Online Bible in Modern English The Book of the Judges
Intro 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
Continuation of the Conquest of Canaan *Outline Headers are added as a study aid only, and should not be considered as part of the actual Biblical text
It happened after the death of Joshua, the children of Israel asked of Yahweh Yahweh is God’s proper Name, sometimes rendered “LORD”, saying, “Who should go up for us first against the Canaanites, to fight against them?”
Yahweh said, “Judah shall go up. Behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.”
Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with you into your lot.” So Simeon went with him. Judah went up; and Yahweh delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they struck of them in Bezek ten thousand men. They found Adoni-Bezek in Bezek; and they fought against him, and they struck the Canaanites and the Perizzites. But Adoni-Bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes. Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their food under my table: as I have done, so GodThe Hebrew word rendered “God” is “Elohim.” has requited me.” They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.
The children of Judah fought against Jerusalem, and took it, and struck it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire. Afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites who lived in the hill country, and in the South, and in the lowland. Judah went against the Canaanites who lived in Hebron (now the name of Hebron before was Kiriath Arba); and they struck Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai.
From there he went against the inhabitants of Debir. (Now the name of Debir before was Kiriath Sepher.) Caleb said, “He who strikes Kiriath Sepher, and takes it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter as wife.” Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter as wife.
It happened, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she alighted from off her donkey; and Caleb said to her, “What would you like?”
She said to him, “Give me a blessing; for that you have set me in the land of the South, give me also springs of water.” Then Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.
The children of the Kenite, Moses’ brother-in-law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which is in the south of Arad; and they went and lived with the people. Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they struck the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. The name of the city was called Hormah. Also Judah took Gaza with its border, and Ashkelon with its border, and Ekron with its border. Yahweh was with Judah; and drove out the inhabitants of the hill country; for he could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron. They gave Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had spoken: and he drove out there the three sons of Anak. The children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.
The house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel; and Yahweh was with them. The house of Joseph sent to spy out Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.) The watchers saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said to him, “Please show us the entrance into the city, and we will deal kindly with you.” He showed them the entrance into the city; and they struck the city with the edge of the sword; but they let the man go and all his family. The man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called its name Luz, which is its name to this day.
Failure to Complete the Conquest
Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shean and its towns, nor of Taanach and its towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and its towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and its towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and its towns; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land. It happened, when Israel had grown strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, and did not utterly drive them out.
Ephraim didn’t drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer; but the Canaanites lived in Gezer among them.
Zebulun didn’t drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites lived among them, and became subject to forced labor.
Asher didn’t drive out the inhabitants of Acco, nor the inhabitants of Sidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob; but the Asherites lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; for they did not drive them out.
Naphtali didn’t drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, nor the inhabitants of Beth Anath; but he lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh and of Beth Anath became subject to forced labor.
The Amorites forced the children of Dan into the hill country; for they would not allow them to come down to the valley; but the Amorites would dwell in Mount Heres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became subject to forced labor. The border of the Amorites was from the ascent of Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward.[Top of Page]
The Angel of the Lord
The angel of Yahweh came up from Gilgal to Bochim. He said, “I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you to the land which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you: and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not listened to my voice: why have you done this? Therefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.”
It happened, when the angel of Yahweh spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. They called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there to Yahweh.
The Death of Joshua
Now when Joshua had sent the people away, the children of Israel went every man to his inheritance to possess the land. The people served Yahweh all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of Yahweh that he had worked for Israel. Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Yahweh, died, being one hundred ten years old. They buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath Heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, on the north of the mountain of Gaash. Also all that generation were gathered to their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, who didn’t know Yahweh, nor yet the work which he had worked for Israel.
Pattern of Disobedience and Judgment
The children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, and served the Baals; and they forsook Yahweh, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them: and they provoked Yahweh to anger. They forsook Yahweh, and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. The anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers who despoiled them; and he sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went out, the hand of Yahweh was against them for evil, as Yahweh had spoken, and as Yahweh had sworn to them: and they were very distressed.
Yahweh raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who despoiled them. Yet they didn’t listen to their judges; for they played the prostitute after other gods, and bowed themselves down to them: they turned aside quickly out of the way in which their fathers walked, obeying the commandments of Yahweh; but they didn’t do so. When Yahweh raised them up judges, then Yahweh was with the judge, and saved them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it grieved Yahweh because of their groaning by reason of those who oppressed them and troubled them. But it happened, when the judge was dead, that they turned back, and dealt more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down to them; they didn’t cease from their doings, nor from their stubborn way. The anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel; and he said, “Because this nation have transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not listened to my voice; I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations that Joshua left when he died; that by them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of Yahweh to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not.” So Yahweh left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.[Top of Page]
Nations Left in Canaan
Now these are the nations which Yahweh left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing of it: namely, the five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath. They were left, to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would listen to the commandments of Yahweh, which he commanded their fathers by Moses. The children of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons and served their gods.
Othniel, the First judge
The children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, and forgot Yahweh their God, and served the Baals and the Asheroth. Therefore the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cushan Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Cushan Rishathaim eight years. When the children of Israel cried to Yahweh, Yahweh raised up a savior to the children of Israel, who saved them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Spirit of Yahweh came on him, and he judged Israel; and he went out to war, and Yahweh delivered Cushan Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand: and his hand prevailed against Cushan Rishathaim. The land had rest forty years. Othniel the son of Kenaz died.
The children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh: and Yahweh strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh. He gathered to him the children of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and struck Israel, and they possessed the city of palm trees. The children of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. But when the children of Israel cried to Yahweh, Yahweh raised them up a savior, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a man left-handed. The children of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. Ehud made him a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length; and he wore it under his clothing on his right thigh. He offered the tribute to Eglon king of Moab: now Eglon was a very fat man. When he had made an end of offering the tribute, he sent away the people who bore the tribute. But he himself turned back from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret errand to you, king.”
The king said, “Keep silence!” All who stood by him went out from him.
Ehud came to him; and he was sitting by himself alone in the cool upper room. Ehud said, “I have a message from God to you.” He arose out of his seat. Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his body: and the handle also went in after the blade; and the fat closed on the blade, for he didn’t draw the sword out of his body; and it came out behind. Then Ehud went forth into the porch, and shut the doors of the upper room on him, and locked them.
Now when he was gone out, his servants came; and they saw, and behold, the doors of the upper room were locked; and they said, “Surely he is covering his feet in the upper room.” They waited until they were ashamed; and behold, he didn’t open the doors of the upper room: therefore they took the key, and opened them, and behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth.
Ehud escaped while they waited, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped to Seirah. It happened, when he had come, that he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim; and the children of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he before them.
