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Judges 20:35

ESV And the LORD defeated Benjamin before Israel, and the people of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day. All these were men who drew the sword.
NIV The LORD defeated Benjamin before Israel, and on that day the Israelites struck down 25,100 Benjamites, all armed with swords.
NASB And the Lord struck Benjamin before Israel, so that the sons of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day, all who drew the sword.
CSB The Lord defeated Benjamin in the presence of Israel, and on that day the Israelites slaughtered 25,100 men of Benjamin; all were armed.
NLT So the Lord helped Israel defeat Benjamin, and that day the Israelites killed 25,100 of Benjamin’s warriors, all of whom were experienced swordsmen.
KJV And the LORD smote Benjamin before Israel: and the children of Israel destroyed of the Benjamites that day twenty and five thousand and an hundred men: all these drew the sword.

What does Judges 20:35 mean?

This verse, along with the beginning of the next (Judges 20:36) serves as a header—or a section title—for the passage which completes the chapter. These words summarize the outcome of the latest battle between eleven tribes of Israel (Judges 20:19–20) and the twelfth tribe of Benjamin. Casual reading might result in confusion, if one assumes the writer is depicting the same events twice.

When all is said and done, Israel will effectively wipe out Benjamin's entire army. Troop counts from other verses (Judges 20:15–17) indicate that the other eleven tribes lost at least one-eleventh of their forces. The tribe of Benjamin will lose some ninety-five percent of their troops (Judges 20:46). And yet, the total number killed among Israel's army is more than the entire army of Benjamin—a costly, bloody victory. Benjamin, as a tribe, will come close to total annihilation.

Scripture makes a point of noting that God is the One who defeated the tribe of Benjamin. It wasn't the excellent military strategy of the Israelites or their specially chosen warriors. God used the eleven tribes of Israel to bring judgment against the tribe of Benjamin. They allowed depraved atrocities in Gibeah (Judges 19:22–28; 20:12–13) and chose to defend the guilty instead of seeking justice.

This raises the question of why Israel failed on their first two attempts to defeat Gibeah and the tribe of Benjamin. The Bible does not say specifically. Yet those losses provoked the eleven tribes of Israel to draw near to the Lord as one. They responded with an urge to fast and offer sacrifices, and to seek His will for them as a unified nation. That's what God had always wanted from His people (Exodus 19:6).
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