New Revised Standard Version
Double introduction; foreign wars of subjugation with the "herem" being
applied; stage one
1 After the death of Joshua, the Israelites inquired of the LORD, "Who shall
go up first for us against the Canaanites, to fight against them?" 2 The LORD
said, "Judah shall go up. I hereby give the land into his hand." 3 Judah said
to his brother Simeon, "Come up with me into the territory allotted to me,
that we may fight against the Canaanites; then I too will go with you into the
territory allotted to you." So Simeon went with him. 4 Then Judah went up and
the LORD gave the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they
defeated ten thousand of them at Bezek. 5 They came upon Adoni-bezek at Bezek,
and fought against him, and defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites. 6
Adoni-bezek fled; but they pursued him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs
and big toes. 7 Adoni-bezek said, "Seventy kings with their thumbs and big
toes cut off used to pick up scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has
paid me back." They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.
8 Then the people of Judah fought against Jerusalem and took it. They put it
to the sword and set the city on fire. 9 Afterward the people of Judah went
down to fight against the Canaanites who lived in the hill country, in the
Negeb, and in the lowland. 10 Judah went against the Canaanites who lived in
Hebron (the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba); and they defeated
Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai.
11 From there they went against the inhabitants of Debir (the name of Debir
was formerly Kiriath-sepher). 12 Then Caleb said, "Whoever attacks
Kiriath-sepher and takes it, I will give him my daughter Achsah as wife." 13
And Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it; and he gave him
his daughter Achsah as wife. 14 When she came to him, she urged him to ask her
father for a field. As she dismounted from her donkey, Caleb said to her,
"What do you wish?" 15 She said to him, "Give me a present; since you have set
me in the land of the Negeb, give me also Gulloth-mayim." So Caleb gave her
Upper Gulloth and Lower Gulloth.
16 The descendants of Hobab the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law, went up with the
people of Judah from the city of palms into the wilderness of Judah, which
lies in the Negeb near Arad. Then they went and settled with the Amalekites.
17 Judah went with his brother Simeon, and they defeated the Canaanites who
inhabited Zephath, and devoted it to destruction. So the city was called
Hormah. 18 Judah took Gaza with its territory, Ashkelon with its territory,
and Ekron with its territory. 19 The LORD was with Judah, and he took
possession of the hill country, but could not drive out the inhabitants of the
plain, because they had chariots of iron. 20 Hebron was given to Caleb, as
Moses had said; and he drove out from it the three sons of Anak. 21 But the
Benjaminites did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem; so the
Jebusites have lived in Jerusalem among the Benjaminites to this day.
22 The house of Joseph also went up against Bethel; and the LORD was with
them. 23 The house of Joseph sent out spies to Bethel (the name of the city
was formerly Luz). 24 When the spies saw a man coming out of the city, they
said to him, "Show us the way into the city, and we will deal kindly with
you." 25 So he showed them the way into the city; and they put the city to the
sword, but they let the man and all his family go. 26 So the man went to the
land of the Hittites and built a city, and named it Luz; that is its name to
27 Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its villages,
or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or
the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and
its villages; but the Canaanites continued to live in that land. 28 When
Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not in
fact drive them out.
29 And Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer; but the
Canaanites lived among them in Gezer.
30 Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, or the inhabitants of
Nahalol; but the Canaanites lived among them, and became subject to forced
31 Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco, or the inhabitants of
Sidon, or of Ahlab, or of Achzib, or of Helbah, or of Aphik, or of Rehob; 32
but the Asherites lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; for
they did not drive them out.
33 Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh, or the
inhabitants of Beth-anath, but lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of
the land; nevertheless the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath
became subject to forced labor for them.
34 The Amorites pressed the Danites back into the hill country; they did not
allow them to come down to the plain. 35 The Amorites continued to live in
Har-heres, in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim, but the hand of the house of Joseph
rested heavily on them, and they became subject to forced labor. 36 The border
of the Amorites ran from the ascent of Akrabbim, from Sela and upward.
The angel of the Lord indicts the Israelites who had not done as he commanded
1 Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, "I
brought you up from Egypt, and brought you into the land that I had promised
to your ancestors. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you. 2 For
your part, do not make a covenant with the inhabitants of this land; tear down
their altars.' But you have not obeyed my command. See what you have done! 3
So now I say, I will not drive them out before you; but they shall become
adversaries to you, and their gods shall be a snare to you." 4 When the angel
of the LORD spoke these words to all the Israelites, the people lifted up
their voices and wept. 5 So they named that place Bochim, and there they
sacrificed to the LORD.
Apostasy and its consequences
6 When Joshua dismissed the people, the Israelites all went to their own
inheritances to take possession of the land. 7 The people worshiped the LORD
all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua,
who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel. 8 Joshua
son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred ten years.
9 So they buried him within the bounds of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in
the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 Moreover, that whole
generation was gathered to their ancestors, and another generation grew up
after them, who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.
11 Then the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and
worshiped the Baals; 12 and they abandoned the LORD, the God of their
ancestors, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; they followed other
gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were all around them, and bowed
down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger. 13 They abandoned the LORD,
and worshiped Baal and the Astartes. 14 So the anger of the LORD was kindled
against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers who plundered them, and he
sold them into the power of their enemies all around, so that they could no
longer withstand their enemies. 15 Whenever they marched out, the hand of the
LORD was against them to bring misfortune, as the LORD had warned them and
sworn to them; and they were in great distress.
The resultant conclusion to the cyclical, downward pattern
16 Then the LORD raised up judges, who delivered them out of the power of
those who plundered them. 17 Yet they did not listen even to their judges; for
they lusted after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside
from the way in which their ancestors had walked, who had obeyed the
commandments of the LORD; they did not follow their example. 18 Whenever the
LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he delivered
them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD
would be moved to pity by their groaning because of those who persecuted and
oppressed them. 19 But whenever the judge died, they would relapse and behave
worse than their ancestors, following other gods, worshiping them and bowing
down to them. They would not drop any of their practices or their stubborn
ways. 20 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel; and he said,
"Because this people have transgressed my covenant that I commanded their
ancestors, and have not obeyed my voice, 21 I will no longer drive out before
them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died." 22 In order to test
Israel, whether or not they would take care to walk in the way of the LORD as
their ancestors did, 23 the LORD had left those nations, not driving them out
at once, and had not handed them over to Joshua.
Summary conclusion of the whole introduction
1 Now these are the nations that the LORD left to test all those in Israel who
had no experience of any war in Canaan 2 (it was only that successive
generations of Israelites might know war, to teach those who had no experience
of it before): 3 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 as far as Lebo-hamath. 4 They were for the testing of Israel, to
know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the LORD, which he
commanded their ancestors by Moses. 5 So the Israelites lived among the
Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the
Jebusites; 6 and they took their daughters as wives for themselves, and their
own daughters they gave to their sons; and they worshiped their gods.
Cycle of the judges; major judge cycle: Othniel
7 The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, forgetting the
LORD their God, and worshiping the Baals and the Asherahs. 8 Therefore the
anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand
of King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram-naharaim; and the Israelites served
Cushan-rishathaim eight years. 9 But when the Israelites cried out to the
LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the Israelites, who delivered them,
Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. 10 The spirit of the LORD came
upon him, and he judged Israel; he went out to war, and the LORD gave King
Cushan-rishathaim of Aram into his hand; and his hand prevailed over
Cushan-rishathaim. 11 So the land had rest forty years. Then Othniel son of
Major judge cycle: Ehud
12 The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the
LORD strengthened King Eglon of Moab against Israel, because they had done
what was evil in the sight of the LORD. 13 In alliance with the Ammonites and
the Amalekites, he went and defeated Israel; and they took possession of the
city of palms. 14 So the Israelites served King Eglon of Moab eighteen years.
15 But when the Israelites cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up for them
a deliverer, Ehud son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. The
Israelites sent tribute by him to King Eglon of Moab. 16 Ehud made for himself
a sword with two edges, a cubit in length; and he fastened it on his right
thigh under his clothes. 17 Then he presented the tribute to King Eglon of
Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man. 18 When Ehud had finished presenting the
tribute, he sent the people who carried the tribute on their way. 19 But he
himself turned back at the sculptured stones near Gilgal, and said, "I have a
secret message for you, O king." So the king said, "Silence!" and all his
attendants went out from his presence. 20 Ehud came to him, while he was
sitting alone in his cool roof chamber, and said, "I have a message from God
for you." So he rose from his seat. 21 Then Ehud reached with his left hand,
took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into Eglon's belly; 22 the
hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he
did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the dirt came out. 23 Then Ehud
went out into the vestibule, and closed the doors of the roof chamber on him,
and locked them.