He said to them, “Follow me; for Yahweh has delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand.” They followed him, and took the fords of the Jordan against the Moabites, and didn’t allow any man to pass over. They struck of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, every lusty man, and every man of valor; and there escaped not a man. So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. The land had rest eighty years.
After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck of the Philistines six hundred men with an oxgoad: and he also saved Israel.[Top of Page]
Deborah and Barak
The children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, when Ehud was dead. Yahweh sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth of the Gentiles. The children of Israel cried to Yahweh: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.
Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, she judged Israel at that time. She lived under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. She sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh Naphtali, and said to him, “Hasn’t Yahweh, the God of Israel, commanded, ‘Go and draw to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? I will draw to you, to the river Kishon, Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into your hand.’”
Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.”
She said, “I will surely go with you: nevertheless, the journey that you take shall not be for your honor; for Yahweh will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.
Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together to Kedesh; and there went up ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him.
Now Heber the Kenite had separated himself from the Kenites, even from the children of Hobab the brother-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far as the oak in Zaanannim, which is by Kedesh. They told Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam was gone up to Mount Tabor. Sisera gathered together all his chariots, even nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth of the Gentiles, to the river Kishon.
Deborah said to Barak, “Go; for this is the day in which Yahweh has delivered Sisera into your hand. Hasn’t Yahweh gone out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him. Yahweh confused Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his army, with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot, and fled away on his feet. But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the army, to Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; there was not a man left.
However Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; don’t be afraid.” He came in to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug.
He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink; for I am thirsty.”
She opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.
He said to her, “Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man comes and inquires of you, and says, ‘Is there any man here?’ that you shall say, ‘No.’”
Then Jael Heber’s wife took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him, and struck the pin into his temples, and it pierced through into the ground; for he was in a deep sleep; so he swooned and died. Behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you seek.” He came to her; and behold, Sisera lay dead, and the tent peg was in his temples. So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel. The hand of the children of Israel prevailed more and more against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.[Top of Page]
The Song of Deborah
Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying,
- “Because the leaders took the lead in Israel,
- because the people offered themselves willingly,
- be blessed, Yahweh!
- “Hear, you kings!
- Give ear, you princes!
- I, even I, will sing to Yahweh.
- I will sing praise to Yahweh, the God of Israel.
- “Yahweh, when you went forth out of Seir,
- when you marched out of the field of Edom,
- the earth trembled, the sky also dropped.
- Yes, the clouds dropped water.
- The mountains quaked at the presence of Yahweh,
- even Sinai, at the presence of Yahweh, the God of Israel.
- “In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath,
- in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied.
- The travelers walked through byways.
- The rulers ceased in Israel.
- They ceased until I, Deborah, arose;
- Until I arose a mother in Israel.
- They chose new gods.
- Then war was in the gates.
- Was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?
- My heart is toward the governors of Israel,
- who offered themselves willingly among the people.
- Bless Yahweh!
- “Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys,
- you who sit on rich carpets,
- and you who walk by the way.
- Far from the noise of archers, in the places of drawing water,
- there they will rehearse the righteous acts of Yahweh,
- Even the righteous acts of his rule in Israel.
- “Then the people of Yahweh went down to the gates.
- ‘Awake, awake, Deborah!
- Awake, awake, utter a song!
- Arise, Barak, and lead away your captives, you son of Abinoam.’
- “Then a remnant of the nobles and the people came down.
- Yahweh came down for me against the mighty.
- Those whose root is in Amalek came out of Ephraim,
- after you, Benjamin, among your peoples.
- Governors come down out of Machir.
- Those who handle the marshal’s staff came out of Zebulun.
- The princes of Issachar were with Deborah.
- As was Issachar, so was Barak.
- They rushed into the valley at his feet.
- By the watercourses of Reuben,
- there were great resolves of heart.
- Why did you sit among the sheepfolds,
- To hear the whistling for the flocks?
- At the watercourses of Reuben
- There were great searchings of heart.
- Gilead lived beyond the Jordan.
- Why did Dan remain in ships?
- Asher sat still at the haven of the sea,
- and lived by his creeks.
- Zebulun was a people that jeopardized their lives to the deaths;
- Naphtali also, on the high places of the field.
- “The kings came and fought,
- then the kings of Canaan fought at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo.
- They took no plunder of silver.
- From the sky the stars fought.
- From their courses, they fought against Sisera.
- The river Kishon swept them away,
- that ancient river, the river Kishon.
- My soul, march on with strength.
- Then the horse hoofs stamped because of the prancings,
- the prancings of their strong ones.
- ‘Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of Yahweh.
- ‘Curse bitterly its inhabitants,
- because they didn’t come to help Yahweh,
- to help Yahweh against the mighty.’
- “Jael shall be blessed above women,
- the wife of Heber the Kenite;
- blessed shall she be above women in the tent.
- He asked for water.
- She gave him milk.
- She brought him butter in a lordly dish.
- She put her hand to the tent peg,
- and her right hand to the workmen’s hammer.
- With the hammer she struck Sisera.
- She struck through his head.
- Yes, she pierced and struck through his temples.
- At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay.
- At her feet he bowed, he fell.
- Where he bowed, there he fell down dead.
- “Through the window she looked out, and cried:
- Sisera’s mother looked through the lattice.
- ‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?
- Why do the wheels of his chariots wait?’
- Her wise ladies answered her,
- Yes, she returned answer to herself,
- ‘Have they not found, have they not divided the spoil?
- A lady, two ladies to every man;
- to Sisera a spoil of dyed garments,
- a spoil of dyed garments embroidered,
- of dyed garments embroidered on both sides, on the necks of the spoil?’
- “So let all your enemies perish, Yahweh,
- but let those who love him be as the sun when it rises forth in its strength.”
Then the land had rest forty years.[Top of Page]
The children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh: and Yahweh delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. The hand of Midian prevailed against Israel; and because of Midian the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and the caves, and the strongholds. So it was, when Israel had sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of the east; they came up against them; and they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, until you come to Gaza, and left no sustenance in Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor donkey. For they came up with their livestock and their tents; they came in as locusts for multitude; both they and their camels were without number: and they came into the land to destroy it. Israel was brought very low because of Midian; and the children of Israel cried to Yahweh.
It happened, when the children of Israel cried to Yahweh because of Midian, that Yahweh sent a prophet to the children of Israel: and he said to them, “Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, ‘I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out from before you, and gave you their land; and I said to you, “I am Yahweh your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not listened to my voice.’”
The angel of Yahweh came, and sat under the oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained to Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. The angel of Yahweh appeared to him, and said to him, “Yahweh is with you, you mighty man of valor!”
Gideon said to him, “Oh, my lord, if Yahweh is with us, why then has all this happened to us? Where are all his wondrous works which our fathers told us of, saying, ‘Didn’t Yahweh bring us up from Egypt?’ But now Yahweh has cast us off, and delivered us into the hand of Midian.”
