In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a Levite living in a remote part of the hill country of Ephraim acquired a woman from Bethlehem in Judah as his concubine.
But she was unfaithful to him and left him for her father's house in Bethlehem in Judah. She was there for a period of four months.
Then her husband got up and went after her to speak kindly to her and bring her back. His servant and a couple of donkeys were with him. So she brought him to her father's house, and when the girl's father saw him, he gladly welcomed him.
His father-in-law, the girl's father, detained him, and he stayed with him for three days. They ate, drank, and spent the nights there.
On the fourth day, they got up early in the morning and prepared to go, but the girl's father said to his son-in-law, "Have something to eat to keep up your strength and then you can go."
So they sat down and the two of them ate and drank together. Then the girl's father said to the man, "Please agree to stay overnight and enjoy yourself."
The man got up to go, but his father-in-law persuaded him, so he stayed and spent the night there again.
He got up early in the morning of the fifth day to leave, but the girl's father said to him, "Please keep up your strength." So they waited until late afternoon and the two of them ate.
The man got up to go with his concubine and his servant, when his father-in-law, the girl's father, said to him, "Look, night is coming. Please spend the night. See, the day is almost over. Spend the night here, enjoy yourself, then you can get up early tomorrow for your journey and go home."
But the man was unwilling to spend the night. He got up, departed, and arrived opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). The man had his two saddled donkeys and his concubine with him.
When they were near Jebus and the day was almost gone, the servant said to his master, "Please, why not let us stop at this Jebusite city and spend the night here?"
But his master replied to him, "We will not stop at a foreign city where there are no Israelites. Let's move on to Gibeah."
"Come on," he said, "let's try to reach one of these places and spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah."
So they continued on their journey, and the sun set as they neared Gibeah in Benjamin.
They stopped to go in and spend the night in Gibeah. The Levite went in and sat down in the city square, but no one took them into their home to spend the night.
In the evening, an old man came in from his work in the field. He was from the hill country of Ephraim but was residing in Gibeah, and the men of that place were Benjaminites.
When he looked up and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, "Where are you going, and where do you come from?"
He answered him, "We're traveling from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote hill country of Ephraim, where I am from. I went to Bethlehem in Judah, and now I'm going to the house of the LORD. No one has taken me into his home,
although we have both straw and feed for our donkeys, and bread and wine for me, your female servant, and the young man with your servant. There is nothing we lack."
"Peace to you," said the old man. "I'll take care of everything you need. Only don't spend the night in the square."
So he brought him to his house and fed the donkeys. Then they washed their feet and ate and drank.
While they were enjoying themselves, all of a sudden, perverted men of the city surrounded the house and beat on the door. They said to the old man who was the owner of the house, "Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him!"
The owner of the house went out and said to them, "No, don't do [this] evil, my brothers. After all, this man has come into my house. Don't do this horrible thing.
Here, let me bring out my virgin daughter and the man's concubine now. Use them and do whatever you want to them. But don't do this horrible thing to this man."
But the men would not listen to him, so the man seized his concubine and took her outside to them. They raped her and abused her all night until morning. At daybreak they let her go.
Early that morning, the woman made her way back, and as it was getting light, she collapsed at the doorway of the man's house where her master was.
When her master got up in the morning, opened the doors of the house, and went out to leave on his journey, there was the woman, his concubine, collapsed near the doorway of the house with her hands on the threshold.
"Get up," he told her. "Let's go." But there was no response. So the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.
When he entered his house, he picked up a knife, took hold of his concubine, cut her into 12 pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout the territory of Israel.
Everyone who saw it said, "Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen since the day the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt to this day. Think it over, discuss it, and speak up!"
All the Israelites from Dan to Beer-sheba and from the land of Gilead came out, and the community assembled as one body before the LORD at Mizpah.
The leaders of all the people and of all the tribes of Israel presented themselves in the assembly of God's people: 400,000 armed foot-soldiers.
The Benjaminites heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah. The Israelites asked, "Tell us, how did this outrage occur?"
The Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, answered: "I went to Gibeah in Benjamin with my concubine to spend the night.
Citizens of Gibeah ganged up on me and surrounded the house at night. They intended to kill me, but they raped my concubine, and she died.
Then I took my concubine and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout Israel's territory, because they committed a horrible shame in Israel.
Look, all of you are Israelites. Give your judgment and verdict here [and now]."
Then all the people stood united and said, "None of us will go to his tent or return to his house.
Now this is what we will do to Gibeah: we will go against it by lot.
We will take 10 men out of every 100 from all the tribes of Israel, and 100 out of every 1,000, and 1,000 out of every 10,000 to get provisions for the people when they go to Gibeah in Benjamin to punish them for all the horror they did in Israel."
So all the men of Israel gathered united against the city.
Then the tribes of Israel sent men throughout the tribe of Benjamin, saying, "What is this outrage that has occurred among you?
Hand over the perverted men in Gibeah so we can put them to death and eradicate evil from Israel." But the Benjaminites would not obey their fellow Israelites.
Instead, the Benjaminites gathered together from their cities to Gibeah to go out and fight against the Israelites.
On that day the Benjaminites rallied 26,000 armed men from their cities, besides 700 choice men rallied by the inhabitants of Gibeah.
There were 700 choice men who were left-handed among all these people; all could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.
The Israelites, apart from Benjamin, rallied 400,000 armed men, every one an experienced warrior.
They set out, went to Bethel, and inquired of God. The Israelites asked, "Who is to go first to fight for us against the Benjaminites?" And the LORD answered, "Judah will be first."
