Judges Chapter 21 (Bible Marathon Day 116)

Judges Chapter 21 (Bible Marathon Day 116)

Ensuring a Future for Benjamin.
* The men of Israel took an oath at Mizpah: “None of us will give his daughter in marriage to anyone from Benjamin.”
So the people went to Bethel and remained there before God until evening, raising their voices in bitter weeping.a
They said, “LORD, God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel that today one tribe of Israel should be lacking?”
Early the next day the people built an altar there and offered burnt offerings and communion offerings.
Then the Israelites asked, “Are there any among all the tribes of Israel who did not come up to the LORD for the assembly?” For there was a solemn oath that anyone who did not go up to the LORD at Mizpah should be put to death.b

The Israelites were disconsolate over their brother Benjamin and said, “Today one tribe has been cut off from Israel.
What can we do about wives for the survivors, since we have sworn by the LORD not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?”
And when they asked, “Is there one among the tribes of Israel who did not come up to the LORD in Mizpah?” they found that none of the men of Jabesh-gilead had come to the encampment for the assembly.
A roll call of the people was taken, and none of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gileadc was present.
So the assembly sent twelve thousand warriors there with orders, “Go put the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead to the sword.
This is what you are to do: Every male and every woman who has had relations with a male you shall put under the ban.”* d
Finding among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgin women, who had not had relations with a man, they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, in the land of Canaan.e
Then the whole assembly sent word to the Benjaminites at the crag of Rimmon,f offering them peace.
* So Benjamin returned at that time, and they were given as wives the women of Jabesh-gilead who had been spared; but these proved to be not enough for them.
The people had regrets about Benjamin because the LORD had made a breach among the tribes of Israel.g
The elders of the assembly said, “What shall we do for wives for the survivors? For the women of Benjamin have been annihilated.”h
They said, “There must be heirs for the survivors of Benjamin, so that a tribe will not be wiped out from Israel.
Yet we cannot give them any of our daughters in marriage.” For the Israelites had taken an oath, “Cursed be he who gives a wife to Benjamin!”
Then they thought of the yearly feast of the LORD at Shiloh,i north of Bethel, east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.
And they instructed the Benjaminites, “Go and set an ambush in the vineyards.
When you see the women of Shiloh come out to join in the dances, come out of the vineyards and catch a wife for each of you from the women of Shiloh; then go on to the land of Benjamin.
When their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we shall say to them, ‘Release them to us as a kindness, since we did not take a woman for every man in battle. Nor did you yourselves give your daughters to them, thus incurring guilt.’”*
The Benjaminites did this; they carried off wives for each of them from the dancers they had seized, and they went back each to his own heritage, where they rebuilt the cities and settled them.
At that time the Israelites dispersed from there for their own tribes and clans; they set out from there each to his own heritage.
* In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own sight.j
* [21:1–7] The victorious Israelites now become concerned about the survival of the tribe they have defeated. Despite the large number of Benjaminites killed in the final battle (20:46) and the general carnage that followed (20:48), there does not seem to be a shortage of men. The problem is rather a shortage of wives for the surviving men, the result of a previously unmentioned vow the Israelites took not to permit their daughters to marry Benjaminites.

* [21:11] Under the ban: see note on 1:17. In this case the sanction is imposed not because of the rules for the conquest of the promised land (cf. Dt 20:10–18) but because of the failure of the men of Jabesh-gilead to honor their oath and report for the assembly.

* [21:14] Very strong political ties existed between the people of Jabesh-gilead and the Benjaminites, especially those involving Saul, the Benjaminite king of Israel. See 1 Sm 11, where Saul rescues Jabesh from an Ammonite siege, and 1 Sm 31:11–13, where the people of Jabesh exert themselves to ensure that the bodies of Saul and his sons should receive honorable burial.

* [21:22] Release them…guilt: this verse is difficult. Evidently the elders intend to make two arguments in support of their request that the men of Shiloh release their claims on the abducted women. The first argument seems to be that an insufficient number of women were taken “in battle”—i.e., the raid on Jabesh-gilead—to provide “a woman for every man”—i.e., a wife for every Benjaminite. The second argument is that since the women have been kidnapped, the men of Shiloh will not be guilty of having violated the oath mentioned above in 21:1, 7, and 18.

* [21:25] See note on 17:6. This final editorial comment calls attention to the chaos that followed the Benjaminite civil war and the near anarchy that characterized the various efforts to meet the need for wives for the Benjaminites.

a. [21:2] Jgs 20:26.

b. [21:5] Jgs 20:8–10.

c. [21:9] 1 Sm 11:1–11; 31:11–13; 2 Sm 2:4–7; 21:11–14.

d. [21:11] Nm 31:17.

e. [21:12] Jos 21:2; 22:9.

f. [21:13] Jgs 20:47.

g. [21:15] 2 Sm 6:8.

h. [21:16] Jgs 20:48.

i. [21:19] 1 Sm 1:3, 21.

j. [21:25] Jgs 17:6; 18:1; 19:1.


Judges Chapter 20 (Bible Marathon Day 115)

Judges Chapter 20 (Bible Marathon Day 115)

Assembly of Israelites.
So all the Israelites came out as one, from Dan to Beer-sheba* a including the land of Gilead, and the
assembly gathered to the LORD at Mizpah.
The leaders of all the people, all the staff-bearers of Israel,* presented themselves in the assembly of the
people of God—four hundred thousand foot soldiers who carried swords.
Meanwhile, the Benjaminites heard that the Israelites had gone up to Mizpah. The Israelites asked, “How did
this evil thing happen?”
and the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, testified: “It was at Gibeah of Benjamin, which my
concubine and I had entered for the night.b
c The lords of Gibeah rose up against me and surrounded me in the house at night. I was the one they
intended to kill, but they abused my concubine and she died.
d So I took my concubine and cut her up and sent her through every part of the territory of Israel, because of
the terrible thing they had done in Israel.
So now, all you Israelites, give your judgment and counsel in this matter.”e
All the people rose as one to say, “None of us will leave for our tents or return to our homes.
Now as for Gibeah, this is what we will do: We will go up against it by lot,
taking from all the tribes of Israel ten men for every hundred, a hundred for every thousand, a thousand for
every ten thousand, and procuring supplies for the soldiers who will go to exact from Gibeah of Benjamin the
full measure of the terrible thing it committed in Israel.”

