Judges 20:42 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 20:42, NIV: So they fled before the Israelites in the direction of the wilderness, but they could not escape the battle. And the Israelites who came out of the towns cut them down there.

Judges 20:42, ESV: Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel in the direction of the wilderness, but the battle overtook them. And those who came out of the cities were destroying them in their midst.

Judges 20:42, KJV: Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel unto the way of the wilderness; but the battle overtook them; and them which came out of the cities they destroyed in the midst of them.

Judges 20:42, NASB: Therefore, they turned their backs before the men of Israel to flee in the direction of the wilderness, but the battle overtook them while those who attacked from the cities were annihilating them in the midst of them.

Judges 20:42, NLT: So they turned around and fled before the Israelites toward the wilderness. But they couldn't escape the battle, and the people who came out of the nearby towns were also killed.

Judges 20:42, CSB: They retreated before the men of Israel toward the wilderness, but the battle overtook them, and those who came out of the cities slaughtered those between them.

What does Judges 20:42 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In a rush of despair, the fighters of Benjamin realize they are utterly defeated (Judges 20:37–41). The Israelite retreat was a ruse, meant to draw Benjamin's forces into the open. It worked, and now they are pinned between the main body of the Israelites on one side and the victorious raiders who have eliminated Gibeah on the other. The location of these cities means the Benjaminites are attacked from the north, south, and west. Their only option is to flee east, towards the wilderness.

Unfortunately for the tribe of Benjamin, they can't run fast enough. As Israeli soldiers swarm over other towns, they catch up to the main body of the Benjaminites and cut them down. The roles of pursuer and pursued have been completely reversed. At the same time, the Israelites who destroyed Gibeah and the surrounding cities charge north to cut off the only other escape route.