The Period Of The Judges

 Chapter 92
Ultimatum Rejected [Judges 20.12-20.17]


Scripture (KJV) Judges 20.12-17


The Benjamites assemble in defense of the criminals,

12 And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness is this that is done among you?
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. But the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel:
14 But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.
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 hundred chosen men.
16 Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.
17 And the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew sword: all these were men of war.

 

Commentary

12 And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness is this that is done among you?—Judges 20.12 (KJV) 
12 The Israelites sent messengers to the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What a terrible thing has been done among you!13 Give up those evil men, those troublemakers from Gibeah, so we can execute them and purge Israel of this evil.” But the people of Benjamin would not listen.—Judges 20.12 (NLT)

And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin,
Meaning that messengers were sent to every family unit that made up the tribe of Benjamin. Sometimes a tribe is called a family, (see Joshua 7:17) and sometimes a family is called a tribe; and we know there were ten families in the tribe of Benjamin, because the patriarch Benjamin had ten sons who were the fathers of these families (see Genesis 46:21). The families of Benjamin were numerous and powerful, and consisted of men of courage, and expert in war, who thought themselves a match for the ten tribes of Israel that were now assembled a short distance from Gibeah.  There were very probably ten messengers, one from each tribe, sent on this errand; because they decided it would be wise, before they went to war with Benjamin, to try to get them to turn over the offenders, and avoid the bloodshed, on both sides, that would certainly result if they refused to do so. 

There was reason to suspect that the tribe of Benjamin would not join them in an amicable solution to the affair, since none of them were at this assembly: however, they were willing to try peaceable methods first. If the tribe of Benjamin had come to the assembly, as they ought to have done, and agreed with them in their resolution, there would have been no one to deal with except the men of Gibeah, but by their absence, they are in effect aligning themselves with the criminals in Gibeah: now both would be condemned according to the law in Deuteronomy 22:22 (see below). 

Josh 7:17 (KJV) And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken:

Gen 46:21 (KJV) And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard.

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.

saying, what wickedness is this that is done among you?
The messengers were not sent to the families of Benjamin to inquire what the crime was that was committed, that was fully known; but by putting the question in this manner, their aim was to exacerbate it, and to cause the men of Benjamin to consider how great a crime it was. It was an enormous sin committed by the Sodomites in Gibeah, and Gibeah was within the territory of Benjamin; and therefore it was the responsibility of Benjamin, either to punish the perpetrators or deliver them to the tribes of Israel for punishment according to the common law of Israel.

The common law of nature and nations requires that an inquiry should be made and satisfaction demanded, before committing an act of hostility or vengeance; therefore messengers were dispatched through the whole territory of Benjamin, demanding the immediate surrender or execution of the murders. The message was perhaps too sharp and dictatorial to be successful. Instead it awakened the pride and tribal independence of the Benjamites and created a spirit of stubborn resistance to the other tribes.

 


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. But the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel:—Judges 20.13 (KJV)
13 Give up those evil men, those troublemakers from Gibeah, so we can execute them and purge Israel of this evil.”—Judges 20.13 (NLT)

Now, therefore, deliver us the men, the children of Belial, which are in Gibeah
They identified the men they wanted placed in their custody as, “Those wicked men that were the persons responsible for that abominable wickedness committed in the city of Gibeah.”  The word of God that Israel applied in this affair was Deuteronomy 13.12-15 (ASV): “If thou shalt hear tell concerning one of thy cities, which Jehovah thy God giveth thee to dwell there, saying, Certain base fellows are gone out from the midst of thee, and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in the midst of thee, 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.” The magistrate that served the city of Gibeah was to make the necessary investigation. In the event of the report proving true, proceedings were to be commenced immediately against the apostate inhabitants. The law in this chapter has been represented as stern and barbaric, but it was in accordance with the national constitution of Israel. God was their King, idolatry was treason, and a city that turned to idols put itself into a state of apostasy, and incurred the same punishment as a city that rebels against The Almighty. Although Idolatry is the sin mentioned here, those citizens of Gibeah who were responsible for the death of the Levite’s concubine were certainly living in an apostate state and they are referred to as the children of Belial; lawless men—persons good for nothing to themselves or others, and capable of nothing but disobedience. Actually, these men were described as children of Belial when they surrounded the house where the Levite was staying and tried to coax him to come outside where they planned to sodomize him (see Judges 19.22).

