Judges 20:31 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 20:31, NIV: The Benjamites came out to meet them and were drawn away from the city. They began to inflict casualties on the Israelites as before, so that about thirty men fell in the open field and on the roads--the one leading to Bethel and the other to Gibeah.

Judges 20:31, ESV: And the people of Benjamin went out against the people and were drawn away from the city. And as at other times they began to strike and kill some of the people in the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah, and in the open country, about thirty men of Israel.

Judges 20:31, KJV: And the children of Benjamin went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city; and they began to smite of the people, and kill, as at other times, in the highways, of which one goeth up to the house of God, and the other to Gibeah in the field, about thirty men of Israel.

Judges 20:31, NASB: When the sons of Benjamin went out against the people, they were lured away from the city, and they began to strike and kill some of the people as at other times, on the roads (one of which goes up to Bethel, and the other to Gibeah), and in the field, about thirty men of Israel.

Judges 20:31, NLT: When the men of Benjamin came out to attack, they were drawn away from the town. And as they had done before, they began to kill the Israelites. About thirty Israelites died in the open fields and along the roads, one leading to Bethel and the other leading back to Gibeah.

Judges 20:31, CSB: Then the Benjaminites came out against the troops and were drawn away from the city. They began to attack the troops as before, killing about thirty men of Israel on the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah through the open country.

What does Judges 20:31 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Despite outnumbering defenders by fifteen-to-one, eleven of the tribes of Israel have been thoroughly thwarted in two attempts to take the city of Gibeah from the twelfth tribe, Benjamin. The city's natural defenses likely made it especially difficult to attack. The much smaller Benjaminite forces held their ground and devastated those who came near: about one out of every eleven attackers from the original Israeli army has been killed. What might have been a brute-force strategy of attacking the town head on has failed miserably (Judges 20:19–25).

This third attempt will be different. Israel will execute a new strategy, further bolstered by God's promise that they will win in this third attack (Judges 20:26–28).

Israel has set men along the same battle lines used in prior attacks. This time, though, they have hidden another part of their army around the city. Those hidden men are ready to spring an ambush when the time is right. Israel initiates the attack in the same manner as the first two attempts. Benjamin's forces come out to engage them, as they did before. Israel's soldiers begin to fall back, as if they are losing ground. They move back along the roadways, including one from Gibeah to Bethel.

The fierce fighters of Benjamin see this as an opportunity, but don't realize it's a trap. They are drawn away from the safety of the city. They succeed in killing about thirty Israelite soldiers along the road and in the open fields as they chase their attackers down. They don't know that Israel has used these men as bait to draw Benjamin's forces further away from town.