JB JUDGES Chapter 1
I. FIRST INTRODUCTION[*a]
A. SUMMARY ACCOUNT OF THE SETTLEMENT IN CANAAN
The settlement of Judah, Simeon, Caleb and the Kenites
1:1 After the death of Joshua the Israelites consulted Yahweh, ‘Which of us shall march up first against the Canaanites to attack them?’
1:2 And Yahweh answered, ‘Judah is to attack first; I am delivering the country straight into his hands’.
1:3 Then Judah said to Simeon his brother,[*b] ‘March with me into the territory allotted to me; we will attack the Canaanite, and then I in my turn will march with you into your allotted territory’. And Simeon marched with him.
1:4 So Judah marched up, and Yahweh delivered the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands, and they routed ten thousand men at Bezek.
1:5 They came on Adoni-zedek at Bezek, joined battle with him and routed the Canaanites and Perizzites.
1:6 Adoni-zedek took to flight, but they followed and captured him and cut off his thumbs and big toes.
1:7 Then Adoni-zedek said, ‘Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to pick up the crumbs under my table. As I did to others, so God does to me.’ He was taken to Jerusalem[*c], and there he died.
1:8 (The sons of Judah attacked Jerusalem and took it: they put its people to the sword and set fire to the city.)[*d]
1:9 After this the sons of Judah went down to attack those Canaanites living in the highlands and in the Negeb and the lowlands.
1:10 Then Judah marched against the Canaanites in Hebron – in earlier times the name of Hebron was Kiriath-arba – and they overcame Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai.
1:11 From there they marched against the inhabitants of Debir – in earlier times the name of Debir was Kiriath-sepher.
1:12 Caleb said, ‘To the man who conquers and captures Kiriath-sepher, I will give my daughter Achsah to wife’.
1:13 The man who captured it was Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother; Caleb gave him his daughter of Achsah to wife.
1:14 When she came to her husband, he urged her to ask her father for a field. Then she jumped down from her donkey, and Caleb asked her, ‘What do you want?’
1:15 She answered, ‘Grant me a favour; since you have banished me to the wilderness of Negeb, at least grant me some springs of water’. So Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.
1:16 The sons of Hobab the Kenite, father-in-law of Moses, went up with the sons of Judah from the city of palms into the wilderness in the Negeb of Judah at the Ascent of Arad; they went and lived with the Amalekites.
1:17 Then Judah set out with his brother Simeon. They overcame the Canaanites who lived in Zephath and delivered it over to the ban; hence the town was given the name of Hormah.
1:18 But Judah did not take Gaza with its territory or Ashkelon with its territory or Ekron with its territory;
1:19b they could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain, because they had iron chariots.
1:19a Yahweh was with Judah, and Judah subdued the highlands.
1:20 As Moses had directed, Hebron was given to Caleb, and he drove the three sons of Anak out of it.
1:21 As regards the Jebusites living in Jerusalem, the sons of Benjamin did not drive them out, and even now the Jebusites are still living in Jerusalem with the sons of Benjamin.
The settlement of the house of Joseph
1:22 In the same way, the house of Joseph went up against Bethel, and Yahweh was with them.
1:23 The house of Joseph made a reconnaissance of Bethel. The name of the city used to be Luz.
1:24 The scouts saw a man coming out of the city, and said to him, ‘if you show us how to enter the city, we will spare you’.
1:25 He showed them a way into the city. They put the inhabitants to the sword but let the man go, and all his clan with him.
1:26 The man went off to the country of the Hittites and built a town which he called Luz; that is its name even yet.
The settlement of the northern tribes and the Edomites
1:27 Manasseh did not subdue Beth-shean and its outlying villages, or Taanach and its villages. He did not drive out the inhabitants of Dor and its outlying villages, or of Ibleam and its villages, or of Megiddo and its villages; in those parts the Canaanites held their ground.
1:28 But when the Israelites became stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labour, though they did not drive them out.
1:29 Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites in Gezer;[*e] thus the Canaanites went on living there among them.
1:30 Zebulun did not drive out the inhabitants of Kitron or of Nahalol. The Canaanites remained among Zebulun, but were subjected to forced labour.
1:31 Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco or of Sidon or Ahlab, or Achzib . . . or Aphik or Rehob.
1:32 So the Asherites lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the country, for they did not drive them out.
1:33 Naphtali did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh or of Beth-anath; they settled among the Canaanite inhabitants of the country; but the inhabitants of Beth-shemesh and of Beth-anath were compelled to do forced labour for them.
1:34 The Amorites drove back the Danites into the highlands and would not allow them to enter the plain below.
1:35 The Amorites held their ground at Har-heres and Shaalbim, but when the hand of the House of Jacob grew heavier, they were subjected to forced labour.
1:36 The territory of the Edomites begins at the Ascent of Akrabbim, runs to the Rock and continues on upwards.
JB JUDGES Chapter 2
The angel of Yahweh tells Israel of ills to come
2:1 The angel of Yahweh went up from Gilgal to Bethel and came to the House of Israel; and he said,’… and I brought you out of Egypt and led you into this land which I swore to give your fathers. I said: I shall never break my covenant with you.
2:2 You for your part must make no covenant with the inhabitants of this country; you must destroy their altars. But you have not obeyed my orders. What is it that you have done?
2:3 Very well, I now say this: I am not going to drive out these nations before you. They shall become your oppressors, and their gods shall be a snare for you.’
2:4 When the angel of Yahweh had spoken these words to all the Israelites, the people began to groan and weep.
2:5 And they called the name of the place Bochim,[*a] and offered sacrifices to Yahweh there.
II. SECOND INTRODUCTION
GENERAL REFLECTIONS ON THE AGE OF THE JUDGES
The end of Joshua’s life
2:6 Then Joshua told the people to go, and the Israelites went away, each to his own possession, to occupy the land.
2:7 The people served Yahweh throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the lifetime of those elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the great deeds that Yahweh had done for the sake of Israel.
2:8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of Yahweh, died when he was a hundred and ten years old.
2:9 They buried him on the estate he had received for inheritance, at Timnath-heres in the highlands of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
2:10 And when that generation too had been gathered to its fathers, another generation followed it which knew neither Yahweh nor the deeds that he had done for the sake of Israel.
The unfaithfulness of succeeding generations; their punishment
2:11 Then the sons of Israel did what displeases Yahweh and served the Baals.
2:12 They deserted Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from the gods of the peoples round them. They bowed down to these; they provoked Yahweh;
2:13 they deserted Yahweh to serve Baal and Astarte.[*b]
2:14 Then Yahweh’s anger flamed out against Israel. He handed them over to pillagers who plundered them; he delivered them to the enemies surrounding them, and they were not able to resist them.
2:15 In every warlike venture, the hand of Yahweh was there to foil them, as Yahweh had warned, as Yahweh had sworn to them. Thus he reduced them to dire distress.
The judges. No lasting conversion
2:16 Then Yahweh appointed judges[*c] for them, and rescued the men of Israel from the hands of their plunderers.
2:17 But they would not listen to their judges. They prostituted themselves to other gods, and bowed down before these. Very quickly they left the path their ancestors had trodden in obedience to the orders of Yahweh; they did not follow their example.
2:18 When Yahweh appointed judges for them, Yahweh was with the judge and rescued them from the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived, for Yahweh felt pity for them as they groaned under the iron grip of their oppressors.
2:19 But once the judge was dead, they relapsed and behaved even worse than their ancestors. They followed other gods; they served them and bowed before them, and would not give up the practices and stubborn ways of their ancestors at all
Why foreign nations were left in the land
2:20 Then Yahweh’s anger flamed out against Israel, and he said, ‘Since this people has broken the covenant I laid down for their ancestors, since they have not listened to my voice,
2:21 in future I will not evict any of the nations that Joshua left in the land when he died’;
2:22 this was to test them by means of these nations, to see whether Israel would or would not tread the paths of Yahweh as once their ancestors had trodden them.
2:23 So Yahweh allowed these nations to remain; he did not hurry to drive them out, and did not deliver them into the hands of Joshua.
JB JUDGES Chapter 3
The peoples who remained
3:1 These are the nations that Yahweh let remain, to use them to test all those in Israel who had never known war in Canaan
3:2 (this was only in the interest of the generations of the sons of Israel, to teach them the art of war, those at least who had never known the former wars):
3:3 the five chiefs of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hittites who lived in the range of Lebanon, from the uplands of Baal-hermon to the Pass of Hamath.
3:4 They were used to put Israel to the test and see if they would keep the orders that Yahweh had given their fathers through Moses.
3:5 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites and Hittites and Amorites, the Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites;
3:6 they married the daughters of these peoples, gave their own daughters in marriage to their sons, and served their gods
III. THE STORY OF THE JUDGES TOLD IN EPISODES
3:7 The Israelites[*a] did what displeases Yahweh. They forgot Yahweh their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.
3:8 Then Yahweh’s anger flamed out against Israel: he handed them over to Cushan-rishathaim the king of Edom, and the Israelites were enslaved by Cushan-rishathaim for eight years.
3:9 The Israelites cried to Yahweh, and Yahweh raised up for the Israelites a deliverer who rescued them, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.
3:10 The spirit of Yahweh came on him; he became judge in Israel and set out to fight. Yahweh delivered the king of Edom, Cushan-rishathaim, into his hands, and he overcame Cushan-rishathaim.
3:11 Then the land enjoyed rest for forty years.
When Othniel son of Kenaz died,
3:12 once again the men of Israel began to do what displeases Yahweh, and Yahweh gave Eglon the king of Moab power over Israel, because they had done what displeases Yahweh.
3:13 Eglon in alliance with the sons of Ammon and Amalek marched against Israel and conquered them and took possession of the city of palms.[*b]
3:14 The Israelites were enslaved by Eglon the king of Moab for eighteen years.
3:15 Then the Israelites cried to Yahweh, and Yahweh raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera the Benjaminite; he was left-handed. The men of Israel appointed him to take their tribute to Eglon the king of Moab.
3:16 Ehud made a dagger – it was double-edged and a cubit long – and strapped it on under his clothes, over his right thigh.
3:17 He presented the tribute to Eglon the king of Moab. This Eglon was a very fat man.
3:18 Having presented the tribute, Ehud went off again with the men who had carried it;
3:19 but he himself, on reaching the Idols of Gilgal,[*c] turned and went back and said, ‘I have a secret message for you, O king’. The king replied, ‘Silence!’ and all who were with him went out.
3:20 Then Ehud went in. The king sat in the cool retreat of his upper room; he was alone. Ehud said to him, ‘I have a message from God for you, O king’. The king immediately stood up from his seat.
3:21 Then Ehud, using his left hand, drew the dagger he was carrying on his right thigh and thrust it into the king’s belly.
