).

C. (:26-28) Third Inquiry and Battle – Humbled to the Point of Repentance and Dependence Upon the Lord

“Then all the sons of Israel and all the people went up and came to Bethel and wept; thus they remained there before the LORD and fasted that day until evening. And they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD And the sons of Israel inquired of the LORD (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, Aaron’s son, stood before it to minister in those days), saying, ‘Shall I yet again go out to battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?’ And the LORD said, ‘Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.’”

Application: Life presents many Enigmas. Don’t allow the short term positive and negative aspects of your circumstances to dictate your thinking about the validity of your actions. You must humbly submit to the Word and endeavor to please the Lord and leave the results to Him.



A. (:29-35) Overview Account of God Given Victory

“So Israel set men in ambush around Gibeah. And the sons of Israel went up against the sons of Benjamin on the third day and arrayed themselves against Gibeah, as at other times. And the sons of Benjamin went out against the people and were drawn away from the city, and they began to strike and kill some of the people, as at other times, on the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah, and in the field, about thirty men of Israel. And the sons of Benjamin said, ‘They are struck down before us, as at the first.’ But the sons of Israel said, ‘Let us flee that we may draw them away from the city to the highways.’ Then all the men of Israel arose from their place and arrayed themselves at Baal-tamar; and the men of Israel in ambush broke out of their place, even out of Maareh-geba. When ten thousand choice men from all Israel came against Gibeah, the battle became fierce; but Benjamin did not know that disaster was close to them. And the LORD struck Benjamin before Israel, so that the sons of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day, all who draw the sword.”

The fact that God reveals His providential plan to provide deliverance and victory did not excuse the people from exercising their responsibility to plan for the details of the battle and execute in dependence upon God; God’s sovereignty always encourages our perseverance – it can never be attacked as an encouragement for slothfulness

– cf. – Why Pray if God is going to provide for our needs …

– cf. – Why Evangelize if the elect are going to be saved

– cf. – Should we continue to sin that grace may abound??

Don’t ever think this way!

Joshua 8:1-29 – see similar strategy used by Joshua against Ai

B. (:36-48) More Detailed Account of Military Strategy and Mopping Up Operation

“So the sons of Benjamin saw that they were defeated. When the men of Israel gave ground to Benjamin because they relied on the men in ambush whom they had set against Gibeah, the men in ambush hurried and rushed against Gibeah; the men in ambush also deployed and struck all the city with the edge of the sword. Now the appointed sign between the men of Israel and the men in ambush was that they should make a great cloud of smoke rise from the city. Then the men of Israel turned in the battle, and Benjamin began to strike and kill about thirty men of Israel, for they said, ‘Surely they are defeated before us, as in the first battle.’ But when the cloud began to rise from the city in a column of smoke, Benjamin looked behind them; and behold, the whole city was going up in smoke to heaven. Then the men of Israel turned, and the men of Benjamin were terrified; for they saw that disaster was close to them. Therefore, they turned their backs before the men of Israel toward the direction of the wilderness, but the battle overtook them while those who came out of the cities destroyed them in the midst of them. They surrounded Benjamin, pursued them without rest and trod them down opposite Gibeah toward the east. Thus 18,000 men of Benjamin fell; all these were valiant warriors. The rest turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, but they caught 5,000 of them on the highways and overtook them at Gidom and killed 2,000 of them. So all of Benjamin who fell that day were 25,000 men who draw the sword; all these were valiant warriors. But 600 men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and they remained at the rock of Rimmon four months. The men of Israel then turned back against the sons of Benjamin and struck them with the edge of the sword, both the entire city with the cattle and all that they found; they also set on fire all the cities which they found.”

Wolf: In characteristic Hebrew fashion the writer repeats himself as he adds details about the ambush and its effect. . . The entire town literally became a burnt offering.

Wiersbe: At the first census after the Exodus from Egypt, there were 35,400 men of war in Benjamin (Num. 1:37), and this increased to 45,600 by the time of the second census (Num. 26:41). During this three-day war, the Benjamites were left with only 600 men stranded on the rock of Rimmon, a fortresslike rock formation near Gibeah. What a price the tribe of Benjamin paid for refusing to obey the Law of the Lord!

Brensinger: These towns, after all, supplied the troops who have since been killed in the fighting. By slaughtering every living thing and subsequently burning the cities, the Israelites seemingly place the entire tribe of Benjamin under what is typically referred to as “the ban.”

The ban, herem, was part of Israel’s understanding of holy war: various enemies had to be “devoted to the Lord for destruction” (as in Josh. 6:17). This act of destruction helped to keep Israel from later contact and contamination. Normally, such drastic measures were either taken against Israel’s external opponents or reserved for internal cases involving pervasive idolatry.

In the present instance, however, the procedure stems from Gibeah’s abuse of the concubine. Is this a case of grossly inflated retaliation? Do the Israelites actually implement this form of punishment in compliance with a divine oracle? The deep regret, change of policy, and preventive measures that soon follow suggest otherwise. Israel will actually attempt to undo or at least minimize the lingering effects of the deed.

Application: Make sure that we constantly check our motives so that we don’t overstep what the Lord has called us to do. We want to have the heart and mind of the Lord in all of the Execution of our spiritual ministry.


The responsibility for purging evil from the church falls to us today: 1 Cor. 5:6-8

“Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”


Remember that we first must look to ourselves and our own motives and judge ourselves lest we be judged by God.

Gal. 6:1 – “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”