In the morning, the Israelites set out and camped near Gibeah.
The men of Israel went out to fight against Benjamin and took their battle positions against Gibeah.
The Benjaminites came out of Gibeah and slaughtered 22,000 men of Israel on the field that day.
But the Israelite army rallied and again took their battle positions in the same place where they positioned themselves on the first day.
They went up, wept before the LORD until evening, and inquired of Him: "Should we again fight against our brothers the Benjaminites?" And the LORD answered: "Fight against them."
On the second day the Israelites advanced against the Benjaminites.
That same day the Benjaminites came out from Gibeah to meet them and slaughtered an additional 18,000 Israelites on the field; all were armed men.
The whole Israelite army went to Bethel where they wept and sat before the LORD. They fasted that day until evening and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the LORD.
Then the Israelites inquired of the LORD. In those days, the ark of the covenant of God was there,
and Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, was serving before it. The Israelites asked: "Should we again fight against our brothers the Benjaminites or should we stop?" The LORD answered: "Fight, because I will hand them over to you tomorrow."
So Israel set up an ambush around Gibeah.
On the third day the Israelites fought against the Benjaminites and took their battle positions against Gibeah as before.
Then the Benjaminites came out against the people and were drawn away from the city. They began to attack the people as before, killing about 30 men of Israel on the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah through the open country.
The Benjaminites said, "We are defeating them as before." But the Israelites said, "Let's flee and draw them away from the city to the highways."
So all the men of Israel got up from their places and took their battle positions at Baal-tamar, while the Israelites in ambush charged out of their places west of Geba.
Then 10,000 choice men from all Israel made a frontal assault against Gibeah, and the battle was fierce, but the Benjaminites did not know that disaster was about to strike them.
The LORD defeated Benjamin in the presence of Israel, and on that day the Israelites slaughtered 25,100 men of Benjamin; all were armed men.
Then the Benjaminites realized they had been defeated. The men of Israel had retreated before Benjamin, because they were confident in the ambush they had set against Gibeah.
The men in ambush had rushed quickly against Gibeah; they advanced and put the whole city to the sword.
The men of Israel had a prearranged signal with the men in ambush: when they sent up a great cloud of smoke from the city,
the men of Israel would return to the battle. When Benjamin had begun to strike them down, killing about 30 men of Israel, they said, "They're defeated before us, just as they were in the first battle."
But when the column of smoke began to go up from the city, Benjamin looked behind them, and the whole city was going up in smoke.
Then the men of Israel returned, and the men of Benjamin were terrified when they realized that disaster had struck them.
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.
They surrounded the Benjaminites, pursued them, and easily overtook them near Gibeah toward the east.
There were 18,000 men who died from Benjamin; all were warriors.
Then Benjamin turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and Israel killed 5,000 men on the highways. They overtook them at Gidom and struck 2,000 more dead.
All the Benjaminites who died that day were 25,000 armed men; all were warriors.
But 600 men escaped into the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon and stayed there four months.
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 down all the cities that remained.
The men of Israel had sworn an oath at Mizpah: "None of us will give his daughter to a Benjaminite in marriage."
So the people went to Bethel and sat there before God until evening. They wept loudly and bitterly,
and cried out, "Why, LORD God of Israel, has it occurred that one tribe is [missing] in Israel today?"
The next day the people got up early, built an altar there, and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.
The Israelites asked, "Who of all the tribes of Israel didn't come to the LORD with the assembly?" For a great oath had been taken that anyone who had not come to the LORD at Mizpah would certainly be put to death.
But the Israelites had compassion on their brothers, the Benjaminites, and said, "Today a tribe has been cut off from Israel.
What should we do about wives for the survivors? We've sworn to the LORD not to give them any of our daughters as wives."
They asked, "Which city among the tribes of Israel didn't come to the LORD at Mizpah?" It turned out that no one from Jabesh-gilead had come to the camp and the assembly.
For when the people were counted, no one was there from the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead.
The congregation sent 12,000 brave warriors there and commanded them: "Go and kill the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the sword, including women and children.
This is what you should do: Completely destroy every male, as well as every female who has slept with a man."
They found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 young virgins, who had not had sexual relations with a man, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan.
The whole congregation sent a message of peace to the Benjaminites who were at the rock of Rimmon.
Benjamin returned at that time, and Israel gave them the women they had kept alive from Jabesh-gilead. But there were not enough for them.
The people had compassion on Benjamin, because the LORD had made this gap in the tribes of Israel.
The elders of the congregation said, "What should we do about wives for those who are left, since the women of Benjamin have been destroyed?"
They said, "There must be heirs for the survivors of Benjamin, so that a tribe of Israel will not be wiped out.
But we can't give them our daughters as wives." For the Israelites had sworn: "Anyone who gives a wife to a Benjaminite is cursed."
They also said, "Look, there's an annual festival to the LORD in Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah."
Then they commanded the Benjaminites: "Go and hide in the vineyards.
Watch, and when you see the young women of Shiloh come out to perform the dances, each of you leave the vineyards and catch a wife for yourself from the young women of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
When their fathers or brothers come to us and protest, we will tell them, 'Show favor to them, since we did not get enough wives for each of them in the battle. You didn't actually give [the women] to them, so you are not guilty [of breaking your oath].'"
The Benjaminites did this and took the number of women they needed from the dancers they caught. They went back to their own inheritance, rebuilt their cities, and lived in them.
At that time, each of the Israelites returned from there to his own tribe and family. Each returned from there to his own inheritance.
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever he wanted.