So all the men of Israel gathered against the city, united as one.
The tribes of Israel sent men throughout the tribe of Benjamin to say, “What is this evil that has occurred
among you?
Now give up the men, the scoundrels who are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and thus purge the
evil from Israel.” But the Benjaminites refused to listen to their kindred, the Israelites.
Instead, the Benjaminites assembled from their cities at Gibeah, to march out to battle with the Israelites.
On that day the Benjaminites mustered from their cities twenty-six thousand swordsmen, in addition to the
inhabitants of Gibeah, who mustered seven hundred picked men
* who were left-handed, every one of them able to sling a stone at a hair without missing.
The men of Israel, without Benjamin, mustered four hundred thousand swordsmen, all of them warriors.
They went up to Bethel and consulted God. When the Israelites asked, “Who shall go up first for us to do
battle with the Benjaminites?” the LORD said: Judah first.* f
* The Israelites rose in the morning and encamped against Gibeah.

War with Benjamin.
The men of Israel marched out to do battle with Benjamin and drew up in battle array against them at
The Benjaminites marched out of Gibeah that day and felled twenty-two thousand men of Israel.
* But the army of the men of Israel took courage and again drew up for battle in the place where they had
drawn up on the previous day.
Then the Israelites went up and wept before the LORD until evening. “Shall I again engage my brother
Benjamin in battle?” they asked the LORD; and the LORD answered: Attack!
When the Israelites drew near to the Benjaminites on the second day,
Benjamin marched out of Gibeah against them again and felled eighteen thousand Israelites, all of them
So the entire Israelite army went up and entered Bethel, where they sat weeping before the LORD. They
fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and communion offerings before the LORD.
The Israelites consulted the LORD (for the ark of the covenant of the LORD was there in those days,
and Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron,* was standing in his presence in those days), and asked,
“Shall I again go out to battle with my brother Benjamin, or shall I stop?” The LORD said: Attack! For tomorrow
I will deliver him into your power.
* g So Israel set men in ambush around Gibeah.
When the Israelites went up against the Benjaminites on the third day, they drew up against Gibeah as on
other occasions.
When the Benjaminites marched out to meet the army, they began, as on other occasions, to strike down
some of the troops along the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and one to Gibeah in the open
country; about thirty Israelites were slain.
The Benjaminites thought, “They are routed before us as previously.” The Israelites, however, were thinking,
“We will flee and draw them out from the city onto the highways.”
And then all the men of Israel rose from their places, forming up at Baal-tamar, and the Israelites in ambush
rushed from their place west of Gibeah
and advanced against Gibeah with ten thousand picked men from all Israel. The fighting was severe, but no
one knew that a disaster was closing in.
The LORD defeated Benjamin before Israel; and on that day the Israelites killed twenty-five thousand one
hundred men of Benjamin, all of them swordsmen.
Then the Benjaminites saw that they were defeated. The men of Israel gave ground to Benjamin, trusting in
the ambush they had set at Gibeah.
Then the men in ambush, having made a sudden dash against Gibeah, marched in and put the whole city
to the sword.
The arrangement the men of Israel had with the men in ambush was that they would send up a smoke
signal from the city,
and the men of Israel would then wheel about in the battle. Benjamin, having begun by killing off some thirty
of the men of Israel, thought, “Surely they are completely routed before us, as in the earlier fighting.”
But when the signal, the column of smoke, began to rise up from the city, Benjamin looked back and there
was the whole city going up in smoke toward heaven.
Then when the men of Israel wheeled about, the men of Benjamin were thrown into confusion, for they
realized that disaster was closing in on them.
They retreated before the men of Israel in the direction of the wilderness, but the fighting kept pace with them,
and those who had been in the city were spreading destruction in between.
They surrounded the men of Benjamin, pursued them from Nohah and drove them along to a point east of
Eighteen thousand from Benjamin fell, all of them warriors.
They turned and fled into the wilderness to the crag of Rimmon. The Israelites picked off five thousand men
on the highways and kept pace with them as far as Gidom, where they struck down another two thousand of
The total of those from Benjamin who fell that day was twenty-five thousand swordsmen, all of them warriors.
Six hundred men turned and fled into the wilderness to the crag of Rimmon, where they remained for four
Then the men of Israel turned back against the Benjaminites, putting them to the sword—the inhabitants of
the cities, the livestock, and all they came upon.i Moreover they destroyed by fire all the cities they came

* [20:1] From Dan to Beer-sheba: the entire country, from north to south. The land of Gilead: Israelite territory
east of the Jordan.

* [20:2] The staff-bearers of Israel: the tribal leaders.

* [20:16] The strange notice that the Gibeahite warriors were left-handed was probably added here under
the influence of the Ehud story; cf. 3:15 and the note there.

* [20:18] Judah first: as in 1:2, where the enemy is the Canaanites. This time the attack is against fellow
Israelites, an indication of how far things have deteriorated in these days when as yet “there was no king in
Israel”; see note on 17:6.

* [20:19–25] The Israelites are defeated twice by the Benjaminites.

