Chapter 20

1Thereupon all the Israelites—from Dan to Be'er Sheva and [from] the land of Gilad—marched forth, and the community assembled to a man before Hashem at Mitzpa.

va-yay-tz'-U kol b'-NAY yis-ra-AYL va-ti-ka-HAYL ha-ay-DAH k'-EESH e-KHAD l'-mi-DAN v'-ad b'-AYR SHE-va v'-E-retz ha-gil-AD el a-do-NAI ha-mitz-PAH

אוַיֵּצְאוּ כָּל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַתִּקָּהֵל הָעֵדָה כְּאִישׁ אֶחָד לְמִדָּן וְעַד־בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע וְאֶרֶץ הַגִּלְעָד אֶל־יְהֹוָה הַמִּצְפָּה׃

 20:1  From Dan to Be’er Sheva

Be’er Sheva, mentioned in this verse as the southern boundary of Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael, was a vital city in biblical times. Be’er Sheva is one of the primary places where Avraham lives and digs a well, be’er (באר) in Hebrew. Yitzchak builds an altar there, and Yaakov passes through on the way to Beit El and later stops to bring sacrifices there on his way down to Egypt. In contemporary Israel, Be’er Sheva is known as “the capital of the Negev Desert.” It is a thriving, multicultural city with a population including many Jews from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union, a major hospital and a large university. The city is one of the many ancient cities in the Land of Israel that the Children of Israel have revived and developed.

Sayarim Junction, on the Highway 10 expressway, in the Negev desert.

Modern Court House in Beer Sheva

2All the leaders of the people [and] all the tribes of Yisrael presented themselves in the assembly of Hashem's people, 400,000 fighting men on foot.

בוַיִּתְיַצְּבוּ פִּנּוֹת כָּל־הָעָם כֹּל שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּקְהַל עַם הָאֱלֹהִים אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת אֶלֶף אִישׁ רַגְלִי שֹׁלֵף חָרֶב׃

3The Benjaminites heard that the Israelites had come up to Mitzpa.—The Israelites said, “Tell us, how did this evil thing happen?”

גוַיִּשְׁמְעוּ בְּנֵי בִנְיָמִן כִּי־עָלוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל הַמִּצְפָּה וַיֹּאמְרוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל דַּבְּרוּ אֵיכָה נִהְיְתָה הָרָעָה הַזֹּאת׃

4And the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, replied, “My concubine and I came to Giva of Binyamin to spend the night.

דוַיַּעַן הָאִישׁ הַלֵּוִי אִישׁ הָאִשָּׁה הַנִּרְצָחָה וַיֹּאמַר הַגִּבְעָתָה אֲשֶׁר לְבִנְיָמִן בָּאתִי אֲנִי וּפִילַגְשִׁי לָלוּן׃

5The citizens of Giva set out to harm me. They gathered against me around the house in the night; they meant to kill me, and they ravished my concubine until she died.

הוַיָּקֻמוּ עָלַי בַּעֲלֵי הַגִּבְעָה וַיָּסֹבּוּ עָלַי אֶת־הַבַּיִת לָיְלָה אוֹתִי דִּמּוּ לַהֲרֹג וְאֶת־פִּילַגְשִׁי עִנּוּ וַתָּמֹת׃

6So I took hold of my concubine and I cut her in pieces and sent them through every part of Yisrael's territory. For an outrageous act of depravity had been committed in Yisrael.

ווָאֹחֵז בְּפִילַגְשִׁי וָאֲנַתְּחֶהָ וָאֲשַׁלְּחֶהָ בְּכָל־שְׂדֵה נַחֲלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי עָשׂוּ זִמָּה וּנְבָלָה בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל׃

7Now you are all Israelites; produce a plan of action here and now!”

זהִנֵּה כֻלְּכֶם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָבוּ לָכֶם דָּבָר וְעֵצָה הֲלֹם׃

8Then all the people rose, as one man, and declared, “We will not go back to our homes, we will not enter our houses!

חוַיָּקָם כָּל־הָעָם כְּאִישׁ אֶחָד לֵאמֹר לֹא נֵלֵךְ אִישׁ לְאָהֳלוֹ וְלֹא נָסוּר אִישׁ לְבֵיתוֹ׃

9But this is what we will do to Giva: [we will wage war] against it according to lot.

