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Judges 20:35-37: The Third Battle at Gibeah: Benjamin's Defeat, Part 1

Verse 35:[1] And the LORD smote Benjamin before Israel: and the children of Israel destroyed of the Benjamites that day twenty and five thousand and an hundred men: all these drew the sword.

[On that day twenty-five thousand men] It is well said, on that day, for in the preceding battles also, the Benjamites, although victorious, had lost nearly a thousand of their own. See on verse 15 (Grotius).

Twenty and five thousand and an hundred men: This is the total sum, whereof the particulars are related Judges 20:44, 45; and for the odd hundred not there mentioned, they were killed in other places not there expressed.

Verse 36:[2] So the children of Benjamin saw that they were smitten: (Josh. 8:15) for the men of Israel gave place to the Benjamites, because they trusted unto the liers in wait which they had set beside Gibeah.

[But the children of Benjamin began to flee] Understand this, not of all the Benjamites, but of a certain part of them that had happened upon that greater part of the Israelite army: for the rest did not begin to flee until after the city was captured, and the burning of the city was seen (Bonfrerius).

[They gave place to them to flee, so that they might come upon the ambush prepared] Question: With what intention had that ambush been prepared by the city? Responses: 1. Not only so that they might put their enemies to flight and slaughter them, for the Israelites were already able to accomplish this, but were unwilling to take pains in slaughtering them. 2. So that they might meet the Benjamites fleeing to the city, and at the same time with them burst into the city with the attack: for we read that in this manner many cities were taken (Bonfrerius).

Verse 37:[3] (Josh. 8:19) And the liers in wait hasted, and rushed upon Gibeah; and the liers in wait drew themselves along (or, made a long sound with the trumpets;[4] Josh. 6:5[5]), and smote all the city with the edge of the sword.

[Who, when they suddently, etc., וְהָאֹרֵ֣ב הֵחִ֔ישׁוּ וַֽיִּפְשְׁט֖וּ אֶל־הַגִּבְעָ֑ה] Now, the ambush hastened, and made an attack against Gibeah (Pagnine); they were drawn out upon Gibeah (Jonathan); they had rushed upon, or toward, Gibeah (Junius and Tremellius, English, Osiander); hastening, they extended themselves toward Gibeah (Munster, Tigurinus).

[They entered, וַיִּמְשֹׁךְ֙ הָאֹרֵ֔ב] [They vary.] And the lier in wait drew forward (Montanus); they were drawn out of the ambush (Munster, Tigurinus) [similarly Jonathan]. They drew themselves, that is, they rushed upon the city (certain interpreters in Vatablus). They drew themselves along (English). He drew himself along, and extended himself, after the Benjamites into the city (Bonfrerius). And the lier in wait advanced, and struck, etc. Concerning this use of the verb מָשַׁךְ, see what things we have on Jeremiah 5:8[6] (Dieu). Others: and the ambush drew out the sounding of the trumpet (Pagnine, similarly Vatablus, Drusius, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, English). Compare Exodus 19:13[7] (Piscator). But it does not appear with what purpose that sign of smoke would have been given in what follows, if if they were going to indicate by trumpet that the city was taken (Bonfrerius). [But smoke would indicate to those more distant, what a trumpet would to those that had come closer.]

Drew themselves along, or, extended themselves, that si, whereas before they lay close and contracted into a narrow compass, now they spread themselves, and marched in rank and file, as armies do. Or, marched or went; Hebrew, drew their feet. So this verb is oft, used, as Genesis 37:28;[8] Exodus 12:21;[9] Judges 4:6;[10] Job 21:33.[11]

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּגֹּ֙ף יְהוָ֥ה׀ אֶֽת־בִּנְיָמִן֮ לִפְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵל֒ וַיַּשְׁחִיתוּ֩ בְנֵ֙י יִשְׂרָאֵ֤ל בְּבִנְיָמִן֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא עֶשְׂרִ֙ים וַחֲמִשָּׁ֥ה אֶ֛לֶף וּמֵאָ֖ה אִ֑ישׁ כָּל־אֵ֖לֶּה שֹׁ֥לֵף חָֽרֶב׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיִּרְא֥וּ בְנֵֽי־בִנְיָמִ֖ן כִּ֣י נִגָּ֑פוּ וַיִּתְּנ֙וּ אִֽישׁ־יִשְׂרָאֵ֤ל מָקוֹם֙ לְבִנְיָמִ֔ן כִּ֤י בָֽטְחוּ֙ אֶל־הָ֣אֹרֵ֔ב אֲשֶׁר שָׂ֖מוּ אֶל־הַגִּבְעָֽה׃

[3] Hebrew: וְהָאֹרֵ֣ב הֵחִ֔ישׁוּ וַֽיִּפְשְׁט֖וּ אֶל־הַגִּבְעָ֑ה וַיִּמְשֹׁךְ֙ הָאֹרֵ֔ב וַיַּ֥ךְ אֶת־כָּל־הָעִ֖יר לְפִי־חָֽרֶב׃

[4] Hebrew: וַיִּמְשֹׁךְ֙ הָאֹרֵ֔ב.

[5] Joshua 6:5: “And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast (בִּמְשֹׁךְ) with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.”

[6] Jeremiah 5:8: “They were as fed horses extending (מַשְׁכִּים): every one neighed after his neighbour's wife.”

[7] Exodus 19:13: “There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long (בִּמְשֹׁךְ֙ הַיֹּבֵ֔ל), they shall come up to the mount.”

[8] Genesis 37:28: “Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew (וַיִּמְשְׁכוּ) and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.”

[9] Exodus 12:21: “Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out (מִשְׁכוּ) and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.”

[10] Judges 4:6b: “…Go and draw (וּמָשַׁכְתָּ) toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun?”

[11] Job 21:33: “The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him, and every man shall draw (יִמְשׁוֹךְ) after him, as there are innumerable before him.”

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1 Comment

Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
May 31, 2019

Matthew Henry: 'Though the men of Israel played their parts so well in this engagement, yet the victory is ascribed to God (Judges 20:35): The Lord smote Benjamin before Israel. The battle was his, and so was the success.'

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