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Judges 20:44

ESV Eighteen thousand men of Benjamin fell, all of them men of valor.
NIV Eighteen thousand Benjamites fell, all of them valiant fighters.
NASB So eighteen thousand men of Benjamin fell; all of these were valiant men.
CSB There were eighteen thousand men who died from Benjamin; all were warriors.
NLT That day 18,000 of Benjamin’s strongest warriors died in battle.
KJV And there fell of Benjamin eighteen thousand men; all these were men of valour.

What does Judges 20:44 mean?

This summarizes the death toll for Benjaminite fighters during the first stage of their flight from a surrounding Israeli army. The men are described as "men of valor." In this context, this is a gesture of respect. The men were brave fighters to the last, not cowards or weak men. The text does not celebrate their deaths at the hands of Israel. This is a sobering moment for all involved.

The hunt for the fleeing men of Benjamin is not complete, however. Israel's soldiers had nearly surrounded Benjamin's army over a large area as they fled toward the wilderness. Some are still attempting to break out of the net.

The Hebrew term 'eleph can refer to "groups" or "divisions" or to "thousands," and either interpretation is possible here. Ultimately, the main point is that only a tiny fraction of Benjamin's original forces (Judges 20:15) will survive this conflict (Judges 20:46).
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