Notes on Judges 20, verses 12-17
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
Judges 20:12, KJV: And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness (is) this that is done among you?
There is nothing wrong with attempting to discover those who committed a crime. Deuteronomy 21 gave procedures to follow if a body was found in an open field. In this case, Israel knew, somehow, where the crime took place and had narrowed down the suspects down to one tribe, Benjamin.
Here they made still another mistake: had they inquired of the LORD, He would have shown them everything they needed to know. Compare this with the case of Achan in Joshua 7.
13 Now therefore deliver (us) the men, the children of Belial, which (are) in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel. But the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel:
The other tribes of Israel only wanted the men who had killed the concubine so that they would be punished for killing her (see Numbers 35:30-31, Deut. 19:11-21, e.g.). For whatever reason, the people of Benjamin refused to do this. Why they would protect people guilty of multiple sins in beyond belief!
14 But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.
Rather than give up the guilty people, in accordance with the Law of God and the request of the other tribes, Benjamin refused and gathered their own troops to Gibeah. This apparently was considered an act of rebellion, if not outright war, against the other tribes.
15 And the children of Benjamin were numbered at that time out of the cities twenty and six thousand men that drew sword, beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven hundred chosen men.
Israel, without Benjamin, had at least 360,000 (not counting the 10% who were assigned to find food, verse 10) ready to attack Gibeah (and any place else, apparently). Total of Benjamin’s and Gibeah’s force: 26,700 men. Did Benjamin think they could win against a force over 10 times their own number?
16 Among all this people (there were) seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair (breadth), and not miss.
Only one other person in the Bible was mentioned as being left-handed besides these 700 elite soldiers. Ehud, also a Benjamite, had killed Eglon, king of Moab, back in the days of Judges 3, only a few generations after Joshua. It is not mentioned if these 700 men used their hands to throw the stones or, more likely, they used slingshots. Regardless, their accuracy made them a force to be reckoned with!
17 And the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew sword: all these (were) men of war.
This is a repeat of verse 2, where the sum total of Israel’s forces came against Benjamin.
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).