טוְעַתָּה זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשֶׂה לַגִּבְעָה עָלֶיהָ בְּגוֹרָל׃

10We will take from all the tribes of Yisrael ten men to the hundred, a hundred to the thousand, and a thousand to the ten thousand to supply provisions for the troops—to prepare for their going to Geba in Binyamin for all the outrage it has committed in Yisrael.”

יוְלָקַחְנוּ עֲשָׂרָה אֲנָשִׁים לַמֵּאָה לְכֹל שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וּמֵאָה לָאֶלֶף וְאֶלֶף לָרְבָבָה לָקַחַת צֵדָה לָעָם לַעֲשׂוֹת לְבוֹאָם לְגֶבַע בִּנְיָמִן כְּכָל־הַנְּבָלָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל׃

11So all the men of Yisrael, united as one man, massed against the town.

יאוַיֵּאָסֵף כָּל־אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל־הָעִיר כְּאִישׁ אֶחָד חֲבֵרִים׃

12And the tribes of Yisrael sent men through the whole tribe of Binyamin, saying, “What is this evil thing that has happened among you?

יבוַיִּשְׁלְחוּ שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲנָשִׁים בְּכָל־שִׁבְטֵי בִנְיָמִן לֵאמֹר מָה הָרָעָה הַזֹּאת אֲשֶׁר נִהְיְתָה בָּכֶם׃

13Come, hand over those scoundrels in Giva so that we may put them to death and stamp out the evil from Yisrael.” But the Benjaminites would not yield to the demand of their fellow Israelites.

יגוְעַתָּה תְּנוּ אֶת־הָאֲנָשִׁים בְּנֵי־בְלִיַּעַל אֲשֶׁר בַּגִּבְעָה וּנְמִיתֵם וּנְבַעֲרָה רָעָה מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא אָבוּ [בְּנֵי] בִּנְיָמִן לִשְׁמֹעַ בְּקוֹל אֲחֵיהֶם בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

14So the Benjaminites gathered from their towns to Giva in order to take the field against the Israelites.

ידוַיֵּאָסְפוּ בְנֵי־בִנְיָמִן מִן־הֶעָרִים הַגִּבְעָתָה לָצֵאת לַמִּלְחָמָה עִם־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

15On that day the Benjaminites mustered from the towns 26,000 fighting men, mustered apart from the inhabitants of Giva; 700 picked men

טווַיִּתְפָּקְדוּ בְנֵי בִנְיָמִן בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא מֵהֶעָרִים עֶשְׂרִים וְשִׁשָּׁה אֶלֶף אִישׁ שֹׁלֵף חָרֶב לְבַד מִיֹּשְׁבֵי הַגִּבְעָה הִתְפָּקְדוּ שְׁבַע מֵאוֹת אִישׁ בָּחוּר׃

16of all this force—700 picked men—were left-handed. Every one of them could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

טזמִכֹּל הָעָם הַזֶּה שְׁבַע מֵאוֹת אִישׁ בָּחוּר אִטֵּר יַד־יְמִינוֹ כָּל־זֶה קֹלֵעַ בָּאֶבֶן אֶל־הַשַּׂעֲרָה וְלֹא יַחֲטִא׃

17The men of Yisrael other than Binyamin mustered 400,000 fighting men, warriors to a man.

יזוְאִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל הִתְפָּקְדוּ לְבַד מִבִּנְיָמִן אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת אֶלֶף אִישׁ שֹׁלֵף חָרֶב כָּל־זֶה אִישׁ מִלְחָמָה׃

18They proceeded to Beit El and inquired of Hashem; the Israelites asked, “Who of us shall advance first to fight the Benjaminites?” And Hashem replied, “Yehuda first.”

יחוַיָּקֻמוּ וַיַּעֲלוּ בֵית־אֵל וַיִּשְׁאֲלוּ בֵאלֹהִים וַיֹּאמְרוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִי יַעֲלֶה־לָּנוּ בַתְּחִלָּה לַמִּלְחָמָה עִם־בְּנֵי בִנְיָמִן וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה יְהוּדָה בַתְּחִלָּה׃

19So the Israelites arose in the morning and encamped against Giva.

יטוַיָּקוּמוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּבֹּקֶר וַיַּחֲנוּ עַל־הַגִּבְעָה׃

20The men of Yisrael took the field against the Benjaminites; the men of Yisrael drew up in battle order against them at Giva.