24 After he had gone, the servants came. When they saw that the doors of the
roof chamber were locked, they thought, "He must be relieving himself in the
cool chamber." 25 So they waited until they were embarrassed. When he still
did not open the doors of the roof chamber, they took the key and opened them.
There was their lord lying dead on the floor.
26 Ehud escaped while they delayed, and passed beyond the sculptured stones,
and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he arrived, he sounded the trumpet in the hill
country of Ephraim; and the Israelites went down with him from the hill
country, having him at their head. 28 He said to them, "Follow after me; for
the LORD has given your enemies the Moabites into your hand." So they went
down after him, and seized the fords of the Jordan against the Moabites, and
allowed no one to cross over. 29 At that time they killed about ten thousand
of the Moabites, all strong, able-bodied men; no one escaped. 30 So Moab was
subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest eighty years.
Major judge cycle: Shamgar
31 After him came Shamgar son of Anath, who killed six hundred of the
Philistines with an oxgoad. He too delivered Israel.
Major judge cycle: Deborah and Barak; the prose narrative, prologue
1 The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud
died. 2 So the LORD sold them into the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, who
reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in
Harosheth-ha-goiim. 3 Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help; for
he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly
The call of Barak and the defeat of Sisera's army
4 At that time Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. 5
She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill
country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgment. 6 She sent
and summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him,
"The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you, 'Go, take position at Mount Tabor,
bringing ten thousand from the tribe of Naphtali and the tribe of Zebulun. 7 I
will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin's army, to meet you by the Wadi
Kishon with his chariots and his troops; and I will give him into your hand.'"
8 Barak said to her, "If you will go with me, I will go; but if you will not
go with me, I will not go." 9 And she said, "I will surely go with you;
nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for
the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman." Then Deborah got up and
went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh;
and ten thousand warriors went up behind him; and Deborah went up with him.
11 Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the other Kenites, that is, the
descendants of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had encamped as far away
as Elon-bezaanannim, which is near Kedesh.
12 When Sisera was told that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor,
13 Sisera called out all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all
the troops who were with him, from Harosheth-ha-goiim to the Wadi Kishon. 14
Then Deborah said to Barak, "Up! For this is the day on which the LORD has
given Sisera into your hand. The LORD is indeed going out before you." So
Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand warriors following him. 15
And the LORD threw Sisera and all his chariots and all his army into a panic
before Barak; Sisera got down from his chariot and fled away on foot, 16 while
Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-ha-goiim. All the army of
Sisera fell by the sword; no one was left.
The murder of Sisera by Jael
17 Now Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael wife of Heber the
Kenite; for there was peace between King Jabin of Hazor and the clan of Heber
the Kenite. 18 Jael came out to meet Sisera, and said to him, "Turn aside, my
lord, turn aside to me; have no fear." So he turned aside to her into the
tent, and she covered him with a rug. 19 Then he said to her, "Please give me
a little water to drink; for I am thirsty." So she opened a skin of milk and
gave him a drink and covered him. 20 He said to her, "Stand at the entrance of
the tent, and if anybody comes and asks you, 'Is anyone here?' say, 'No.'" 21
But Jael wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand, and
went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, until it went down into
the ground – he was lying fast asleep from weariness – and he died. 22 Then,
as Barak came in pursuit of Sisera, Jael went out to meet him, and said to
him, "Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking." So he went into
her tent; and there was Sisera lying dead, with the tent peg in his temple.
23 So on that day God subdued King Jabin of Canaan before the Israelites. 24
Then the hand of the Israelites bore harder and harder on King Jabin of
Canaan, until they destroyed King Jabin of Canaan.
The poem: Song of Deborah
1 Then Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying:
Initial call to praise and report of need
2 "When locks are long in Israel,
when the people offer themselves willingly –
bless the LORD!
3 "Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes;
to the LORD I will sing,
I will make melody to the LORD, the God of Israel.
4 "LORD, when you went out from Seir,
when you marched from the region of Edom,
the earth trembled,
and the heavens poured,
the clouds indeed poured water.
5 The mountains quaked before the LORD, the One of Sinai,
before the LORD, the God of Israel.
6 "In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,
in the days of Jael, caravans ceased
and travelers kept to the byways.
7 The peasantry prospered in Israel,
they grew fat on plunder,
because you arose, Deborah,
arose as a mother in Israel.
8 When new gods were chosen,
then war was in the gates.
Was shield or spear to be seen
among forty thousand in Israel?
Renewal of call to praise because of the volunteers
9 My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel
who offered themselves willingly among the people.
Bless the LORD.
10 "Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys,
you who sit on rich carpets
and you who walk by the way.
11 To the sound of musicians at the watering places,
there they repeat the triumphs of the LORD,
the triumphs of his peasantry in Israel.
"Then down to the gates marched the people of the LORD.
12 "Awake, awake, Deborah!
Awake, awake, utter a song!
Arise, Barak, lead away your captives,
O son of Abinoam.
13 Then down marched the remnant of the noble;
the people of the LORD marched down for him against the mighty.
Recognition of the tribes who did or did not participate
14 From Ephraim they set out into the valley,
following you, Benjamin, with your kin;
from Machir marched down the commanders,
and from Zebulun those who bear the marshal's staff;
15 the chiefs of Issachar came with Deborah,
and Issachar faithful to Barak;
into the valley they rushed out at his heels.
Among the clans of Reuben
there were great searchings of heart.
16 Why did you tarry among the sheepfolds,
to hear the piping for the flocks?
Among the clans of Reuben
there were great searchings of heart.
17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan;
and Dan, why did he abide with the ships?
Asher sat still at the coast of the sea,
settling down by his landings.
18 Zebulun is a people that scorned death;
Naphtali too, on the heights of the field.
The battle and the curse of Meroz
19 "The kings came, they fought;
then fought the kings of Canaan,
at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo;
they got no spoils of silver.
20 The stars fought from heaven,
from their courses they fought against Sisera.
21 The torrent Kishon swept them away,
the onrushing torrent, the torrent Kishon.
March on, my soul, with might!
22 "Then loud beat the horses' hoofs
with the galloping, galloping of his steeds.
23 "Curse Meroz, says the angel of the LORD,
curse bitterly its inhabitants,
because they did not come to the help of the LORD,
to the help of the LORD against the mighty.
Jael's deed and Sisera's mother
24 "Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
of tent-dwelling women most blessed.
25 He asked water and she gave him milk,
she brought him curds in a lordly bowl.
26 She put her hand to the tent peg
and her right hand to the workmen's mallet;
she struck Sisera a blow,
she crushed his head,
she shattered and pierced his temple.
27 He sank, he fell,
he lay still at her feet;
at her feet he sank, he fell;
where he sank, there he fell dead.
28 "Out of the window she peered,
the mother of Sisera gazed through the lattice:
'Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why tarry the hoofbeats of his chariots?'
29 Her wisest ladies make answer,
indeed, she answers the question herself:
30 'Are they not finding and dividing the spoil? –
A girl or two for every man;
spoil of dyed stuffs for Sisera,
spoil of dyed stuffs embroidered,
two pieces of dyed work embroidered for my neck as spoil?'
31 "So perish all your enemies, O LORD!
But may your friends be like the sun as it rises in its might."
And the land had rest forty years.
Major judge cycle: Gideon and Abimelech; the setting before Gideon's call
1 The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave
them into the hand of Midian seven years. 2 The hand of Midian prevailed over
Israel; and because of Midian the Israelites provided for themselves hiding
places in the mountains, caves and strongholds. 3 For whenever the Israelites
put in seed, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the east
would come up against them. 4 They would encamp against them and destroy the
produce of the land, as far as the neighborhood of Gaza, and leave no
sustenance in Israel, and no sheep or ox or donkey. 5 For they and their
livestock would come up, and they would even bring their tents, as thick as
locusts; neither they nor their camels could be counted; so they wasted the
land as they came in. 6 Thus Israel was greatly impoverished because of Midian;
and the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help.
7 When the Israelites cried to the LORD on account of the Midianites, 8 the
LORD sent a prophet to the Israelites; and he said to them, "Thus says the
LORD, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt, and brought you out of the
house of slavery; 9 and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians, and
from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you, and
gave you their land; 10 and I said to you, 'I am the LORD your God; you shall
not pay reverence to the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.' But
you have not given heed to my voice."
The call of Gideon
11 Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak at Ophrah, which
belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in
the wine press, to hide it from the Midianites. 12 The angel of the LORD
appeared to him and said to him, "The LORD is with you, you mighty warrior."
