Judges 20:23 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 20:23, NIV: The Israelites went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and they inquired of the LORD. They said, 'Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites?' The LORD answered, 'Go up against them.'

Judges 20:23, ESV: And the people of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until the evening. And they inquired of the LORD, “Shall we again draw near to fight against our brothers, the people of Benjamin?” And the LORD said, “Go up against them.”

Judges 20:23, KJV: (And the children of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until even, and asked counsel of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And the LORD said, Go up against him.)

Judges 20:23, NASB: And the sons of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and inquired of the LORD, saying, 'Shall we again advance for battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin?' And the LORD said, 'Go up against him.'

Judges 20:23, NLT: For they had gone up to Bethel and wept in the presence of the LORD until evening. They had asked the LORD, 'Should we fight against our relatives from Benjamin again?' And the LORD had said, 'Go out and fight against them.'

Judges 20:23, CSB: They went up, wept before the Lord until evening, and inquired of him, "Should we again attack our brothers the Benjaminites? "And the Lord answered, "Fight against them."

What does Judges 20:23 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

How does a nation respond to devastating defeat despite having everything necessary for victory? Eleven of Israel's tribes had not gone to battle on a whim. They investigated the crimes of Gibeah (Judges 19:22–28). They secured unity of purpose: to purge the evil found in the land (Judges 20:12–20). They even asked God which tribe should attack first, seemingly securing His approval (Judges 20:18).

Still, by the end of the day, the first battle resulted in more than one in twenty Israeli soldiers killed. Then, as now, such a defeat would have been considered a major disaster. The soldiers were ready to try again, but the leaders of Israel once more insisted on approaching the Lord. They send another delegation to nearby Bethel, where the ark of the covenant sits.

This time, the leaders bring the question they seem to think should have been asked in the first place: Does God want them to war against their own brothers, at all. Their question here has less to do with strategy and more to do with purpose. The terrible defeat of the first day has them wondering if the Lord is with them in the fight.

God graciously answers once again, telling them to continue their campaign. He wants them to pursue this effort for justice.