כוַיֵּצֵא אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל לַמִּלְחָמָה עִם־בִּנְיָמִן וַיַּעַרְכוּ אִתָּם אִישׁ־יִשְׂרָאֵל מִלְחָמָה אֶל־הַגִּבְעָה׃

21But the Benjaminites issued from Giva, and that day they struck down 22,000 men of Yisrael.

כאוַיֵּצְאוּ בְנֵי־בִנְיָמִן מִן־הַגִּבְעָה וַיַּשְׁחִיתוּ בְיִשְׂרָאֵל בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא שְׁנַיִם וְעֶשְׂרִים אֶלֶף אִישׁ אָרְצָה׃

22Now the army—the men of Yisrael—rallied and again drew up in battle order at the same place as they had on the first day.

כבוַיִּתְחַזֵּק הָעָם אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּסִפוּ לַעֲרֹךְ מִלְחָמָה בַּמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר־עָרְכוּ שָׁם בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן׃

23For the Israelites had gone up and wept before Hashem until evening. They had inquired of Hashem, “Shall we again join battle with our kinsmen the Benjaminites?” And Hashem had replied, “March against them.”

כגוַיַּעֲלוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּבְכּוּ לִפְנֵי־יְהֹוָה עַד־הָעֶרֶב וַיִּשְׁאֲלוּ בַיהֹוָה לֵאמֹר הַאוֹסִיף לָגֶשֶׁת לַמִּלְחָמָה עִם־בְּנֵי בִנְיָמִן אָחִי וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה עֲלוּ אֵלָיו׃

24The Israelites advanced against the Binyaminites on the second day.

כדוַיִּקְרְבוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל־בְּנֵי בִנְיָמִן בַּיּוֹם הַשֵּׁנִי׃

25But the Benjaminites came out from Giva against them on the second day and struck down 18,000 more of the Israelites, all of them fighting men.

כהוַיֵּצֵא בִנְיָמִן לִקְרָאתָם מִן־הַגִּבְעָה בַּיּוֹם הַשֵּׁנִי וַיַּשְׁחִיתוּ בִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹד שְׁמֹנַת עָשָׂר אֶלֶף אִישׁ אָרְצָה כָּל־אֵלֶּה שֹׁלְפֵי חָרֶב׃

26Then all the Israelites, all the army, went up and came to Beit El and they sat there, weeping before Hashem. They fasted that day until evening, and presented burnt offerings and offerings of well-being to Hashem.

כווַיַּעֲלוּ כָל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְכָל־הָעָם וַיָּבֹאוּ בֵית־אֵל וַיִּבְכּוּ וַיֵּשְׁבוּ שָׁם לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה וַיָּצוּמוּ בַיּוֹם־הַהוּא עַד־הָעָרֶב וַיַּעֲלוּ עֹלוֹת וּשְׁלָמִים לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה׃

27The Israelites inquired of Hashem (for the Aron Brit Hashem was there in those days,

כזוַיִּשְׁאֲלוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּיהֹוָה וְשָׁם אֲרוֹן בְּרִית הָאֱלֹהִים בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם׃

28and Pinchas son of Elazar son of Aharon the Kohen ministered before Him in those days), “Shall we again take the field against our kinsmen the Benjaminites, or shall we not?” Hashem answered, “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hands.”

כחוּפִינְחָס בֶּן־אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן־אַהֲרֹן עֹמֵד לְפָנָיו בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם לֵאמֹר הַאוֹסִף עוֹד לָצֵאת לַמִּלְחָמָה עִם־בְּנֵי־בִנְיָמִן אָחִי אִם־אֶחְדָּל וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה עֲלוּ כִּי מָחָר אֶתְּנֶנּוּ בְיָדֶךָ׃

29Yisrael put men in ambush against Giva on all sides.

כטוַיָּשֶׂם יִשְׂרָאֵל אֹרְבִים אֶל־הַגִּבְעָה סָבִיב׃

30And on the third day, the Israelites went up against the Benjaminites, as before, and engaged them in battle at Giva.

לוַיַּעֲלוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל־בְּנֵי בִנְיָמִן בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי וַיַּעַרְכוּ אֶל־הַגִּבְעָה כְּפַעַם בְּפָעַם׃

31The Benjaminites dashed out to meet the army and were drawn away from the town onto the roads, of which one runs to Beit El and the other to Giva. As before, they started out by striking some of the men dead in the open field, about 30 men of Yisrael.

לאוַיֵּצְאוּ בְנֵי־בִנְיָמִן לִקְרַאת הָעָם הָנְתְּקוּ מִן־הָעִיר וַיָּחֵלּוּ לְהַכּוֹת מֵהָעָם חֲלָלִים כְּפַעַם בְּפַעַם בַּמְסִלּוֹת אֲשֶׁר אַחַת עֹלָה בֵית־אֵל וְאַחַת גִּבְעָתָה בַּשָּׂדֶה כִּשְׁלֹשִׁים אִישׁ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל׃

32The Benjaminites thought, “They are being routed before us as previously.” But the Israelites had planned: “We will take to flight and draw them away from the town to the roads.”

לבוַיֹּאמְרוּ בְּנֵי בִנְיָמִן נִגָּפִים הֵם לְפָנֵינוּ כְּבָרִאשֹׁנָה וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אָמְרוּ נָנוּסָה וּנְתַקְּנֻהוּ מִן־הָעִיר אֶל־הַמְסִלּוֹת׃

33And while the main body of the Israelites had moved away from their positions and had drawn up in battle order at Baal-tamar, the Israelite ambush was rushing out from its position at Maareh-geba.

לגוְכֹל אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל קָמוּ מִמְּקוֹמוֹ וַיַּעַרְכוּ בְּבַעַל תָּמָר וְאֹרֵב יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵגִיחַ מִמְּקֹמוֹ מִמַּעֲרֵה־גָבַע׃

34Thus 10,000 picked men of all Yisrael came to a point south of Giva, and the battle was furious. Before they realized that disaster was approaching,

לדוַיָּבֹאוּ מִנֶּגֶד לַגִּבְעָה עֲשֶׂרֶת אֲלָפִים אִישׁ בָּחוּר מִכָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהַמִּלְחָמָה כָּבֵדָה וְהֵם לֹא יָדְעוּ כִּי־נֹגַעַת עֲלֵיהֶם הָרָעָה׃

35Hashem routed the Benjaminites before Yisrael. That day the Israelites slew 25,100 men of Binyamin, all of them fighting men.

להוַיִּגֹּף יְהֹוָה אֶת־בִּנְיָמִן לִפְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיַּשְׁחִיתוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּבִנְיָמִן בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא עֶשְׂרִים וַחֲמִשָּׁה אֶלֶף וּמֵאָה אִישׁ כָּל־אֵלֶּה שֹׁלֵף חָרֶב׃

36Then the Benjaminites realized that they were routed. Now the Israelites had yielded ground to the Benjaminites, for they relied on the ambush which they had laid against Giva.

לווַיִּרְאוּ בְנֵי־בִנְיָמִן כִּי נִגָּפוּ וַיִּתְּנוּ אִישׁ־יִשְׂרָאֵל מָקוֹם לְבִנְיָמִן כִּי בָטְחוּ אֶל־הָאֹרֵב אֲשֶׁר שָׂמוּ אֶל־הַגִּבְעָה׃

37One ambush quickly deployed against Giva, and the other ambush advanced and put the whole town to the sword.

לזוְהָאֹרֵב הֵחִישׁוּ וַיִּפְשְׁטוּ אֶל־הַגִּבְעָה וַיִּמְשֹׁךְ הָאֹרֵב וַיַּךְ אֶת־כָּל־הָעִיר לְפִי־חָרֶב׃

38A time had been agreed upon by the Israelite men with those in ambush: When a huge column of smoke was sent up from the town,

לחוְהַמּוֹעֵד הָיָה לְאִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל עִם־הָאֹרֵב הֶרֶב לְהַעֲלוֹתָם מַשְׂאַת הֶעָשָׁן מִן־הָעִיר׃

39the Israelite men were to turn about in battle. Binyamin had begun by striking dead about 30 Israelite men, and they thought, “They are being routed before us as in the previous fighting.”