13 Gideon answered him, "But sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all
this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our ancestors
recounted to us, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now
the LORD has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Midian." 14 Then the
LORD turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel
from the hand of Midian; I hereby commission you." 15 He responded, "But sir,
how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the
least in my family." 16 The LORD said to him, "But I will be with you, and you
shall strike down the Midianites, every one of them." 17 Then he said to him,
"If now I have found favor with you, then show me a sign that it is you who
speak with me. 18 Do not depart from here until I come to you, and bring out
my present, and set it before you." And he said, "I will stay until you
19 So Gideon went into his house and prepared a kid, and unleavened cakes from
an ephah of flour; the meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot,
and brought them to him under the oak and presented them. 20 The angel of God
said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this
rock, and pour out the broth." And he did so. 21 Then the angel of the LORD
reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the meat
and the unleavened cakes; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the
meat and the unleavened cakes; and the angel of the LORD vanished from his
sight. 22 Then Gideon perceived that it was the angel of the LORD; and Gideon
said, "Help me, Lord GOD! For I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face."
23 But the LORD said to him, "Peace be to you; do not fear, you shall not
die." 24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it, The LORD
is peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the
25 That night the LORD said to him, "Take your father's bull, the second bull
seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that belongs to your father,
and cut down the sacred pole that is beside it; 26 and build an altar to the
LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, in proper order; then take
the second bull, and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the sacred
pole that you shall cut down." 27 So Gideon took ten of his servants, and did
as the LORD had told him; but because he was too afraid of his family and the
townspeople to do it by day, he did it by night.
28 When the townspeople rose early in the morning, the altar of Baal was
broken down, and the sacred pole beside it was cut down, and the second bull
was offered on the altar that had been built. 29 So they said to one another,
"Who has done this?" After searching and inquiring, they were told, "Gideon
son of Joash did it." 30 Then the townspeople said to Joash, "Bring out your
son, so that he may die, for he has pulled down the altar of Baal and cut down
the sacred pole beside it." 31 But Joash said to all who were arrayed against
him, "Will you contend for Baal? Or will you defend his cause? Whoever
contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him
contend for himself, because his altar has been pulled down." 32 Therefore on
that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, "Let Baal contend
against him," because he pulled down his altar.
Gideon's struggle with belief in God's promise
33 Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the east came
together, and crossing the Jordan they encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34
But the spirit of the LORD took possession of Gideon; and he sounded the
trumpet, and the Abiezrites were called out to follow him. 35 He sent
messengers throughout all Manasseh, and they too were called out to follow
him. He also sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they went up
to meet them.
36 Then Gideon said to God, "In order to see whether you will deliver Israel
by my hand, as you have said, 37 I am going to lay a fleece of wool on the
threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the
ground, then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have
said." 38 And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the
fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. 39 Then
Gideon said to God, "Do not let your anger burn against me, let me speak one
more time; let me, please, make trial with the fleece just once more; let it
be dry only on the fleece, and on all the ground let there be dew." 40 And God
did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there
1 Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the troops that were with him rose
early and encamped beside the spring of Harod; and the camp of Midian was
north of them, below the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
2 The LORD said to Gideon, "The troops with you are too many for me to give
the Midianites into their hand. Israel would only take the credit away from
me, saying, 'My own hand has delivered me.' 3 Now therefore proclaim this in
the hearing of the troops, 'Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return
home.'" Thus Gideon sifted them out; twenty-two thousand returned, and ten
4 Then the LORD said to Gideon, "The troops are still too many; take them down
to the water and I will sift them out for you there. When I say, 'This one
shall go with you,' he shall go with you; and when I say, 'This one shall not
go with you,' he shall not go." 5 So he brought the troops down to the water;
and the LORD said to Gideon, "All those who lap the water with their tongues,
as a dog laps, you shall put to one side; all those who kneel down to drink,
putting their hands to their mouths, you shall put to the other side." 6 The
number of those that lapped was three hundred; but all the rest of the troops
knelt down to drink water. 7 Then the LORD said to Gideon, "With the three
hundred that lapped I will deliver you, and give the Midianites into your
hand. Let all the others go to their homes." 8 So he took the jars of the
troops from their hands, and their trumpets; and he sent all the rest of
Israel back to their own tents, but retained the three hundred. The camp of
Midian was below him in the valley.
9 That same night the LORD said to him, "Get up, attack the camp; for I have
given it into your hand. 10 But if you fear to attack, go down to the camp
with your servant Purah; 11 and you shall hear what they say, and afterward
your hands shall be strengthened to attack the camp." Then he went down with
his servant Purah to the outposts of the armed men that were in the camp. 12
The Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the east lay along the
valley as thick as locusts; and their camels were without number, countless as
the sand on the seashore. 13 When Gideon arrived, there was a man telling a
dream to his comrade; and he said, "I had a dream, and in it a cake of barley
bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, and came to the tent, and struck it so
that it fell; it turned upside down, and the tent collapsed." 14 And his
comrade answered, "This is no other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, a
man of Israel; into his hand God has given Midian and all the army."
15 When Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he
worshiped; and he returned to the camp of Israel, and said, "Get up; for the
LORD has given the army of Midian into your hand." 16 After he divided the
three hundred men into three companies, and put trumpets into the hands of all
of them, and empty jars, with torches inside the jars, 17 he said to them,
"Look at me, and do the same; when I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as
I do. 18 When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then you also
blow the trumpets around the whole camp, and shout, 'For the LORD and for
God's deliverance from the Midianites
19 So Gideon and the hundred who were with him came to the outskirts of the
camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch;
and they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. 20
So the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars, holding in their
left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow; and
they cried, "A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!" 21 Every man stood in his
place all around the camp, and all the men in camp ran; they cried out and
fled. 22 When they blew the three hundred trumpets, the LORD 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.
23 And the men of Israel were called out from Naphtali and from Asher and from
all Manasseh, and they pursued after the Midianites.
24 Then Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim,
saying, "Come down against the Midianites and seize the waters against them,
as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan." So all the men of Ephraim were
called out, and they seized the waters as far as Beth-barah, and also the
Jordan. 25 They captured the two captains of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb; they
killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the wine press of
Zeeb, as they pursued the Midianites. They brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb
to Gideon beyond the Jordan.
1 Then the Ephraimites said to him, "What have you done to us, not to call us
when you went to fight against the Midianites?" And they upbraided him
violently. 2 So he said to them, "What have I done now in comparison with you?
Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of
Abiezer? 3 God has given into your hands the captains of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb;
what have I been able to do in comparison with you?" When he said this, their
anger against him subsided.
4 Then Gideon came to the Jordan and crossed over, he and the three hundred
who were with him, exhausted and famished. 5 So he said to the people of
Succoth, "Please give some loaves of bread to my followers, for they are
exhausted, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian." 6 But
the officials of Succoth said, "Do you already have in your possession the
hands of Zebah and Zalmunna, that we should give bread to your army?" 7 Gideon
replied, "Well then, when the LORD has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand,
I will trample your flesh on the thorns of the wilderness and on briers." 8
From there he went up to Penuel, and made the same request of them; and the
people of Penuel answered him as the people of Succoth had answered. 9 So he
said to the people of Penuel, "When I come back victorious, I will break down
10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their army, about fifteen
thousand men, all who were left of all the army of the people of the east; for
one hundred twenty thousand men bearing arms had fallen. 11 So Gideon went up
by the caravan route east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and attacked the army; for
the army was off its guard. 12 Zebah and Zalmunna fled; and he pursued them
and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and threw all the army
into a panic.
13 When Gideon son of Joash returned from the battle by the ascent of Heres,
14 he caught a young man, one of the people of Succoth, and questioned him;
and he listed for him the officials and elders of Succoth, seventy-seven
people. 15 Then he came to the people of Succoth, and said, "Here are Zebah
and Zalmunna, about whom you taunted me, saying, 'Do you already have in your
possession the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna, that we should give bread to your
troops who are exhausted?'" 16 So he took the elders of the city and he took
thorns of the wilderness and briers and with them he trampled the people of
Succoth. 17 He also broke down the tower of Penuel, and killed the men of the
18 Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, "What about the men whom you killed at
Tabor?" They answered, "As you are, so were they, every one of them; they
resembled the sons of a king." 19 And he replied, "They were my brothers, the
sons of my mother; as the LORD lives, if you had saved them alive, I would not
kill you." 20 So he said to Jether his firstborn, "Go kill them!" But the boy
did not draw his sword, for he was afraid, because he was still a boy. 21 Then
Zebah and Zalmunna said, "You come and kill us; for as the man is, so is his
strength." So Gideon proceeded to kill Zebah and Zalmunna; and he took the
crescents that were on the necks of their camels.
