18 In those days Israel had no king. And in those days the Danite tribe was looking for a place 1 to settle, because at that time they did not yet have a place to call their own among the tribes of Israel. 2 2 The Danites sent out from their whole tribe five representatives, 3 capable men 4 from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and explore it. They said to them, “Go, explore the land.” They came to the Ephraimite hill country and spent the night at Micah’s house. 5 3 As they approached 6 Micah’s house, they recognized the accent 7 of the young Levite. So they stopped 8 there and said to him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?” 9 4 He told them what Micah had done for him, saying, 10 “He hired me and I became his priest.” 5 They said to him, “Seek a divine oracle for us, 11 so we can know if we will be successful on our mission.” 12 6 The priest said to them, “Go with confidence. 13 The Lord will be with you on your mission.” 14
7 So the five men journeyed on 15 and arrived in Laish. They noticed that the people there 16 were living securely, like the Sidonians do, 17 undisturbed and unsuspecting. No conqueror was troubling them in any way. 18 They lived far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone. 19 8 When the Danites returned to their tribe 20 in Zorah and Eshtaol, their kinsmen 21 asked them, “How did it go?” 22 9 They said, “Come on, let’s attack them, 23 for 24 we saw their land and it is very good. You seem lethargic, 25 but don’t hesitate 26 to invade and conquer 27 the land. 10 When you invade, 28 you will encounter 29 unsuspecting people. The land is wide! 30 God is handing it over to you – a place that lacks nothing on earth!” 31
11 So six hundred Danites, fully armed, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. 32 12 They went up and camped in Kiriath Jearim in Judah. (To this day that place is called Camp of Dan. 33 It is west 34 of Kiriath Jearim.) 13 From there they traveled through the Ephraimite hill country and arrived at Micah’s house. 14 The five men who had gone to spy out the land of Laish 35 said to their kinsmen, 36 “Do you realize that inside these houses are an ephod, some personal idols, a carved image, and a metal image? Decide now what you want to do.” 15 They stopped 37 there, went inside the young Levite’s house (which belonged to Micah), 38 and asked him how he was doing. 39 16 Meanwhile the six hundred Danites, fully armed, stood at the entrance to the gate. 40 17 The five men who had gone to spy out the land broke in and stole 41 the carved image, the ephod, the personal idols, and the metal image, while the priest was standing at the entrance to the gate with the six hundred fully armed men. 42 18 When these men broke into Micah’s house and stole 43 the carved image, the ephod, the personal idols, and the metal image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 19 They said to him, “Shut up! Put your hand over your mouth and come with us! You can be our adviser 44 and priest. Wouldn’t it be better to be a priest for a whole Israelite tribe than for just one man’s family?” 45 20 The priest was happy. He took the ephod, the personal idols, and the carved image and joined the group. 46
21 They turned and went on their way, but they walked behind the children, the cattle, and their possessions. 47 22 After they had gone a good distance from Micah’s house, Micah’s neighbors 48 gathered together and caught up with the Danites. 23 When they called out to the Danites, the Danites 49 turned around and said to Micah, “Why have you gathered together?” 24 He said, “You stole my gods that I made, as well as this priest, and then went away. What do I have left? How can you have the audacity to say to me, ‘What do you want?’” 50 25 The Danites said to him, “Don’t say another word to us, or some very angry men 51 will attack you, and you and your family will die.” 52 26 The Danites went on their way; when Micah realized 53 they were too strong to resist, 54 he turned around and went home.
27 Now the Danites 55 took what Micah had made, as well as his priest, and came to Laish, where the people were undisturbed and unsuspecting. They struck them down with the sword and burned the city. 56 28 No one came to the rescue because the city 57 was far from Sidon 58 and they had no dealings with anyone. 59 The city 60 was in a valley near Beth Rehob. The Danites 61 rebuilt the city and occupied it. 29 They named it Dan after their ancestor, who was one of Israel’s sons. 62 But the city’s name used to be Laish. 30 The Danites worshiped 63 the carved image. Jonathan, descendant 64 of Gershom, son of Moses, 65 and his descendants 66 served as priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the exile. 31 They worshiped 67 Micah’s carved image 68 the whole time God’s authorized shrine 69 was in Shiloh.
