The Period Of The Judges

 Chapter 91
Israel Decision [Judges 20.8-20.11]


Scripture (KJV) Judges 20.8-11

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.
9 But now this shall be the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up by lot against it; 10 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 of ten 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.
11 So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.


Commentary

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.—Judges 20.8 (KJV) 
8 And all the people rose to their feet in unison and declared, “None of us will return home! No, not even one of us!—Judges 20.8 (NLT)

And all the people arose as one man
The phrase as one man means either the heads of the people assembled in council, all agreed unanimously in one vote or resolution, or all the 400,000 men were of the same mind, when the case was reported to them. It was extraordinary for such unanimity to prevail, since within any group of 400,000 men there would be those who would not go along with the majority opinion. It goes to show, that even though the tribes had disagreements between them, the people were sound at the core; and remembering their national covenant with God, they now felt the necessity of wiping out so foul a stain on their character as a people. It was resolved that the inhabitants of Gibeah should be subjected to the punishment that fit their crime. But the resolutions were conditional, because they rested upon both the laws of God and the laws of man; and these laws require that an inquiry should be made and satisfaction demanded, before committing an act of hostility or vengeance. Messengers were dispatched through the whole territory of Benjamin, demanding the immediate surrender or execution of the persons responsible for the atrocity committed against the Levite and his concubine. The request was just and reasonable; and by refusing it the Benjamites virtually made themselves a party in the quarrel. It must not be supposed that the people of this tribe were insensitive or indifferent to the atrocious nature of the crime that had been committed on their soil. But their patriotism or their pride was offended by the hostile demonstration of the other tribes. Passions were inflamed on both sides; but certainly the Benjamites incurred an awful responsibility by the attitude of resistance they assumed.

saying, we will not any of us go to his tent, neither will we any of us turn into his house;
It may be said that they made a pact, though it doesn’t say that in so many words. But they did issue a public statement saying, we will not any of us go to his tent, neither will we any of us turn into his house; that is, they would not return home, to rest for one night in their houses, or tend to the business that supported their family, regardless of how much their families and their affairs needed them, until they were satisfied that those responsible were punished for the evil they committed. By this they showed themselves true children of Israel, that they preferred the public interest before their private concerns

 

9 But now this shall be the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up by lot against it;—Judges 20.9 (KJV)
9 Instead, this is what we will do to Gibeah; we will draw lots to decide who will attack it.
—Judges 20.9 (NLT)

But now this shall be the thing which we will do to Gibeah,
The unanimous decision was to put the guilty men of Gibeah to death, and it was fully in accordance with God's will. The Law of Moses designated a crime such as the rape of the concubine a capital offense and decreed that the perpetrators receive the death penalty (see Deuteronomy 22:22). It is to the credit of Israel, however, that the first thing they did was to try to reach a simple resolution of the matter through negotiations.

we will go up by lot against it;
The words we will go up are not in the Hebrew, but are supplied by the Septuagint, who very likely found in their Hebrew copy the word “na’aleh,” we will go up, which has since (perhaps) fallen out of the Hebrew text due to its resemblance to the word “aleha.” Then the sense will be, “Not one of us will shrink from the dangers of the war; but we will cast lots to establish who will go up against Gibeah, and who will be employed in collecting provisions for the army;” 40,000 will be employed in the latter service according to the next verse. And if the answer was not actually given by lot, they inquired of the Lord who should go up first (see Judges 20.18), and, we may presume they also asked who should follow in the subsequent attacks, though this is omitted for brevity. The shape of the ground probably made it impossible for the whole force to operate at once; and the question of who would get the spoils would have something to do with the arrangement. (Compare 1 Samuel 30:22-25.) Others, however, think the words go up by lot against it are purposely abrupt, and that the meaning is that Israel would deal with Gibeah as they had done with the Canaanites, that is, destroy their city, and divide its territory by lot among the other tribes, after the analogy of Joshua 18:8-10 (see below). But this interpretation is not borne out by what actually happened.

Deut 22:22 (KJV) If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. Shall both of them die—Thus we find that in the most ancient of all laws adultery was punished with death in both the parties.