Yahweh looked at him, and said, “Go in this your might, and save Israel from the hand of Midian. Haven’t I sent you?”
He said to him, “O LordThe Hebrew word translated “Lord” is “Adonai”, how shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
Yahweh said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
He said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, then show me a sign that it is you who talk with me. Please don’t go away, until I come to you, and bring out my present, and lay it before you.”
He said, “I will wait until you come back.”
Gideon went in, and prepared a young goat, and unleavened cakes of an ephah 1 ephah is about 22 litres or about 2/3 of a bushel of meal. He put the meat in a basket and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out to him under the oak, and presented it.
The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.”
He did so. Then the angel of Yahweh stretched out the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes; and fire went up out of the rock, and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes; and the angel of Yahweh departed out of his sight.
Gideon saw that he was the angel of Yahweh; and Gideon said, “Alas, Lord Yahweh! Because I have seen the angel of Yahweh face to face!”
Yahweh said to him, “Peace be to you! Don’t be afraid. You shall not die.”
Then Gideon built an altar there to Yahweh, and called it “Yahweh is Peaceor, Yahweh Shalom.” To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
It happened the same night, that Yahweh said to him, “Take your father’s bull, even the second bull seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is by it; and build an altar to Yahweh your God on the top of this stronghold, in an orderly way, and take the second bull, and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down.”
Then Gideon took ten men of his servants, and did as Yahweh had spoken to him: and it happened, because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city, so that he could not do it by day, that he did it by night.
When the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah was cut down that was by it, and the second bull was offered on the altar that was built. They said one to another, “Who has done this thing?”
When they inquired and asked, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.”
Then the men of the city said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, because he has broken down the altar of Baal, and because he has cut down the Asherah that was by it.” Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? He who will contend for him, let him be put to death while it is yet morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has broken down his altar.” Therefore on that day he named him Jerub-Baal“Jerub-Baal” means “Let Baal contend.”, saying, “Let Baal contend against him, because he has broken down his altar.”
The Sign of the Fleece
Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east assembled themselves together; and they passed over, and encamped in the valley of Jezreel. But the Spirit of Yahweh came on Gideon; and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered together after him. He sent messengers throughout all Manasseh; and they also were gathered together after him: and he sent messengers to Asher, and to Zebulun, and to Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.
Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have spoken, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there be dew on the fleece only, and it be dry on all the ground, then shall I know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have spoken.”
It was so; for he rose up early on the next day, and pressed the fleece together, and wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
Gideon said to God, “Don’t let your anger be kindled against me, and I will speak but this once. Please let me make a trial just this once with the fleece. Let it now be dry only on the fleece, and on all the ground let there be dew.”
God did so that night: for it was dry on the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.[Top of Page]
Gibeon Defeats the Midianites
Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people who were with him, rose up early, and encamped beside the spring of Harod: and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. Yahweh said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.’” Twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained.
Yahweh said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. It shall be, that of whom I tell you, ‘This shall go with you,’ the same shall go with you; and of whoever I tell you, ‘This shall not go with you,’ the same shall not go.” So he brought down the people to the water; and Yahweh said to Gideon, “Everyone who laps of the water with his tongue, like a dog laps, you shall set him by himself; likewise everyone who bows down on his knees to drink.” The number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people bowed down on their knees to drink water. Yahweh said to Gideon, “By the three hundred men who lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, each to his own place.”
So the people took food in their hand, and their trumpets; and he sent all the men of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the three hundred men: and the camp of Midian was beneath him in the valley. It happened the same night, that Yahweh said to him, “Arise, go down into the camp; for I have delivered it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the camp: and you shall hear what they say; and afterward your hands will be strengthened to go down into the camp.” Then went he down with Purah his servant to the outermost part of the armed men who were in the camp.
The Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like locusts for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand which is on the seashore for multitude.
When Gideon had come, behold, there was a man telling a dream to his fellow; and he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream; and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, and came to the tent, and struck it so that it fell, and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.”
His fellow answered, “This is nothing other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel. God has delivered Midian into his hand, with all the army.”
It was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and its interpretation, that he worshiped; and he returned into the camp of Israel, and said, “Arise; for Yahweh has delivered the army of Midian into your hand!”
He divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put into the hands of all of them trumpets, and empty pitchers, with torches within the pitchers.
He said to them, “Watch me, and do likewise. Behold, when I come to the outermost part of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so you shall do. When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and shout, ‘For Yahweh and for Gideon!’”
So Gideon, and the hundred men who were with him, came to the outermost part of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch, when they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and broke in pieces the pitchers that were in their hands. The three companies blew the trumpets, and broke the pitchers, and held the torches in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands with which to blow; and they shouted, “The sword of Yahweh and of Gideon!” They stood every man in his place around the camp; and all the army ran; and they shouted, and put them to flight. They blew the three hundred trumpets, and Yahweh set every man’s sword against his fellow, and against all the army; and the army fled as far as Beth Shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath. The men of Israel were gathered together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after Midian.
Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against Midian, and take before them the waters, as far as Beth Barah, even the Jordan!” So all the men of Ephraim were gathered together, and took the waters as far as Beth Barah, even the Jordan. They took the two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb; and they killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian: and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon beyond the Jordan.[Top of Page]
Gideon Captures the Midianite Kings
The men of Ephraim said to him, “Why have you treated us this way, that you didn’t call us, when you went to fight with Midian?” They rebuked him sharply. He said to them, “What have I now done in comparison with you? Isn’t the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? God has delivered into your hand the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb! What was I able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.
Gideon came to the Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men who were with him, faint, yet pursuing. He said to the men of Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me; for they are faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”
The princes of Succoth said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?”
Gideon said, “Therefore when Yahweh has delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.”
He went up there to Penuel, and spoke to them in the same way; and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered. He spoke also to the men of Penuel, saying, “When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.”
Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their armies with them, about fifteen thousand men, all who were left of all the army of the children of the east; for there fell one hundred twenty thousand men who drew sword. Gideon went up by the way of those who lived in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and struck the army; for the army was secure. Zebah and Zalmunna fled; and he pursued after them; and he took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and confused all the army. Gideon the son of Joash returned from the battle from the ascent of Heres. He caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and inquired of him: and he described for him the princes of Succoth, and its elders, seventy-seven men. He came to the men of Succoth, and said, “See Zebah and Zalmunna, concerning whom you taunted me, saying, ‘Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are weary?’” He took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth. He broke down the tower of Penuel, and killed the men of the city.
Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men were they whom you killed at Tabor?”
They answered, “They were like you. Each one resembled the children of a king.”
He said, “They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. As Yahweh lives, if you had saved them alive, I would not kill you.”