* [20:22–23] These two verses seem to be transposed. The day of supplication described in v. 23 must
have preceded the assembly for battle reported in v. 22.

* [20:28] Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron: the main line of the priesthood was traced through a
grandson of Aaron by this name; see Ex 6:25 and Nm 25:10–13. Whether the priest identified here is the
same man or his lineal descendant, the mention of his name adds authority to the sanctuary at Bethel. The
reference to the ark of the covenant in the preceding verse has the same effect.

* [20:29–46] The Israelites are successful in their third attempt to defeat Benjamin. Leaving an ambush
behind, they decoy the enemy troops out of the city by pretending to be routed as on the two previous
occasions. The stratagem is strongly reminiscent of that employed in the conquest of Ai (Jos 8). Two
accounts of the present battle against Gibeah are preserved, one in 20:29–36a and another in 20:36b–46.

a. [20:1] 1 Sm 3:20; 2 Sm 3:10; 17:11; 24:2, 15; 1 Kgs 5:5.

b. [20:4] Jgs 19:15.

c. [20:5] Jgs 19:22–28.

d. [20:6] Jgs 19:29.

e. [20:7] Jgs 19:30.

f. [20:18] Jgs 1:1–2.

g. [20:29–46] Jos 8:3–24.

h. [20:47] Jgs 21:13.

i. [20:48] Dt 13:15–17.

Judges Chapter 19 (Bible Marathon Day 115)

Judges Chapter 19 (Bible Marathon Day 115)

The Levite from Ephraim.
In those days, when there was no king in Israel,* a there was a Levite residing in remote parts of the
mountain region of Ephraimb who had taken for himself a concubine from Bethlehem of Judah.
But his concubine spurned him and left him for her father’s house in Bethlehem of Judah, where she stayed
for some four months.
Her husband then set out with his servant and a pair of donkeys, and went after her to soothe her and bring
her back. He arrived at her father’s house, and when the young woman’s father saw him, he came out
joyfully to meet him.
His father-in-law, the young woman’s father, urged him to stay, and so he spent three days eating and
drinking and passing the night there.
On the fourth day they rose early in the morning and he prepared to go. But the young woman’s father said
to his son-in-law, “Fortify yourself with a little food; you can go later on.”
So they stayed and the two men ate and drank together. Then the young woman’s father said to the
husband, “Why not decide to spend the night here and enjoy yourself?”
The man made a move to go, but when his father-in-law pressed him he went back and spent the night

On the fifth morning he rose early to depart, but the young woman’s father said, “Fortify yourself!” He coaxed
him, and he tarried until the afternoon, and the two of them ate.
Then when the husband was ready to go with his concubine and servant, the young woman’s father said to
him, “See, the day is wearing on toward evening. Stay for the night. See, the day is coming to an end. Spend
the night here and enjoy yourself. Early tomorrow you can start your journey home.”
The man, however, refused to stay another night; he and his concubine set out with a pair of saddled
donkeys, and traveled until they came opposite Jebus, which is Jerusalem.
Since they were near Jebus with the day far gone, the servant said to his master, “Come, let us turn off to this
city of the Jebusites and spend the night in it.”
But his master said to him, “We will not turn off to a foreigner’s city,c where there are no Israelites. We will go
on to Gibeah.
Come,” he said to his servant, “let us make for some other place and spend the night in either Gibeah or
So they continued on their way until the sun set on them when they were opposite Gibeah of Benjamin.
* There they turned off to enter Gibeah for the night.e The man went in and sat down in the town square, but
no one took them inside to spend the night.
In the evening, however, an old man came from his work in the field; he was from the mountain region of
Ephraim, though he was living in Gibeah where the local people were Benjaminites.
f When he noticed the traveler in the town square, the old man asked, “Where are you going, and where
have you come from?”
He said to him, “We are traveling from Bethlehem of Judah far up into the mountain region of Ephraim, where
I am from. I have been to Bethlehem of Judah, and now I am going home; but no one has taken me into his
We have straw and fodder for our donkeys, and bread and wine for myself and for your maidservant and the
young man who is with your servant; there is nothing else we need.”
“Rest assured,” the old man said to him, “I will provide for all your needs, but do not spend the night in the
public square.”
So he led them to his house and mixed fodder for the donkeys. Then they washed their feet, and ate and

The Outrage at Gibeah.
* h While they were enjoying themselves, the men of the city, a bunch of scoundrels, 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
has come into your house, so that we may get intimate with him.”
The man who was the owner of the house went out to them and said, “No, my brothers; do not be so wicked.
This man has come into my house; do not commit this terrible crime.
Instead, let me bring out my virgin daughter and this man’s concubine. Humiliate them, or do whatever you
want; but against him do not commit such a terrible crime.”
But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and thrust her outside to them. They
raped her and abused her all night until morning, and let her go as the sun was coming up.
At the approach of morning the woman came and collapsed at the entrance of the house in which her
husband was, and lay there until morning.
When her husband rose in the morning and opened the door of the house to start out again on his journey,
there was the woman, his concubine, collapsed at the entrance of the house with her hands on the
“Come, let us go,” he said to her, but there was no answer. So the man placed her on a donkey and started
out again for home.
* On reaching home, he got a knife and took hold of the body of his concubine. He cut her up limb by limb
into twelve pieces and sent them throughout the territory of Israel.i
He instructed the men whom he sent, “Thus you shall say to all the men of Israel: ‘Has such a thing ever
happened from the day the Israelites came up from the land of Egypt to this day?* j Take note of it; form a
plan and give orders.’”

* [19:1] No king in Israel: see note on 17:6. The violent story that follows is offered as another example of the
disorder that prevailed before the inauguration of the monarchy.