3:22 The hilt too went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for Ehud left the dagger in his belly; then he went out through the window.
3:23 Ehud went out by the porch; he had shut and locked the doors of the upper room behind him.
3:24 When he had gone, the servants came back and looked; the doors of the upper room were locked. They thought, ‘He is probably covering his feet[*d] in the inner part of the cool room’.
3:25 They waited until they no longer knew what to think, for he still did not open the doors of the upper room. At length they took the key and unlocked the room; their master lay on the ground, dead.
3:26 While they were waiting, Ehud had fled. He passed the Idols and escaped to safety in Seirah.
3:27 When he reached the territory of Israel he sounded the horn in the highlands of Ephraim, and the Israelites came down with him from the hills, with him at their head.
3:28 And he said to them, ‘Follow me, because Yahweh has delivered your enemy Moab into your hands’. So they followed him, cut Moab off from crossing the fords of the Jordan and let no one across.
3:29 On that occasion they beat the Moabites, some ten thousand men, all tough and seasoned fighters, and not one escaped.
3:30 That day, Moab was humbled under the hand of Israel, and the land enjoyed rest for eighty years.
3:31 After him came Shamgar son of Anath. He routed six hundred of the Philistines with an ox-goad; he too was a deliverer of Israel.
JB JUDGES Chapter 4
D. DEBORAH AND BARAK
Israel oppressed by the Canaanites
4:1 When Ehud died, once again the Israelites began to do what displeases Yahweh,
4:2 and Yahweh handed them over to Jabin the king of Canaan who reigned at Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-ha-goum.
4:3 Then the Israelites cried to Yahweh; for Jabin had nine hundred chariots plated with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years.
4:4 At this time Deborah was judge in Israel, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth.
4:5 She used to sit under Deborah’s Palm between Ramah and Bethel in the highlands of Ephraim, and the Israelites would come to her to have their disputes decided.
4:6 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali. She said to him, ‘This is the order of Yahweh, the God of Israel: “March to Mount Tabor and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and the sons of Zebulun.
4:7 I will entice Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, to encounter you at the wadi Kishon with his chariots and troops; and I will put him into your power.”‘
4:8 Barak answered her, ‘If you come with me, I will go; if you will not come, I will not go, for I do not know how to choose the day when the angel of Yahweh will grant me success’.
4:9 ‘I will go with you then,’ she said ‘but, the way you are going about it, the glory will not be yours; for Yahweh will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.’ Then Deborah stood up and went with Barak to Kedesh,
4:10 and there Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali. Ten thousand men marched behind him, and Deborah marched with him.
Heber the Kenite
4:11 Heber the Kenite had cut himself off from the tribe of Kain and the clan of the sons of Hobab, the father-in-law of Moses; he had pitched his tent near the Oak of Zaanannim, not far from Kedesh.
4:12 When Sisera heard that Barak son of Abinoam was encamped on Mount Tabor,
4:13 he called for all his chariots – nine hundred chariots plated with iron – and all the troops he had. He summoned them from Harosheth-ha-goum to the wadi Kishon.
4:14 Deborah said to Barak, ‘Up! For today is the day Yahweh has put Sisera into your power. Yes, Yahweh marches at your head.’ And Barak charged down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men behind him.
4:15 At Barak’s advance, Yahweh struck terror into Sisera, all his chariots and all his troops. Sisera leapt down from his chariot and fled on foot.
4:16 Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth-ha-goum. Sisera’s whole army fell by the edge of the sword; not one man escaped.
4:17 Sisera meanwhile fled on foot towards the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. For there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite.
4:18 Jael came out to meet Sisera and said to him, ‘My lord, stay here with me; do not be afraid!’ He stayed there in her tent, and she covered him with a rug.
4:19 He said to her, ‘Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty’. She opened the skin that had milk in it, gave him some to drink and covered him up again.
4:20 Then he said to her, ‘Stand at the tent door, and if anyone comes and questions you – if he asks, “Is there a man here?”, say, “No”.’
4:21 But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent-peg, and picked up a mallet; she crept up softly to him and drove the peg into his temple right through to the ground. He was lying fast asleep, worn out; and so he died.
4:22 And now Barak came up in pursuit of Sisera. Jael went out to meet him and said, ‘Come in, and I will show you the man you are looking for’. He went into her tent; Sisera lay dead, with the tent-peg through his temple.
4:23 Thus God that day humbled Jabin the king of Canaan before the Israelites.
4:24 And the Israelites bore down more and more heavily on Jabin the king of Canaan, until he was utterly destroyed.
JB JUDGES Chapter 5
THE SONG OF DEBORAH AND BARAK
5:1 They sang a song that day, Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam, and the words were:
5:2 ‘That warriors in Israel unbound their hair, that the people came forward with a will, for this, bless Yahweh!
5:3 ‘Listen, you kings! Give ear, you princes! From me, from me comes a song for Yahweh.I will glorify Yahweh, God of Israel.
5:4 ‘Yahweh, when you set out from Seir,[*a] as you trod the land of Edom, earth shook, the heavens quaked, the clouds dissolved into water.
5:5 The mountains melted before Yahweh, before Yahweh, the God of Israel.
5:6 ‘In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, every highroad was forsaken; those who went forth on their travels through by-paths took their way.
5:7 ‘Dead, dead were Israel’s villages until you rose up, O Deborah, you rose up, a mother in Israel.
5:8 ‘Those that should stand for God were dumb. From five cities, not one shield! Not one spear from forty thousand in Israel!
5:9 ‘My heart beats fast for Israel’s chieftains, with those of the people who stood forth boldly. For this, bless Yahweh!
5:10 ‘You who ride on white she-asses, you with caparisons beneath you, and you who walk the highways, sing
5:11 to the shouts of a rejoicing people gathered about the watering places. There they extol Yahweh’s blessings, the blessings of his reign in Israel. (Yahweh’s people marched down to the gates.)
5:12 ‘Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, declaim a song! Take heart, arise Barak, capture your captors, son of Abinoam!
5:13 ‘Then Israel marched down to the gates; Yahweh’s people, like heroes, marched down to fight for him.
5:14 ‘Ephraim’s princes are in the valley. Your brother Benjamin joins your ranks. From Machir, captains have come down; from Zebulun, those with the staff of office.
5:15 The princes of Issachar are with Deborah; Naphtali in the vale with Barak has sped forward to follow him. ‘Where the streams of Reuben are, men hold their long debate.
5:16 Why did you linger among the sheepfolds listening to pipes amid the flocks? (Where the streams of Reuben are, men hold their long debate.)
5:17 ‘Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan. Why is Dan in the ships of strangers?[*b] Asher kept by the sea coast, dwelling at ease within his harbours.
5:18 ‘The tribe of Zebulun fronted death, Naphtali too, on the rising ground.
5:19 ‘The kings came, they stood in line of battle; then they fought, those kings of Canaan, at Taanach, by Megiddo’s waters, yet bore away no silver spoils.
5:20 ‘From high in heaven fought the stars, fought from their orbits against Sisera
5:21 ‘The torrent of Kishon swept them away, the sacred torrent, the torrent of Kishon. Trample, my soul, with might and main!
5:22 ‘The horses’ hoofs beat the ground; galloping, galloping go his steeds.
5:23 “Curse Meroz,” says Yahweh’s angel “curse, curse the dwellers in it; for they never came to Yahweh’s aid, to Yahweh’s aid among the warriors.”
5:24 ‘Blessed be Jael among women (the wife of Heber the Kenite); among all women that dwell in tents may she be blessed.
5:25 ‘He asked for water; she gave him milk; in a precious bowl she brought him cream.
5:26 She stretched out her hand to seize the peg, her right hand to seize the workman’s mallet. She struck Sisera, crushed his head, pierced his temple and shattered it.
5:27 At her feet he tumbled, he fell, he lay; at her feet he tumbled, he fell. Where he tumbled, there he fell dead.
5:28 ‘Through her window she leans and looks, Sisera’s mother, through the lattice: “Why is his chariot long in coming? Why are the harnessed horses slow?”
5:29 ‘Among her princesses the wisest one answers, and she to herself repeats,
5:30 “They are gathering, doubtless, sharing the spoil: a girl, two girls for each man of war; a garment, two dyed garments for Sisera; a scarf, two embroidered scarves for me!”
5:31 ‘So perish all your enemies, Yahweh! And let those who love you be like the sun when he arises in all his strength!’ And the land enjoyed rest for forty years.
JB JUDGES Chapter 6
E. GIDEON AND ABIMELECH
1. THE CALLING OF GIDEON
Israel oppressed by the Midlanites
6:1 The Israelites did what displeases Yahweh; Yahweh gave them over for seven years into the hands of Midian,
6:2 and Midian bore down heavily on Israel. To escape from Midian the Israelites used the mountain clefts and the caves and shelters.
6:3 Whenever Israel sowed seed, Midian would march up with Amalek and the sons of the East; they would march up against Israel
6:4 and encamp on their territory and destroy the produce of the country as far as Gaza. They left Israel nothing to live on, not a sheep or ox or donkey,
6:5 for they came up as thick as locusts with their own cattle and their tents; they and their camels were past counting, they overran and pillaged the country.
6:6 Thus Midian brought Israel to great distress, and the Israelites cried to Yahweh.
A message from a prophet
6:7 When the Israelites cried to Yahweh because of Midian,
6:8 Yahweh sent a prophet to the Israelites. This was his message, ‘Thus Yahweh speaks, the God of Israel. “It was I who brought you out of Egypt and led you out of a house of slavery.
6:9 I rescued you from the power of the Egyptians and the power of all who oppressed you. I drove them out before you and gave you their land,
6:10 and I said to you: I am Yahweh your God. Do not reverence the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live. But you have not listened to my words.”‘
The angel of Yahweh appears to Gideon
6:11 The angel of Yahweh came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah which belonged to Joash of Abiezer. Gideon his son was threshing wheat inside the winepress to keep it hidden from Midian,
6:12 when the angel of Yahweh appeared to him and said, ‘Yahweh is with you, valiant warrior!’
6:13 Gideon answered him, ‘Forgive me, my lord, but if Yahweh is with us, then why is it that all this is happening to us now? And where are all the wonders our ancestors tell us of when they say, “Did not Yahweh bring us out of Egypt?” But now Yahweh has deserted us; he has abandoned us to Midian.’
6:14 At this Yahweh turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength now upholding you, and you will rescue Israel from the power of Midian. Do I not send you myself?’
6:15 Gideon answered him, ‘Forgive me, my lord, but how can I deliver Israel? My clan, you must know, is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least important in my family.’
6:16 Yahweh answered him, ‘I will be with you and you shall crush Midian as though it were a single man’.
6:17 Gideon said to him, ‘If I have found favour in your sight, give me a sign that it is you who speak to me.