19 In those days Israel had no king. There was a Levite 1 living temporarily in the remote region of the Ephraimite hill country. He acquired a concubine 2 from Bethlehem 3 in Judah. 2 However, she 4 got angry at him 5 and went home 6 to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah. When she had been there four months, 3 her husband came 7 after her, hoping he could convince her to return. 8 He brought with him his servant 9 and a pair of donkeys. When she brought him into her father’s house and the girl’s father saw him, he greeted him warmly. 10 4 His father-in-law, the girl’s father, persuaded him to stay with him for three days, and they ate and drank together, and spent the night there. 5 On the fourth day they woke up early and the Levite got ready to leave. 11 But the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Have a bite to eat for some energy, 12 then you can go.” 6 So the two of them sat down and had a meal together. 13 Then the girl’s father said to the man, “Why not stay another night and have a good time!” 14 7 When the man got ready to leave, 15 his father-in-law convinced him to stay another night. 16 8 He woke up early in the morning on the fifth day so he could leave, but the girl’s father said, “Get some energy. 17 Wait until later in the day to leave!” 18 So they ate a meal together. 9 When the man got ready to leave 19 with his concubine and his servant, 20 his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Look! The day is almost over! 21 Stay another night! Since the day is over, 22 stay another night here and have a good time. You can get up early tomorrow and start your trip home.” 23 10 But the man did not want to stay another night. He left 24 and traveled as far as 25 Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). 26 He had with him a pair of saddled donkeys and his concubine. 27
11 When they got near Jebus, it was getting quite late 28 and the servant 29 said to his master, “Come on, let’s stop at 30 this Jebusite city and spend the night in it.” 12 But his master said to him, “We should not stop at a foreign city where non-Israelites live. 31 We will travel on to Gibeah.” 13 He said to his servant, 32 “Come on, we will go into one of the other towns 33 and spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah.” 14 So they traveled on, 34 and the sun went down when they were near Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin. 35 15 They stopped there and decided to spend the night 36 in Gibeah. They came into the city and sat down in the town square, but no one invited them to spend the night. 37
16 But then an old man passed by, returning at the end of the day from his work in the field. 38 The man was from the Ephraimite hill country; he was living temporarily in Gibeah. (The residents of the town were Benjaminites.) 39 17 When he looked up and saw the traveler 40 in the town square, the old man said, “Where are you heading? Where do you come from?” 18 The Levite 41 said to him, “We are traveling from Bethlehem 42 in Judah to the remote region of the Ephraimite hill country. That’s where I’m from. I had business in Bethlehem in Judah, but now I’m heading home. 43 But no one has invited me into their home. 19 We have enough straw and grain for our donkeys, and there is enough food and wine for me, your female servant, 44 and the young man who is with your servants. 45 We lack nothing.” 20 The old man said, “Everything is just fine! 46 I will take care of all your needs. But don’t spend the night in the town square.” 21 So he brought him to his house and fed the donkeys. They washed their feet and had a meal. 47
22 They were having a good time, 48 when suddenly 49 some men of the city, some good-for-nothings, 50 surrounded the house and kept beating 51 on the door. They said to the old man who owned the house, “Send out the man who came to visit you so we can have sex with him.” 52 23 The man who owned the house went outside and said to them, “No, my brothers! Don’t do this wicked thing! After all, this man is a guest in my house. Don’t do such a disgraceful thing! 24 Here are my virgin daughter and my guest’s 53 concubine. I will send them out and you can abuse them and do to them whatever you like. 54 But don’t do such a disgraceful thing to this man!” 25 The men refused to listen to him, so the Levite 55 grabbed his concubine and made her go outside. 56 They raped 57 her and abused her all night long until morning. They let her go at dawn. 26 The woman arrived back at daybreak and was sprawled out on the doorstep of the house where her master 58 was staying until it became light. 59 27 When her master 60 got up in the morning, opened the doors of the house, and went outside to start on his journey, there was the woman, his concubine, sprawled out on the doorstep of the house with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up, let’s leave!” But there was no response. He put her on the donkey and went home. 61 29 When he got home, he took a knife, grabbed his concubine, and carved her up into twelve pieces. 62 Then he sent the pieces throughout Israel. 63 30 Everyone who saw the sight 64 said, “Nothing like this has happened or been witnessed during the entire time since 65 the Israelites left the land of Egypt! 66 Take careful note of it! Discuss it and speak!”
20 All the Israelites from Dan to Beer Sheba 1 and from the land of Gilead 2 left their homes 3 and assembled together 4 before the Lord at Mizpah. 2 The leaders 5 of all the people from all the tribes of Israel took their places in the assembly of God’s people, which numbered 6 four hundred thousand sword-wielding foot soldiers. 3 The Benjaminites heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah. Then the Israelites said, “Explain how this wicked thing happened!” 4 The Levite, 7 the husband of the murdered woman, spoke up, “I and my concubine stopped in 8 Gibeah in the territory of Benjamin 9 to spend the night. 5 The leaders of Gibeah attacked me and at night surrounded the house where I was staying. 10 They wanted to kill me; instead they abused my concubine so badly that she died. 6 I grabbed hold of my concubine and carved her up and sent the pieces 11 throughout the territory occupied by Israel, 12 because they committed such an unthinkable atrocity 13 in Israel. 7 All you Israelites, 14 make a decision here!” 15