Note: The verse says Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants—If one city were permitted to practice the sin of sodomy, the evil would soon spread, and therefore the contagion must be destroyed at its birth. Some will say this is unfair and cruel, but nothing could be fairer than this, since it is God’s words. They wish only to make the murderers answerable for their crime. The other tribes did the right thing in seeking the help of the tribe of Benjamin; but Benjamin committed a great sin by putting their loyalty to the tribe before obedience to God's Law. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God first (see Philippians 3:20); while patriotism is a virtue, it must never overshadow our first allegiance to the Kingdom of God. Not only did Benjamin fail to support the other tribes as they went out to battle, but they assembled an army to actively oppose them.

Judges 19:22 (KJV) Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him

Phil 3:20 (KJV) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: our conversation--rather, "our state" or "country"; our citizenship: our life as citizens. We are but pilgrims on earth; how then should we "mind earthly things?" (Php 3:19 Heb 11:9, 10, 13-16). Roman citizenship was highly prized, at that time; how much more should the heavenly citizenship be prized (Ac 22:28; compare Lu 10:20)? is--Greek, "has its existence." in heaven--Greek, "in the heavens." look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ--"We wait for (so the same Greek is translated, Ro 8:19) the Lord Jesus as a (that is, in the capacity of a) Saviour" (Heb 9:28). That He is "the Lord," now exalted above every name, assures our expectation (Php 2:9-11). Our High Priest is gone up into the Holy of Holies not made with hands, there to atone for us; and as the Israelites stood outside the tabernacle, expecting Aaron's return (compare Lu 1:21), so must we look unto the heavens expecting Christ to return.

that we may put them to death;
Remember, this is the message sent to the Benjaminites, and carried there by the men picked from each of the tribes assembled near the border of Benjamin’s territory. The men of Gibeah deserved to be put to death, since they were guilty both of adultery and murder. The purpose behind the message is to attempt to convince the Benjaminites to condemn them to death and punish them with death, as their crime deserved: But the Benjaminites would not hearken to the voice of their brethren, the other tribes of Israel. By refusing this just demand on the part of the other tribes, the Benjaminites took the side of the culprits in Gibeah, and compelled the congregation to make war upon the whole tribe.

and put away evil from Israel;
This one line is the heart of the message: Men of Benjamin, You have it within your power to prevent both the spread of this sinful evil in the nation, and the punishment coming upon them from God, should you let such wickedness pass with impunity. Join with your brethren so that evil might be put away from Israel, the national guilt removed, the infection stopped by cutting off the gangrened part, and national judgments prevented; for the sin was so very like that of the Sodomites that they might have good reasons to fear, if they did not punish those responsible for  this crime. God would be justified to rain hail from heaven upon them, as he did, not only upon Sodom, but the neighboring cities, also. If the Israelites had not made this reasonable demand, they would have had much more reason to lament the following desolations of Benjamin. All methods of accommodation must be used before we go to war or go to the law. The demand was like that of Joab’s to Abel, 2 Sa. 20:20, 21; “Only deliver up the traitor, and we will lay down our arms.” On these terms, and no other, God will be at peace with us, so that we part with our sins, and we mortify and crucify our lusts, and then all shall be well; his anger will be turned away.

The message was not well received and probably did more harm and little good. The wretched obstinacy and perverseness of the men of Benjamin, who seem to have been as unanimous and zealous in their resolutions to stand by the criminals as the rest of the tribes, were to punish them, and so they had lost their sense of their honor, duty, and concern.

but the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel;
They refused to give up the men of Gibeah that were guilty of such great wickedness; thinking it is a reproach, as Josephus says, to obey the commands of others, for fear of war; and they were unwilling to yield to any armed men, on account of their multitude or courage.

The request was just and reasonable; and by refusing it, negotiations broke down, and the Benjamites virtually made themselves a party in the quarrel. It must not be supposed that the people of this tribe were insensible or indifferent to the atrocious character 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; thus making their whole tribe partakers of the guilt of the men of Gibeah. By not delivering up those bad men, they in effect said: “We will stand by them in what they have done, and would have acted in the same way had we been present.” This proves that the whole tribe was excessively depraved.

(i) Because they would not allow the wicked to be punished, they declared themselves in agreement with their evil, and therefore justice says, “They also deserve to be punished.” Their protection of those who had committed this horrible wickedness, because they were of their own tribe, proves them to have been deeply corrupted, and (all their advantages considered) as ripe for divine vengeance as the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah had been.

The men of Gibeah were evil men and had to be punished before the Lord could be pleased with His people and cleanse His land. Note: The spiritual life of a church is crippled and eventually destroyed when the congregation shuts its eyes to sin and will not discipline offenders. There can never be unity among the people of God as long as some of them cover up sin and allow it to infect the body.