6:18 I beg you, do not go away until I come back, I will bring you my offering and set it down before you.’ And he answered, ‘I will stay until you return’.
6:19 Gideon went away and prepared a young goat and made unleavened cakes with an ephah of flour. He put the meat into a basket and the broth into a pot, then brought it all to him under the terebinth. As he came near,
6:20 The angel of Yahweh said to him, ‘Take the meat and unleavened cakes, put them on this rock and pour the broth over them’. Gideon did so.
6:21 Then the angel of Yahweh reached out the tip of the staff in his hand and touched the meat and unleavened cakes. Fire sprang from the rock and consumed the meat and unleavened cakes, and the angel of Yahweh vanished before his eyes.
6:22 Then Gideon knew this was the angel of Yahweh, and he said, ‘Alas, my Lord Yahweh! I have seen the angel of Yahweh face to face!’
6:23 Yahweh answered him, ‘Peace be with you; have no fear; you will not die’.
6:24 Gideon built an altar there to Yahweh and called it Yahweh-Peace. This altar still stands at Ophrah of Abiezer.
Gideon and Baal[*a]
6:25 Now that night Yahweh said to Gideon, ‘Take your father’s fattened calf, and pull down the altar to Baal belonging to your father and cut down the sacred post at the side of it.
6:26 Then, on the top of this bluff, build a carefully constructed altar to Yahweh your God. Then take the fattened calf and burn it as a holocaust on the wood of the sacred post you have cut down.’
6:27 Then Gideon chose ten of his servants and did as Yahweh had ordered him. But since he stood too much in fear of his family and the townspeople to do this by day, he did it by night.
6:28 Next morning, when the townspeople got up, the altar to Baal had been destroyed, the sacred post that had stood beside it was now cut down, and the fattened calf had been burnt as a holocaust on the newly-built altar.
6:29 Then they said to each other, ‘Who has done this?’ They searched, made enquiries and declared, ‘Gideon son of Joash has done it’.
6:30 Then the townspeople said to Joash, ‘Bring out your son for he must die, since he has destroyed the altar to Baal and cut down the sacred post that stood beside it’.
6:31 Joash answered all those mustered round him, ‘Would you plead for Baal? Would you champion his cause? (Let anyone who pleads for Baal be put to death before dawn.) If he is a god, let him plead for himself, now that Gideon has destroyed his altar.’
6:32 That day Gideon was given the name of Jerubbaal,[*b] because, they said, ‘Baal must plead against him, seeing that he has destroyed his altar’.
The call to arms
6:33 Then all Midian and Amalek and the sons of the East joined forces, crossed the Jordan and encamped in the plain of Jezreel.
6:34 And the spirit of Yahweh came on Gideon; he sounded the horn and Abiezer rallied behind him.
6:35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, and Manasseh too rallied behind him; he sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, and they too marched out to meet him.
The trial with the fleece
6:36 Gideon said to God, ‘If you really mean to deliver Israel by my hand, as you have declared,
6:37 see now, I spread out a fleece on the threshing-floor; if there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is left dry, then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have declared’.
6:38 And so it happened. Gideon rose the next morning, squeezed the fleece and wrung enough dew out of the fleece to fill a drinking cup.
6:39 Then Gideon spoke to God again, ‘Do not be angry with me if I speak once again. Let me make trial with the fleece just once more. Let the fleece alone be dry, and let there be dew on the ground all round it.’
6:40 And God did so that night. The fleece alone stayed dry, and there was dew on the ground all round it.
JB JUDGES Chapter 7
2. GIDEON MAKES WAR WEST OF THE JORDAN
Yahweh cuts down the numbers of Gideon’s army
7:1 Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) got up very early, as did all the people with him; he pitched camp at En-harod; the camp of Midian was north of his, under the Hill of Moreh in the valley.
7:2 Then Yahweh said to Gideon, ‘There are too many people with you for me to put Midian into their power; Israel might claim the credit for themselves at my expense: they might say, “My own hand has rescued me”.
7:3 Therefore, make this proclamation now to the people: “Let anyone who is frightened or fearful go home!” ‘ Gideon put them to the test. Twenty-two thousand men went home, and ten thousand were left.
7:4 Yahweh said to Gideon, ‘There are still too many people. Take them down to the waterside and I will sift them there. If I say of a man: He is to go with you, that man is to go with you. And if I say of a man: He is not to go with you, that man is not to go.’
7:5 So Gideon took the people down to the waterside, and Yahweh said to him, ‘All those who lap the water with their tongues, as a dog laps, place these on one side. And all those who kneel down to drink, place these on the other side.’
7:6 The number of those who lapped with their tongues was three hundred; all the rest of the people had knelt to drink.
7:7 Then Yahweh said to Gideon, ‘With the three hundred who lapped the water I will rescue you and put Midian into your power. Let all the others go back, every man to his own home.’
7:8 Gideon made the people give him what pitchers and horns they had, then sent away all the Israelites, each to his own tent, keeping only the three hundred with him. The camp of Midian was below his own in the valley.
An omen of victory
7:9 Now it came about that in the night Yahweh said to him, ‘Get up and go down to the camp. I am putting it into your power.
7:10 However, if you are afraid to make the assault, go down first to the camp with your servant Purah;
7:11 listen to what they are saying; you will be encouraged by it and then you will march against the camp.’ So with his servant Purah he went down to the outposts of the camp.
7:12 Midian and Amalek and all the sons of the East stretched through the valley as thick as locusts; their camels were innumerable like the sand on the seashore.
7:13 Gideon came up just as a man was telling his comrade a dream; he was saying, ‘I had a dream: a cake made of barley bread came rolling through the camp of Midian; it reached the tent, struck against it and turned it upside down’.
7:14 His comrade answered, ‘This can be nothing else than the sword of Gideon son of Joash the Israelite. God has put Midian and all the camp into his power.’
7:15 When Gideon heard the dream thus told and interpreted, he fell to his knees; then he returned to the camp of Israel and said, ‘On your feet, for Yahweh has put the camp of Midian into your power!’
The surprise attack
7:16 Gideon then divided his three hundred men into three companies. To each man he gave a horn and an empty pitcher, with a torch inside each pitcher.
7:17 He said to them, ‘Watch me, and do as I do. When I reach the edge of the camp, whatever I do, you do too.
7:18 When I sound the horn, I and those with me, then you too must sound your horns all round the camp and shout, “For Yahweh and for Gideon!”‘
7:19 Gideon and his hundred companions reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when the new sentries had just been posted; they sounded their horns and smashed the pitchers in their hands.
7:20 The three companies sounded their horns and smashed their pitchers; with their left hands they grasped the torches, with their right hands the horns ready to blow; and they shouted, ‘For Yahweh and for Gideon!’
7:21 And they stood still, spaced out all round the camp. Then the whole camp woke and the Midianites fled, shouting.
7:22 While the three hundred kept sounding their horns, Yahweh made every man in the camp turn his sword against his comrade. They all fled as far as Beth-shittah towards Zarethan, as far as the bank of Abel-meholah opposite Tabbath.
7:23 The men of Israel mustered from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh, and pursued Midian.
7:24 Gideon sent messengers throughout the highiands of Ephraim to say, ‘Come down and fight Midian, seize the water-points as far as Beth-barah and the Jordan before they reach them’. All the men of Ephraim mustered and seized the water-points as far as Beth-barah and the Jordan.
7:25 They captured the two Midianite chieftains, Oreb and Zeeb; they killed Oreb at Oreb’s Rock and Zeeb at Zeeb’s Winepress. They pursued Midian; and they brought Gideon the heads of Oreb and of Zeeb beyond the Jordan.
JB JUDGES Chapter 8
The Ephraimites take offence
8:1 Now, the men of Ephraim said to Gideon, ‘What do you mean by treating us like this, not summoning us when you went to fight with Midian?’ And they reproached him bitterly.
8:2 He answered, ‘What have I done when compared to you? Is not the gleaning of Ephraim’s grapes better than the vintage of Abiezer?
8:3 Into your power Yahweh has given the chieftains of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. Can what I managed to do compare with what you have done?’ And at these words their anger left them.
3. GIDEON MAKES WAR BEYOND THE JORDAN. GIDEON’S END
Gideon pursues the enemy beyond the Jordan
8:4 Gideon reached the Jordan and crossed it, but he and his three hundred companions were tired out and famished.
8:5 So he said to the men of Succoth, ‘Please give my followers a few loaves of bread, because they are tired out, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna,[*a] the kings of Midian’.
8:6 The chieftains of Succoth answered, ‘Give bread to your army? Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your grasp?’
8:7 And Gideon answered, ‘Very well! When Yahweh has put Zebah and Zalmunna into my power, I will tear your flesh with desert thorn and briar.’
8:8 From there he went up to Penuel and asked the men of Penuel the same thing; they answered as those of Succoth had done.
8:9 And to those of Penuel he made a similar reply, ‘When I return victorious, I will destroy this tower’.
The defeat of Zebah and Zalmuma
8:10 Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with their army, about fifteen thousand men, all who remained of the army of the sons of the east. Those who had fallen were a hundred and twenty thousand fighting men.
8:11 Gideon went up the nomads’ way, eastwards of Nobah and Jogbehah, and routed the army when it thought itself in safety.
8:12 Zebah and Zalmunna fled. He pursued them; he took the kings of Midian prisoner, both Zebah and Zalmunna. And he utterly destroyed the army.
Gideon’s acts of vengeance
8:13 After the battle, Gideon returned by the Ascent of Heres.
8:14 He seized a young man, one of the people of Succoth, and questioned him, and the young man wrote down the names of the chieftains and elders of Succoth for him – seventy seven men.
8:15 Then Gideon came to the people of Succoth and said, ‘Here you see Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you taunted me and said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your grasp, for us to give bread to your tired troops?”‘
8:16 Then he seized the elders of the city, and took desert thorn and briar and tore the men of Succoth with them.
8:17 He destroyed the tower of Penuel and slaughtered the townsmen.
8:18 Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, ‘The men you killed at Tabor-what were they like?’ They answered, ‘They looked like you. Every one of them carried himself like the son of a king.’
8:19 Gideon replied, ‘They were my brothers, the sons of my own mother; as Yahweh lives, if you had spared their lives I would not kill you’.
8:20 Then he ordered Jether his eldest son: ‘Stand up and kill them’. But the boy did not draw his sword; he dared not; he was still only a lad.
8:21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, ‘Stand up yourself, and strike us down; for as a man is, so is his strength’. Then Gideon stood up and killed Zebah and Zalmunna; and he took the crescents from round their camels’ necks.
Gideon triumphant. His end
8:22 The men of Israel said to Gideon, ‘Rule over us, you and your sons and your grandson,[*b] because you have rescued us from the power of Midian’.
8:23 But Gideon answered them, ‘It is not I who shall rule over you, nor my son; Yahweh must be your lord’.