* [19:15–21] The narrative casts a very unfavorable light on Gibeah of Benjamin, the town from which Israel’s
first king would come (cf. 1 Sm 9:1–2). No Benjaminite offers hospitality to the Levite and his travel party, who
are obliged to wait at night in the town square until an Ephraimite residing in Gibeah welcomes them into his

* [19:22–25] This part of the grim story closely parallels that of the assault on Lot’s angelic visitors in Gn

* [19:29] The Levite’s gruesome way of summoning the tribes is a drastic version of that used by Saul in 1
Sm 11:7, where he dismembers a yoke of oxen.

* [19:30] Has such a thing ever happened…?: the outrage became a byword in Israel, so that in the eighth
century the prophet Hosea could invoke “the days of Gibeah” (Hos 9:9; cf. 10:9) to signify corruption and

a. [19:1] Jgs 17:6; 18:1; 21:25.

b. [19:1] Jgs 17:7.

c. [19:12] Jgs 1:21; 2 Sm 5:6.

d. [19:13] Jos 18:25.

e. [19:15] Jgs 20:4.

f. [19:17–21] Gn 19:1–3.

g. [19:21] Gn 18:4; 24:32; 43:24.

h. [19:22–25] Gn 19:4–9.

i. [19:29] 1 Sm 11:7.

j. [19:30] Hos 9:9; 10:9.

Judges Chapter 18 (Bible Marathon Day 115)

Judges Chapter 18 (Bible Marathon Day 115)

Migration of the Danites.
In those days there was no king in Israel.a In those days the tribe of the Danites were in search of a heritage to dwell in, for up to that time no heritage had been allotted* to them among the tribes of Israel.b

So the Danites sent from their clans five powerful men of Zorah and Eshtaol, to reconnoiter the land and scout it. “Go, scout the land,” they were told. They went into the mountain region of Ephraim, and they spent the night there.
While they were near the house of Micah,c they recognized the voice* of the young Levite,d so they turned aside. They asked him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing here? What is your interest here?”
“This is what Micah has done for me,” he replied to them. “He has hired me and I have become his priest.”e
They said to him, “Consult God, that we may know whether the journey we are making will lead to success.”f
The priest said to them, “Go in peace! The journey you are making is under the eye of the LORD.”
So the five men went on and came to Laish. They saw the people there living securely after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and trusting, with no lack of any natural resource. They were distant from the Sidonians and had no dealings with the Arameans.*
When the five returned to their kin in Zorah and Eshtaol, they were asked, “What do you have to report?”
They replied, “Come, let us attack them, for we have seen the land and it is very good. Are you going to hesitate? Do not be slow to go in and take possession of the land!
When you go you will come to a trusting people. The land stretches out in both directions, and God has indeed given it into your power—a place where no natural resource is lacking.”g
So six hundred of the clan of the Danites, men armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol.
They marched up into Judah and encamped near Kiriath-jearim; for this reason the place is called Mahaneh-dan* to this day (it lies west of Kiriath-jearim).h
From there they passed on into the mountain region of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah.
Then the five men who had gone to reconnoiter the land spoke up and said to their kindred, “Do you know that in these houses there are an ephod, teraphim, and an idol overlaid with silver?i Now decide what you must do!”
So turning in that direction, they went to the house of the young Levite at the home of Micah and greeted him.
The six hundred Danites stationed themselves at the entrance of the gate armed with weapons of war.
The five men who had gone to reconnoiter the land went up
and entered the house of Micah with the priest standing there. They took the idol, the ephod, the teraphim and the metal image. When the priest said to them, “What are you doing?”
they said to him, “Be still! Put your hand over your mouth! Come with us and be our father and priest.j Is it better for you to be priest for the family of one man or to be priest for a tribe and a clan in Israel?”
The priest, agreeing, took the ephod, the teraphim, and the idol, and went along with the troops.
As they turned to depart, they placed their little ones, their livestock, and their goods at the head of the column.
k When the Danites had gone some distance from the house of Micah, Micah and the men in the houses nearby mustered and overtook them.
They called to the Danites, who turned and said to Micah, “What do you want that you have called this muster?”
“You have taken my god, which I made for myself, and you have gone off with my priest as well,” he answered. “What is left for me? How, then, can you ask me, ‘What do you want?’”
The Danites said to him, “Do not let your voice be heard near us, or aggravated men will attack you, and you will have forfeited your life and the lives of your family!”
Then the Danites went on their way, and Micah, seeing that they were too strong for him, turned back and went home.
l Having taken what Micah had made and his priest, they marched against Laish, a quiet and trusting people; they put them to the sword and destroyed the city by fire.
No one came to their aid, since the city was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with the Arameans; the city was in the valley that belongs to Beth-rehob. The Danites then rebuilt the city and occupied it.
They named it Dan after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel.m But Laish was the name of the city formerly.
* The Danites set up the idol for themselves, and Jonathan, son of Gershom, son of Moses,n and his descendants were priests for the tribe of the Danites until the time the land went into captivity.
They maintained the idol Micah had made as long as the house of God was in Shiloh.*

* [18:1] No heritage…allotted: according to Jos 19:40–48, the Danites received an allotment in the central part of the country (cf. note on 13:2 above). The point here may be that since they were unable to take full possession of that original allotment, as indicated by the notice in Jgs 1:34, they are now seeking territory elsewhere.

* [18:3] Recognized the voice: this might indicate that the Danite scouts were personally acquainted with the young Levite, but it is more likely to mean that, being originally from Judah, his dialect or accent was noticeably different from others in Micah’s household.

