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Judges 20:32

ESV And the people of Benjamin said, “They are routed before us, as at the first.” But the people of Israel said, “Let us flee and draw them away from the city to the highways.”
NIV While the Benjamites were saying, 'We are defeating them as before,' the Israelites were saying, 'Let's retreat and draw them away from the city to the roads.'
NASB And the sons of Benjamin said, 'They are defeated before us, like the first time.' But the sons of Israel said, 'Let’s flee, so that we may draw them away from the city to the roads.'
CSB The Benjaminites said, "We are defeating them as before."But the Israelites said, "Let's flee and draw them away from the city to the highways."
NLT Then the warriors of Benjamin shouted, 'We’re defeating them as we did before!' But the Israelites had planned in advance to run away so that the men of Benjamin would chase them along the roads and be drawn away from the town.
KJV And the children of Benjamin said, They are smitten down before us, as at the first. But the children of Israel said, Let us flee, and draw them from the city unto the highways.

What does Judges 20:32 mean?

Israel's new strategy is working perfectly. They begin this third battle (Judges 20:19–28) by attacking Gibeah in the same manner as before. The fierce warriors of Gibeah again come out from the city and seem to easily defeat the Israelites, also as before. This time, the Israelite soldiers begin to fall back, giving ground to the tribe of Benjamin. The fighters of Benjamin begin to chase them down, killing about thirty Israelite fighters as they are drawn farther from the safety of their city (Judges 20:29–31).

This verse reveals the perspectives of either side. Benjamin's army is convinced they are routing Israel's forces for a third time. Israel's leaders are directing their troops to run away, drawing them into a trap. The strategic retreat invites the bulk of Benjamin's soldiers to chase them up the road that leads to Bethel. Benjamin's army does exactly that, allowing Israel's plan to continue (Judges 20:33).
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