8 All Israel rose up in unison 16 and said, “Not one of us will go home! 17 Not one of us will return 18 to his house! 9 Now this is what we will do to Gibeah: We will attack the city as the lot dictates. 19 10 We will take ten of every group of a hundred men from all the tribes of Israel (and a hundred of every group of a thousand, and a thousand of every group of ten thousand) to get supplies for the army. 20 When they arrive in Gibeah of Benjamin they will punish them for the atrocity which they committed in Israel.” 21 11 So all the men of Israel gathered together at the city as allies. 22
12 The tribes of Israel sent men throughout the tribe 23 of Benjamin, saying, “How could such a wicked thing take place? 24 13 Now, hand over the good-for-nothings 25 in Gibeah so we can execute them and purge Israel of wickedness.” 26 But the Benjaminites refused to listen to their Israelite brothers. 14 The Benjaminites came from their cities and assembled at Gibeah 27 to make war against the Israelites. 15 That day the Benjaminites mustered from their cities twenty-six thousand sword-wielding soldiers, besides seven hundred well-trained soldiers from Gibeah. 28 16 Among this army 29 were seven hundred specially-trained left-handed soldiers. 30 Each one could sling a stone and hit even the smallest target. 31 17 The men of Israel (not counting Benjamin) had mustered four hundred thousand sword-wielding soldiers, every one an experienced warrior. 32
18 The Israelites went up to Bethel 33 and asked God, 34 “Who should lead the charge against the Benjaminites?” 35 The Lord said, “Judah should lead.” 19 The Israelites got up the next morning and moved 36 against Gibeah. 20 The men of Israel marched out to fight Benjamin; they 37 arranged their battle lines against Gibeah. 21 The Benjaminites attacked from Gibeah and struck down twenty-two thousand Israelites that day. 38
22 The Israelite army 39 took heart 40 and once more arranged their battle lines, in the same place where they had taken their positions the day before. 23 The Israelites went up and wept before the Lord until evening. They asked the Lord, “Should we 41 again march out to fight 42 the Benjaminites, our brothers?” 43 The Lord said, “Attack them!” 44 24 So the Israelites marched toward 45 the Benjaminites the next day. 25 The Benjaminites again attacked them from Gibeah and struck down eighteen thousand sword-wielding Israelite soldiers. 46
26 So all the Israelites, the whole army, 47 went up to 48 Bethel. 49 They wept and sat there before the Lord; they did not eat anything 50 that day until evening. They offered up burnt sacrifices and tokens of peace 51 to the Lord. 27 The Israelites asked the Lord (for the ark of God’s covenant was there in those days; 28 Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, was serving the Lord 52 in those days), “Should we 53 once more march out to fight the Benjaminites our brothers, 54 or should we 55 quit?” The Lord said, “Attack, for tomorrow I will hand them 56 over to you.”
29 So Israel hid men in ambush outside Gibeah. 30 The Israelites attacked the Benjaminites the next day; 57 they took their positions against Gibeah just as they had done before. 31 The Benjaminites attacked 58 the army, leaving the city unguarded. 59 They began to strike down their enemy 60 just as they had done before. On the main roads (one leads to Bethel, 61 the other to Gibeah) and in the field, they struck down 62 about thirty Israelites. 32 Then the Benjaminites said, “They are defeated just as before.” But the Israelites said, “Let’s retreat 63 and lure them 64 away from the city into the main roads.” 33 65 All the men of Israel got up from their places and took their positions at Baal Tamar, while the Israelites hiding in ambush jumped out of their places west of Gibeah. 34 Ten thousand men, well-trained soldiers from all Israel, then made a frontal assault against Gibeah – the battle was fierce. 66 But the Benjaminites did not realize that disaster was at their doorstep. 67 35 The Lord annihilated Benjamin before Israel; the Israelites struck down that day 25,100 sword-wielding Benjaminites. 68 36 Then the Benjaminites saw they were defeated.
The Israelites retreated before 69 Benjamin, because they had confidence in the men they had hid in ambush outside Gibeah. 37 The men hiding in ambush made a mad dash 70 to Gibeah. They 71 attacked 72 and put the sword to the entire city. 38 The Israelites and the men hiding in ambush had arranged a signal. When the men hiding in ambush 73 sent up a smoke signal from the city, 39 the Israelites counterattacked. 74 Benjamin had begun to strike down the Israelites; 75 they struck down 76 about thirty men. They said, “There’s no doubt about it! They are totally defeated as in the earlier battle.” 40 But when the signal, a pillar of smoke, began to rise up from the city, the Benjaminites turned around and saw the whole city going up in a cloud of smoke that rose high into the sky. 77 41 When the Israelites turned around, the Benjaminites panicked 78 because they could see that disaster was on their doorstep. 79 42 They retreated before the Israelites, taking the road to the wilderness. But the battle overtook 80 them as men from the surrounding cities struck them down. 81 43 They surrounded the Benjaminites, chased them from Nohah, 82 and annihilated 83 them all the way to a spot east of Geba. 84 44 Eighteen thousand Benjaminites, all of them capable warriors, fell dead. 45 The rest 85 turned and ran toward the wilderness, heading toward the cliff of Rimmon. But the Israelites 86 caught 87 five thousand of them on the main roads. They stayed right on their heels 88 all the way to Gidom and struck down two thousand more. 46 That day twenty-five thousand 89 sword-wielding Benjaminites fell in battle, all of them capable warriors. 90 47 Six hundred survivors turned and ran away to the wilderness, to the cliff of Rimmon. They stayed there four months. 48 The Israelites returned to the Benjaminite towns 91 and put the sword to them. They wiped out the cities, 92 the animals, and everything they could find. They set fire to every city in their path. 93