Judges 20:18 (KJV) And the children of Israel arose, and went up to the house of God, and asked counsel of God, and said, Which of us shall go up first to the battle against the children of Benjamin? And the LORD said, Judah shall go up first. Went up to the house of God—Some think that a deputation was sent from Shiloh, where Phinehas the high priest was, to inquire, not concerning the expediency of the war, nor of its success, but which of the tribes should begin the attack. Having so much right on their side, they had no doubt of the justice of their cause. Having such a superiority of numbers, they had no doubt of success. See the note on Judges 20:1. And the Lord said, Judah—But he did not say that they should conquer.

Judges 18:8-10 (KJV) And they came unto their brethren to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their brethren said unto them, What say ye? And they said, Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen the land, and, behold, it is very good: and are ye still? be not slothful to go, and to enter to possess the land. When ye go, ye shall come unto a people secure, and to a large land: for God hath given it into your hands; a place where there is no want of any thing that is in the earth.

1 Sam 30:22-25 (KJV) Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered, save to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away, and depart. Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the LORD hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand. For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike. And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.


10 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 of ten 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. —Judges 20.10 (KJV)
10 One tenth of the men from each tribe will be chosen to supply the warriors with food, and the rest of us will take revenge on Gibeah of Benjamin for this shameful thing they have done in Israel.”—Judges 20.10 (NLT)

And we will take ten men of an hundred, throughout all the tribes of Israel
Every tribe will have to commit a tenth of their men to this purpose, excepting for Benjamin who was not with them.

and a hundred out of a thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand;
in all 40,000, out of the 400,000 were set aside for another purpose, which is revealed next.

to fetch victual for the people;
Ten men were to provide food for ninety, and one hundred men for nine hundred, and 1000 men for 9000, in all 40,000, for 360,000 were chosen by lot to provide provisions for this army; these were either to go to their own tribes and habitations, or to the towns and cities in the vicinity, to procure food for this large army. Many of them left their homes without any provisions, since they thought they could quickly wrap-up the whole affair. Others, when they left home, only took with them enough provisions for a journey to Mizpeh, and they didn’t have any provisions for the time they would spend in an encampment (which might prove long) before Gibeah. They didn’t know that the matter would keep them away from their homes for a long time; but now that it was apparent that it would require more time before the outcome was determined, they thought the wisest method to feed this large army was for some to be appointed to provide the provisions for the army. One out of ten; 40,000 in all were chosen by lot, and they must go back to the countries they came from, to bring back bread and other necessities for the subsistence of this great army.

There is a saying you may have heard, that says; “an army travels on its stomach.” Food was very important to the success of the mission. Without an ample supply of it, the men would scatter and forage for themselves, and if that happened, it would have been hard to get them all together again, let alone, to maintain the high moral that accompanied their journey and arrival at Mizpeh.

Note, When there appears to be zeal in people for any good work it is best to strike while the iron is hot, for such zeal is apt to cool quickly if the prosecution of the work is delayed. Let it never be said that we put off that good work until tomorrow which we could just as well have been done to-day.

that they might do, when they came to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have wrought in Israel;
They discussed the crime and what punishment would be appropriate, and how to prosecute a campaign against Gibeah and Benjamin. They were especially concerned with how to punish the magistrates for refusing to take legal action against the criminals who had done this evil thing.

 

 


11 So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.—Judges 20.11 (KJV) 
11 So all the Israelites were completely united, and they gathered together to attack the town.—Judges 20.11 (NLT)

So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city
The scene from Gibeah must have terrified the citizens of the city; 360,000 men would be an awesome site. We are not given the population of the city, but verse 15 says that beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven hundred chosen men (see below).

knit together as one man;
They marched on Gibeah, heart and hand together, united in their sentiments and resolutions, and determined to have justice done, or lose their lives in this cause. According to the Jews, the date was the twenty third of Shebet; a fast was kept on this day to commemorate the incident.

They were knit together as one man, meaning that the eleven tribes had no separate interests when the common good was concerned. With this remark, which indicates briefly the carrying out of the resolution that was adopted, the account of the meeting of the congregation is brought to a close; but the actual battles that mark the affair is related in Judges 20:12-21.

Judges 20:15 (KJV) 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 hundred chosen men.

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