Conclusion of Gideon's life after the victory
22 Then the Israelites said to Gideon, "Rule over us, you and your son and
your grandson also; for you have delivered us out of the hand of Midian." 23
Gideon said to them, "I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over
you; the LORD will rule over you." 24 Then Gideon said to them, "Let me make a
request of you; each of you give me an earring he has taken as booty." (For
the enemy had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25 "We will
willingly give them," they answered. So they spread a garment, and each threw
into it an earring he had taken as booty. 26 The weight of the golden earrings
that he requested was one thousand seven hundred shekels of gold (apart from
the crescents and the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of
Midian, and the collars that were on the necks of their camels). 27 Gideon
made an ephod of it and put it in his town, in Ophrah; and all Israel
prostituted themselves to it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his
family. 28 So Midian was subdued before the Israelites, and they lifted up
their heads no more. So the land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon.
29 Jerubbaal son of Joash went to live in his own house. 30 Now Gideon had
seventy sons, his own offspring, for he had many wives. 31 His concubine who
was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. 32 Then Gideon
son of Joash died at a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of his father
Joash at Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
The prologue to the story
33 As soon as Gideon died, the Israelites relapsed and prostituted themselves
with the Baals, making Baal-berith their god. 34 The Israelites did not
remember the LORD their God, who had rescued them from the hand of all their
enemies on every side; 35 and they did not exhibit loyalty to the house of
Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in return for all the good that he had done to
1 Now Abimelech son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother's kinsfolk and
said to them and to the whole clan of his mother's family, 2 "Say in the
hearing of all the lords of Shechem, 'Which is better for you, that all
seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal rule over you, or that one rule over you?'
Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh." 3 So his mother's kinsfolk
spoke all these words on his behalf in the hearing of all the lords of Shechem;
and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, "He is our
brother." 4 They gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the temple of Baal-berith
with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, who followed him. 5
He went to his father's house at Ophrah, and killed his brothers the sons of
Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone; but Jotham, the youngest son of
Jerubbaal, survived, for he hid himself. 6 Then all the lords of Shechem and
all Beth-millo came together, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the
oak of the pillar at Shechem.
7 When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim,
and cried aloud and said to them, "Listen to me, you lords of Shechem, so that
God may listen to you.
8 The trees once went out
to anoint a king over themselves.
So they said to the olive tree,
'Reign over us.'
9 The olive tree answered them,
'Shall I stop producing my rich oil
by which gods and mortals are honored,
and go to sway over the trees?'
10 Then the trees said to the fig tree,
'You come and reign over us.'
11 But the fig tree answered them,
'Shall I stop producing my sweetness
and my delicious fruit,
and go to sway over the trees?'
12 Then the trees said to the vine,
'You come and reign over us.'
13 But the vine said to them,
'Shall I stop producing my wine
that cheers gods and mortals,
and go to sway over the trees?'
14 So all the trees said to the bramble,
'You come and reign over us.'
15 And the bramble said to the trees,
'If in good faith you are anointing me king over you,
then come and take refuge in my shade;
but if not, let fire come out of the bramble
and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'
16 "Now therefore, if you acted in good faith and honor when you made
Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and
have done to him as his actions deserved – 17 for my father fought for you,
and risked his life, and rescued you from the hand of Midian; 18 but you have
risen up against my father's house this day, and have killed his sons, seventy
men on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his slave woman, king
over the lords of Shechem, because he is your kinsman – 19 if, I say, you have
acted in good faith and honor with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then
rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you; 20 but if not, let fire
come out from Abimelech, and devour the lords of Shechem, and Beth-millo; and
let fire come out from the lords of Shechem, and from Beth-millo, and devour
Abimelech." 21 Then Jotham ran away and fled, going to Beer, where he remained
for fear of his brother Abimelech.
22 Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. 23 But God sent an evil spirit
between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem; and the lords of Shechem dealt
treacherously with Abimelech. 24 This happened so that the violence done to
the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might be avenged and their blood be laid on
their brother Abimelech, who killed them, and on the lords of Shechem, who
strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. 25 So, out of hostility to him,
the lords of Shechem set ambushes on the mountain tops. They robbed all who
passed by them along that way; and it was reported to Abimelech.
26 When Gaal son of Ebed moved into Shechem with his kinsfolk, the lords of
Shechem put confidence in him. 27 They went out into the field and gathered
the grapes from their vineyards, trod them, and celebrated. Then they went
into the temple of their god, ate and drank, and ridiculed Abimelech. 28 Gaal
son of Ebed said, "Who is Abimelech, and who are we of Shechem, that we should
serve him? Did not the son of Jerubbaal and Zebul his officer serve the men of
Hamor father of Shechem? Why then should we serve him? 29 If only this people
were under my command! Then I would remove Abimelech; I would say to him,
'Increase your army, and come out.'"
30 When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal son of Ebed, his
anger was kindled. 31 He sent messengers to Abimelech at Arumah, saying,
"Look, Gaal son of Ebed and his kinsfolk have come to Shechem, and they are
stirring up the city against you. 32 Now therefore, go by night, you and the
troops that are with you, and lie in wait in the fields. 33 Then early in the
morning, as soon as the sun rises, get up and rush on the city; and when he
and the troops that are with him come out against you, you may deal with them
as best you can."
34 So Abimelech and all the troops with him got up by night and lay in wait
against Shechem in four companies. 35 When Gaal son of Ebed went out and stood
in the entrance of the gate of the city, Abimelech and the troops with him
rose from the ambush. 36 And when Gaal saw them, he said to Zebul, "Look,
people are coming down from the mountain tops!" And Zebul said to him, "The
shadows on the mountains look like people to you." 37 Gaal spoke again and
said, "Look, people are coming down from Tabbur-erez, and one company is
coming from the direction of Elon-meonenim." 38 Then Zebul said to him, "Where
is your boast now, you who said, 'Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?'
Are not these the troops you made light of? Go out now and fight with them."
39 So Gaal went out at the head of the lords of Shechem, and fought with
Abimelech. 40 Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him. Many fell wounded,
up to the entrance of the gate. 41 So Abimelech resided at Arumah; and Zebul
drove out Gaal and his kinsfolk, so that they could not live on at Shechem.
42 On the following day the people went out into the fields. When Abimelech
was told, 43 he took his troops and divided them into three companies, and lay
in wait in the fields. When he looked and saw the people coming out of the
city, he rose against them and killed them. 44 Abimelech and the company that
was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the gate of the city,
while the two companies rushed on all who were in the fields and killed them.
45 Abimelech fought against the city all that day; he took the city, and
killed the people that were in it; and he razed the city and sowed it with
46 When all the lords of the Tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered the
stronghold of the temple of El-berith. 47 Abimelech was told that all the
lords of the Tower of Shechem were gathered together. 48 So Abimelech went up
to Mount Zalmon, he and all the troops that were with him. Abimelech took an
ax in his hand, cut down a bundle of brushwood, and took it up and laid it on
his shoulder. Then he said to the troops with him, "What you have seen me do,
do quickly, as I have done." 49 So every one of the troops cut down a bundle
and following Abimelech put it against the stronghold, and they set the
stronghold on fire over them, so that all the people of the Tower of Shechem
also died, about a thousand men and women.
50 Then Abimelech went to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it. 51
But there was a strong tower within the city, and all the men and women and
all the lords of the city fled to it and shut themselves in; and they went to
the roof of the tower. 52 Abimelech came to the tower, and fought against it,
and came near to the entrance of the tower to burn it with fire. 53 But a
certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech's head, and crushed his
skull. 54 Immediately he called to the young man who carried his armor and
said to him, "Draw your sword and kill me, so people will not say about me, 'A
woman killed him.'" So the young man thrust him through, and he died. 55 When
the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they all went home. 56 Thus God
repaid Abimelech for the crime he committed against his father in killing his
seventy brothers; 57 and God also made all the wickedness of the people of
Shechem fall back on their heads, and on them came the curse of Jotham son of
Minor judge: Tola
1 After Abimelech, Tola son of Puah son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, who lived
at Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim, rose to deliver Israel. 2 He judged
Israel twenty-three years. Then he died, and was buried at Shamir.
Minor judge: Jair
3 After him came Jair the Gileadite, who judged Israel twenty-two years. 4 He
had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys; and they had thirty towns, which
are in the land of Gilead, and are called Havvoth-jair to this day. 5 Jair
died, and was buried in Kamon.
Major judge cycle: Jephthah; the Deuteronomistic introduction
6 The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, worshiping
the Baals and the Astartes, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of
Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. Thus they
abandoned the LORD, and did not worship him. 7 So the anger of the LORD was
kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and
into the hand of the Ammonites, 8 and they crushed and oppressed the
Israelites that year. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites
that were beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. 9
The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah and against
Benjamin and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was greatly
10 So the Israelites cried to the LORD, saying, "We have sinned against you,
because we have abandoned our God and have worshiped the Baals." 11 And the
LORD said to the Israelites, "Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and
from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? 12 The
Sidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, oppressed you; and you
cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. 13 Yet you have abandoned
me and worshiped other gods; therefore I will deliver you no more. 14 Go and
cry to the gods whom you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your
distress." 15 And the Israelites said to the LORD, "We have sinned; do to us
whatever seems good to you; but deliver us this day!" 16 So they put away the
foreign gods from among them and worshiped the LORD; and he could no longer
bear to see Israel suffer.
