Judges 20:21 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 20:21, NIV: The Benjamites came out of Gibeah and cut down twenty-two thousand Israelites on the battlefield that day.

Judges 20:21, ESV: The people of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and destroyed on that day 22,000 men of the Israelites.

Judges 20:21, KJV: And the children of Benjamin came forth out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to the ground of the Israelites that day twenty and two thousand men.

Judges 20:21, NASB: Then the sons of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and struck to the ground on that day twenty-two thousand men of Israel.

Judges 20:21, NLT: But Benjamin's warriors, who were defending the town, came out and killed 22,000 Israelites on the battlefield that day.

Judges 20:21, CSB: The Benjaminites came out of Gibeah and slaughtered twenty-two thousand men of Israel on the field that day.

What does Judges 20:21 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The outcome of the first day of battle between Benjamin and the rest of the tribes of Israel (Judges 20:15–17) is shocking. Israel's cause was just. They had come to restore righteousness to Israel by destroying guilty rapists and murderers in the city of Gibeah (Judges 19:22–28; 20:12–14). Israel had also taken the then-unusual step of asking the Lord for specific direction before they attacked. Their total army numbers fifteen times the size of Benjamin's forces, but the tribe of Judah is called on to attack first (Judges 20:18–21).

Despite massive numbers, more than one in twenty of Israel's forces are killed and Benjamin is still in control of their home territory. As is typical of ancient accounts, the casualties of the winning side are not listed. In almost all cases where people defend native territory from invaders, knowledge of the local terrain would have been an enormous advantage. It's possible the landscape around Gibeah provided especially useful natural defenses, a strategic advantage which mere numbers could not overcome. And yet, it's unlikely anyone expected the day to end with so many of Israel's own army killed in the battle.