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.
2 All 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.
ב וַיִּתְיַצְּבוּ פִּנּוֹת כָּל־הָעָם כֹּל שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּקְהַל עַם הָאֱלֹהִים אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת אֶלֶף אִישׁ רַגְלִי שֹׁלֵף חָרֶב׃
3 The Benjaminites heard that the Israelites had come up to Mitzpa.—The Israelites said, “Tell us, how did this evil thing happen?”
ד וַיַּעַן הָאִישׁ הַלֵּוִי אִישׁ הָאִשָּׁה הַנִּרְצָחָה וַיֹּאמַר הַגִּבְעָתָה אֲשֶׁר לְבִנְיָמִן בָּאתִי אֲנִי וּפִילַגְשִׁי לָלוּן׃
5 The 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.
ה וַיָּקֻמוּ עָלַי בַּעֲלֵי הַגִּבְעָה וַיָּסֹבּוּ עָלַי אֶת־הַבַּיִת לָיְלָה אוֹתִי דִּמּוּ לַהֲרֹג וְאֶת־פִּילַגְשִׁי עִנּוּ וַתָּמֹת׃
7 Now you are all Israelites; produce a plan of action here and now!”
ז הִנֵּה כֻלְּכֶם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָבוּ לָכֶם דָּבָר וְעֵצָה הֲלֹם׃
8 Then all the people rose, as one man, and declared, “We will not go back to our homes, we will not enter our houses!
ח וַיָּקָם כָּל־הָעָם כְּאִישׁ אֶחָד לֵאמֹר לֹא נֵלֵךְ אִישׁ לְאָהֳלוֹ וְלֹא נָסוּר אִישׁ לְבֵיתוֹ׃
9 But this is what we will do to Giva: [we will wage war] against it according to lot.
ט וְעַתָּה זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשֶׂה לַגִּבְעָה עָלֶיהָ בְּגוֹרָל׃
10 We 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.”
11 So all the men of Yisrael, united as one man, massed against the town.
יא וַיֵּאָסֵף כָּל־אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל־הָעִיר כְּאִישׁ אֶחָד חֲבֵרִים׃
יב וַיִּשְׁלְחוּ שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲנָשִׁים בְּכָל־שִׁבְטֵי בִנְיָמִן לֵאמֹר מָה הָרָעָה הַזֹּאת אֲשֶׁר נִהְיְתָה בָּכֶם׃
14 So the Benjaminites gathered from their towns to Giva in order to take the field against the Israelites.
15 On that day the Benjaminites mustered from the towns 26,000 fighting men, mustered apart from the inhabitants of Giva; 700 picked men
16 of all this force—700 picked men—were left-handed. Every one of them could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.
טז מִכֹּל הָעָם הַזֶּה שְׁבַע מֵאוֹת אִישׁ בָּחוּר אִטֵּר יַד־יְמִינוֹ כָּל־זֶה קֹלֵעַ בָּאֶבֶן אֶל־הַשַּׂעֲרָה וְלֹא יַחֲטִא׃
יז וְאִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל הִתְפָּקְדוּ לְבַד מִבִּנְיָמִן אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת אֶלֶף אִישׁ שֹׁלֵף חָרֶב כָּל־זֶה אִישׁ מִלְחָמָה׃
19 So the Israelites arose in the morning and encamped against Giva.
22 Now 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.
23 For 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.”
כג וַיַּעֲלוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּבְכּוּ לִפְנֵי־יְהֹוָה עַד־הָעֶרֶב וַיִּשְׁאֲלוּ בַיהֹוָה לֵאמֹר הַאוֹסִיף לָגֶשֶׁת לַמִּלְחָמָה עִם־בְּנֵי בִנְיָמִן אָחִי וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה עֲלוּ אֵלָיו׃
24 The Israelites advanced against the Binyaminites on the second day.
כד וַיִּקְרְבוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל־בְּנֵי בִנְיָמִן בַּיּוֹם הַשֵּׁנִי׃
25 But 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.
26 Then 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.
27 The Israelites inquired of Hashem (for the Aron Brit Hashem was there in those days,
כז וַיִּשְׁאֲלוּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּיהֹוָה וְשָׁם אֲרוֹן בְּרִית הָאֱלֹהִים בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם׃
28 and 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.”
30 And on the third day, the Israelites went up against the Benjaminites, as before, and engaged them in battle at Giva.
31 The 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.
לא וַיֵּצְאוּ 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׃
32 The 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.”
לב וַיֹּאמְרוּ בְּנֵי בִנְיָמִן נִגָּפִים הֵם לְפָנֵינוּ כְּבָרִאשֹׁנָה וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אָמְרוּ נָנוּסָה וּנְתַקְּנֻהוּ מִן־הָעִיר אֶל־הַמְסִלּוֹת׃
33 And 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.
36 Then 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.
37 One ambush quickly deployed against Giva, and the other ambush advanced and put the whole town to the sword.
לז וְהָאֹרֵב הֵחִישׁוּ וַיִּפְשְׁטוּ אֶל־הַגִּבְעָה וַיִּמְשֹׁךְ הָאֹרֵב וַיַּךְ אֶת־כָּל־הָעִיר לְפִי־חָרֶב׃
38 A 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,
39 the 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.”
40 But 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!
מ וְהַמַּשְׂאֵת הֵחֵלָּה לַעֲלוֹת מִן־הָעִיר עַמּוּד עָשָׁן וַיִּפֶן בִּנְיָמִן אַחֲרָיו וְהִנֵּה עָלָה כְלִיל־הָעִיר הַשָּׁמָיְמָה׃
41 And now the Israelites turned about, and the men of Binyamin were thrown into panic, for they realized that disaster had overtaken them.
מא וְאִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל הָפַךְ וַיִּבָּהֵל אִישׁ בִּנְיָמִן כִּי רָאָה כִּי־נָגְעָה עָלָיו הָרָעָה׃
42 They 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.
43 They encircled the Benjaminites, pursued them, and trod them down [from] Menuhah to a point opposite Giva on the east.
44 That day 18,000 men of Binyamin fell, all of them brave men.
מד וַיִּפְּלוּ מִבִּנְיָמִן שְׁמֹנָה־עָשָׂר אֶלֶף אִישׁ אֶת־כָּל־אֵלֶּה אַנְשֵׁי־חָיִל׃
46 Thus the total number of Benjaminites who fell that day came to 25,000 fighting men, all of them brave.
מו וַיְהִי כָל־הַנֹּפְלִים מִבִּנְיָמִן עֶשְׂרִים וַחֲמִשָּׁה אֶלֶף אִישׁ שֹׁלֵף חֶרֶב בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא אֶת־כָּל־אֵלֶּה אַנְשֵׁי־חָיִל׃
48 The 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.