* [18:7] The Sidonians…the Arameans: the people of Laish were not in regular contact with their neighbors, including the Sidonians or Phoenicians in the coastal district to the west and the Arameans in the regions to the north and east. This isolation is mentioned to underscore the vulnerability of the peaceful and unfortified city.

* [18:12] Mahaneh-dan: Hebrew, “camp of Dan.”

* [18:30] Micah’s shrine is now reinstalled at Laish-Dan. In the time of the kings of Israel and Judah, Dan was the site of one of the two national sanctuaries of the Northern Kingdom, both of which are strongly condemned by the editors of the Books of Kings, who regarded Jerusalem as the only acceptable place for a temple (1 Kgs 12:26–30). This verse draws a direct connection between Micah’s temple and the later royal sanctuary at Dan. Seen in this light the account of the establishment of Micah’s shrine, with its idol cast from stolen silver, becomes a highly polemical foundation story for the temple at Dan. Jonathan, son of Gershom, son of Moses: Micah’s Levite is now identified as the son or descendant of Gershom, Moses’ eldest son (Ex 2:22; 18:3). In the traditional Hebrew text an additional letter has been suspended over the name “Moses” to alter it to “Manasseh,” thus protecting Moses from association with idol worship. Captivity: although Samaria fell in 722/721 B.C., much of the northern part of the country, probably including Dan, had been subjugated about a decade earlier by the Assyrian emperor Tilgath-pileser III.

* [18:31] Shiloh: a major sanctuary which has a role in the final episode of Judges (21:12, 21).

a. [18:1] Jgs 17:6; 19:1; 21:25.

b. [18:1] Jgs 1:34; Jos 19:40–48.

c. [18:3] Jgs 17:1.

d. [18:3] Jgs 17:7–12.

e. [18:4] Jgs 17:10.

f. [18:5] Jgs 1:1; 1 Sm 14:18–19, 36–44; 23:2, 4, 9–12; 30:7–8.

g. [18:10] 1 Chr 5:40.

h. [18:12] Jgs 13:25.

i. [18:14] Jgs 17:4–5.

j. [18:19] Jgs 17:10.

k. [18:22–26] Gn 31:22–32:1.

l. [18:27–29] Jos 19:47.

m. [18:29] Gn 30:5–6.

n. [18:30] Ex 2:22; 18:3.

Judges Chapter 17 (Bible Marathon Day 115)

Judges Chapter 17 (Bible Marathon Day 115)

Micah and the Levite.
There was a man from the mountain region of Ephraim whose name was Micah.
* He said to his mother, “The eleven hundred pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you pronounced a curse and even said it in my hearing—I have that silver. I took it. So now I will restore it to you.” Then his mother said, “May my son be blessed by the LORD!”
When he restored the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother, she said, “I consecrate the silver to the LORD from my own hand on behalf of my son to make an idol overlaid with silver.”* a
So when he restored the silver to his mother, she took two hundred pieces and gave them to the silversmith, who made of them an idol overlaid with silver. So it remained in the house of Micah.
The man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and teraphim,* b and installed one of his sons, who became his priest.c
* In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes.d

There was a young man from Bethlehem of Judah, from the clan of Judah; he was a Levite residing there.e
The man set out from the city, Bethlehem of Judah, to take up residence wherever he could find a place. On his journey he came into the mountain region of Ephraim as far as the house of Micah.
“Where do you come from?” Micah asked him. He answered him, “I am a Levite, from Bethlehem in Judah, and I am on my way to take up residence wherever I can find a place.”
“Stay with me,” Micah said to him. “Be father and priest to me,f and I will give you ten silver pieces a year, a set of garments, and your living.” He pressed the Levite,
and he agreed to stay with the man. The young man became like one of his own sons.
* Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest, remaining in the house of Micah.
Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, since I have the Levite as my priest.”

* [17:2] The narrator picks up the story after a number of events, including a theft and a mother’s curse, have already taken place.

* [17:3] An idol overlaid with silver: two nouns in Hebrew, one indicating a wooden image and the other denoting an image cast from metal. The probable interpretation is that the woman intends for her silver to be recast as a covering for an image of a god, possibly the Lord. This was forbidden in Mosaic law (cf. Ex 20:4 and Dt 5:8).

* [17:5] An ephod and teraphim: cultic paraphernalia. An ephod was a priestly garment, especially that worn by the high priest (cf. Ex 28 and 39), which contained a pocket for objects used for divination. Teraphim were household idols (Gn 31:19, 34–35; 1 Sm 19:13), which may also have had a divinatory function.

* [17:6] This refrain, which will be repeated fully or in part three more times (18:1; 19:1; 21:25), calls attention to the disorder and lawlessness that prevailed before the establishment of kingship in Israel. In this case the problem is cultic impropriety, seen not only in the making of an idol but in the establishment of a local temple, complete with an ephod and teraphim.

* [17:12–13] Previously one of Micah’s sons served as priest (v. 5). But Micah’s family were probably Ephraimites (cf. v. 1) rather than Levites, and the story reflects a sense that only Levites were to be consecrated as priests; cf. Nm 18:7, where descent from Aaron is further specified as a requirement to be a priest. Thus Micah believes it will be to his advantage to retain the itinerant Levite.

a. [17:3] Ex 20:4; Lv 19:4; Dt 5:8.

b. [17:5] Jgs 18:14, 18.

c. [17:5] 1 Sm 7:1.

d. [17:6] Jgs 18:1; 19:1; 21:25.

e. [17:7] Jgs 19:1.

f. [17:10] Jgs 18:19.

Judges Chapter 16 (Bible Marathon Day 114)

Judges Chapter 16 (Bible Marathon Day 114)

Once Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute and visited her.
The people of Gaza were told, “Samson has come here,” and they surrounded him with an ambush at the
city gate all night long. And all the night they waited, saying, “At morning light we will kill him.”
Samson lay there until midnight. Then he rose at midnight, seized the doors of the city gate and the two
gateposts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He hoisted them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of
the ridge opposite Hebron.

