Judges 20:48 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 20:48, NIV: The men of Israel went back to Benjamin and put all the towns to the sword, including the animals and everything else they found. All the towns they came across they set on fire.

Judges 20:48, ESV: And the men of Israel turned back against the people of Benjamin and struck them with the edge of the sword, the city, men and beasts and all that they found. And all the towns that they found they set on fire.

Judges 20:48, KJV: And the men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that they came to.

Judges 20:48, NASB: The men of Israel then turned back against the sons of Benjamin and struck them with the edge of the sword, both the entire city with the cattle and all that they found; they also set on fire all the cities which they found.

Judges 20:48, NLT: And the Israelites returned and slaughtered every living thing in all the towns--the people, the livestock, and everything they found. They also burned down all the towns they came to.

Judges 20:48, CSB: The men of Israel turned back against the other Benjaminites and killed them with their swords--the entire city, the animals, and everything that remained. They also burned all the cities that remained.

What does Judges 20:48 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

With nearly the entire army of Benjamin—meaning almost all the tribe's adult men—destroyed, the combined army of the other eleven tribes of Israel turn back. But they don't return home; they sweep through the local territory with a vengeance. What began as an effort to punish a single town for atrocity has become a total war against the uncooperative tribe of Benjamin. This is the wrath of God expressed against the wickedness and rebellion of one tribe through the swords of the other tribes of His people. It is a dark day for all involved.

The Israelite soldiers move through Benjamin's territory, killing every person and animal they find and burning all the cities to the ground. In a sense, they do everything they can to wipe Benjamin from the earth. The circumstances of the following chapter cast doubt on the idea that God intended Israel to take the slaughter of Benjamin as far as they did. No mention is ever made of the Lord requiring the deaths of all the women and children of Benjamin. Nor is there a record of God commanding Israel to wipe them from the earth as if they were Canaanites. It is possible Israel has gone too far or has somehow missed the will of the Lord for Benjamin.

The next chapter makes it clear that the 600 men hiding at Rimmon (Judges 20:47) are the only Benjaminites who survived. It will also explain two national vows, made in anger, which threaten the complete extinction of that tribe.