Judges 20:41 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 20:41, NIV: Then the Israelites counterattacked, and the Benjamites were terrified, because they realized that disaster had come on them.

Judges 20:41, ESV: Then the men of Israel turned, and the men of Benjamin were dismayed, for they saw that disaster was close upon them.

Judges 20:41, KJV: And when the men of Israel turned again, the men of Benjamin were amazed: for they saw that evil was come upon them.

Judges 20:41, NASB: Then the men of Israel turned, and the men of Benjamin were terrified; for they saw that disaster was close to them.

Judges 20:41, NLT: the men of Israel turned and attacked. At this point the men of Benjamin became terrified, because they realized disaster was close at hand.

Judges 20:41, CSB: Then the men of Israel returned, and the men of Benjamin were terrified when they realized that disaster had struck them.

What does Judges 20:41 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Israelite army had been retreating to lure fighters of the tribe of Benjamin to leave Gibeah (Judges 20:29–31). Meanwhile, their allies have conquered and burnt the city (Judges 20:37). At virtually the same moment, both sides see the smoke rising from Gibeah. This is the signal Israel's forces have been waiting for, so they stop retreating. They turn back to face the army of Benjamin head on, now without the natural defenses which had given the Benjaminites such protection during the first two battles.

Benjamin's soldiers are shocked, quickly realizing what the rising smoke means (Judges 20:40). They are caught between Israel's army in front of them, and a ruined city behind them. Confidence that the battle was all but won instantly drains away, and Benjamin's soldiers know the battle is completely lost. They cannot win, so they attempt to run.