The elders' choice of Jephthah
17 Then the Ammonites were called to arms, and they encamped in Gilead; and
the Israelites came together, and they encamped at Mizpah. 18 The commanders
of the people of Gilead said to one another, "Who will begin the fight against
the Ammonites? He shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead."
1 Now Jephthah the Gileadite, the son of a prostitute, was a mighty warrior.
Gilead was the father of Jephthah. 2 Gilead's wife also bore him sons; and
when his wife's sons grew up, they drove Jephthah away, saying to him, "You
shall not inherit anything in our father's house; for you are the son of
another woman." 3 Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land
of Tob. Outlaws collected around Jephthah and went raiding with him.
4 After a time the Ammonites made war against Israel. 5 And when the Ammonites
made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to bring Jephthah from the
land of Tob. 6 They said to Jephthah, "Come and be our commander, so that we
may fight with the Ammonites." 7 But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead,
"Are you not the very ones who rejected me and drove me out of my father's
house? So why do you come to me now when you are in trouble?" 8 The elders of
Gilead said to Jephthah, "Nevertheless, we have now turned back to you, so
that you may go with us and fight with the Ammonites, and become head over us,
over all the inhabitants of Gilead." 9 Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead,
"If you bring me home again to fight with the Ammonites, and the LORD gives
them over to me, I will be your head." 10 And the elders of Gilead said to
Jephthah, "The LORD will be witness between us; we will surely do as you say."
11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head
and commander over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the LORD at
Jephthah attempts diplomacy with the Ammonite king
12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites and said, "What
is there between you and me, that you have come to me to fight against my
land?" 13 The king of the Ammonites answered the messengers of Jephthah,
"Because Israel, on coming from Egypt, took away my land from the Arnon to the
Jabbok and to the Jordan; now therefore restore it peaceably." 14 Once again
Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites 15 and said to him:
"Thus says Jephthah: Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of
the Ammonites, 16 but when they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the
wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. 17 Israel then sent messengers
to the king of Edom, saying, 'Let us pass through your land'; but the king of
Edom would not listen. They also sent to the king of Moab, but he would not
consent. So Israel remained at Kadesh. 18 Then they journeyed through the
wilderness, went around the land of Edom and the land of Moab, arrived on the
east side of the land of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon. They
did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the boundary of Moab.
19 Israel then sent messengers to King Sihon of the Amorites, king of Heshbon;
and Israel said to him, 'Let us pass through your land to our country.' 20 But
Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory; so Sihon gathered
all his people together, and encamped at Jahaz, and fought with Israel. 21
Then the LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand
of Israel, and they defeated them; so Israel occupied all the land of the
Amorites, who inhabited that country. 22 They occupied all the territory of
the Amorites from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the
Jordan. 23 So now the LORD, the God of Israel, has conquered the Amorites for
the benefit of his people Israel. Do you intend to take their place? 24 Should
you not possess what your god Chemosh gives you to possess? And should we not
be the ones to possess everything that the LORD our God has conquered for our
benefit? 25 Now are you any better than King Balak son of Zippor of Moab? Did
he ever enter into conflict with Israel, or did he ever go to war with them?
26 While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its
villages, and in all the towns that are along the Arnon, three hundred years,
why did you not recover them within that time? 27 It is not I who have sinned
against you, but you are the one who does me wrong by making war on me. Let
the LORD, who is judge, decide today for the Israelites or for the Ammonites."
28 But the king of the Ammonites did not heed the message that Jephthah sent
29 Then the spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed through
Gilead and Manasseh. He passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of
Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD,
and said, "If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whoever comes
out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the
Ammonites, shall be the LORD's, to be offered up by me as a burnt offering."
32 So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them; and the
LORD gave them into his hand. 33 He inflicted a massive defeat on them from
Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty towns, and as far as Abel-keramim.
So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel.
34 Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and there was his daughter coming
out to meet him with timbrels and with dancing. She was his only child; he had
no son or daughter except her. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes, and
said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low; you have become the
cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the LORD, and I
cannot take back my vow." 36 She said to him, "My father, if you have opened
your mouth to the LORD, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth,
now that the LORD has given you vengeance against your enemies, the
Ammonites." 37 And she said to her father, "Let this thing be done for me:
Grant me two months, so that I may go and wander on the mountains, and bewail
my virginity, my companions and I." 38 "Go," he said and sent her away for two
months. So she departed, she and her companions, and bewailed her virginity on
the mountains. 39 At the end of two months, she returned to her father, who
did with her according to the vow he had made. She had never slept with a man.
So there arose an Israelite custom that 40 for four days every year the
daughters of Israel would go out to lament the daughter of Jephthah the
Objections of the Ephraimites
1 The men of Ephraim were called to arms, and they crossed to Zaphon and said
to Jephthah, "Why did you cross over to fight against the Ammonites, and did
not call us to go with you? We will burn your house down over you!" 2 Jephthah
said to them, "My people and I were engaged in conflict with the Ammonites who
oppressed us severely. But when I called you, you did not deliver me from
their hand. 3 When I saw that you would not deliver me, I took my life in my
hand, and crossed over against the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into my
hand. Why then have you come up to me this day, to fight against me?" 4 Then
Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought with Ephraim; and the men
of Gilead defeated Ephraim, because they said, "You are fugitives from
Ephraim, you Gileadites – in the heart of Ephraim and Manasseh." 5 Then the
Gileadites took the fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites. Whenever one
of the fugitives of Ephraim said, "Let me go over," the men of Gilead would
say to him, "Are you an Ephraimite?" When he said, "No," 6 they said to him,
"Then say Shibboleth," and he said, "Sibboleth," for he could not pronounce it
right. Then they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan.
Forty-two thousand of the Ephraimites fell at that time.
7 Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died, and was
buried in his town in Gilead.
Minor judge: Ibzan
8 After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. 9 He had thirty sons. He gave
his thirty daughters in marriage outside his clan and brought in thirty young
women from outside for his sons. He judged Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan
died, and was buried at Bethlehem.
Minor judge: Elon
11 After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten
years. 12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died, and was buried at Aijalon in the land
Minor judge: Abdon
13 After him Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. 14 He had
forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys; he judged Israel
eight years. 15 Then Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried
at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.
Major judge cycle: Samson; Samson's birth
1 The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the
LORD gave them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.
2 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name
was Manoah. His wife was barren, having borne no children. 3 And the angel of
the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, "Although you are barren,
having borne no children, you shall conceive and bear a son. 4 Now be careful
not to drink wine or strong drink, or to eat anything unclean, 5 for you shall
conceive and bear a son. No razor is to come on his head, for the boy shall be
a nazirite to God from birth. It is he who shall begin to deliver Israel from
the hand of the Philistines." 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, "A
man of God came to me, and his appearance was like that of an angel of God,
most awe-inspiring; I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not tell
me his name; 7 but he said to me, 'You shall conceive and bear a son. So then
drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the boy shall be a
nazirite to God from birth to the day of his death.'"
8 Then Manoah entreated the LORD, and said, "O LORD, I pray, let the man of
God whom you sent come to us again and teach us what we are to do concerning
the boy who will be born." 9 God listened to Manoah, and the angel of God came
again to the woman as she sat in the field; but her husband Manoah was not
with her. 10 So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, "The man who came
to me the other day has appeared to me." 11 Manoah got up and followed his
wife, and came to the man and said to him, "Are you the man who spoke to this
woman?" And he said, "I am." 12 Then Manoah said, "Now when your words come
true, what is to be the boy's rule of life; what is he to do?" 13 The angel of
the LORD said to Manoah, "Let the woman give heed to all that I said to her.
14 She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine. She is not to drink
wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. She is to observe everything
that I commanded her."
15 Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, "Allow us to detain you, and prepare
a kid for you." 16 The angel of the LORD said to Manoah, "If you detain me, I
will not eat your food; but if you want to prepare a burnt offering, then
offer it to the LORD." (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the
LORD.) 17 Then Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, "What is your name, so
that we may honor you when your words come true?" 18 But the angel of the LORD
said to him, "Why do you ask my name? It is too wonderful."
19 So Manoah took the kid with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock
to the LORD, to him who works wonders. 20 When the flame went up toward heaven
from the altar, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar while
Manoah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground. 21
The angel of the LORD did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. Then Manoah
realized that it was the angel of the LORD. 22 And Manoah said to his wife,
"We shall surely die, for we have seen God." 23 But his wife said to him, "If
the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and
a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced
to us such things as these."
24 The woman bore a son, and named him Samson. The boy grew, and the LORD
blessed him. 25 The spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan,
between Zorah and Eshtaol.