8:24 But Gideon went on, ‘Let me make one request of you. Let every man of you give me one of the rings out of his spoils’ – for the vanquished army had golden rings, because they were Ishmaelites.
8:25 They answered, ‘Gladly’. So he spread out his cloak, and on it they threw, every man
of them, a ring taken from their spoils.
8:26 The weight of the golden rings be had asked for reached seventeen hundred shekels of gold, besides the crescents and the earrings and purple garments worn by the kings of Midian, and besides the collars round their camels’ necks, too.
8:27 Of all this, Gideon made an ephod[*c] and put it in his own city of Ophrah. After him, all Israel prostituted themselves to it, and it was a snare for Gideon and his family.
8:28 Thus Midian was humbled before the Israelites. They did not lift up their heads again, and the land enjoyed rest for forty years, as long as Gideon lived.
8:29 So Jerubbaal son of Joash withdrew and lived in his own house.
8:30 Gideon had seventy sons begotten by him, for he had many wives.
8:31 His concubine, who lived in Shechem, bore him a son too, whom he called Abimelech.
8:32 Gideon son of Joash was blessed in his old age; he died, and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, at Ophrah of Abiezer.
Israel relapses into idolatry
8:33 After Gideon’s death, the people of Israel again began to prostitute themselves to the Baals, and took Baal-berith for their god.
8:34 The Israelites no longer remembered Yahweh their God, who had rescued them from all the enemies round them.
8:35 And towards the family of Jerubbaal-Gideon-they remained ungrateful for all its good deeds to Israel.
JB JUDGES Chapter 9
4. THE REIGN OF ABIMELECH
Abimelech becomes king
9:1 Abimelech son of Jerubbaal came to his mother’s brothers at Shechem and said to them and the whole clan of his mother’s family,
9:2 ‘Please put this question to the leading men of Shechem: Which is better for you, to be ruled by seventy-I mean all the sons of Jerubbaal-or to be ruled by one? Remind yourselves also that I am your own flesh and blood.’
9:3 His mother’s brothers spoke of him to all the leading men of Shechem in these terms, and their hearts inclined towards Abimelech, for they told themselves, ‘He is our brother’.
9:4 So they gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-berith, and with this Abimelech paid worthless scoundrels to follow him.
9:5 Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and murdered his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, on the selfsame stone. Only the youngest son of Jerubbaal escaped, for he had gone into hiding; this was Jotham.
9:6 Then all the leading men of Shechem and all Beth-millo gathered, and proclaimed Abimelech king by the terebinth of the pillar at Shechem.
9:7 News of this was brought to Jotham. He came and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted aloud for them to hear: ‘Hear me, leaders of Shechem, that God may also hear you!
9:8 ‘One day the trees went out to anoint a king to rule over them. They said to the olive tree, “Be our king!”
9:9 ‘The olive tree answered them, “Must I forego my oil which gives honour to gods and men, to stand swaying above the trees?”
9:10 ‘Then the trees said to the fig tree, “Come now, you be our king!”
9:11 ‘The fig tree answered them, “Must I forego my sweetness, forego my excellent fruit, to stand swaying above the trees?”
9:12 ‘Then the trees said to the vine, “Come now, you be our king!”
9:13 ‘The vine answered them, “Must I forego my wine which cheers the heart of gods and men, to stand swaying above the trees?”
9:14 Then all the trees said to the thorn bush, “Come now, you be our king!”
9:15 ‘And the thorn bush answered the trees, “If in all good faith you anoint me king to reign over you,
then come and shelter in my shade. If not, fire will come from the thorn bush and devour the cedars of Lebanon.”
9:16 ‘In the same way, therefore, if you have acted in sincerity and good faith in making Abimelech king, if you have dealt honourably with Jerubbaal and his family, and have acted towards him as his own deeds deserve. . .[*a]
9:17 My father on his side fought for you, risked his life, rescued you from the power of Midian;
9:18 you on your side have risen today against my father’s family, you have murdered his seventy sons on the selfsame stone; and to rule the leading men of Shechem you have set up Abimelech, the son of his slave-girl, because he is your brother.
9:19 If, I say, you have acted in sincerity and good faith towards Jerubbaal and his family, then may Abimelech be your joy and may you be his.
9:20 If not, may fire come out of Abimelech and devour the leading men of Shechem and Beth-millo, and fire come out of the leading men of Shechem and Beth-millo to devour Abimelech.’
9:21 Then Jotham took flight; he escaped and made his way to Beer; and there he remained, to be out of the reach of his brother Abimelech.
The men of Shechem revolt against Abimelech
9:22 Abimelech ruled over Israel for three years.[*b]
9:23 Then God sent a spirit of discord between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem rebelled against Abimelech.
9:24 And this was so that the crime committed against Jerubbaal’s seventy sons should be avenged, and their blood recoil on their brother Abimelech who had murdered them and on those leaders of Shechem who had helped him to murder his brothers.
9:25 To spite him, the leaders of Shechem put men in ambush on the mountain tops, and these robbed anyone travelling their way. Abimelech was told of this.
9:26 Gaal son of Ebed, with his brothers, happened to pass through Shechem and won the confidence of the leaders of Shechem.
9:27 They went out into the countryside to harvest their vineyards; they trod the grapes and held rejoicings and went into the temple of their god. They ate and drank there and cursed Abimelech.
9:28 Then Gaal son of Ebed exclaimed, ‘Who is Abimelech, and what is Shechem, that we should be his slaves? Would it not be more fitting for the son of Jerubbaal and Zebul his delegate to serve the men of Hamor, the father of Shechem? Why should we be his slaves?
9:29 Who will put this people under my command? Then I would drive Abimelech out and say to him: Reinforce your army and come and fight:’
9:30 Zebul the governor of the city was told what Gaal son of Ebed had said, and he was furious.
9:31 He sent messengers to Abimelech at Arumah, bidding them tell him, ‘Listen! Gaal son of Ebed has come to Shechem with his brothers, and they are stirring up the town against you.
9:32 Move, therefore, under cover of dark, you and the men you have with you, and take up concealed positions in the countryside;
9:33 then in the morning at sunrise leave them quickly and advance against the town. When Gaal and his men come out to meet you, do with him as occasion serves.’
9:34 So Abimelech set off under cover of dark with all the men he had and took up concealed positions opposite Shechem, in four companies.
9:35 And as Gaal son of Ebed came out and paused at the entrance to the gate of the town, Abimelech and the men with him rose from their ambush.
9:36 Gaal saw these men and said to Zebul, ‘Look, there are men coming down from the tops of the mountains!’ Zebul answered, ‘You mistake the shadow of the mountains for men’.
9:37 But Gaal said again, ‘Look, there are men coming down from the Navel of the Land, and another band is on its way from Diviners’ Oak’.
9:38 Then Zebul said to him, ‘What has become of your boasting now, you who said, “Who is Abimelech that we should be his slaves?” Are not these the men you made light of? Sally out now, then, and fight them.’
9:39 So Gaal sallied out at the head of the leaders of Shechem and fought with Abimelech.
9:40 But Abimelech drove Gaal before him; Abimelech went in pursuit of Gaal who fled before him, and many of his men fell dead before they reached the town gate.
9:41 Then Abimelech went back to Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his brothers and prevented them from living in Shechem.
Shechem destroyed and Migdal-shechem taken
9:42 Next day the people went out into the country, and Abimelech was told of this.
9:43 He took his men, divided them into three companies and lay in wait in the fields. When he saw the people leaving the town, he bore down on them and cut them to pieces.
9:44 While Abimelech and the company with him advanced and took up their post at the entrance to the town gate, the two other companies fell on everyone in the fields and slaughtered them.
9:45 All that day Abimelech attacked the town. He stormed it and slaughtered the people inside, razed the town and sowed it with salt.
9:46 On hearing this, the leading men of Migdal-shechem took refuge in the crypt of the temple of EI-berith.
9:47 As soon as Abimelech heard that all the leaders of Migdal-shechem had gathered there,
9:48 went up to Mount Zalmon with all his men. Then taking an axe in his hands, he cut off the branch of a tree, picked it up and put it on his shoulder, and said to the men with him, ‘Do what you have seen me do, and do it quickly’.
9:49 all his men set to work cutting down branches, one each; then they followed Abimelech and heaped the branches on the crypt, and set it on fire over those inside[*c] All the inhabitants of Migdal-shechem perished too, about a thousand men and women.
The siege of Thehez: the death of Abimelech
9:50 Then Abimelech marched against Thebez, besieged it and stormed it.
9:51 In the middle of the town there was a fortified tower in which all the men and women and all the leading men of the town took refuge. They locked the door behind them and climbed up to the roof of the tower.
9:52 Abimelech reached the tower and attacked it. As he was approaching the door of the tower to set it on fire,
9:53 a woman threw down a millstone on his head and crushed his skull.
9:54 He called his armour-bearer at once and said to him, ‘Draw your sword and kill me, that no one may say of me, “A woman killed him”‘. His armour-bearer ran him through, and he died.
9:55 When the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they withdrew, each to his own home.
9:56 Thus God made the evil recoil on Abimelech that he had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers,
9:57 as God made all the wickedness of the people of Shechem recoil on their own heads too. And so the curse of Jotham son of Jerubbaal came true for them.
JB JUDGES Chapter 10
JEPHTHAH AND THE LESSER JUDGES
10:1 After Abimelech, Tola son of Puah, son of Dodo, rose to deliver Israel. He belonged to Issachar and lived at Shamir in the mountain country of Ephraim.
10:2 He was judge in Israel for twenty-three years; then he died and was buried at Shamir.
10:3 After him rose Jair of Gilead, who judged Israel for twenty-two years.
10:4 He had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys’ colts; and they possessed thirty towns, which are still called the Encampments of Jair, in the land of Gilead.
10:5 Then Jair died and was buried at Kamon.
Oppression by the Ammonites
10:6 Again the Israelites began to do what displeases Yahweh. They served the Baals and the Astartes, and the gods of Aram and Sidon, the gods of Moab and those of the Ammonites and Philistines. They deserted Yahweh and served him no more.
10:7 Then Yahweh’s anger flamed out against Israel and he gave them over into the power of the Philistines and the power of the Ammonites,
10:8 who from that year onward crushed and oppressed the men of Israel for eighteen years – all the Israelites who lived beyond the Jordan, in the Amorite country in Gilead.
10:9 The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight Judah, Benjamin and the House of Ephraim, and Israel’s distress was very great.
10:10 Then the Israelites cried to Yahweh and said, ‘We have sinned against you, because we have turned from Yahweh our God to serve the Baals’.
10:11 And Yahweh said to the Israelites, ‘When the Egyptians and the Amorites, the Ammonites and the Philistines,
10:12 the Sidonians and Amalek and Midian oppressed you and you cried to me, did I not rescue you from their power?