He said to Jether his firstborn, “Get up, and kill them!” But the youth didn’t draw his sword; for he was afraid, because he was yet a youth.
Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Rise and fall on us; for as the man is, so is his strength.” Gideon arose, and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescents that were on their camels’ necks.
Gideon’s Death and Legacy
Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you, and your son, and your son’s son also; for you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.”
Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you. Yahweh shall rule over you.” Gideon said to them, “I would make a request of you, that you would give me every man the earrings of his spoil.” (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
They answered, “We will willingly give them.” They spread a garment, and every man threw the earrings of his spoil into it. The weight of the golden earrings that he requested was one thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold, besides the crescents, and the pendants, and the purple clothing that was on the kings of Midian, and besides the chains that were about their camels’ necks. Gideon made an ephod of it, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel played the prostitute after it there; and it became a snare to Gideon, and to his house. So Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, and they lifted up their heads no more. The land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon.
Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and lived in his own house. Gideon had seventy sons conceived from his body; for he had many wives. His concubine who was in Shechem, she also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
It happened, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and played the prostitute after the Baals, and made Baal Berith their god. The children of Israel didn’t remember Yahweh their God, who had delivered them out of the hand of all their enemies on every side; neither did they show kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shown to Israel.[Top of Page]
Abimelech’s Conspiracy and Defeat
Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother’s brothers, and spoke with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother’s father, saying, “Please speak in the ears of all the men of Shechem, ‘Is it better for you that all the sons of Jerubbaal, who are seventy persons, rule over you, or that one rule over you?’ Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.”
His mother’s brothers spoke of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, “He is our brother.” They gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal Berith, with which Abimelech hired vain and light fellows, who followed him. He went to his father’s house at Ophrah, and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, being seventy persons, on one stone: but Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.
All the men of Shechem assembled themselves together, and all the house of Millo, and went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar that was in Shechem. When they told it to Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said to them, “Listen to me, you men of Shechem, that God may listen to you. The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’
“But the olive tree said to them, ‘Should I leave my fatness, with which by me they honor God and man, and go to wave back and forth over the trees?’
“The trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and reign over us.’
“But the fig tree said to them, ‘Should I leave my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to wave back and forth over the trees?’
“The trees said to the vine, ‘Come and reign over us.’
“The vine said to them, ‘Should I leave my new wine, which cheers God and man, and go to wave back and forth over the trees?’
“Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘Come and reign over us.’
“The bramble said to the trees, ‘If in truth you anoint me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade; and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’
“Now therefore, if you have dealt truly and righteously, in that you have made Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done to him according to the deserving of his hands (for my father fought for you, and risked his life, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian: and you have risen up against my father’s house this day, and have slain his sons, seventy persons, on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his female servant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother); if you then have dealt truly and righteously with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you: but if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech.”
Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and lived there, for fear of Abimelech his brother.
Abimelech was prince over Israel three years. God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech: that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and that their blood might be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. The men of Shechem set an ambush for him on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed all who came along that way by them: and it was told Abimelech.
Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brothers, and went over to Shechem; and the men of Shechem put their trust in him. They went out into the field, and gathered their vineyards, and trod the grapes, and held festival, and went into the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech. Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Isn’t he the son of Jerubbaal? and Zebul his officer? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem: but why should we serve him? Would that this people were under my hand! Then I would remove Abimelech.” He said to Abimelech, “Increase your army, and come out!”
When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled. He sent messengers to Abimelech craftily, saying, “Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brothers are come to Shechem; and behold, they constrain the city to take part against you. Now therefore, go up by night, you and the people who are with you, and lie in wait in the field: and it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, you shall rise early, and rush on the city; and behold, when he and the people who are with him come out against you, then may you do to them as you shall find occasion.”
Abimelech rose up, and all the people who were with him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four companies. Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city: and Abimelech rose up, and the people who were with him, from the ambush.
When Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Behold, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains.”
Zebul said to him, “You see the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.”
Gaal spoke again and said, “Behold, people are coming down by the middle of the land, and one company comes by the way of the oak of Meonenim.”
Then Zebul said to him, “Now where is your mouth, that you said, ‘Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?’ Isn’t this the people that you have despised? Please go out now and fight with them.”
Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech. Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many fell wounded, even to the entrance of the gate. Abimelech lived at Arumah: and Zebul drove out Gaal and his brothers, that they should not dwell in Shechem.
It happened on the next day, that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech. He took the people, and divided them into three companies, and laid wait in the field; and he looked, and behold, the people came forth out of the city; He rose up against them, and struck them. Abimelech, and the companies that were with him, rushed forward, and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city: and the two companies rushed on all who were in the field, and struck them. Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and killed the people who were therein: and he beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.
When all the men of the tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered into the stronghold of the house of Elberith. It was told Abimelech that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him; and Abimelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it up, and laid it on his shoulder: and he said to the people who were with him, “What you have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done!” All the people likewise each cut down his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them at the base of the stronghold, and set the stronghold on fire on them; so that all the people of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women.
Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it. But there was a strong tower within the city, and there fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut themselves in, and went up to the roof of the tower. Abimelech came to the tower, and fought against it, and drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire. A certain woman cast an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head, and broke his skull.
Then he called hastily to the young man his armor bearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword, and kill me, that men not say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’ His young man thrust him through, and he died.”
When the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man to his place. Thus God requited the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did to his father, in killing his seventy brothers; and all the wickedness of the men of Shechem did God requite on their heads: and on them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.[Top of Page]
Tola and Jair
After Abimelech there arose to save Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he lived in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. He judged Israel twenty-three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir. After him arose Jair, the Gileadite; and he judged Israel twenty-two years. He had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkey colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havvoth Jair to this day, which are in the land of Gilead. Jair died, and was buried in Kamon.
Israel’s Rebellion and Repentance
The children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh, and served the Baals, and the Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Sidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook Yahweh, and didn’t serve him. The anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the children of Ammon. They troubled and oppressed the children of Israel that year: eighteen years oppressed they all the children of Israel that were beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. The children of Ammon passed over the Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was very distressed. The children of Israel cried to Yahweh, saying, “We have sinned against you, even because we have forsaken our God, and have served the Baals.”
Yahweh said to the children of Israel, “Didn’t I save you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and you cried to me, and I saved you out of their hand. Yet you have forsaken me, and served other gods: therefore I will save you no more. Go and cry to the gods which you have chosen. Let them save you in the time of your distress!”
The children of Israel said to Yahweh, “We have sinned: do you to us whatever seems good to you; only deliver us, please, this day.”
They put away the foreign gods from among them, and served Yahweh; and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.
Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead. The children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpah. The people, the princes of Gilead, said one to another, “What man is he who will begin to fight against the children of Ammon? He shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”[Top of Page]
Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, and he was the son of a prostitute: and Gilead became the father of Jephthah. Gilead’s wife bore him sons; and when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove out Jephthah, and said to him, “You shall not inherit in our father’s house; for you are the son of another woman.” Then Jephthah fled from his brothers, and lived in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain fellows to Jephthah, and they went out with him. It happened after a while, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel. It was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah out of the land of Tob; and they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our chief, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.”
Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Didn’t you hate me, and drive me out of my father’s house? Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?”
The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “Therefore we have turned again to you now, that you may go with us, and fight with the children of Ammon; and you shall be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”
Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you bring me home again to fight with the children of Ammon, and Yahweh deliver them before me, shall I be your head?”
The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “Yahweh shall be witness between us; surely according to your word so will we do.”
Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and chief over them: and Jephthah spoke all his words before Yahweh in Mizpah.
Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the children of Ammon, saying, “What have you to do with me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?”
The king of the children of Ammon answered to the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel took away my land, when he came up out of Egypt, from the Arnon even to the Jabbok, and to the Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably.”
Jephthah sent messengers again to the king of the children of Ammon; and he said to him, “Thus says Jephthah: Israel didn’t take away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon, but when they came up from Egypt, and Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Seaor Sea of Reeds, and came to Kadesh; then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Please let me pass through your land;’ but the king of Edom didn’t listen. In the same way, he sent to the king of Moab; but he would not: and Israel stayed in Kadesh. Then they went through the wilderness, and went around the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and they encamped on the other side of the Arnon; but they didn’t come within the border of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab. Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said to him, ‘Please let us pass through your land to my place.’ But Sihon didn’t trust Israel to pass through his border; but Sihon gathered all his people together, and encamped in Jahaz, and fought against Israel. Yahweh, the God of Israel, delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they struck them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. They possessed all the border of the Amorites, from the Arnon even to the Jabbok, and from the wilderness even to the Jordan. So now Yahweh, the God of Israel, has dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and should you possess them? Won’t you possess that which Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whoever Yahweh our God has dispossessed from before us, them will we possess. Now are you anything better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them? While Israel lived in Heshbon and its towns, and in Aroer and its towns, and in all the cities that are along by the side of the Arnon, three hundred years; why didn’t you recover them within that time? I therefore have not sinned against you, but you do me wrong to war against me. Yahweh, the Judge, be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.”
However the king of the children of Ammon didn’t listen to the words of Jephthah which he sent him. Then the Spirit of Yahweh came on Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over to the children of Ammon.
Jephthah’s Tragic Vow
Jephthah vowed a vow to Yahweh, and said, “If you will indeed deliver the children of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be, that whatever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, it shall be Yahweh’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”
So Jephthah passed over to the children of Ammon to fight against them; and Yahweh delivered them into his hand. He struck them from Aroer until you come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and to Abelcheramim, with a very great slaughter. So the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
Jephthah came to Mizpah to his house; and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances: and she was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. It happened, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are one of those who trouble me; for I have opened my mouth to Yahweh, and I can’t go back.”
She said to him, “My father, you have opened your mouth to Yahweh; do to me according to that which has proceeded out of your mouth, because Yahweh has taken vengeance for you on your enemies, even on the children of Ammon.” She said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may depart and go down on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions.”
He said, “Go.” He sent her away for two months: and she departed, she and her companions, and mourned her virginity on the mountains. It happened at the end of two months, that she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she was a virgin. It was a custom in Israel, that the daughters of Israel went yearly to celebrate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.[Top of Page]
Jephthah’s Conflict with Ephraim
The men of Ephraim were gathered together, and passed northward; and they said to Jephthah, “Why did you pass over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didn’t call us to go with you? We will burn your house around you with fire!”
Jephthah said to them, “I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, you didn’t save me out of their hand. When I saw that you didn’t save me, I put my life in my hand, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and Yahweh delivered them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day, to fight against me?”
Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim; and the men of Gilead struck Ephraim, because they said, “You are fugitives of Ephraim, you Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim, and in the midst of Manasseh.” The Gileadites took the fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites. It was so, that when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, Let me go over, the men of Gilead said to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No;” then they said to him, “Now say ‘Shibboleth;’” and he said “Sibboleth;” for he couldn’t manage to pronounce it right: then they laid hold of him, and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. At that time, forty-two thousand of Ephraim fell. Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.
Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon
After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons; and thirty daughters he sent abroad, and thirty daughters he brought in from abroad for his sons. He judged Israel seven years. Ibzan died, and was buried at Bethlehem. After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten years. Elon the Zebulunite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the land of Zebulun. After him Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. He had forty sons and thirty sons’ sons, who rode on seventy donkey colts: and he judged Israel eight years. Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.[Top of Page]
The Birth of Samson
The children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh; and Yahweh delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years. There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and didn’t bear. The angel of Yahweh appeared to the woman, and said to her, “See now, you are barren, and don’t bear; but you shall conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore please beware and drink no wine nor strong drink, and don’t eat any unclean thing: for, behold, you shall conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head; for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb: and he shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”
Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A man of God came to me, and his face was like the face of the angel of God, very awesome; and I didn’t ask him where he was from, neither did he tell me his name: but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing; for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”
Then Manoah entreated Yahweh, and said, “Oh, Lord, please let the man of God whom you did send come again to us, and teach us what we shall do to the child who shall be born.”
God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah, her husband, wasn’t with her. The woman made haste, and ran, and told her husband, and said to him, “Behold, the man has appeared to me, who came to me the other day.”
Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to the woman?”
He said, “I am.”
Manoah said, “Now let your words happen. What shall be the ordering of the child, and how shall we do to him?”
The angel of Yahweh said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her beware. She may not eat of anything that comes of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; all that I commanded her let her observe.”
Manoah said to the angel of Yahweh, “Please, let us detain you, that we may make a young goat ready for you.”
The angel of Yahweh said to Manoah, “Though you detain me, I won’t eat of your bread; and if you will prepare a burnt offering, you must offer it to Yahweh.” For Manoah didn’t know that he was the angel of Yahweh.
Manoah said to the angel of Yahweh, “What is your name, that when your words happen, we may honor you?”
The angel of Yahweh said to him, “Why do you ask about my name, since it is wonderful?”
So Manoah took the young goat with the meal offering, and offered it on the rock to Yahweh: and the angel did wondrously, and Manoah and his wife looked on. For it happened, when the flame went up toward the sky from off the altar, that the angel of Yahweh ascended in the flame of the altar: and Manoah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground. But the angel of Yahweh did no more appear to Manoah or to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of Yahweh. Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God.”
But his wife said to him, “If Yahweh were pleased to kill us, he wouldn’t have received a burnt offering and a meal offering at our hand, neither would he have shown us all these things, nor would at this time have told such things as these.” The woman bore a son, and named him Samson: and the child grew, and Yahweh blessed him. The Spirit of Yahweh began to move him in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.[Top of Page]
Samson’s Marriage and Riddle
Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. He came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, “I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me as wife.”
