The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Judges 20

Jdg 20:1

FROM DAN: Impl the Danite migration of Jdg 18 had already taken place.

AS ONE MAN: Cp vv 8,11. And see 1Sa 11:7: Israel did not act in unison until time of Samuel, approx 300 years later.

Jdg 20:2

ASSEMBLY: "Ekklesia" in LXX.

Jdg 20:5

MEN: "Baaleh": the lords of Gibeah, not the low fellows.

Jdg 20:10

They made plans without asking God -- always a fatal mistake. (It was assumed that only 10% of available men would be sufficient for job.)

WE'LL TAKE TEN MEN OUT OF EVERY HUNDRED... [TO] GIVE THEM WHAT THEY DESERVE FOR ALL THIS VILENESS DONE IN ISRAEL: "It was anticipated that one tenth of the nation would suffice to bring home to the men of Benjamin, and Gibeah especially, the seriousness of their crime. This is the proper meaning of v 10 which should probably read: 'And we will take ten men of an hundred... for the pursuit on behalf of the people, they may do, when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have wrought in Israel.'

"It is worthwhile, here, to observe the close connection between this narrative in Jdg 20 and Deu 13, the chapter which sets out the stringent measures to be taken against any Israelitish city encouraging idolatry. It is true that idolatry was not Gibeah's sin, but the difference in degree from such apostasy was negligible, for the Gibeathite practices were closely akin to Amorite religious customs (Deu 23:17,18). There can be little doubt that the leaders of Israel were consciously following the very policy prescribed in these words of Moses: 'If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the Lord thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again' (Deu 13:12-16).

"It is therefore hardly wise to make sweeping denunciations of the men of Israel here in what was, after all, a sincere attempt to apply the difficult and unpalatable (v 23) requirements of their divine law" (WJR).

Jdg 20:18

Vv 18-25: 40,000 Israelites die, no doubt because all the nation shares responsibility for the act of Benjamin.

Jdg 20:21

THOUSAND: Heb "aleph", or captains. See Lesson, Large numbers in the OT.

Jdg 20:25

THOUSAND: Heb "aleph", or captains. See Lesson, Large numbers in the OT.

Jdg 20:40

"The archaeologists have concluded that Gibeah was destroyed by fire somewhere about 1100 BC (this date is a bit late by Bible chronology)" (WJR).

Jdg 20:45

RIMMON: Three miles east of Bethel.

AS FAR AS GIDOM: Or, "until they had cut them off" (sw Jdg 21:6).

Jdg 20:47

ROCK OF RIMMON: An impregnable natural fortress.

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