10:13 But you on your part have turned from me and served other gods; and so I shall rescue you no more.
10:14 Go and cry to the gods you have chosen. Let them rescue you in your time of trouble.’
10:15 The Israelites answered Yahweh, ‘We have sinned. Do with us as you think fit; only do rescue us today.’
10:16 They got rid of the foreign gods that they had, and served Yahweh, and he could bear Israel’s suffering no longer.
10:17 The Ammonites mustered and pitched their camp in Gilead. The Israelites rallied and camped at Mizpah.
10:18 Then the people, the chieftains of Gilead, said to each other, ‘Who will volunteer to fight the sons of Ammon? He shall be made leader of all the inhabitants of Gilead.’
JB JUDGES Chapter 11
Jephthah lays down his terms
11:1 Jephthah the Gileadite was a valiant warrior. He was the son of a harlot. Gilead was Jephthah’s father,
11:2 but Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and the sons of this wife, when they grew up, drove Jephthah out, saying, ‘You are to have no share in our father’s inheritance, because you are the son of an alien woman’.
11:3 Jephthah fled from his brothers and made his home in the land of Tob.Worthless followers gathered round him and used to go raiding with him.
11:4 Some time after this, the Ammonites took up arms against Israel.
11:5 And when the Ammonites had attacked Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah from the land of Tob.
11:6 ‘Come’ they said ‘and be our commander, and we can fight the Ammonites.’
11:7 But Jephthah answered the elders of Gilead, ‘Was it not you who hated me and drove me out of my father’s house? Why come to me when you are in trouble?’
11:8 The elders of Gilead answered Jephthah, ‘That is exactly why we have come back to you. Come with us; fight the Ammonites and be our leader, leader of all the inhabitants of Gilead.’
11:9 Jephthah answered the elders of Gilead, ‘If you take me home to fight the Ammonites and Yahweh puts them at my mercy, I am to be your leader?’
11:10 The elders of Gilead answered Jephthah, ‘Yahweh be witness between us. May we be accursed if we do not do as you have said!’
11:11 So Jephthah set off with the elders of Gilead. The people set him at their head as leader and commander; and Jephthah repeated all his conditions at Mizpah in Yahweh’s presence.
Jephthah negotiates with the Ammonites
11:12 Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites to say to him, ‘What is the trouble between us, for you to come and make war on my country?’
11:13 The king of the Ammonites answered Jephthah’s messengers, ‘The reason is that when Israel came up from Egypt, they seized my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok and the Jordan. Give it back peaceably now.’
11:14 Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites
11:15 with this answer, Jephthah says this: “Israel seized neither the land of Moab nor the land of the Ammonites.
11:16 When Israel came out of Egypt, they passed through the wilderness to the Sea of Reeds and reached Kadesh.
11:17 Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom to say to him: Please let us pass through your country, but the king of Edom would not listen. They sent similarly to the king of Moab, but he refused, and Israel remained at Kadesh;
11:18 later they made their way through the wilderness, going round the countries of Edom and Moab until they were to the east of Moab territory. The people encamped beyond the Arnon but did not cross the border of Moab, for the Arnon itself is the boundary there.
11:19 Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon the king of the Amorites, who ruled at Heshbon. Israel’s message was: Please let us pass through your country to our destination.
11:20 But Sihon would not let Israel pass through his territory; he mustered his whole army; they encamped at Jahaz, and he then joined battle with Israel.
11:21 Yahweh the God of Israel delivered Sihon and his whole army into the power of Israel; Israel defeated them and took possession of the whole country of the Amorites who lived in that region.
11:22 Thus they came to occupy the whole country of the Amorites, from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan.
11:23 And now that Yahweh the God of Israel has driven the Amorites out before his people Israel, will one such as you dispossess us?
11:24 Do you not possess all that Chemosh your god took from its owners?[*a] In the same fashion, whatever Yahweh our God took from its owners, that we possess too.
11:25 Are you a better man than Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab? Did he challenge Israel? Did he make war against them?
11:26 When Israel settled in Heshbon and its outlying villages, or in Jazer and its villages, or in any of the towns on the banks of the Jordan (three hundred years), why did you not recover those places then?
11:27 I for my part have committed no sin against you, rather, you for your part are wronging me by making war on me. Let Yahweh the Judge givejudgement today between the sons of Israel and the king of the Ammonites.”‘
11:28 But the king of the Ammonites took no notice of the message Jephthah had sent him.
Jephthah’s vow and his victory
11:29 The spirit of Yahweh came on Jephthah, who crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through to Mizpah in Gilead, and from Mizpah in Gilead made his way to the rear of the Ammonites.
11:30 And Jephthah made a vow to Yahweh, ‘If you deliver the Ammonites into my hands,
11:31 then the first person to meet me from the door of my house when I return in triumph from fighting the Ammonites shall belong to Yahweh, and I will offer him up as a holocaust’.[*b]
11:32 Jephthah marched against the Ammonites to attack them, and Yahweh delivered them into his power.
11:33 He harassed them from Aroer almost to Minnith (twenty towns) and to Abel-keramim. It was a very severe defeat, and the Ammonites were humbled before the Israelites.
11:34 As Jephthah returned to his house at Mizpah, his daughter came out from it to meet him; she was dancing to the sound of timbrels. This was his only child; apart from her he had neither son nor daughter.
11:35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and exclaimed, ‘Oh my daughter, what sorrow you are bringing me! Must it be you, the cause of my ill-fortune! I have given a promise to Yahweh,and I cannot unsay what I have said.’
11:36 She answered him, ‘My father, you have given a promise to Yahweh; treat me as the vow you took binds you to, since Yahweh has given you vengeance on your enemies the Ammonites.’
11:37 Then she said to her father, ‘Grant me one request. Let me be free for two months. I shall go and wander in the mountains, and with my companions bewail my virginity.’
11:38 He answered, ‘Go’, and let her depart for two months. So she went away with her companions and bewailed her virginity in the mountains.
11:39 When the two months were over, she returned to her father, and he treated her as the vow that he had uttered bound him. She had never known a man. From this comes this custom in Israel
11:40 for the daughters of Israel to leave home every year and to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite for four days every year.
JB JUDGES Chapter 12
War between Ephraim and Gilead. The death of Jephthah
12:1 The men of Ephraim mobilised; they crossed the Jordan, making for Zaphon, and said to Jephthah, ‘Why did you go to fight the Ammonites without asking us to go with you? We shall burn you and your house.’
12:2 Jephthah answered them, ‘My people and I were hard put to it, the Ammonites pressed us hard. I summoned you to help me, but you did not rescue me from their hands.
12:3 When I saw that no one came to my help, I took my life in my hands and marched against the Ammonites, and Yahweh handed them over to me. Why then today come up against me to make war on me?’
12:4 Then Jephthah mustered all the men of Gilead and joined battle with Ephraim, and the men of Gilead routed Ephraim, because these kept saying, ‘You are no more than deserters from Ephraim, you Gileadites in the heart of Ephraim and Manasseh’.
12:5 Then Gilead cut Ephraim off from the fords of the Jordan, and whenever an Ephraimite fugitive said, ‘Let me cross’, the men of Gilead asked him, ‘Are you an Ephraimite?’ If he answered ‘No’,
12:6 they said, ‘Then say Shibboleth’. He would say ‘Sibboleth’, since he could not pronounce the word correctly. Thereupon they seized and slaughtered him by the fords of the Jordan. There perished in this way forty-two thousand men of Ephraim.
12:7 Jephthah was judge in Israel for six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died, and was buried in his own town, Mizpah in Gilead.
12:8 After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem[*a] was judge in Israel.
12:9 He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He gave his daughters in marriage outside his clan, and brought in thirty brides from outside for his sons. He was judge in Israel for seven years.
12:10 Then Ibzan died and was buried in Bethlehem.
12:11 After him, Elon of Zebulun was judge in Israel. He was judge in Israel for ten years.
12:12 Then Elon of Zebulun died and was buried at Elon in the land of Zebulun.
12:13 After him, Abdon son of Hillel of Pirathon was judge in Israel.
12:14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys’ colts. He was judge in Israel for eight years.
12:15 Then Abdon son of Hillel of Pirathon died, and he was buried at Pirathon in the mountain country of Ephraim, in the land of Shaalim.
JB JUDGES Chapter 13
Samson’s birth foretold
13:1 Again the Israelites began to do what displeases Yahweh, and Yahweh delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.
13:2 There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, called Manoah. His wife was barren, she had borne no children.
13:3 The angel of Yahweh appeared to this woman and said to her, ‘You are barren and have had no child.
13:4 But from now on take great care. Take no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean.
13:5 For you will conceive and bear a son. No razor is to touch his head, for the boy shall be God’s nazirite from his mother’s womb. It is he who will begin to rescue Israel from the power of the Philistines.’
13:6 Then the woman went and told her husband, ‘A man of God has just come to me; his presence was like the presence of the angel of God, he was so majestic. I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not reveal his name to me.
13:7 But he said to me, “You will conceive and bear a son. From now on, take no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy shail be God’s nazirite from his mother’s womb to his dying day.”‘
The angel appears a second time
13:8 Then Manoah pleaded with Yahweh and said, ‘I beg you, Lord, let the man of God that you sent come to us once again and instruct us in what we must do with the boy when he is born’.
13:9 Yahweh heard Manoah’s prayer for favour, and the angel of Yahweh visited the woman again as she was sitting in the field; her husband Manoah was not with her.
13:10 The woman ran quickly and told her husband: ‘Look,’ she said ‘the man who came to me the other day has appeared to me again’.
13:11 Manoah rose and followed his wife, and he came to the man and said to him, ‘Are you the man who spoke to this woman?’ He answered, ‘I am’.
13:12 Manoah went on, ‘When your words are fuffilled, what is to be the boy’s rule of life? How must he behave?’
13:13 And the angel of Yahweh answered Manoah, ‘The things that I forbade this woman, let him refrain from too.
13:14 Let him taste nothing that comes from the vine, let him take no wine or strong drink, let him eat nothing unclean, let him obey all the orders I gave this woman.’
13:15 Manoah is then said to the angel of Yahweh, ‘Do us the honour of staying with us while we prepare a kid for you’.
13:16b For Manoah did not know this was the angel of Yahweh.
13:16a The angel of Yahweh said to Manoah, ‘Even if I did stay with you, I would not eat your food; but if you wish to prepare a holocaust, offer it to Yahweh’.
13:17 Manoah then said to the angel of Yahweh, ‘What is your name, so that we may honour you when your words are fulfilled?’
13:18 The angel of Yahweh replied, ‘Why ask my name? It is a mystery.’
13:19 Then Manoah took the kid and the oblation and offered it as a holocaust on the rock to Yahweh who works mysteries.