Then his father and his mother said to him, “Is there never a woman among the daughters of your brothers, or among all my people, that you go to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?”
Samson said to his father, “Get her for me; for she pleases me well.”
But his father and his mother didn’t know that it was of Yahweh; for he sought an occasion against the Philistines. Now at that time the Philistines had rule over Israel. Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnah, and came to the vineyards of Timnah: and behold, a young lion roared against him. The Spirit of Yahweh came mightily on him, and he tore him as he would have torn a young goat; and he had nothing in his hand: but he didn’t tell his father or his mother what he had done. He went down, and talked with the woman, and she pleased Samson well. After a while he returned to take her; and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. He took it into his hands, and went on, eating as he went; and he came to his father and mother, and gave to them, and they ate: but he didn’t tell them that he had taken the honey out of the body of the lion. His father went down to the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do. It happened, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.
Samson said to them, “Let me tell you a riddle now. If you can declare it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing; but if you can’t declare it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing.” They said to him, “Put forth your riddle, that we may hear it.”
He said to them,
- “Out of the eater came forth food.
- Out of the strong came forth sweetness.”
It happened on the seventh day, that they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband, that he may declare to us the riddle, lest we burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you called us to impoverish us? Is it not so?”
Samson’s wife wept before him, and said, “You just hate me, and don’t love me. You have put forth a riddle to the children of my people, and haven’t told it me.”
He said to her, “Behold, I haven’t told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?”
She wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it happened on the seventh day, that he told her, because she pressed him severely; and she told the riddle to the children of her people. The men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?”
He said to them,
- “If you hadn’t plowed with my heifer,
- you wouldn’t have found out my riddle.”
The Spirit of Yahweh came mightily on him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and struck thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave the changes of clothing to those who declared the riddle. His anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house. But Samson’s wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.[Top of Page]
Samson’s Revenge on the Philistines
But it happened after a while, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a young goat; and he said, “I will go in to my wife into the room.”
But her father wouldn’t allow him to go in. Her father said, “I most certainly thought that you had utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to your companion. Isn’t her younger sister more beautiful than she? Please take her, instead.”
Samson said to them, “This time I will be blameless in regard of the Philistines, when I harm them.” Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches, and turned tail to tail, and put a torch in the midst between every two tails. When he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing grain of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks and the standing grain, and also the olive groves.
Then the Philistines said, “Who has done this?”
They said, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he has taken his wife, and given her to his companion.” The Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire.
Samson said to them, “If you behave like this, surely I will be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.” He struck them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and lived in the cleft of the rock of Etam. Then the Philistines went up, and encamped in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi.
The men of Judah said, “Why have you come up against us?”
They said, “We have come up to bind Samson, to do to him as he has done to us.”
Then three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, “Don’t you know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?”
He said to them, “As they did to me, so have I done to them.”
They said to him, “We have come down to bind you, that we may deliver you into the hand of the Philistines.”
Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you will not fall on me yourselves.”
They spoke to him, saying, “No; but we will bind you fast, and deliver you into their hand; but surely we will not kill you.” They bound him with two new ropes, and brought him up from the rock.
When he came to Lehi, the Philistines shouted as they met him: and the Spirit of Yahweh came mightily on him, and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands dropped from off his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put forth his hand, and took it, and struck a thousand men therewith. Samson said, “With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps on heaps; with the jawbone of a donkey I have struck a thousand men.” It happened, when he had made an end of speaking, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand; and that place was called Ramath Lehi. He was very thirsty, and called on Yahweh, and said, “You have given this great deliverance by the hand of your servant; and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?”
But God split the hollow place that is in Lehi, and water came out of it. When he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: therefore its name was called En Hakkore, which is in Lehi, to this day. He judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.[Top of Page]
Samson and Delilah
Samson went to Gaza, and saw there a prostitute, and went in to her. It was told the Gazites, saying, “Samson is here!” They surrounded him, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, Let be until morning light, then we will kill him. Samson lay until midnight, and arose at midnight, and laid hold of the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and plucked them up, bar and all, and put them on his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of the mountain that is before Hebron.
It came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. The lords of the Philistines came up to her, and said to her, “Entice him, and see in which his great strength lies, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”
Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and what you might be bound to afflict you.”
Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven green cords that were never dried, then shall I become weak, and be as another man.”
Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green cords which had not been dried, and she bound him with them. Now she had an ambush waiting in the inner room. She said to him, “The Philistines are on you, Samson!” He broke the cords, as a string of tow is broken when it touches the fire. So his strength was not known.
Delilah said to Samson, “Behold, you have mocked me, and told me lies: now please tell me with which you might be bound.”
He said to her, “If they only bind me with new ropes with which no work has been done, then shall I become weak, and be as another man.”
So Delilah took new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said to him, “The Philistines are on you, Samson!” The ambush was waiting in the inner room. He broke them off his arms like a thread.
Delilah said to Samson, “Until now, you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me with what you might be bound.”
He said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head with the web.”
She fastened it with the pin, and said to him, “The Philistines are on you, Samson!” He awakened out of his sleep, and plucked away the pin of the beam, and the web.
She said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies.”
It happened, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, that his soul was troubled to death. He told her all his heart, and said to her, No razor has ever come on my head; for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will go from me, and I will become weak, and be like any other man.”
When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up this once, for he has told me all his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and brought the money in their hand. She made him sleep on her knees; and she called for a man, and shaved off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!”
He awoke out of his sleep, and said, “I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free.” But he didn’t know that Yahweh had departed from him. The Philistines laid hold on him, and put out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he ground at the mill in the prison. However the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaved.
The Death of Samson
The lords of the Philistines gathered them together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice; for they said, “Our god has delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.” When the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said, “Our god has delivered our enemy and the destroyer of our country, who has slain many of us, into our hand.”
It happened, when their hearts were merry, that they said, “Call for Samson, that he may entertain us.” They called for Samson out of the prison; and he performed before them. They set him between the pillars; and Samson said to the boy who held him by the hand, “Allow me to feel the pillars whereupon the house rests, that I may lean on them.”
Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were on the roof about three thousand men and women, who saw while Samson performed. Samson called to Yahweh, and said, “Lord Yahweh, remember me, please, and strengthen me, please, only this once, God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” Samson took hold of the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and leaned on them, the one with his right hand, and the other with his left. Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” He bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell on the lords, and on all the people who were therein. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than those who he killed in his life. Then his brothers and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the burial site of Manoah his father. He judged Israel twenty years.[Top of Page]
Micah’s Idols and the Levite Priest
There was a man of the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Micah. He said to his mother, “The eleven hundred pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, and also spoke it in my ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it.”