לטוַיַּהֲפֹךְ אִישׁ־יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּמִּלְחָמָה וּבִנְיָמִן הֵחֵל לְהַכּוֹת חֲלָלִים בְּאִישׁ־יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּשְׁלֹשִׁים אִישׁ כִּי אָמְרוּ אַךְ נִגּוֹף נִגָּף הוּא לְפָנֵינוּ כַּמִּלְחָמָה הָרִאשֹׁנָה׃

40But when the column, the pillar of smoke, began to rise from the city, the Benjaminites looked behind them, and there was the whole town going up in smoke to the sky!

מוְהַמַּשְׂאֵת הֵחֵלָּה לַעֲלוֹת מִן־הָעִיר עַמּוּד עָשָׁן וַיִּפֶן בִּנְיָמִן אַחֲרָיו וְהִנֵּה עָלָה כְלִיל־הָעִיר הַשָּׁמָיְמָה׃

41And now the Israelites turned about, and the men of Binyamin were thrown into panic, for they realized that disaster had overtaken them.

מאוְאִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל הָפַךְ וַיִּבָּהֵל אִישׁ בִּנְיָמִן כִּי רָאָה כִּי־נָגְעָה עָלָיו הָרָעָה׃

42They retreated before the men of Yisrael along the road to the wilderness, where the fighting caught up with them; meanwhile those from the towns were massacring them in it.

מבוַיִּפְנוּ לִפְנֵי אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל־דֶּרֶךְ הַמִּדְבָּר וְהַמִּלְחָמָה הִדְבִּיקָתְהוּ וַאֲשֶׁר מֵהֶעָרִים מַשְׁחִיתִים אוֹתוֹ בְּתוֹכוֹ׃

43They encircled the Benjaminites, pursued them, and trod them down [from] Menuhah to a point opposite Giva on the east.

מגכִּתְּרוּ אֶת־בִּנְיָמִן הִרְדִיפֻהוּ מְנוּחָה הִדְרִיכֻהוּ עַד נֹכַח הַגִּבְעָה מִמִּזְרַח־שָׁמֶשׁ׃

44That day 18,000 men of Binyamin fell, all of them brave men.

מדוַיִּפְּלוּ מִבִּנְיָמִן שְׁמֹנָה־עָשָׂר אֶלֶף אִישׁ אֶת־כָּל־אֵלֶּה אַנְשֵׁי־חָיִל׃

45They turned and fled to the wilderness, to the Rock of Rimmon; but [the Israelites] picked off another 5,000 on the roads and, continuing in hot pursuit of them up to Gidom, they slew 2,000 more.

מהוַיִּפְנוּ וַיָּנֻסוּ הַמִּדְבָּרָה אֶל־סֶלַע הָרִמּוֹן וַיְעֹלְלֻהוּ בַּמְסִלּוֹת חֲמֵשֶׁת אֲלָפִים אִישׁ וַיַּדְבִּיקוּ אַחֲרָיו עַד־גִּדְעֹם וַיַּכּוּ מִמֶּנּוּ אַלְפַּיִם אִישׁ׃

46Thus the total number of Benjaminites who fell that day came to 25,000 fighting men, all of them brave.

מווַיְהִי כָל־הַנֹּפְלִים מִבִּנְיָמִן עֶשְׂרִים וַחֲמִשָּׁה אֶלֶף אִישׁ שֹׁלֵף חֶרֶב בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא אֶת־כָּל־אֵלֶּה אַנְשֵׁי־חָיִל׃

47But 600 men turned and fled to the wilderness, to the Rock of Rimmon; they remained at the Rock of Rimmon four months.

מזוַיִּפְנוּ וַיָּנֻסוּ הַמִּדְבָּרָה אֶל־סֶלַע הָרִמּוֹן שֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת אִישׁ וַיֵּשְׁבוּ בְּסֶלַע רִמּוֹן אַרְבָּעָה חֳדָשִׁים׃

48The men of Yisrael, meanwhile, turned back to the rest of the Benjaminites and put them to the sword—towns, people, cattle—everything that remained. Finally, they set fire to all the towns that were left.

מחוְאִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל שָׁבוּ אֶל־בְּנֵי בִנְיָמִן וַיַּכּוּם לְפִי־חֶרֶב מֵעִיר מְתֹם עַד־בְּהֵמָה עַד כָּל־הַנִּמְצָא גַּם כָּל־הֶעָרִים הַנִּמְצָאוֹת שִׁלְּחוּ בָאֵשׁ׃