13:20 As the flame went up heavenwards from the altar, the angel of Yahweh ascended in the flame in the sight of Manoah and his wife,and they fell face downwards on the ground.
13:21 After this, the angel of Yahweh did not appear any more to Manoah and his wife, by which Manoah understood that this had been the angel of Yahweh.
13:22 And Manoah said to his wife, ‘We are certain to die, because we have seen God’.
13:23 His wife answered him, ‘If Yahweh had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a holocaust and oblation from our hands; he would not have told us all these things.’
13:24 The woman gave birth to a son and called him Samson. The child grew, and Yahweh blessed him;
13:25 and the spirit of Yahweh began to move him in the Camp of Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
JB JUDGES Chapter 14
14:1 Samson went down to Timnah, and there he noticed one of the daughters of the Philistines.
14:2 He came up again and told his father and mother this. ‘At Timnah’ he said ‘I noticed one of the daughters of the Philistines. Get her for me, then, to be my wife.’
14:3 His father and mother said to him, ‘Is there no woman among those of your own clan or among your whole nation, for you to seek a wife among these uncircumcised Philistines?’ But Samson answered his father, ‘Get this one for me; get her, because I like her’.
14:4 His father and mother did not know that all this came from Yahweh, who was seeking an occasion for quarrelling with the Philistines; since at this time the Philistines had Israel in their power.
14:5 Samson went down to Timnah, and as he reached the vineyards of Timnah he saw a young lion coming roaring towards him.
14:6 The spirit of Yahweh seized on him, and though he had no weapon in his hand he tore the lion in pieces as a man tears a kid; but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.
14:7 He went down and talked to the woman, and he liked her.
14:8 Not long after this, Samson came back to marry her. He went out of his way to look at the carcase of the lion, and there was a swarm of bees in the lion’s body, and honey.
14:9 He took up some honey in his hand and ate it as he went along. On returning to his father and mother, he gave some to them, which they ate too, but he did not tell them he had taken it from the lion’s carcase.
14:10 Then he went down to the woman, and they made a feast for Samson for seven days there, for such is the custom of young men.
14:11 But because they were frightened of him, they chose thirty companions to stay with him.
14:12 Then Samson said to them, ‘Let me ask you a riddle. If you find the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty pieces of fine linen and thirty festal robes.
14:13 But if you cannot find the answer, then you in your turn must give me thirty pieces of fine linen and thirty festal robes.’ ‘Ask your riddle,’ they replied ‘we are listening.’
14:14 So he said to them: ‘Out of the eater came what is eaten, and out of the strong came what is sweet’.
But three days went by and they could not solve the riddle.
14:15 On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife. ‘Cajole your husband into telling you the answer to the riddle, or we will burn you and your father’s house together. Did you invite us here to rob us?’
14:16 Then Samson’s wife fell on his neck in tears and said, ‘You only hate me, you do not love me. You have asked my fellow countrymen a riddle and not even told me the answer.’ He said to her, ‘I have not even told my father or mother, why should I tell you?’
14:17 She wept on his neck for the seven days their feast lasted. She was so persistent that on the seventh day he told her the answer, and she in turn told her fellow countrymen what the answer to the riddle was.
14:18 So on the seventh day, before Samson entered the bridal room, the men of the town said to him: ‘What is sweeter than honey, and what stronger than a lion?’ He retorted: ‘If you had not ploughed with my heifer, you would never have guessed my riddle’.
14:19 Then the spirit of Yahweh seized on him. He went down to Ashkelon, killed thirty men there, took what they wore and gave the festal robes to those who had answered the riddle, then burning with rage returned to his father’s house.
14:20 Then Samson’s wife was given to the companion who had been his best man.
JB JUDGES Chapter 15
Samson sets fire to the crops of the Philistines
15:1 Not long after this, at the time of the wheat harvest, Samson went back to see his wife; he had brought a kid for her; he said, ‘I wish to go to my wife in her room’. But her father would not let him enter.
15:2 ‘I felt sure’ he said ‘that you had taken a real dislike to her, so I gave her to your companion. But would not her younger sister suit you better? Have her instead of the other.’
15:3 Samson answered them, ‘I can only get my own back on the Philistines now by doing them some damage’.
15:4 So Samson went off and caught three hundred foxes, then took torches and turning the foxes tail to tail put a torch between each pair of tails.
15:5 He lit the torches and set the foxes free in the Philistines’ cornfields. In this way he burned both sheaves and standing corn, and the vines and olive trees as well.
15:6 The Philistines asked, ‘Who has done this?’ and received the answer, ‘Samson, who married the Timnite’s daughter; his father-in-law took the wife back again and gave her to his companion instead’. Then the Philistines went up and burned the woman and her family to death.
15:7 Samson said to them, ‘Since this is how you behave, I swear I will not rest till I have had my revenge on you’.
15:8 And he fell on them for all he was worth and caused great havoc. Then he went down to the cave in the Rock of Etam, and stayed there.
The donkey’s jawbone
15:9 The Philistines came up and encamped in Judah and made a foray against Lehi.
15:10 The men of Judah said to them, ‘Why are you attacking us?’ They answered, ‘We have come to seize Samson and to do to him what he did to us’.
15:11 Then three thousand of the men of Judah went down to the cave in the Rock of Etam and said to him, ‘Do you not know that the Philistines have us in their power? Now what have you done to us?’ He answered, ‘What they did to me I did to them’.
15:12 Then they said to him, ‘We have come down to take you, to hand you over to the Philistines’. He said to them, ‘Swear to me not to kill me yourselves’.
15:13 They answered, ‘No; we only want to bind you and hand you over to them; we certainly do not want to kill you’. Then they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the Rock.
15:14 As he approached Lehi, and the Philistines came running towards him with triumphant shouts, the spirit of Yahweh seized on Samson; the ropes on his arms beeame like burnt strands of flax and the bonds melted off his hands.
15:15 Catching sight of the fresh jawbone of a donkey, he reached out and snatched it up; then with it he struck down a thousand men.
15:16 And Samson said: ‘With the jawbone of a donkey I have thrashed them;[*a] with the jawbone of a donkey I have struck down a thousand men’.
15:17 And with this, he hurled the jawbone from him; and that is why the place was called Ramath-lehi.
15:18 And as he was thirsty, he called on Yahweh and said, ‘You yourself have worked this great victory by the hand of your servant; and now must I die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?’
15:19 Then God opened a hollow in the ground, the hollow there is at Lehi, and water gushed out of it. Samson drank; his vigour returned and he revived. And therefore this spring was called En-hakkore; it is still at Lehi today.
15:20 Samson was judge in Israel in the days of the Philistines for twenty years.
JB JUDGES Chapter 16
The gates of Gaza
16:1 From here Samson went on to Gaza, and seeing a harlot there he went into her house.
16:2 The news was told to the men of Gaza, ‘Samson has arrived’. They surrounded the place and kept watch for him at the gate of the town. All that night they made no move, thinking, ‘We will wait till daybreak; then we will kill him’.
16:3 Samson however stayed in bed till midnight, and rising at midnight, he seized the doors of the town gate and the two posts as well; he tore them up, bar and all, hoisted them on to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill facing Hebron and there he left them.
Samson is betrayed by Delilah
16:4 After this, Samson fell in love with a woman in the Vale of Sorek; she was called Delilah.
16:5 The chiefs of the Philistines visited her and said to her, ‘Cajole him and find out where his great strength comes from, and how we can master him and bind him and reduce him to helplessness. In return we will each give you eleven hundred silver shekels.’
16:6 Delilah said to Samson, ‘Please tell me where your great strength comes from, and what would be needed to bind you and tame you’.
16:7 Samson answered, ‘If I were bound with seven new bowstrings that had not yet been dried, I should lose my strength and become like any other man’.
16:8 The chiefs of the Philistines brought Delilah seven new bowstrings that had not yet been dried and she took them and bound him with them.
16:9 She had men concealed in her room, and she shouted, ‘The Philistines are on you, Samson!’ Then he snapped the bowstrings as a strand of tow snaps at a touch of the fire. So the secret of his strength remained unknown.
16:10 Then Delilah said to Samson, ‘You have been laughing at me and telling me lies. But now please tell me what would be needed to bind you.’
16:11 He answered, ‘If I were bound tightly with new ropes that have never been used, I should lose my strength and become like any other man’.
16:12 Then Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and she shouted, ‘The Philistines are on you, Samson!’ She had men concealed in her room, but he snapped the ropes round his arms like thread.
16:13 Then Delilah said to Samson, ‘Up to now you have been laughing at me and telling me lies. Tell me what would be needed to bind you.’ He answered, ‘If you wove the seven locks of my hair into the warp of the web and fixed the peg firlnly, I should lose my strength and become like any other man.’
16:14 She lulled him to sleep, then wove the seven locks of his hair into the warp, fixed the peg and shouted, ‘The Philistines are on you, Samson!’ He woke from his sleep and pulled out both stuff and peg. So the secret of his strength remained unknown.
16:15 Delilah said to him, ‘How can you say you love me when you do not trust me? Three times now you have laughed at me and have not told me where your great strength comes from.’
16:16 And day after day she persisted with her questions, and allowed him no rest, till he grew tired to death of it.
16:17 At last he told her his whole secret; he said to her, ‘A razor has never touched my head, because I have been God’s nazirite from my mother’s womb. If my head were shorn, then my power would leave me and I should lose my strength and become like any other man.’
16:18 Then Delilah realised he had told his whole secret to her; she had the chiefs of the Philistines summoned and given this message, ‘Come just once more: he has told his whole secret to me’. And the chiefs of the Philistines came to her with the money in their hands.
16:19 She lulled Samson to sleep in her lap, and summoned a man who sheared the seven locks off his head. Then he began to lose his strength, and his power left him.
16:20 She cried, ‘The Philistines are on you, Samson!’ He awoke from sleep, thinking, ‘I shall break free as I did before and shake myself clear’. But he did not know that Yahweh had turned away from him.
16:21 The Philistines seized him, put out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. They fettered him with a double chain of bronze, and he spent his time turning the mill in the prison.
16:22 But the hair that had been shorn off began to grow again.
Samson’s revenge and death
16:23 The chiefs of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to rejoice. They said: ‘Into our hands our god has delivered Samson our enemy.
16:24 And as soon as the people saw their god, they acclaimed him, shouting his praises: ‘Into our hands our god has delivered Samson our enemy, the man who laid our country waste and killed so many of us’.
16:25 And as their hearts were full of joy, they shouted, ‘Send Samson out to amuse us’. So Samson was brought out of prison, and he performed feats for them; then he was put to stand between the pillars.
16:26 But Samson said to the boy who was leading him by the hand, ‘Lead me where I can touch the pillars supporting the building, so that I can lean against them’.