His mother said, “Blessed be my son of Yahweh.”
He restored the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother; and his mother said, “I most certainly dedicate the silver to Yahweh from my hand for my son, to make an engraved image and a molten image. Now therefore I will restore it to you.”
When he restored the money to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made of it an engraved image and a molten image: and it was in the house of Micah.
The man Micah had a house of gods, and he made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. There was a young man out of Bethlehem Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite; and he lived there. The man departed out of the city, out of Bethlehem Judah, to live where he could find a place, and he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he traveled. Micah said to him, “Where did you come from?”
He said to him, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem Judah, and I am looking for a place to live.” Micah said to him, “Dwell with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver per year, a suit of clothing, and your food.” So the Levite went in. The Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man was to him as one of his sons. Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. Then Micah said, “Now know I that Yahweh will do good to me, since I have a Levite to my priest.”[Top of Page]
The Danites’ Idolotry and Settlement in Laish
In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for to that day their inheritance had not fallen to them among the tribes of Israel. The children of Dan sent of their family five men from their whole number, men of valor, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to search it; and they said to them, “Go, explore the land!”
They came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there. When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite; and they turned aside there, and said to him, “Who brought you here? What do you do in this place? What do you have here?”
He said to them, “Thus and thus has Micah dealt with me, and he has hired me, and I am become his priest.”
They said to him, “Please ask counsel of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.”
The priest said to them, “Go in peace. Your way in which you go is before Yahweh.”
Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people who were therein, how they lived in security, in the way of the Sidonians, quiet and secure; for there was none in the land, possessing authority, that might put them to shame in anything, and they were far from the Sidonians, and had no dealings with any man. They came to their brothers to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their brothers said to them, “What do you say?”
They said, “Arise, and let us go up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. Do you stand still? Don’t be slothful to go and to enter in to possess the land. When you go, you shall come to a secure people, and the land is large; for God has given it into your hand, a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth.”
There set forth from there of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men girt with weapons of war. They went up, and encamped in Kiriath Jearim, in Judah: therefore they called that place Mahaneh Dan, to this day; behold, it is behind Kiriath Jearim. They passed there to the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah.
Then the five men who went to spy out the country of Laish answered, and said to their brothers, “Do you know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and an engraved image, and a molten image? Now therefore consider what you have to do.” They turned aside there, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even to the house of Micah, and asked him of his welfare. The six hundred men girt with their weapons of war, who were of the children of Dan, stood by the entrance of the gate. The five men who went to spy out the land went up, and came in there, and took the engraved image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image: and the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men girt with weapons of war.
When these went into Micah’s house, and fetched the engraved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?”
They said to him, “Hold your peace, put your hand on your mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?”
The priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the engraved image, and went in the midst of the people. So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the livestock and the goods before them. When they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men who were in the houses near to Micah’s house were gathered together, and overtook the children of Dan. They cried to the children of Dan. They turned their faces, and said to Micah, “What ails you, that you come with such a company?”
He said, “You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and have gone away, and what more do I have? How then do you say to me, ‘What ails you?’”
The children of Dan said to him, “Don’t let your voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows fall on you, and you lose your life, with the lives of your household.”
The children of Dan went their way: and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house. They took that which Micah had made, and the priest whom he had, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and secure, and struck them with the edge of the sword; and they burnt the city with fire. There was no deliverer, because it was far from Sidon, and they had no dealings with any man; and it was in the valley that lies by Beth Rehob. They built the city, and lived therein. They called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel: however the name of the city was Laish at the first. The children of Dan set up for themselves the engraved image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set them up Micah’s engraved image which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.[Top of Page]
A Levite and his Concubine
It happened in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite living on the farther side of the hill country of Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehem Judah. His concubine played the prostitute against him, and went away from him to her father’s house to Bethlehem Judah, and was there the space of four months. Her husband arose, and went after her, to speak kindly to her, to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of donkeys: and she brought him into her father’s house; and when the father of the young lady saw him, he rejoiced to meet him. His father-in-law, the young lady’s father, retained him; and he stayed with him three days: so they ate and drink, and lodged there.
It happened on the fourth day, that they arose early in the morning, and he rose up to depart: and the young lady’s father said to his son-in-law, “Strengthen your heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward you shall go your way.” So they sat down, ate, and drank, both of them together: and the young lady’s father said to the man, “Please be pleased to stay all night, and let your heart be merry.” The man rose up to depart; but his father-in-law urged him, and he lodged there again. He arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart; and the young lady’s father said, “Please strengthen your heart and stay until the day declines;” and they both ate.
When the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father-in-law, the young lady’s father, said to him, “Behold, now the day draws toward evening, please stay all night: behold, the day grows to an end, lodge here, that your heart may be merry; and tomorrow go on your way early, that you may go home.” But the man wouldn’t stay that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus (the same is Jerusalem): and there were with him a couple of donkeys saddled; his concubine also was with him.
When they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said to his master, “Please come and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.”
His master said to him, “We won’t turn aside into the city of a foreigner, that is not of the children of Israel; but we will pass over to Gibeah.” He said to his servant, “Come and let us draw near to one of these places; and we will lodge in Gibeah, or in Ramah.” So they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down on them near to Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin. They turned aside there, to go in to lodge in Gibeah: and he went in, and sat him down in the street of the city; for there was no man who took them into his house to lodge.
Behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at evening: now the man was of the hill country of Ephraim, and he lived in Gibeah; but the men of the place were Benjamites. He lifted up his eyes, and saw the wayfaring man in the street of the city; and the old man said, “Where are you going? Where did you come from?”
He said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem Judah to the farther side of the hill country of Ephraim. I am from there, and I went to Bethlehem Judah. I am going to the house of Yahweh; and there is no man who takes me into his house. Yet there is both straw and provender for our donkeys; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for your handmaid, and for the young man who is with your servants: there is no want of anything.”
The old man said, “Peace be to you; howsoever let all your wants lie on me; only don’t lodge in the street.” So he brought him into his house, and gave the donkeys fodder; and they washed their feet, and ate and drink. As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain base fellows, surrounded the house, beating at the door; and they spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may have sex with him!”
The man, the master of the house, went out to them, and said to them, “No, my brothers, please don’t act so wickedly; since this man is come into my house, don’t do this folly. Behold, here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. I will bring them out now. Humble them, and do with them what seems good to you; but to this man don’t do any such folly.”
But the men wouldn’t listen to him: so the man laid hold of his concubine, and brought her out to them; and they had sex with her, and abused her all night until the morning: and when the day began to dawn, they let her go. Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, until it was light. Her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way; and behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold.
He said to her, “Get up, and let us be going!” but no one answered. Then he took her up on the donkey; and the man rose up, and went to his place.