But the Benjaminites would not hearken to the voice of their brethren, the other tribes of Israel. The children of Benjamin is a needless addition to the line, since Benjamin may be taken to mean the plural as a collective term. By refusing this just demand on the part of the other tribes, the Benjaminites took the side of the culprits in Gibeah, and compelled the congregation of tribes to make war upon the whole tribe of Benjamin.

They would not hearken to the voice of their brethren, perhaps, because the men of that tribe were generally more vicious and depraved at this time than the rest of the tribes, and therefore would not bear to have that which they had done punished in others.

Some of the most fruitful and pleasant parts of Canaan fell to the lot of this tribe; their land, like that of Sodom, was like the garden of the Lord, which perhaps helped to make the inhabitants, like the men of Sodom, wicked, and sinners before the Lord exceedingly, (see Gen. 13:10, 13), or because they believed the other tribes shouldn’t meddle in those things that only concerned the tribe of Benjamin; they would not do that which they knew was their duty just because they were reminded of it by their brethren; it would be an insult to be taught and controlled bythem.                                                                                                                                              

(ii) “Contrary to the Law of Moses, Benjamin would not consent to the execution of the homosexual rapists who had abused to death the concubine of the Levite, deciding, instead, to go to war against the whole nation of their brethren, rather than to consent to it. As Dehoff noted, ‘This meant that the entire tribe of Benjamin had departed from God.’”

(iii) This response of the Benjamites was deplorable. Rather than surrender a few guilty persons to justice, they suddenly decided on an armed defense of the murderers, thus bringing about a judgment against their whole tribe and the near-extermination of it. It is bad enough to commit a grievous sin, but worse to defend it! Like many today, however, Benjamin was unwilling to accept any blame. They would learn the hard way, that, “A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy” (Proverbs 29:1).

If there were any wise men among them that would have complied with the demand, they were overpowered by the majority, who made the crime of the men of Gibeah their own. Thus we have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness if we enter into a confederacy with those that have, and make ourselves guilty of other men’s sins by tolerating and defending them. It seems there is no cause so bad that it will not find some patrons or advocates, to accept and stand-up for it; but woe be to those by whom such offences come. Those that obstruct the course of justice, and strengthen the hands of the wicked, by saying, O wicked man! thou shalt not die will have a great deal to answer for.

Gen 13:10, 13 (KJV) And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar… But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.

 


14 But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.—Judges 20.14 (KJV)
14 Instead, they came from their towns and gathered at Gibeah to fight the Israelites.
—Judges 20.14 (NLT)

But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah
The families of Benjamin sent men (as many as could bear arms) to Gibeah to protect and defend it against the other tribes, because it was a city of theirs where the persons charged with the crime lived. Admittedly, they were men of valor, but nothing but blind passion and unbending determination could have impelled them to take the field against their brethren when such a disparity of numbers existed.

They were so abundantly vain and presumptuous to believe they could hold their own against the united force of all Israel. Never, were men as foolhardy as they were when they took up arms in opposition to so good a cause as Israel had. How could they expect to do well when they fought against justice, and consequently against the just God himself, against those that had the high priest and the divine oracle on their side, and so, they acted in downright rebellion against the sacred and supreme authority of the nation.

But the children of Benjamin should be “And the children, etc”. It is not dependent upon the preceding verse, but begins a new component of the narrative. Men came out of the cities, i.e. the different cities of the tribe of Benjamin, of which there were twenty-six in all, according to Joshua 18:21-28 (see below).
to go out to battle against the children of Israel;

They didn’t deny the fact of the crime, or attempt to apologize and excuse it, and they never tried for peace with the other tribes; but they immediately took-up arms; which showed not only a lack of prudence but an excess of pride, passion and self-confidence, and they must have been sadly depraved in their morals to rise up in defense of such wicked men; and they must have had strange aspirations to expect success against such vastly superior numbers, and in so bad a cause.

Josh 18:21-28 (KJV) Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin according to their families were Jericho, and Bethhoglah, and the valley of Keziz,  And Betharabah, and Zemaraim, and Bethel,  And Avim, and Parah, and Ophrah,  And Chepharhaammonai, and Ophni, and Gaba; twelve cities with their villages:  Gibeon, and Ramah, and Beeroth,  And Mizpeh, and Chephirah, and Mozah,  And Rekem, and Irpeel, and Taralah,  And Zelah, Eleph, and Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, Gibeath, and Kirjath; fourteen cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin according to their families.

