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to stand in the greatest dread of all the lusts of the flesh, which war against the soul. Once more,
4. The exhortation of the Israelites, on their hearing this melancholy story, suggests a good hint to us what to do in every difficult case. Let us consider of it, revolve the matter in our thoughts, view it in every light with calmness, without prejudice and partiality ; then, in opposition to rash judgment, take ad-vice, canvass it over with others, take their opinion, and attend to the force of their reasoning, in opposition to conceit and positiveness; and then speak our mind, be resolute and open, in opposition to cowardice, and act steadily and boldly, according to our deliberate judgment, especially in cases of virtue and righteousness. Thus are we likely to act a wise and worthy part; and in the multitude of such counsellors, there will be safety.
The Levite in a general assembly declareth his wrong; their de» cree; and the destruction of the Benjamites.
1 r I 'H E N all the children of Israel went out, and the con
-L gregation was gathered together, as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the Lord in Mizpeh, the place where the assemblies were held in Joshua's time; it was in the centre of the country, near Shiloh,
2 and not far from Gibeah. And the chief of all the people, [even] of all the tribes of Israel, the heads of the tribes, (except Benjamin,) the captains of thousands, of hundreds, and tens, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four
3 hundred thousand footmen that drew sword. (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel were gone up to Mizpeh; they had a legal summons to appear there, but refused.) Then said the children of Israel, Tell [us,] how
A was this wickedness ; And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was slain, answered, and said, I came into Gibeah that [belongeth] to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to
5 lodge. And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, [and] thought to have slain me: and my concubine have they forced, that she is
6 dead. And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel: for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel. No doubt the Levite's story was confirmed by his servant, and
7 the old man who was his host. He adds, Behold, ye [are] all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel; ye are « peopk in covenant ivith God, and engaged to abhor and punish such enormities.*
8 And all the people arose as one man, saying, We will not any [of us] go to his tent, neither will we any [of us] turn into his house. It is probable from chap., xxi. 1—5. that they not only came to a resolution, but took an oath, that they ivould not return home till they had seen justice done, and this ivicked
9 ness punished. But now this [shall be] the thing which we
10 will do to Gibeah ; [we will go up] by lot against it; And we will take ten men of an hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and an hundred of a thousand, and a thousand out often thousand, to fetch victual for the people, that they may do, when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have wrought in Israel. Forty thousand were toforage for the rest, to prevent their making excursions, or
11 quitting their arms. So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.
12 And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness [is] this that is done among you? They had heard that the Benjamites were armed, and therefore sent ambassadors to each city, to show the greatness of their crime, and propose terms of peace; and they said,
13 Now therefore deliver [us] the men, the children of Belial, which [are] in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel, keep others from such wicked practices, and prevent the judgment of God from falling on them, as it did on Sodom and Gomorrah. But the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the
14 children of Israel: But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities, unto Gibeah, to go out (to battle against the children of Israel. One ivould hope there were some good men in their tribe; but they had no influence, and were quite overruled by the obstinate and wicked multitude.
15 And the children of Benjamin were numbered at that time out of the cities twenty and six thousand men that drew sword, beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven
16 hundred chosen men. Among all this people [there were] seven hundred chosen men left handed ; every one could sling stones at an hair [breadth,] and not miss. A proverbial expression for great skill. It is a pity that such good marksmen
17 should so miss their aim, as to espouse so bad a cause. And the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew sword: all these [were] men of war.
18 And the children of Israel arose, and went up to the house of God, and asked counsel of God, and said, Which of us
• He could not address all the people; it is therefore probable, that a committee was appointed to examine the evidence/ and report to the people what they judged proper to be done.
shall go up first to the battle agamst the .children of Benjamin ? And the Lord said, Judah [shall go up] first. They did not inquire whether they should make war at all, or whether they should be successful if they did; they presumed on the justice of their cause, and on their own numbers and etrengthy and only asked who should be their commander; accordingly
19 Judah is directed to go first and lead the van. And the children of Israel rose up in the morning, aS>d encamped against
20 Gibeah. And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin ; and the men of Israel put themselves in array to
21 fight against them at Gibeah. And the children of Benjamin came forth out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to the ground, of the Israelites that day twenty and two thousand men. The hand of God was plainly in this, considering their vast superiority. He perhaps directed their arrows and stones against the most ginlty Israelites, and hereby prevented the spread of wickedness^ and punished them for their self confidence, idolatry, and other
22 sins. And the people the men of Israel encouraged them-selves, because their cause ivas good, and their numbers great, and set their battle again in array in the place where they
23 put themselves in array the first day. (And the children of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until even, and asked counsel of the Lorb, saying, shall I go up. again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And the Lord said, Go up against him.) 7'hey wept not for their sins, but their defeat; and neither begged God\ assistance, nor inquired after success : they thought tierhaps they had done wrong in warring against a brother tribe: and God gave them permission to go, though he did not promise
24 them success. And the children of Israel came near against
25 the children of Benjamin the second day. And Benjamin went forth against them but of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed down to the ground of the children of Israel again eighteen thousand men; all these drew the sword. Thus God cured them of their pride and presumption, in trusting to their numbers without praying for success; andpunished them for sttffering idolatry among them, as in Dan, when they were
ordered to root it out.