Samson and Delilah.
After that he fell in love with a woman in the Wadi Sorek whose name was Delilah.
a The lords of the Philistines came up to her and said, “Trick him and find out where he gets his great
strength, and how we may overcome and bind him so as to make him helpless. Then for our part, we will
each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”
So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me where you get your great strength and how you may be bound so as to
be made helpless.”
“If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not dried,” Samson answered her, “I shall grow weaker
and be like anyone else.”
So the lords of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not dried, and she bound him with
She had men lying in wait in the room, and she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he
snapped the bowstrings as a thread of tow is snapped by a whiff of flame; and his strength remained
Delilah said to Samson, “You have mocked me and told me lies. Now tell me how you may be bound.”
“If they bind me tight with new ropes, with which no work has been done,” he answered her, “I shall grow
weaker and be like anyone else.”
So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them. Then she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you,
Samson!” For there were men lying in wait in the room. But he snapped the ropes off his arms like thread.
Delilah said to Samson again, “Up to now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me how you may be
bound.” He said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my hair into the web and fasten them with the pin, I
shall grow weaker and be like anyone else.”
So when he went to bed, Delilah took the seven locks of his hair and wove them into the web, and fastened
them with the pin. Then she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” Awakening from his sleep, he
pulled out both the loom and the web.
b Then she said to him, “How can you say ‘I love you’ when your heart is not mine? Three times already you
have mocked me, and not told me where you get your great strength!”
c She pressed him continually and pestered him till he was deathly weary of it.
So he told her all that was in his heart and said, “No razor has touched my head, for I have been a nazirite
for God from my mother’s womb.d If I am shaved, my strength will leave me, and I shall grow weaker and be
like anyone else.”
When Delilah realized that he had told her all that was in his heart, she summoned the lords of the
Philistines, saying, “Come up this time, for he has told me all that is in his heart.” So the lords of the Philistines
came to her and brought the money with them.e
She put him to sleep on her lap, and called for a man who shaved off the seven locks of his hair. He
immediately became helpless, for his strength had left him.*
When she said “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” he woke from his sleep and thought, “I will go out as
I have done time and again and shake myself free.” He did not realize that the LORD had left him.
But the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes. Then they brought him down to Gaza and bound
him with bronze fetters, and he was put to grinding grain in the prison.
But the hair of his head began to grow as soon as it was shaved.
The Death of Samson.
f The lords of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon* and to celebrate. They
said, “Our god has delivered Samson our enemy into our power.”
When the people saw him, they praised their god. For they said,
“Our god has delivered into our power
our enemy, the ravager of our land,
the one who has multiplied our slain.”
When their spirits were high, they said, “Call Samson that he may amuse us.” So they called Samson from
the prison, and he provided amusement for them. They made him stand between the columns,
and Samson said to the attendant who was holding his hand, “Put me where I may touch the columns that
support the temple, so that I may lean against them.”
The temple was full of men and women: all the lords of the Philistines were there, and from the roof about
three thousand men and women looked on as Samson provided amusement.
Samson cried out to the LORD and said, “Lord GOD, remember me! Strengthen me only this once that I may
avenge myself on the Philistines at one blow for my two eyes.”
Samson grasped the two middle columns on which the temple rested and braced himself against them, one
at his right, the other at his left.
Then saying, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Samson pushed hard, and the temple fell upon the lords and
all the people who were in it. Those he killed by his dying were more than those he had killed during his
His kinsmen and all his father’s house went down and bore him up for burial in the grave of Manoah his
father between Zorah and Eshtaol. He had judged Israel for twenty years.g
* [16:19] See note on 13:5.

* [16:23] Dagon: an ancient Syrian grain deity (cf. Hebrew dagan, “grain”) whom the Philistines adopted as
their national god after their arrival on the coast of Canaan.

a. [16:5] Jgs 14:15.

b. [16:15] Jgs 14:16.

c. [16:16–18] Jgs 14:17.

d. [16:17] Jgs 13:5.

e. [16:18] Jgs 16:5.

f. [16:23] 1 Sm 5:2–5.

g. [16:31] Jgs 10:2, 5; 12:7, 10, 12, 15; 15:20.
f. [15:20] Jgs 10:2, 5; 12:7, 10, 12, 15; 16:31.

Judges Chapter 15 (Bible Marathon Day 113)

Judges Chapter 15 (Bible Marathon Day 113)

Samson Defeats the Philistines.
After some time, in the season of the wheat harvest, Samson visited his wife, bringing a young goat. But
when he said, “Let me go into my wife’s room,” her father would not let him go in.
He said, “I thought you hated her, so I gave her to your best man. Her younger sister is better; you may have
her instead.”
Samson said to him, “This time I am guiltless if I harm the Philistines.”
So Samson went and caught three hundred jackals, and turning them tail to tail, he took some torches and
tied one between each pair of tails.
He then kindled the torches and set the jackals loose in the standing grain of the Philistines, thus burning
both the shocks and standing grain, the vineyards and olive groves.