 

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 hundred chosen men.
—Judges 20.15 (KJV) 

15 In all, 26,000 of their warriors armed with swords arrived in Gibeah to join the 700 elite troops who lived there.—Judges 20.15 (NLT)

And the children of Benjamin were numbered at that time out of the cities
There was a count made of all the men of Benjamin who had come from their various cities to defend Gibeah from a pending attack by the other tribes.

twenty and six thousand men that drew the sword
The count was made of all able bodied men who were fit for war. Some copies of the Septuagint have twenty-three thousand, others twenty-five thousand. The Vulgate has this latter number; the Complutensian Polyglot and Josephus have the same. I prefer to accept the Biblical record; 26,700 when the men of Gibeah are included.

In Joshua 18:21-28 (see previous verse), there is a list of the twenty-six cities of the Benjamites, not including all of their villages, and therefore, the mobilization of 26,000 men , from Benjamin is altogether reasonable. We reject the nonsense about these figures being "exaggerated." Modern commentators, knowing absolutely nothing about the situation, have carved for themselves a very unenviable position in contradicting the plain statements of God's Word. When comparing the numbers here with those in Numbers 1, and Numbers 26, in both the case of the Benjamites and that of the Israelites, their total numbers of fighting men had decreased by about one third. This falling off of the numbers of Israel's fighting men suggests that the conquest had taken its toll, and that the continuing ravages of the Canaanite enemies left unconquered in Palestine was also another factor eroding Israel's strength. We only need to go back to the time when the nation of Israel was in the wilderness to find an example of how much the number of citizen-soldiers had been reduced. The number of Benjamin’s fighters in the wilderness were 35,400 at the first numbering, and 45,600 at the second (see Numbers 1:36, 37; 2:23; 26:41). It is impossible to account with certainty for the falling off in the numbers by nearly 20,000; but perhaps many were slain in the wars of Canaan, and the unsettled times were unfavorable to early marriages. For the entire nation of Israel there was a falling off of nearly 200,000 men; or exactly (601,730-400,000 +26,700) 175,030.

 

Num 1:36-37 (KJV) Of the children of Benjamin, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Benjamin, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred.

Num 2:23 (KJV) And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred. (Benjamin) first count

Num 26:41 (KJV) These are the sons of Benjamin after their families: and they that were numbered of them were forty and five thousand and six hundred. Second count

 

beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven hundred chosen men
Benjamin could boast of having 26,700 men, and even if they were all young, stout, and strong, what are they to an army of 400,000, that came up against Gibeah? The lower number of 360,000 should probably be used, since 40,000 were employed in getting provisions for them. Josephus makes the number of the Benjaminites still less, no more than 25,600, which he arrived at from a later account; that 25,000 Benjaminites were slain in the third and last battle, and only six hundred escaped to a rock for safety. But what is missing from his statistics is those killed and wounded in the first two battles, which could easily exceed 1,000. It would be strange indeed, for Benjamin to battle Israel twice against such a large army without losing any men. The same error is committed in the Vulgate Latin version, which makes them no more than 25,000; which agrees with the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint version. The numbers in the Hebrew text are no doubt the right ones.

It may help to understand how great the disproportion in their numbers existed here, if you compare this case with what Jesus is saying in Luke 14.31, 32 (see below); where one army with only 10,000 men did not dare go against a force of 20,000, and therefore they decided to accept the conditions of peace. There the enemy was only two to one, here it is above fifteen to one; yet they despised the conditions of peace. All the forces they could bring into the field were only 26,000 men

Both sides now made their preparations. The Benjaminites assembled together at Gibeah, where they were only able to muster 26,000 men drawing the sword, beside the inhabitants of Gibeah.

Luke 14:31-32 (KJV) Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

 


16 Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.—Judges 20.16 (KJV) 
16 Among Benjamin’s elite troops, 700 were left-handed, and each of them could sling a rock and hit a target within a hairsbreadth without missing.—Judges 20.16 (NLT)

Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded
According to Ben Gersom, these seven hundred men were from the city of Gibeah; but this is not found in the text; on the contrary, these were discovered among all the people. There were probably more left-handed men (see The Left-Handed Men), but these had a particular skill that the Benjaminites needed. Besides, is it unlikely that all the inhabitants of one place would be Left-handed. Benjamin signifies a son of the right hand, yet this tribe had a great number of left-handed men in it. Josephus wrongly reduces the number to five hundred.

Left-handed in this place means they were ambidexters—men who could use the right hand and the left with equal ease and effect. There are several theories regarding these men; one says they were "obstructed in their right hand;" so the Chaldee Targum, has it that they were “contracted or impeded in their right hand." Le Clerc is a believer in this theory, and he observes, that the 700 left-handed men seem to have been made slingers, because they could not use their right hand, but with a sling in their left hand they could discharge the stones with exceptional accuracy. There is another school of thought that makes these men out to be ambidextrous, meaning they could use either hand equally well, so they could use the sling in almost any position they were in (see 1 Chronicles 12:2). It is curious, however, that the tribe of Benjamin, which means son of the right hand, should have this peculiar regiment of left-handed men. Ehud the Benjamite was a left-handed man  ( see Judges 3:15). For the use of the sling see 1 Samuel 17:40, 49 (below).