When he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the borders of Israel. It was so, that all who saw it said, “There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt to this day! Consider it, take counsel, and speak.”[Top of Page]
Israel’s War Against the Tribe of Benjamin
Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was assembled as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, to Yahweh at Mizpah. The chiefs of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen who drew sword. (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) The children of Israel said, “Tell us, how did this wickedness happen?”
The Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered, “I came into Gibeah that belongs to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge. The men of Gibeah rose against me, and surrounded the house by night. They thought to have slain me, and they forced my concubine, and she is dead. I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel; for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel. Behold, you children of Israel, all of you, give here your advice and counsel.”
All the people arose as one man, saying, “We will not any of us go to his tent, neither will we any of us turn 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 ten men of one hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and one hundred of one thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to get food for the people, that they may do, when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have worked in Israel.” So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.
The tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What wickedness is this that is happen among you? Now therefore deliver up the men, the base fellows, who are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel.” But Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brothers the children of Israel.
The children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities to Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel. The children of Benjamin were numbered on that day out of the cities twenty-six thousand men who drew the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah, who were numbered seven hundred chosen men. Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men left-handed; everyone could sling stones at a hair-breadth, and not miss. The men of Israel, besides Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men who drew sword: all these were men of war.
The children of Israel arose, and went up to Bethel, and asked counsel of God; and they said, “Who shall go up for us first to battle against the children of Benjamin?”
Yahweh said, “Judah shall go up first.”
The children of Israel rose up in the morning, and encamped against Gibeah. The men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel set the battle in array against them at Gibeah. The children of Benjamin came forth out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to the ground of the Israelites on that day Twenty-two thousand men. The people, the men of Israel, encouraged themselves, and set the battle again in array in the place where they set themselves in array the first day. The children of Israel went up and wept before Yahweh until evening; and they asked of Yahweh, saying, “Shall I again draw near to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother?”
Yahweh said, “Go up against him.”
The children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the second day. Benjamin went forth against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed down to the ground of the children of Israel again eighteen thousand men; all these drew the sword.
Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came to Bethel, and wept, and sat there before Yahweh, and fasted that day until evening; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before Yahweh. The children of Israel asked of Yahweh (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, and Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days), saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease?”
Yahweh said, “Go up; for tomorrow I will deliver him into your hand.”
Israel set ambushes all around Gibeah. The children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day, and set themselves in array against Gibeah, as at other times. The children of Benjamin went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city; and they began to strike and kill of the people, as at other times, in the highways, of which one goes up to Bethel, and the other to Gibeah, in the field, about thirty men of Israel.
The children of Benjamin said, “They are struck down before us, as at the first.” But the children of Israel said, “Let us flee, and draw them away from the city to the highways.”
All the men of Israel rose up out of their place, and set themselves in array at Baal Tamar: and the ambushers of Israel broke forth out of their place, even out of Maareh Geba. There came over against Gibeah ten thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and the battle was severe; but they didn’t know that evil was close on them. Yahweh struck Benjamin before Israel; and the children of Israel destroyed of Benjamin that day twenty-five thousand one hundred men: all these drew the sword. So the children of Benjamin saw that they were struck; for the men of Israel gave place to Benjamin, because they trusted the ambushers whom they had set against Gibeah. The ambushers hurried, and rushed on Gibeah; and the ambushers drew themselves along, and struck all the city with the edge of the sword.
Now the appointed sign between the men of Israel and the ambushers was that they should make a great cloud of smoke rise up out of the city. The men of Israel turned in the battle, and Benjamin began to strike and kill of the men of Israel about thirty persons; for they said, “Surely they are struck down before us, as in the first battle.” But when the cloud began to arise up out of the city in a pillar of smoke, the Benjamites looked behind them; and behold, the whole of the city went up in smoke to the sky. The men of Israel turned, and the men of Benjamin were dismayed; for they saw that evil had come on them. Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel to the way of the wilderness; but the battle followed hard after them; and those who came out of the cities destroyed them in its midst. They surrounded the Benjamites, chased them, and trod them down at their resting place, as far as over against Gibeah toward the sunrise. There fell of Benjamin eighteen thousand men; all these were men of valor. They turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon: and they gleaned of them in the highways five thousand men, and followed hard after them to Gidom, and struck of them two thousand men. So that all who fell that day of Benjamin were twenty-five thousand men who drew the sword; all these were men of valor. But six hundred men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and stayed in the rock of Rimmon four months. The men of Israel turned again on the children of Benjamin, and struck them with the edge of the sword, both the entire city, and the livestock, and all that they found: moreover all the cities which they found they set on fire.[Top of Page]
Wives for the Benjamites
Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, “None of us shall give his daughter to a Benjaminite in marriage.” The people came to Bethel, and sat there until evening before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept severely. They said, “Yahweh, the God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel, that there should be today one tribe missing in Israel?”
It happened on the next day that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. The children of Israel said, “Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who didn’t come up in the assembly to Yahweh?” For they had made a great oath concerning him who didn’t come up to Yahweh to Mizpah, saying, “He shall surely be put to death.” The children of Israel grieved for Benjamin their brother, and said, “There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day. How shall we provide wives for those who remain, since we have sworn by Yahweh that we will not give them any of our daughters as wives?” They said, “What one is there of the tribes of Israel who didn’t come up to Yahweh to Mizpah?” Behold, there came none to the camp from Jabesh Gilead to the assembly. For when the people were numbered, behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead there.
The congregation sent there twelve thousand men of the most valiant, and commanded them, saying, “Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the little ones. This is the thing that you shall do: you shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman who has lain with a man.” They found among the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead four hundred young virgins, who had not known man by lying with him; and they brought them to the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
The whole congregation sent and spoke to the children of Benjamin who were in the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace to them. Benjamin returned at that time; and they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh Gilead: and yet they weren’t enough for them. The people grieved for Benjamin, because that Yahweh had made a breach in the tribes of Israel. Then the elders of the congregation said, “How shall we provide wives for those who remain, since the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?” They said, “There must be an inheritance for the survivers of Benjamin, that a tribe not be blotted out from Israel. However we may not give them wives of our daughters, for the children of Israel had sworn, saying, ‘Cursed is he who gives a wife to Benjamin.’”
They said, “Behold, there is a feast of Yahweh from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.” They commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards, and see, and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards, and each man catch his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. It shall be, when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, that we will say to them, ‘Grant them graciously to us, because we didn’t take for each man his wife in battle, neither did you give them to them, otherwise you would now be guilty.’”
The children of Benjamin did so, and took wives according to their number, of those who danced whom they carried off. They went and returned to their inheritance, built the cities, and lived in them. The children of Israel departed there at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance. In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.[Top of Page]
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