a When the Philistines asked, “Who has done this?” they were told, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite,
because his wife was taken and given to his best man.” So the Philistines went up and destroyed her and
her family by fire.b
Samson said to them, “If this is how you act, I will not stop until I have taken revenge on you.”
And he struck them hip and thigh—a great slaughter. Then he went down and stayed in a cleft of the crag of
The Philistines went up and encamped in Judah, deploying themselves against Lehi.c
When the men of Judah asked, “Why have you come up against us?” they answered, “To take Samson
prisoner; to do to him as he has done to us.”
Three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the crag of Etam and said to Samson, “Do you not
know that the Philistines are our rulers? Why, then, have you done this to us?” He answered them, “As they
have done to me, so have I done to them.”
They said to him, “We have come down to bind you and deliver you to the Philistines.” Samson said to them,
“Swear to me that you will not attack me yourselves.”
“No,” they replied, “we will only bind you and hand you over to them. We will certainly not kill you.” So they
bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the crag.
When he reached Lehi, and the Philistines came shouting to meet him,d the spirit of the LORD rushed upon
him: the ropes around his arms became like flax that is consumed by fire, and his bonds melted away from
his hands.
Coming upon the fresh jawbone of an ass, he reached out, grasped it, and with it killed a thousand men.e
Then Samson said,
“With the jawbone of an ass
I have piled them in a heap;
With the jawbone of an ass
I have slain a thousand men.”
As he finished speaking he threw the jawbone from him; and so that place was named Ramath-lehi.*
Being very thirsty, he cried to the LORD and said, “You have put this great victory into the hand of your
servant. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?”
Then God split the cavity in Lehi, and water issued from it, and Samson drank till his spirit returned and he
revived. Hence it is called En-hakkore* in Lehi to this day.
Samson judged Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.f
* [15:17] Ramath-lehi: “Jawbone Height”; in Hebrew lehi means “jawbone.”

* [15:19] En-hakkore: understood as “the spring of the crier,” an allusion to Samson’s cry in v. 18. The story
is used to explain the name of a well-known spring in Lehi. The Hebrew also means “Partridge Spring.”

a. [15:6] Jgs 14:20.

b. [15:6] Jgs 14:15.

c. [15:9] 2 Sm 23:11–12.

d. [15:14] Jgs 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 1 Sm 11:6.

e. [15:15] Jgs 3:31; 2 Sm 23:12.

f. [15:20] Jgs 10:2, 5; 12:7, 10, 12, 15; 16:31.

Judges Chapter 14 (Bible Marathon Day 112)

Judges Chapter 14 (Bible Marathon Day 112)

Marriage of Samson.
Samson went down to Timnah where he saw one of the Philistine women.
On his return he told his father and mother, “I saw in Timnah a woman, a Philistine. Get her for me as a wife.”
a His father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among your kinsfolk or among all your people, that
you must go and take a woman from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson answered his father, “Get
her for me, for she is the one I want.”
b Now his father and mother did not know that this had been brought about by the LORD, who was seeking
an opportunity against the Philistines;* for at that time they ruled over Israel.c

So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother. When he turned aside to the vineyards of
Timnah, a young lion came roaring out toward him.
d But the spirit of the LORD rushed upon Samson, and he tore the lion apart barehanded,e as one tears a
young goat. Without telling his father or mother what he had done,
he went down and spoke to the woman. He liked her.
Later, when he came back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the remains of the lion, and there was a
swarm of bees in the lion’s carcass, and honey.
So he scooped the honey out into his hands and ate it as he went along. When he came to his father and
mother, he gave them some to eat, but he did not tell them that he had scooped the honey from the lion’s
His father also went down to the woman, and Samson gave a feast there, since it was customary for the
young men to do this.
Out of their fear of him, they brought thirty men to be his companions.
Samson said to them, “Let me propose a riddle to you. If within the seven days of the feast you solve it for me,
I will give you thirty linen tunics and thirty sets of garments.
But if you cannot answer it for me, you must give me thirty tunics and thirty sets of garments.” “Propose your
riddle,” they responded, “and we will listen to it.”
So he said to them,
“Out of the eater came food,
out of the strong came sweetness.”
For three days they were unable to answer the riddle,
and on the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife,f “Trick your husband into solving the riddle for us, or we will
burn you and your family.g Did you invite us here to reduce us to poverty?”
* h So Samson’s wife wept at his side and said, “You just hate me! You do not love me! You proposed a
riddle to my people, but did not tell me the answer.” He said to her, “If I did not tell even my father or my
mother, must I tell you?”
But she wept beside him during the seven days the feast lasted, and on the seventh day, he told her the
answer, because she pressed him, and she explained the riddle to her people.i
On the seventh day, before the sun set, the men of the city said to him,
“What is sweeter than honey,
what is stronger than a lion?”
He replied to them,
“If you had not plowed with my heifer,
you would not have solved my riddle.”
j The spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, where he killed thirty of their men
and stripped them; he gave their garments to those who had answered the riddle. Then he went off to his
own family in anger,
and Samson’s wife was married to the companion who had been his best man.k
* [14:4] An opportunity against the Philistines: although the story of Samson’s first love might be taken as an
illustration of the danger of foreign marriages, the narrator explains it differently. Samson’s infatuation with the
Timnite woman was the Lord’s way of creating an opportunity to punish the Philistines for their oppression of

* [14:16] The story of Samson and the Timnite woman is very similar in its narrative structure to the better-
known story of Samson and Delilah (16:1–22). In both, Samson’s success in his conflict with the Philistines
depends on keeping a secret. In both stories Samson is betrayed by the Philistine woman he loves when
she importunes him to reveal the secret to her and then, when he gives in, divulges it to her people.

a. [14:3] Gn 24:3–4; 26:34–35; 28:1–2, 6–9.

b. [14:4] 1 Sm 10:14–16; Lk 2:41–51.

c. [14:4] 2 Kgs 5:7.

d. [14:6] Jgs 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:19; 15:14; 1 Sm 11:6.

e. [14:6] 1 Sm 17:34–36; 2 Sm 23:20.

f. [14:15] Jgs 16:5.

g. [14:15] Jgs 15:6.

h. [14:16] Jgs 16:15.

i. [14:17] Jgs 16:16–18.

j. [14:19] Jgs 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6; 15:14; 1 Sm 11:6.

k. [14:20] Jgs 15:2, 6.