The Left-Handed Men: Ehud the son of Gera—a man left handed—a man lame in his right hand, and therefore obliged to use his left. The Septuagint renders it “an ambidexter, a man who could use both hands alike.” The Vulgate states “a man who could use either hand as a right hand, or to whom right and left were equally ready.” This is not the sense of the original, but it is the sense in which most interpreters understand it. It is well known that those who were ambidextrous were in high standing among the ancients: Hector boasts of it:—

"But am in arms well practiced; many a Greek
Hath bled by me, and I can shift my shield
From right to left; reserving to the last
Force that suffices for severest toil."

Asteropaeus is also represented by Homer as an ambidexter, from which he derives great advantages in fight:—
So threatened he. Then raised Achilles high
The Pelian ash:—and his two spears at once
Alike, (a practiced warrior), with both hands
Asteropaeus hurled."

We are informed by Aristotle, that Plato recommended to all soldiers to acquire by study and exercise an equal facility of using both hands. Speaking of Plato, he says: "He (Plato) also made a law concerning their warlike exercises, that they should acquire a habit of using both hands alike; as it is not fit that one of the hands should be useful and the other useless."

1 Chron 12:2 (KJV) They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul's brethren of Benjamin.

Judges 3:15 (KJV) But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded…

1 Sam 17:40, 49 (KJV) And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine…And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.

everyone could sling stones at an hair's breadth, and not miss:
Perhaps their having such a large number of skilful men in this art made the Benjaminites more confident of success, and encouraged them in this daring undertaking and that may be why this situation is mentioned at this point in the account. There was a people that inhabited the islands which are now called Majorca and Minorca, and had the ancient name Baleares, that were famous for their skillfulness in slinging stones, to which they were brought up to do from their childhood, as related by various writers; Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, Floras and others. It seems that their mothers used to set their breakfast on a beam or post, or some such thing, which they were not to have, unless they could strike it with a stone from their sling. Strabo says that they exercised this art from the time that the Phoenicians held these islands; and, according to Pliny, the Phoenicians, the old inhabitants of Canaan, were the first inventors of slings, and from these the Benjaminites might have learned to use it. The Indians are said to be very expert in slinging stones to an hair's breadth. Vegetius tells us, that slingers could in general hit the mark at 600 feet distance.

The sling was one of the earliest weapons used in war. The Hebrew sling was probably similar to that of the Egyptian, consisting of a leather thong, broad in the middle, with a loop at one end, by which it was firmly held with the hand; the other end terminated in a lash, which was let slip when the stone was thrown. Those skilled in the use of it, as the Benjamites were, could hit the mark with unerring certainty. A good sling could carry its full force to the distance of two hundred yards. Cundall tells us that, "It has been estimated that stones weighing up to one pound could be projected with uncanny accuracy at speeds up to 90 miles per hour." The slings of ancient armies were deadly weapons, and it appears that the Benjamites were unusually skillful in their use. It was with such a weapon that David slew Goliath of Gath.

 

 

17 And the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew sword: all these were men of war.—Judges 20.17 (KJV) 
17 Israel had 400,000 experienced soldiers armed with swords, not counting Benjamin’s warriors. —Judges 20.17 (NLT)

And the men of Israel, beside Benjamin
who did not join them in this affair, but opposed them.

were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew sword:
 (see Judges 20.2 notes)

all these were men of war;
The Benjaminites with only one-fifteenth the number of men will dare to face 400,000 men of Israel. It is in this way that sinners are the cause of their own ruin, and provoke them to jealousy who are infinitely stronger than they are (see 1 Co. 10:22). But it should seem they depended upon the skill and courage of their men to make up what was lacking in numbers, especially a regiment of slingers, 700 men, who, though left-handed, were so dexterous at slinging stones that they would not be a hair’s breadth off their mark. But these good marksmen certainly missed the mark when they adopted this bad cause.

 

1 Cor 10:22 (NLT) What? Do we dare to rouse the Lord’s jealousy? Do you think we are stronger than he is? All idolatry is represented as a sort of spiritual adultery; it is giving that heart to Satan that should be devoted to God; and he is represented as being jealous, because of the infidelity of those who have covenanted to give their hearts to him.

 

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