Judges 20:34 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 20:34, NIV: Then ten thousand of Israel's able young men made a frontal attack on Gibeah. The fighting was so heavy that the Benjamites did not realize how near disaster was.

Judges 20:34, ESV: And there came against Gibeah 10,000 chosen men out of all Israel, and the battle was hard, but the Benjaminites did not know that disaster was close upon them.

Judges 20:34, KJV: And there came against Gibeah ten thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and the battle was sore: but they knew not that evil was near them.

Judges 20:34, NASB: When ten thousand choice men from all Israel came against Gibeah, the battle became fierce; but Benjamin did not know that disaster was close to them.

Judges 20:34, NLT: There were 10,000 elite Israelite troops who advanced against Gibeah. The fighting was so heavy that Benjamin didn't realize the impending disaster.

Judges 20:34, CSB: Then ten thousand fit young men from all Israel made a frontal assault against Gibeah, and the battle was fierce, but the Benjaminites did not know that disaster was about to strike them.

What does Judges 20:34 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Israel's strategic battle plan has worked. The main force of Israel's army is pretending to flee to the north in defeat, luring Benjamin's forces away from the city of Gibeah (Judges 20:29–33). A second part of Israel's army emerged from hiding between the Benjaminites and the city, effectively trapping them in between. This cuts off their ability to retreat to the city.

Finally, a third group of Israelite fighters engage from their positions nearer the city. These fighters have been specially chosen for their mission. Depending on how the Hebrew word 'eleph is translated, this group is either ten thousand men, or ten divisions of men. The bulk of Benjamin's army has left the city, but some have remained behind. They will be even more outnumbered than usual (Judges 20:15–17) yet can still use the city's natural defenses against their Israelite attackers.

This verse emphasizes that the battle between these elite Israelite soldiers and the remnant of the army of Benjamin is fierce. However, Israel, is on the verge of victory. At this point, Benjamin's army doesn't realize how close they are to defeat. From their perspective, their main contingent is chasing down a retreating Israelite army. Because of Israel's clever planning, their city is already as good as lost (Judges 20:35).