1 Once Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw a Philistine woman. 2
Then he came up, and told his father and mother, "I saw a Philistine woman at
Timnah; now get her for me as my wife." 3 But his father and mother said to
him, "Is there not a woman among your kin, or among all our people, that you
must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?" But Samson said to
his father, "Get her for me, because she pleases me." 4 His father and mother
did not know that this was from the LORD; for he was seeking a pretext to act
against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines had dominion over
5 Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah. When he came to
the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion roared at him. 6 The spirit of
the LORD rushed on him, and he tore the lion apart barehanded as one might
tear apart a kid. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had
done. 7 Then he went down and talked with the woman, and she pleased Samson. 8
After a while he returned to marry her, and he turned aside to see the carcass
of the lion, and there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey.
9 He scraped it out into his hands, and went on, eating as he went. When he
came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they ate it. But he
did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the carcass of the lion.
10 His father went down to the woman, and Samson made a feast there as the
young men were accustomed to do. 11 When the people saw him, they brought
thirty companions to be with him. 12 Samson said to them, "Let me now put a
riddle to you. If you can explain it to me within the seven days of the feast,
and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty festal
garments. 13 But if you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty
linen garments and thirty festal garments." So they said to him, "Ask your
riddle; let us hear it." 14 He said to them,
"Out of the eater came something to eat.
Out of the strong came something sweet."
But for three days they could not explain the riddle.
15 On the fourth day they said to Samson's wife, "Coax your husband to explain
the riddle to us, or we will burn you and your father's house with fire. Have
you invited us here to impoverish us?" 16 So Samson's wife wept before him,
saying, "You hate me; you do not really love me. You have asked a riddle of my
people, but you have not explained it to me." He said to her, "Look, I have
not told my father or my mother. Why should I tell you?" 17 She wept before
him the seven days that their feast lasted; and because she nagged him, on the
seventh day he told her. Then she explained the riddle to her people. 18 The
men of the town said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down,
"What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?"
And he said to them,
"If you had not plowed with my heifer,
you would not have found out my riddle."
19 Then the spirit of the LORD rushed on him, and he went down to Ashkelon. He
killed thirty men of the town, took their spoil, and gave the festal garments
to those who had explained the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his
father's house. 20 And Samson's wife was given to his companion, who had been
his best man.
1 After a while, at the time of the wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his
wife, bringing along a kid. He said, "I want to go into my wife's room." But
her father would not allow him to go in. 2 Her father said, "I was sure that
you had rejected her; so I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger
sister prettier than she? Why not take her instead?" 3 Samson said to them,
"This time, when I do mischief to the Philistines, I will be without blame." 4
So Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took some torches; and he
turned the foxes tail to tail, and put a torch between each pair of tails. 5
When he had set fire to the torches, he let the foxes go into the standing
grain of the Philistines, and burned up the shocks and the standing grain, as
well as the vineyards and olive groves. 6 Then the Philistines asked, "Who has
done this?" And they said, "Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he
has taken Samson's wife and given her to his companion." So the Philistines
came up, and burned her and her father. 7 Samson said to them, "If this is
what you do, I swear I will not stop until I have taken revenge on you." 8 He
struck them down hip and thigh with great slaughter; and he went down and
stayed in the cleft of the rock of Etam.
9 Then the Philistines came up and encamped in Judah, and made a raid on Lehi.
10 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 did to us." 11 Then three
thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and they
said to Samson, "Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What
then have you done to us?" He replied, "As they did to me, so I have done to
them." 12 They said to him, "We have come down to bind you, so that we may
give you into the hands of the Philistines." Samson answered them, "Swear to
me that you yourselves will not attack me." 13 They said to him, "No, we will
only bind you and give you into their hands; we will not kill you." So they
bound him with two new ropes, and brought him up from the rock.
14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting to meet him; and the
spirit of the LORD rushed on him, and the ropes that were on his arms became
like flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands. 15 Then he
found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached down and took it, and with it he
killed a thousand men. 16 And Samson said,
"With the jawbone of a donkey,
heaps upon heaps,
with the jawbone of a donkey
I have slain a thousand men."
17 When he had finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and that place
was called Ramath-lehi.
18 By then he was very thirsty, and he called on the LORD, saying, "You have
granted this great victory by the hand of your servant. Am I now to die of
thirst, and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?" 19 So God split open
the hollow place that is at Lehi, and water came from it. When he drank, his
spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore it was named En-hakkore, which is
at Lehi to this day. 20 And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines
1 Once Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute and went in to her. 2
The Gazites were told, "Samson has come here." So they circled around and lay
in wait for him all night at the city gate. They kept quiet all night,
thinking, "Let us wait until the light of the morning; then we will kill him."
3 But Samson lay only until midnight. Then at midnight he rose up, took hold
of the doors of the city gate and the two posts, pulled them up, bar and all,
put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that is in
front of Hebron.
4 After this he fell in love with a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name
was Delilah. 5 The lords of the Philistines came to her and said to her, "Coax
him, and find out what makes his strength so great, and how we may overpower
him, so that we may bind him in order to subdue him; and we will each give you
eleven hundred pieces of silver." 6 So Delilah said to Samson, "Please tell me
what makes your strength so great, and how you could be bound, so that one
could subdue you." 7 Samson said to her, "If they bind me with seven fresh
bowstrings that are not dried out, then I shall become weak, and be like
anyone else." 8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought her seven fresh
bowstrings that had not dried out, and she bound him with them. 9 While men
were lying in wait in an inner chamber, she said to him, "The Philistines are
upon you, Samson!" But he snapped the bowstrings, as a strand of fiber snaps
when it touches the fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, "You have mocked me and told me lies; please
tell me how you could be bound." 11 He said to her, "If they bind me with new
ropes that have not been used, then I shall become weak, and be like anyone
else." 12 So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him,
"The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" (The men lying in wait were in an
inner chamber.) But he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread.
13 Then Delilah said to Samson, "Until now you have mocked me and told me
lies; tell me how you could be bound." He said to her, "If you weave the seven
locks of my head with the web and make it tight with the pin, then I shall
become weak, and be like anyone else." 14 So while he slept, Delilah took the
seven locks of his head and wove them into the web, and made them tight with
the pin. Then she said to him, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" But he
awoke from his sleep, and pulled away the pin, the loom, and the web.
15 Then she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when your heart is
not with me? You have mocked me three times now and have not told me what
makes your strength so great." 16 Finally, after she had nagged him with her
words day after day, and pestered him, he was tired to death. 17 So he told
her his whole secret, and said to her, "A razor has never come upon my head;
for I have been a nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If my head were
shaved, then my strength would leave me; I would become weak, and be like
18 When Delilah realized that he had told her his whole secret, she sent and
called the lords of the Philistines, saying, "This time come up, for he has
told his whole secret to me." Then the lords of the Philistines came up to
her, and brought the money in their hands. 19 She let him fall asleep on her
lap; and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head.
He began to weaken, and his strength left him. 20 Then she said, "The
Philistines are upon you, Samson!" When he awoke from his sleep, he thought,
"I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free." But he did not know
that the LORD had left him. 21 So the Philistines seized him and gouged out
his eyes. They brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles;
and he ground at the mill in the prison. 22 But the hair of his head began to
grow again after it had been shaved.
23 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to
their god Dagon, and to rejoice; for they said, "Our god has given Samson our
enemy into our hand." 24 When the people saw him, they praised their god; for
they said, "Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our
country, who has killed many of us." 25 And when their hearts were merry, they
said, "Call Samson, and let him entertain us." So they called Samson out of
the prison, and he performed for them. They made him stand between the
pillars; 26 and Samson said to the attendant who held him by the hand, "Let me
feel the pillars on which the house rests, so that I may lean against them."
27 Now the house was full of men and women; all the lords of the Philistines
were there, and on the roof there were about three thousand men and women, who
looked on while Samson performed.
28 Then Samson called to the LORD and said, "Lord GOD, remember me and
strengthen me only this once, O God, so that with this one act of revenge I
may pay back the Philistines for my two eyes." 29 And Samson grasped the two
middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against
them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. 30 Then Samson
said, "Let me die with the Philistines." He strained with all his might; and
the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he
killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life. 31
Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up
and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He
had judged Israel twenty years.
Double conclusion; difficulties with domestic idols; the shrine of Micah
1 There was a man in the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah. 2 He
said to his mother, "The eleven hundred pieces of silver that were taken from
you, about which you uttered a curse, and even spoke it in my hearing, – that
silver is in my possession; I took it; but now I will return it to you." And
his mother said, "May my son be blessed by the LORD!" 3 Then he returned the
eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother; and his mother said, "I
consecrate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son, to make an idol of
cast metal." 4 So when he returned the money to his mother, his mother took
two hundred pieces of silver, and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into
an idol of cast metal; and it was in the house of Micah. 5 This man Micah had
a shrine, and he made an ephod and teraphim, and installed one of his sons,
who became his priest. 6 In those days there was no king in Israel; all the
people did what was right in their own eyes.