16:27 Now the building was crowded with men and women. All the chiefs of the Philistines were there, while about three thousand men and women were watching Samson’s feats from the roof.
16:28 Samson called on Yahweh and cried out, ‘Lord Yahweh, I beg you, remember me; give me strength again this once, and let me be revenged on the Philistines at one blow for my two eyes’.
16:29 And Samson put his arms round the two middle pillars supporting the building, and threw all his weight against them, his right arm against one and his left arm against the other;
16:30 and he cried out, ‘May I die with the Philistines!’ He thrust now with all his might, and the building fell on the chiefs and on all the people there. Those he killed at his death outnumbered those he had killed in his life.
16:31 His brothers and his father’s whole family came down and carried him away. They took him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had been judge in Israel for twenty years.
JB JUDGES Chapter 17
A. THE SANCTUARY OF MICAH AND THE SANCTUARY OF DAN
The household shrine of Micah
17:1 In the highlands of Ephraim there was a man called Micayehu.
17:2a He said to his mother, ‘The eleven hundred silver shekels which were taken from you and concerning which you uttered a curse, going on to say-I heard it with my own ears-
17:3b “I solemnly declare that of my own free will I consecrate this silver to Yahweh, to make a carved image (and an idol of cast metal)”
17:2b I myself have that silver; I was the one who took it,
17:3c and now I give it back to you’.
17:2c His mother answered, ‘May my son be blessed by Yahweh!’
17:3a And Micayehu gave her back the eleven hundred silver shekels.
17:4 Then his mother took two hundred silver shekels and gave them to the metal-worker. From them he made a carved image (and an idol of cast metal), and this was placed in the house of Micah,
17:5 who built a shrine for it, and then made an ephod and teraphim, and installed one of his sons to act as priest for him.
17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, and every man did as he pleased.
17:7 There was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the clan of Judah, who was a Levite and resided there as a stranger.
17:8 This man left the town of Bethlehem in Judah to look for a place where he could find a home. In his travels he came to the highlands of Ephraim and to Micah’s house.
17:9 Micah asked him, ‘Where do you come from?’ The other answered him, ‘I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah. I am travelling and looking for a place where I can find a home.’
17:10 Micah said to him, ‘Stay here with me; be a father and a priest for me, and I will give you ten silver shekels a year, and food and clothing’; and he urged the Levite.
17:11 The Levite agreed to remain in the man’s house, and the young man became like one of his sons to him.
17:12 Micah installed the Levite; the young man became Micah’s priest and stayed in his house.
17:13 And Micah said, ‘Now I know that Yahweh will prosper me, because I have this Levite as my priest’.
JB JUDGES Chapter 18
The Danites go in search of a territory
18:1 In those days there was no king in Israel. Now in those days the tribe of Dan was in search of a territory to live in, because up till then no territory had fallen to them among the tribes of Israel.
18:2 From their clan the Danites sent five brave men from Zorah and Eshtaol to reconnoitre the country and explore it. They said to them, ‘Go and explore the country’. The five men came to the highlands of Ephraim and to Micah’s house, and spent the night there.
18:3 When they were near Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite, and turning that way they said to him, ‘Who brought you here? What are you doing here? What is keeping you here?’
18:4 He answered, ‘Micah has done such and such for me. He pays me a wage and I act as his priest.’
18:5 They replied, ‘Then consult God and find out for us whether the journey we are making will be successful’.
18:6 The priest replied, ‘Go in peace; the journey you are making is under the eye of Yahweh’.
18:7 So the five men set out, and came to Laish. They saw that the people there lived in security like the Sidonians, peaceful and trusting, that nothing lacked there of all that the earth yields, and that they were far from the Sidonians and had no relations with the Aramaeans.
18:8 Then they went back to their kinsfolk at Zorah and Eshtaol, and when these asked them, ‘What can you tell us?’
18:9 they answered, ‘We went and passed through the country as far as Laish. We saw that the people there live in security like the Sidonians. They are far from Sidon and have no relations with Aram. Up, and let us march against them, for we have seen the country and it is very good. But you-why stand there speechless? Set out for Laish without delay and take possession of the country.
18:10 When you reach it, you will find a defenceless people. The country is wide; God has put in your power a place where there is nothing lacking of all that man can want on earth.’
The migration of the Danites
18:11 So men of the tribe of Dan set out from Zorah and Eshtaol, six hundred of them, armed for war.
18:12 They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah; and for this reason the place is still called the Camp of Dan today. It lies west of Kiriath-jearim.
18:13 From there they entered the highlands of Ephraim and came to Micah’s house.
18:14 Then the five men who had been to explore the country spoke to their brothers and said, ‘Do you know that there is an ephod in these houses, and teraphim and a carved image (and an idol in cast metal)? So now think what you have to do.’
18:15 They turned aside and went to the young Levite’s dwelling in Micah’s house, and greeted him.
18:16 While the six hundred men of the Danites, armed for war, stood at the threshold of the gate,
18:17 the five who had set out to explore the country went on into the house and took the carved image and ephod and teraphim (and the idol of cast metal), while the priest remained at the threshold of the gate with the six hundred men armed for war.
18:18 These men, having entered Micah’s house, took the carved image, the ephod and the teraphim (and the idol of cast metal). But the priest said, ‘What are you doing?’
18:19 They answered, ‘Hush! Put your hand over your mouth and come with us. You shall be a father and a priest for us. Is it better for you to be priest for one man’s household, or to be priest for a tribe and clan in Israel?’
18:20 The priest was overjoyed; he took the ephod and teraphim and the carved image and set off in the middle of the band of men.
18:21 They left by the way they came, putting the women, children, cattle and valuables in front of them.
18:22 They had gone some way from Micah’s home when the neighbours with houses next to his gave the alarm and set off in pursuit of the Danites.
18:23 And as they shouted after them, the Danites turned round and asked Micah, ‘What is all this shouting about?’
18:24 He answered, ‘You have taken away the god I made for myself; you have taken away the priest as well. You go on your way, and what is left for me? How can you ask me, “What is this about?”‘
18:25 The Danites answered, ‘Let us hear no more from you, or men may lose their tempers and fall on you. You may bring about your own destruction and that of your household.’
18:26 So the Danites went on their way; and since Micah saw they were the stronger, he turned and went home.
Laish taken. Dan and its sanctuary founded
18:27 So taking with them the god that Micah had made and the priest who had served him, the Danites marched against Laish, against a peaceful and trusting people. They slaughtered all the inhabitants and set the town on fire.
18:28 There was no one to help the town because it was a long way from Sidon and had no relations with the Aramaeans. It lay in the valley running towards Beth-rehob. They rebuilt the town and settled in it,
18:29 and called it Dan after Dan their father who had been born to Israel, although the town was originally called Laish. The Danites erected the carved image for their own use.
18:30 Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons after him were priests for the tribe of Dan till the day when the inhabitants of the country were carried away into exile.
18:31 The carved image that Micah had made they enshrined for their own use, and there it stayed as long as the house of God remained at Shiloh.[*a]
JB JUDGES Chapter 19
B. THE CRIME AT GIBEAH AND THE WAR AGAINST BENJAMIN[*a]
The Levite of Ephraim and his concubine
19:1 In those days, when there was no king in Israel, there was a man, a Levite, whose home was deep in the highlands of Ephraim. He took as concubine a woman from Bethlehem in Judah.
19:2 In a fit of anger his concubine left him and returned to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah, and she stayed there for some four months.
19:3 Her husband set out to visit her, to reason with her and fetch her back; he had his servant and two donkeys with him. As he approached the house of the girl’s father, the father saw him and came very joyfully to meet him.
19:4 His father-in-law, the father of the girl, made him his guest; and he stayed with him for three days; they ate and drank and spent the night there.
19:5 On the fourth day they got up early, and the Levite was preparing to leave when the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, ‘Have a bite of food to fortify yourself; you can leave later’.
19:6 So they sat down and began eating and drinking, the two of them together; then the girl’s father said to the young man, ‘Come, say you will spend tonight here too, and enjoy yourself’.
19:7 And when the man got up to leave, the father-in-law pressed him again, and he spent another night there.
19:8 On the fifth morning, the Levite got up early to leave, but the girl’s father said to him, ‘Eat something first, I beg you’. So they whiled away the time till the day began to decline, and the two of them ate together.
19:9 The husband was preparing to leave with his concubine and his servant when his father-in-law, the father of the girl, said to him, ‘Look, the day is drawing towards evening. Spend the night here and enjoy yourself. Early tomorrow you can go and return to your tent.’
19:10 But the man would not stay the night there; he got up and set off and came within sight of Jebus-that is, Jerusalem. He had with him two donkeys saddled, and his concubine and his servant.
The crime of the men of Gibeah
19:11 By the time they were near Jerusalem, the day was fast going. The servant said to his master, ‘Please let us leave the road now and enter this Jebusite town and spend the night there’.
19:12 His master answered, ‘We will not enter a town of foreigners, of people who are not Israelites; we will go on to Gibeah instead’.
19:13 He went on to say to the servant, ‘Come on, we will try to reach one or other of those places, either Gibeah or Ramah, and spend the night there’.
19:14 So they kept on, continuing their journey. As they approached Gibeah in Benjamin the sun was already setting.
19:15 So they turned that way to spend the night in Gibeah. Inside the town, the Levite sat down in the middle of the public square, but no one offered to take them into his house for the night.
19:16 But an old man came their way, who was returning at nightfall from his work in the fields. He was a man from the highlands of Ephraim, and a foreigner resident in Gibeah, the men of the place being Benjaminites.
19:17 Raising his eyes, he saw the traveller sitting in the public square of the town; the old man asked him, ‘Where have you come from? Where are you going?’
19:18 The other answered, ‘We are on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a place deep in the highlands of Ephraim. That is where I come from. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going home, but no one has offered to take me into his house,
19:19 although we have straw and provender for our donkeys, and I have bread and wine as well for myself and this maidservant and the young man who is travelling with your servant; we are short of nothing.’
19:20 The old man answered, ‘Welcome to you! Let me see to all your needs; you cannot spend the night in the public square.’
19:21 So he took him jnto his house and gave the donkeys provender. The travellers washed their feet, then ate and drank.
19:22 As they were at their cheerful meal, some men from the town, scoundrels, came crowding together round the house; they battered on the door and said to the old man, the master of the house, ‘Send out the man who has come into your house, so that we can abuse him’.
19:23 Then the master of the house went out to them and said, ‘No, my brothers; I implore you, do not commit this crime. This man has become my guest; do not commit such an infamy.[*b]
19:24 Here is my daughter, she is a virgin; I will give her to you. Possess her, do what you please with her, but do not commit such an infamy against this man.’
19:25 The men would not listen to him. So the Levite took his concubine and brought her out to them. They had intercourse with her and outraged her all night till morning; when dawn was breaking they let her go.
