Jethro Visits Moses

Israelite Benjamite War – Defending Criminals

Bible Study Lesson from Judges 20:1-48

Istaelite Benjamite warToday, we’ll continue the story of the Levite’s concubine we covered in Judges 19.

After the death of his concubine, the Levite cut the woman into small pieces and sent body parts all over Israel to stir up the nation.

It worked, because now we see in chapter 20 the outcome was all out war between the Israelites and Benjamites. Read the Scripture for details.

War Between the Israelites and Benjamites

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.

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 would 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. – Judges 20:34-44 NASB


Israel Pleads with the Benjamites

Why did the Benjamites not listen when Israel plead their case about the concubine? It’s not completely clear as to whey they would not turn over the guilty men to be punished.

God’s law was certainly on the side of Israel as the men of Benjamin committed an horrendous crime by raping and killing the woman.

This did not seem to make any difference to the Benjamites as they were blinded by loyalty to their own people.

A Nation and Its Moral Standards

It seems, by not obeying God’s law, the Benjamites had sunk into a community of immorality. They would have no part in turning over their own people for justice, no matter what the crime.

The War

Because of their unwillingness to obey God, an unspeakable civil war was the outcome.

We know from this Scripture passage, thousands upon thousands were killed. Although Israel finally “won” the war, they suffered great losses.

Problem Solving without War

The country from Benjamin defended their criminals to the end. They went to war because of criminals who should have been punished.

Was losing tens of thousands of lives worth it?

When problem situations arise, it’s best to take care of them in an appropriate way. We need to solve problems when they first arise.

Although our situations most likely won’t lead to war, they can lead to hurt and resentment if not dealt with immediately.

Let’s use problems as an opportunity to keep friendships and avoid the “wars” that can happen because of them. The Benjamites didn’t – and look at what happened to them!

Book of Judges Conclusion

This ends the Book of Judges. Maybe it’s a fitting conclusion as the nation of Israel lived in a virtual state of anarchy during these times.

I hope you and I can take lessons from this book. One of the most important I believe I learned is, when we don’t follow God’s will, the ultimate outcome is not going to work in our favor.

The Holy Spirit will lead us in the right direction if we will only listen.

Love in Christ

– Bob

If you would like to discover more about the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to read John 3:16 here.


Read Today’s Passage Here:

New American Standard Bible

New King James Version

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