7 Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the clan of Judah. He
was a Levite residing there. 8 This man left the town of Bethlehem in Judah,
to live wherever he could find a place. He came to the house of Micah in the
hill country of Ephraim to carry on his work. 9 Micah said to him, "From where
do you come?" He replied, "I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going
to live wherever I can find a place." 10 Then Micah said to him, "Stay with
me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of
silver a year, a set of clothes, and your living." 11 The Levite agreed to
stay with the man; and the young man became to him like one of his sons. 12 So
Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in
the house of Micah. 13 Then Micah said, "Now I know that the LORD will prosper
me, because the Levite has become my priest."
The migration of the tribe of Dan
1 In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days the tribe of
the Danites was seeking for itself a territory to live in; for until then no
territory among the tribes of Israel had been allotted to them. 2 So the
Danites sent five valiant men from the whole number of their clan, from Zorah
and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to explore it; and they said to
them, "Go, explore the land." When they came to the hill country of Ephraim,
to the house of Micah, they stayed there. 3 While they were at Micah's house,
they recognized the voice of the young Levite; so they went over and asked
him, "Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your
business here?" 4 He said to them, "Micah did such and such for me, and he
hired me, and I have become his priest." 5 Then they said to him, "Inquire of
God that we may know whether the mission we are undertaking will succeed." 6
The priest replied, "Go in peace. The mission you are on is under the eye of
7 The five men went on, and when they came to Laish, they observed the people
who were there living securely, after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and
unsuspecting, lacking nothing on earth, and possessing wealth. Furthermore,
they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with Aram. 8 When they
came to their kinsfolk at Zorah and Eshtaol, they said to them, "What do you
report?" 9 They said, "Come, let us go up against them; for we have seen the
land, and it is very good. Will you do nothing? Do not be slow to go, but
enter in and possess the land. 10 When you go, you will come to an
unsuspecting people. The land is broad – God has indeed given it into your
hands – a place where there is no lack of anything on earth."
11 Six hundred men of the Danite clan, armed with weapons of war, set out from
Zorah and Eshtaol, 12 and went up and encamped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. On
this account that place is called Mahaneh-dan to this day; it is west of
Kiriath-jearim. 13 From there they passed on to the hill country of Ephraim,
and came to the house of Micah.
14 Then the five men who had gone to spy out the land (that is, Laish) said to
their comrades, "Do you know that in these buildings there are an ephod,
teraphim, and an idol of cast metal? Now therefore consider what you will do."
15 So they turned in that direction and came to the house of the young Levite,
at the home of Micah, and greeted him. 16 While the six hundred men of the
Danites, armed with their weapons of war, stood by the entrance of the gate,
17 the five men who had gone to spy out the land proceeded to enter and take
the idol of cast metal, the ephod, and the teraphim. The priest was standing
by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of
war. 18 When the men went into Micah's house and took the idol of cast metal,
the ephod, and the teraphim, the priest said to them, "What are you doing?" 19
They said to him, "Keep quiet! Put your hand over your mouth, and come with
us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to
the house of one person, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?" 20
Then the priest accepted the offer. He took the ephod, the teraphim, and the
idol, and went along with the people.
21 So they resumed their journey, putting the little ones, the livestock, and
the goods in front of them. 22 When they were some distance from the home of
Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah's house were called out, and
they overtook the Danites. 23 They shouted to the Danites, who turned around
and said to Micah, "What is the matter that you come with such a company?" 24
He replied, "You take my gods that I made, and the priest, and go away, and
what have I left? How then can you ask me, 'What is the matter?'" 25 And the
Danites said to him, "You had better not let your voice be heard among us or
else hot-tempered fellows will attack you, and you will lose your life and the
lives of your household." 26 Then the Danites went their way. When Micah saw
that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his home.
27 The Danites, having taken what Micah had made, and the priest who belonged
to him, came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting, put them to the
sword, and burned down the city. 28 There was no deliverer, because it was far
from Sidon and they had no dealings with Aram. It was in the valley that
belongs to Beth-rehob. They rebuilt the city, and lived in it. 29 They named
the city Dan, after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel; but the name
of the city was formerly Laish. 30 Then the Danites set up the idol for
themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests
to the tribe of the Danites until the time the land went into captivity. 31 So
they maintained as their own Micah's idol that he had made, as long as the
house of God was at Shiloh.
The Benjaminite war; domestic wars with the "herem" being applied; the rape of
1 In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite, residing
in the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, took to himself a
concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. 2 But his concubine became angry with him,
and she went away from him to her father's house at Bethlehem in Judah, and
was there some four months. 3 Then her husband set out after her, to speak
tenderly to her and bring her back. He had with him his servant and a couple
of donkeys. When he reached her father's house, the girl's father saw him and
came with joy to meet him. 4 His father-in-law, the girl's father, made him
stay, and he remained with him three days; so they ate and drank, and he
stayed there. 5 On the fourth day they got up early in the morning, and he
prepared to go; but the girl's father said to his son-in-law, "Fortify
yourself with a bit of food, and after that you may go." 6 So the two men sat
and ate and drank together; and the girl's father said to the man, "Why not
spend the night and enjoy yourself?" 7 When the man got up to go, his
father-in-law kept urging him until he spent the night there again. 8 On the
fifth day he got up early in the morning to leave; and the girl's father said,
"Fortify yourself." So they lingered until the day declined, and the two of
them ate and drank. 9 When the man with his concubine and his servant got up
to leave, his father-in-law, the girl's father, said to him, "Look, the day
has worn on until it is almost evening. Spend the night. See, the day has
drawn to a close. Spend the night here and enjoy yourself. Tomorrow you can
get up early in the morning for your journey, and go home."
10 But the man would not spend the night; he got up and departed, and arrived
opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). He had with him a couple of saddled
donkeys, and his concubine was with him. 11 When they were near Jebus, the day
was far spent, and the servant said to his master, "Come now, let us turn
aside to this city of the Jebusites, and spend the night in it." 12 But his
master said to him, "We will not turn aside into a city of foreigners, who do
not belong to the people of Israel; but we will continue on to Gibeah." 13
Then he said to his servant, "Come, let us try to reach one of these places,
and spend the night at Gibeah or at Ramah." 14 So they passed on and went
their way; and the sun went down on them near Gibeah, which belongs to
Benjamin. 15 They turned aside there, to go in and spend the night at Gibeah.
He went in and sat down in the open square of the city, but no one took them
in to spend the night.
16 Then at evening there was an old man coming from his work in the field. The
man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was residing in Gibeah. (The
people of the place were Benjaminites.) 17 When the old man looked up and saw
the wayfarer in the open square of the city, he said, "Where are you going and
where do you come from?" 18 He answered him, "We are passing from Bethlehem in
Judah to the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, from which I come. I
went to Bethlehem in Judah; and I am going to my home. Nobody has offered to
take me in. 19 We your servants have straw and fodder for our donkeys, with
bread and wine for me and the woman and the young man along with us. We need
nothing more." 20 The old man said, "Peace be to you. I will care for all your
wants; only do not spend the night in the square." 21 So he brought him into
his house, and fed the donkeys; they washed their feet, and ate and drank.
22 While they were enjoying themselves, the men of the city, a perverse lot,
surrounded the house, and started pounding on the door. They said to the old
man, the master of the house, "Bring out the man who came into your house, so
that we may have intercourse with him." 23 And the man, the master of the
house, went out to them and said to them, "No, my brothers, do not act so
wickedly. Since this man is my guest, do not do this vile thing. 24 Here are
my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them
and do whatever you want to them; but against this man do not do such a vile
thing." 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his
concubine, and put her out to them. They wantonly raped her, and abused her
all through the night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they
let her go. 26 As morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door
of the man's house where her master was, until it was light.
27 In the morning her master got up, opened the doors of the house, and when
he went out to go on his way, there was his concubine lying at the door of the
house, with her hands on the threshold. 28 "Get up," he said to her, "we are
going." But there was no answer. Then he put her on the donkey; and the man
set out for his home. 29 When he had entered his house, he took a knife, and
grasping his concubine he cut her into twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent
her throughout all the territory of Israel. 30 Then he commanded the men whom
he sent, saying, "Thus shall you say to all the Israelites, 'Has such a thing
ever happened since the day that the Israelites came up from the land of Egypt
until this day? Consider it, take counsel, and speak out.'"