19:26 At daybreak the girl came and fell on the threshold of her husband’s host, and she stayed there till it was full day.
19:27 In the morning her husband got up and opened the door of the house; he was coming out to continue his journey when he saw the woman who had been his concubine lying at the door of the house with her hands on the threshold.
19:28 He said to her, ‘Stand up; we must go’. There was no answer. Then he laid her across his donkey and began the journey home.
19:29 Having reached his house, he picked up his knife, took hold of his concubine, and limb by limb cut her into twelve pieces; then he sent her all through the land of Israel.
19:30 He instructed his messengers as follows, ‘This is what you are to say to the Israelites, “Has any man seen such a thing from the day the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt, until this very day? Ponder on this, discuss it; then give your verdict.”‘ And all who saw it declared, ‘Never has such a thing been done or been seen since the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt’.
JB JUDGES Chapter 20
The Israelites pledge themselves to avenge the crime at Gibeah
20:1 So all the sons of Israel came out, and the whole community, from Dan to Beersheba and the land of Gilead, gathered together as one man in the presence of Yahweh at Mizpah.
20:2 The leaders of all the people and all the tribes of Israel were present at this assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand foot soldiers who could handle the sword.
20:3 The Benjaminites heard that the sons of Israel had gone up to Mizpah…Then the sons of Israel said, ‘Tell us how this crime was committed’.
20:4 The Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, spoke in reply and said, ‘I had come with my concubine to Gibeah in Benjamin, to spend the night there.
20:5 The men of Gibeah rose against me and in the night surrounded the house where I was lodging; as for me, they wanted to kill me, and as for my concubine, they raped her to death.
20:6 Then I took my concubine, cut her in pieces and sent her throughout all the territory that Israel inherited because these men have committed an infamy in Israel.
20:7 You have all met together here, men of Israel. Discuss the matter and make your decision here and now.’
20:8 AlI the people stood up as one man and said, ‘Not one of us will return to his tent, not one of us will go back to his house.
20:9 Now, this is what we shall do to Gibeah. We will cast lots,
20:10 and select ten men from every hundred from each of the tribes of Israel, and a hundred from every thousand, and a thousand from every ten thousand; they will collect food for the army, for those who will go and punish Gibeah in Benjamin for the infamy they have committed in Israel.’
20:11 So all the men of Israel mustered against that town, united as one man.
The Benjaminites remain stubborn
20:12 The tribes of Israel sent messengers out through the whole tribe of Benjamin, saying, ‘What is this crime that has been committed among you?
20:13 Come now, give up these men, these scoundrels from Gibeah, so that we may put them to death and banish wickedness from the midst of Israel.’ But the Benjaminites would not listen to their brother Israelites.
The first encounters
20:14 The Benjaminites left their towns and mustered at Gibeah to fight the Israelites.
20:15 The Benjaminites from these various towns had counted their numbers that day, and in all there were twenty-five thousand men who could handle the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah.
20:16 In this great army were seven hundred picked men who could fight with both hands; every one of these could sling a stone at a hair and not miss it.
20:17 The men of Israel also took a count. Without Benjamin, there were four hundred thousand of them who could handle the sword; all experienced fighters.
20:18 They set off and went up to Bethel to consult God. The Israelites put the question, ‘Which of us should go out first to attack the Benjaminites?’ And Yahweh answered, ‘Judah shall go first’.
20:19 In the morning the Israelites marched out and pitched their camp facing Gibeah.
20:20 Then advancing to engage Benjamin they drew up their line in front of the town.
20:21 But the Benjaminites sallied out from Gileeah and that day killed twenty-two thousand Israelites, who were left on the field.
20:23 The Israelites went and wept before Yahweh until evening; then they consulted Yahweh; they asked, ‘Shall we join battle again with the sons of our brother Benjamin?’ Yahweh answered, ‘March against him’.
20:22 Then the army of the people of Israel took heart afresh; and again they drew up their line for battle in the same place as the day before.
20:24 This second day the Israelites advanced on the Benjaminites;
20:25 but again this second day Benjamin sallied out from Gibeah against them and killed eighteen thousand Israelites, who were left on the field; they were all experienced fighters who could handle the sword.
20:26 Then all the Israelites and the whole people went up to Bethel; they wept and sat in Yahweh’s presence; they fasted all day till the evening and offered holocausts and communion sacrifices before Yahweh;
20:27 then the Israelites consulted Yahweh. The ark of the covenant of God was there in those days,
20:28 and Phinehas son of Eleazer son of Aaron was the priest who ministered at it at that time. They said, ‘Ought we to go again and fight the sons of our brother Benjamin, or should we stop?’ Yahweh answered, ‘March; for tomorrow I shall deliver him into your power.’
Benjamin is conquered and wiped out
20:29 Then Israel stationed men in ambush round Gibeah.
20:30 On the third day the Israelites marched against the Benjaminites and, just as before, they drew up their line in front of the town.
20:31 The Benjaminites made a sally against them and let themselves be drawn away from the town. As before, they began by killing those of the people who were on the road that runs up to Bethel and on the road that runs up to Gibeon; and there in the open country they killed about thirty men of Israel.
20:32 The Benjaminites thought, ‘They have had to fall back in front of us as before’; but the Israelites decided, ‘Let us take to flight and draw them away from the town along the highroads.
20:33 Then the main body of the army of Israel, leaving its position, will form up for battle at Baal-tamar, but meanwhile the Israelites in ambush will rush forward from their position west of Geba.’
20:34 Then ten thousand picked men, chosen from the whole of Israel, appeared before Gibeah. The battle was fierce. The Benjaminites did not suspect the disaster hanging over them.
20:35 Yahweh defeated Benjamin before Israel, and on that day the Israelites killed twenty-five thousand one hundred men of Benjamin, all men who could handle the sword.
20:36 The Benjaminites, seeing themselves defeated… [*a] The men of Israel had given ground to Benjamin because they relied on the ambush they had set against Gibeah.
20:37 The men in ambush quickly poured out and reached Gibeah and put the whole town to the sword.
20:38 For it had been agreed between the Israelite army and the troops in ambush that these should raise a smoke signal from the town,
20:39 whereupon the Israelites in the thick of the battle would turn about. Now Benjamin had begun by killing men of the Israelite army, about thirty of them; so they were thinking, ‘Plainly we have routed them now as we did before’.
20:40 But the signal, a column of smoke, began to rise from the town, and the Benjaminites looking back saw the whole town going up in flames to the sky.
20:41 Then the Israelites turned about, and the Benjaminites were seized with terror, for they saw that disaster was imminent.
20:42 They retreated before Israel, making for the wilderness, but the main body of Israel pressed them hard, while the others coming out of the town surprised and slaughtered them from the rear.
20:43 They hemmed the Benjaminites in, pursued them relentlessly and crushed them opposite Geba on the east
20:44 Eighteen thousand men of Benjamin fell, all of them brave men.
20:45 The survivors turned and ran, and fled into the wilderness and towards the Rock of Rimmon. On the highroads the Israelites caught five thousand men. Then they pursued the Benjaminites to Geba and killed two thousand of them.
20:46 The total number of Benjaminites who fell that day was twenty-five thousand men who could handle the sword, all of them brave men.
20:47 Six hundred men had escaped into the wilderness, to the Rock of Rimmon, and there they stayed for four months.
20:48 The men of Israel went back to the Benjaminites, and put all the males in the towns to the sword, the cattle too, and all that came their way. And they set on fire all the towns that they came to in Benjamin.
JB JUDGES Chapter 21
The Israelites relent [*a]
21:1 The men of Israel had sworn this oath at Mizpah, ‘Not one of us will give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin’.
21:2 The people went to Bethel and stayed there until evening, sitting before God with groans and bitter weeping.
21:3 They said, ‘Yahweh, God of Israel, why must this be Israel’s lot, to lose one of its tribes today?’
21:4 The next day the people got up early and built an altar there; they offered holocausts and communion sacrifices.
21:5 Then the Israelites said, ‘Which of all the tribes of Israel has not come to the assembly in Yahweh’s presence?’ For they had sworn a solemn oath threatening death to anyone who would not come into Yahweh’s presence at Mizpah.
21:6 Now the Israelites were sorry for Benjamin their brother; ‘Today,’ they said ‘one tribe has been cut off from Israel.
21:7 What shall we do to find wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by Yahweh not to give them any of our own daughters in marriage?’
The maidens of Jabesh given to the Benjaminites
21:8 Then they asked the question, ‘Which of the tribes of Israel has not come intoYahweh’s presence at Mizpah?’ It was discovered that no one from Jabesh-gilead had come to the camp for the assembly;
21:9 for the people had been counted over, and not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there.
21:10 Then the community sent twelve thousand of their bravest men there, with these orders: ‘Go and slaughter all the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead, the women and children too.
21:11 This is what you must do. You are to put all the males and all women who have slept with a male under the ban, but you are to spare the maidens.’ They obeyed the orders.
21:12 Among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead they found four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man, and brought them to the camp (at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan).
21:13 Then the whole community sent messengers to offer peace to the Benjaminites who were at the Rock of Rimmon.
21:14 Benjamin returned, and they were given those women from Jabesh-gilead who had been left alive; but there were not cnough for all.
The daughters of Shiloh are carried off
21:15 The people were sorry for Benjamin because Yahweh had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
21:16 And the elders of the community said, ‘What shall we do to find wives for the survivors, since the women of Benjamin have been wiped out?’
21:17 They went on, ‘How can we preserve a remnant for Benjamin so that a tribe may not be blotted out from Israel?
21:18 We ourselves cannot give them our own daughters in marriage.’ For the Israelites had sworn this oath, ‘Cursed be any man who gives a wife to Benjamin!’
21:19 ‘But yet’ they said ‘there is Yahweh’s feast which is held every year at Shiloh.’ (this town lies north of Bethel, east of the highway that runs from Bethel up to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.)
21:20 So they gave this advice to the Benjaminites, ‘Place yourselves in ambush in the vineyards.
21:21 Keep watch there, and when the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in groups together, you too come out of the vineyards: seize a wife, each one of you, from the daughters of Shiloh and make for the land of Benjamin.
21:22 If their fathers or brothers come to complain to you, we shall say to them, “Forgive them because each one of them has taken a wife for himself, as men do in war. For if you had given them brides, you would have broken your oath, and so would have sinned.”‘
21:23 The Benjaminites did this, and from the dancers they had captured, they chose as many wives as there were men; then they set off, returned to their inheritance, rebuilt their towns and settled in them.
21:24 Then the Israelites went away, each to rejoin his own tribe and clan, and returned from Shiloh each to his own inheritance.
21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel, and every man did as he pleased.
END OF JB JUDGES [21 Chapters].