36 Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, in a more serious and sincere manner than before, and sat there before the Loan, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings, to make atonement for their own sins, and peace offerings before the Lord, to bless God for sparing so many of them, and to im
37 plore his assistance for the future. And the children of Israel inquired of the Lord, in the tabernacle at Shiloh, near to Gib-. eah, (for the ark of the covenant of God [was] there in those
28 days, And Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron,
dtood bfcfare it in those days,*) saying, Shall I yet again go cut to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? They now ask a different question, awl leave it 'wholly to God's pleasure; who gave them an answer of peace, and assured them of success. And the Lord said, Go up ; for tomorrow I will deliver them into thine hand.
"29 And Israel set liers in wait round about Gibeah; they neglected this before, and smarted for it; now they put ten thousand
SO men tn ambush, v. 34. And the children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day, and put themselves in array against Gibeah, as at other times. This was another part of the army that was appointed to assault them,
■81 and then presently to retreat. And the children of Benjamin went out against the people, [and] were drawn away from the city: and they began to smite of the people, [and] kill, as at other times, in the highways, of which one goeth up to the house of God, and the other to Gibeah in the field, about thirty
S2 men of Israel. And the children of Benjamin said, They [are] smitten down before us as at the first. But the children of Israel said, Let us flee, and draw them from the city unto
33 the highways. And all the men of Israel, the main body of the army, rose up out of their place, and put themselves in array at Baaltamar: and the liers in wait of Israel came forth out of their places, [even] out of the meadows of Gibeah.
34 And there came against Gibeah ten thousand chosen men out of all Israel, which were Hers in wait; and the battle was sore, between the main body of the army and the Benjamites, that pursued those who fied: but they knew not that evil [was] near them, by reason of another party fighting against the city,
■35 -v. 37. 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. This is the general sum; the particulars are
36 mentioned, v. 44, 45. So the children of Benjamin saw that they were 'smitten: for the men of Israel gave place to the Benjamites, because they trusted unto the liers in wait which
37 they had set beside Gibeah. 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, and smote all
38 the city with the edge of the sword. Now there was an appointed sign between the men of Israel and the liers in wait, that they should make a great flame with smoke to rise up
39 out of the city. And when the men of Israel retired in the battle, Benjamin began to smite [and] kill of the men of Israel about thirty persons: for they said, Surely they are smitten
* This shorn that these things happened soon after Joshua's death, near three hun. Ired and fifty years befere Samson's time, though the account comes after his.
40 down before us, as [in] the first battle. But when the flame? began to rise up out of the city with a pillar of smoke, the Benjamites looked behind them, and, behold, the flame of the
41 city ascended up to heaven. And when the men of Israel turned again, the men of Benjamin were amazed: for they saw that evil was come upon them. Seeing Gibeah on fire and themselves /ieinmed in on every side, they ivere quite confound
42 ed, and easily destroyed. Therefore they turned Itheir backs] before the men of Israel unto the way of the wilderness, but the battle overtook them, and them which [came] out of the cities, that is, the Benjamites which were left in the city, and fled to avoid the flames and the sword, they destroyed in the
43 midst of them, these also the Israelites cut off. [Thus] they enclosed the Benjamites round about, [and] chased them, [and] trode them down with ease over against Gibeah toward
44 the sun rising. And there fell of Benjamin eighteen thou
45 sand men; all these [were] men of valour. And they turned and fled toward the wilderness unto the rock of Rimmon, a strong, inaccessible city, on the edge of the wilderness: and they gleaned of them in the highways five thousand men; ( a metaphor, taken from those who glean grapes or corn, and leave none behind them ;) and pursued hard after them unto
46 Gidom, and slew two thousand men of them. So that all which fell that day of Benjamin were twenty and five thousand men that drew the sword ; all these [were] men of
47 valour. But six hundred men turned and fled to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon, and abode in the rock Rimmon four months: these, going a nearer way, or being more swift of foot, arrived safe; and continued there four months, till the
48 rage of the Israelites was abated. And the men of Israel turned again from the fmrsuit, andfell upon the children of Benjamin, who were in the country round about, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of [every] city, as the beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire
fiable conduct; but, being exasperated by their QVjn loaa) they •mere ltd on to this terrible execution.