The "herem" of Benjamin
1 Then all the Israelites came out, from Dan to Beer-sheba, including the land
of Gilead, and the congregation assembled in one body before the LORD at
Mizpah. 2 The chiefs of all the people, of all the tribes of Israel, presented
themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand
foot-soldiers bearing arms. 3 (Now the Benjaminites heard that the people of
Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) And the Israelites said, "Tell us, how did this
criminal act come about?" 4 The Levite, the husband of the woman who was
murdered, answered, "I came to Gibeah that belongs to Benjamin, I and my
concubine, to spend the night. 5 The lords of Gibeah rose up against me, and
surrounded the house at night. They intended to kill me, and they raped my
concubine until she died. 6 Then I took my concubine and cut her into pieces,
and sent her throughout the whole extent of Israel's territory; for they have
committed a vile outrage in Israel. 7 So now, you Israelites, all of you, give
your advice and counsel here."
8 All the people got up as one, saying, "We will not any of us go to our
tents, nor will any of us return to our houses. 9 But now this is what we will
do to Gibeah: we will go up against it by lot. 10 We will take ten men of a
hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and a hundred of a thousand, and
a thousand of ten thousand, to bring provisions for the troops, who are going
to repay Gibeah of Benjamin for all the disgrace that they have done in
Israel." 11 So all the men of Israel gathered against the city, united as one.
12 The tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying,
"What crime is this that has been committed among you? 13 Now then, hand over
those scoundrels in Gibeah, so that we may put them to death, and purge the
evil from Israel." But the Benjaminites would not listen to their kinsfolk,
the Israelites. 14 The Benjaminites came together out of the towns to Gibeah,
to go out to battle against the Israelites. 15 On that day the Benjaminites
mustered twenty-six thousand armed men from their towns, besides the
inhabitants of Gibeah. 16 Of all this force, there were seven hundred picked
men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair, and not
miss. 17 And the Israelites, apart from Benjamin, mustered four hundred
thousand armed men, all of them warriors.
18 The Israelites proceeded to go up to Bethel, where they inquired of God,
"Which of us shall go up first to battle against the Benjaminites?" And the
LORD answered, "Judah shall go up first."
19 Then the Israelites got up in the morning, and encamped against Gibeah. 20
The Israelites went out to battle against Benjamin; and the Israelites drew up
the battle line against them at Gibeah. 21 The Benjaminites came out of Gibeah,
and struck down on that day twenty-two thousand of the Israelites. 23 The
Israelites went up and wept before the LORD until the evening; and they
inquired of the LORD, "Shall we again draw near to battle against our kinsfolk
the Benjaminites?" And the LORD said, "Go up against them." 22 The Israelites
took courage, and again formed the battle line in the same place where they
had formed it on the first day.
24 So the Israelites advanced against the Benjaminites the second day. 25
Benjamin moved out against them from Gibeah the second day, and struck down
eighteen thousand of the Israelites, all of them armed men. 26 Then all the
Israelites, the whole army, went back to Bethel and wept, sitting there before
the LORD; they fasted that day until evening. Then they offered burnt
offerings and sacrifices of well-being before the LORD. 27 And the Israelites
inquired of the LORD (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those
days, 28 and Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, ministered before it in
those days), saying, "Shall we go out once more to battle against our kinsfolk
the Benjaminites, or shall we desist?" The LORD answered, "Go up, for tomorrow
I will give them into your hand."
29 So Israel stationed men in ambush around Gibeah. 30 Then the Israelites
went up against the Benjaminites on the third day, and set themselves in array
against Gibeah, as before. 31 When the Benjaminites went out against the army,
they were drawn away from the city. As before they began to inflict casualties
on the troops, along the main roads, one of which goes up to Bethel and the
other to Gibeah, as well as in the open country, killing about thirty men of
Israel. 32 The Benjaminites thought, "They are being routed before us, as
previously." But the Israelites said, "Let us retreat and draw them away from
the city toward the roads." 33 The main body of the Israelites drew back its
battle line to Baal-tamar, while those Israelites who were in ambush rushed
out of their place west of Geba. 34 There came against Gibeah ten thousand
picked men out of all Israel, and the battle was fierce. But the Benjaminites
did not realize that disaster was close upon them.
35 The LORD defeated Benjamin before Israel; and the Israelites destroyed
twenty-five thousand one hundred men of Benjamin that day, all of them armed.
36 Then the Benjaminites saw that they were defeated.
The Israelites gave ground to Benjamin, because they trusted to the troops in
ambush that they had stationed against Gibeah. 37 The troops in ambush rushed
quickly upon Gibeah. Then they put the whole city to the sword. 38 Now the
agreement between the main body of Israel and the men in ambush was that when
they sent up a cloud of smoke out of the city 39 the main body of Israel
should turn in battle. But Benjamin had begun to inflict casualties on the
Israelites, killing about thirty of them; so they thought, "Surely they are
defeated before us, as in the first battle." 40 But when the cloud, a column
of smoke, began to rise out of the city, the Benjaminites looked behind them –
and there was the whole city going up in smoke toward the sky! 41 Then the
main body of Israel turned, and the Benjaminites were dismayed, for they saw
that disaster was close upon them. 42 Therefore they turned away from the
Israelites in the direction of the wilderness; but the battle overtook them,
and those who came out of the city were slaughtering them in between. 43
Cutting down the Benjaminites, they pursued them from Nohah and trod them down
as far as a place east of Gibeah. 44 Eighteen thousand Benjaminites fell, all
of them courageous fighters. 45 When they turned and fled toward the
wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, five thousand of them were cut down on the
main roads, and they were pursued as far as Gidom, and two thousand of them
were slain. 46 So all who fell that day of Benjamin were twenty-five thousand
arms-bearing men, all of them courageous fighters. 47 But six hundred turned
and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and remained at the rock
of Rimmon for four months. 48 Meanwhile, the Israelites turned back against
the Benjaminites, and put them to the sword – the city, the people, the
animals, and all that remained. Also the remaining towns they set on fire.
The oaths: Benjamin threatened with extinction; the "herem" of Jabesh-gilead
1 Now the Israelites had sworn at Mizpah, "No one of us shall give his
daughter in marriage to Benjamin." 2 And the people came to Bethel, and sat
there until evening before God, and they lifted up their voices and wept
bitterly. 3 They said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, why has it come to pass
that today there should be one tribe lacking in Israel?" 4 On the next day,
the people got up early, and built an altar there, and offered burnt offerings
and sacrifices of well-being. 5 Then the Israelites said, "Which of all the
tribes of Israel did not come up in the assembly to the LORD?" For a solemn
oath had been taken concerning whoever did not come up to the LORD to Mizpah,
saying, "That one shall be put to death." 6 But the Israelites had compassion
for Benjamin their kin, and said, "One tribe is cut off from Israel this day.
7 What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by
the LORD that we will not give them any of our daughters as wives?"
8 Then they said, "Is there anyone from the tribes of Israel who did not come
up to the LORD to Mizpah?" It turned out that no one from Jabesh-gilead had
come to the camp, to the assembly. 9 For when the roll was called among the
people, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there. 10 So the
congregation sent twelve thousand soldiers there and commanded them, "Go, put
the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead to the sword, including the women and the
little ones. 11 This is what you shall do; every male and every woman that has
lain with a male you shall devote to destruction." 12 And they found among the
inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins who had never slept
with a man and brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of
13 Then the whole congregation sent word to the Benjaminites who were at the
rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace to them. 14 Benjamin returned at that
time; and they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of
Jabesh-gilead; but they did not suffice for them.
The rape of the daughters of Shiloh
15 The people had compassion on Benjamin because the LORD had made a breach in
the tribes of Israel. 16 So the elders of the congregation said, "What shall
we do for wives for those who are left, since there are no women left in
Benjamin?" 17 And they said, "There must be heirs for the survivors of
Benjamin, in order that a tribe may not be blotted out from Israel. 18 Yet we
cannot give any of our daughters to them as wives." For the Israelites had
sworn, "Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to Benjamin." 19 So they said,
"Look, the yearly festival of the LORD is taking place at Shiloh, which is
north of Bethel, on the east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to
Shechem, and south of Lebonah." 20 And they instructed the Benjaminites,
saying, "Go and lie in wait in the vineyards, 21 and watch; when the young
women of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the
vineyards and each of you carry off a wife for himself from the young women of
Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22 Then if their fathers or their
brothers come to complain to us, we will say to them, 'Be generous and allow
us to have them; because we did not capture in battle a wife for each man. But
neither did you incur guilt by giving your daughters to them.'" 23 The
Benjaminites did so; they took wives for each of them from the dancers whom
they abducted. Then they went and returned to their territory, and rebuilt the
towns, and lived in them. 24 So the Israelites departed from there at that
time by tribes and families, and they went out from there to their own
25 In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was
right in their own eyes.