Judges Chapter 13 (Bible Marathon Day 112)

Judges Chapter 13 (Bible Marathon Day 112)

The Birth of Samson.
a The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, who therefore delivered them into the power
of the Philistines for forty years.

There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites,* whose name was Manoah. His wife was
barren and had borne no children.b
c An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her: Though you are barren and have had no
children, you will conceive and bear a son.
d Now, then, be careful to drink no wine or beer and to eat nothing unclean,
for you will conceive and bear a son. No razor shall touch his head, for the boy is to be a nazirite for God*
from the womb. It is he who will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines.
The woman went and told her husband, “A man of God came to me; he had the appearance of an angel of
God, fearsome indeed. I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.
But he said to me, ‘You will conceive and bear a son. So drink no wine or beer, and eat nothing unclean.
For the boy shall be a nazirite for God from the womb, until the day of his death.’”
Manoah then prayed to the LORD. “Please, my Lord,” he said, “may the man of God whom you sent return to
us to teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born.”
God heard the prayer of Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she was sitting in the
field; but her husband Manoah was not with her.
The woman ran quickly and told her husband. “The man who came to me the other day has appeared to
me,” she said to him;
so Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he reached the man, he said to him, “Are you the one who
spoke to my wife?” I am, he answered.
Then Manoah asked, “Now, when what you say comes true, what rules must the boy follow? What must he
The angel of the LORD answered Manoah: Your wife must be careful about all the things of which I spoke to
She must not eat anything that comes from the vine, she must not drink wine or beer, and she must not eat
anything unclean. Let her observe all that I have commanded her.
Then Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “Permit us to detain you, so that we may prepare a young goat
for you.”
But the angel of the LORD answered Manoah: Though you detained me, I would not eat your food. But if you
want to prepare a burnt offering, then offer it up to the LORD. For Manoah did not know that he was the angel
of the LORD.
* Then Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, that we may honor you when your words
come true?”
e The angel of the LORD answered him: Why do you ask my name? It is wondrous.
f Then Manoah took a young goat with a grain offering and offered it on the rock to the LORD, who works
wonders. While Manoah and his wife were looking on,
as the flame rose to the heavens from the altar, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar.
When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground;
but the angel of the LORD was seen no more by Manoah and his wife.g Then Manoah, realizing that it was
the angel of the LORD,
said to his wife, “We will certainly die,* for we have seen God.”
But his wife said to him, “If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and
grain offering from our hands! Nor would he have let us see all this, or hear what we have heard.”
The woman bore a son and named him Samson, and when the boy grew up the LORD blessed him.
The spirit of the LORD came upon him for the first timeh in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
* [13:2] The clan of the Danites: before the migration described in chap. 18 the tribe of Dan occupied a small
territory west of Benjamin, adjacent to the Philistine plain; see note on 3:3.

* [13:5] A nazirite for God: according to the rules for nazirites set forth in Nm 6:2–8, Samson’s vows would
have obliged him to abstain from wine and other products of the vine and to keep his hair uncut. As the story
that follows shows, the last requirement proved especially fateful in Samson’s life.

* [13:17–19] Manoah asks for a name so that he will know how to acknowledge the help of the visitor, but
the angel will say only that his name is “wondrous,” i.e., beyond human comprehension. Manoah’s
response is to dedicate his offering to “the Lord, who works wonders.”

* [13:22] We will certainly die: seeing God face to face was believed to be fatal, as explained in note on 6:22,
where Gideon’s reaction is similar to that of Manoah here.

a. [13:1] Jgs 2:11–14; 3:7–8, 12; 4:1–2; 6:1; 10:6–8.

b. [13:2] 1 Sm 1:2; Lk 1:7.

c. [13:3] 1 Sm 1:20; Lk 1:13, 31.

d. [13:4–5] Nm 6:1–5; 1 Sm 1:11; Lk 1:15.

e. [13:18] Gn 32:30.

f. [13:19–20] Jgs 6:19–21.

g. [13:21–23] Jgs 6:22–23.

h. [13:25] Jgs 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 14:6, 19; 15:14; 1 Sm 11:6.
o. [11:29] Jgs 3:10; 6:34; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14; 1 Sm 11:6.

p. [11:30] Gn 28:20–22; 1 Sm 1:11; 2 Sm 15:7–8.

q. [11:35] Nm 30:3; Dt 23:22; Eccl 5:4.

Judges Chapter 12 (Bible Marathon Day 111)

Judges Chapter 12 (Bible Marathon Day 111)

The Shibboleth Incident.
The men of Ephraim were called out, and they crossed over to Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, “Why did
you go to fight with the Ammonites without calling us to go with you?a We will burn your house on top of you.”
Jephthah answered them, “My soldiers and I were engaged in a contest with the Ammonites. They were
pressing us hard, and I cried out to you, but you did not come to save me from their power.
When I saw that you were not coming to save me, I took my life in my own hand and crossed over against
the Ammonites, and the LORD delivered them into my power. Why, then, should you come up against me
this day to fight with me?”

Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim. The men of Gilead
defeated Ephraim,
and Gilead seized the fords of the Jordan against Ephraim. When any of the fleeing Ephraimites said, “Let
me pass,” the men of Gilead would say to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he answered, “No!”
they would ask him to say “Shibboleth.”* If he said “Sibboleth,” not pronouncing it exactly right, they would
seize him and kill him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites fell at that time.
Jephthah judged Israel for six years, and Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in his city in Gilead.b
After him Ibzan* of Bethlehem judged Israel.
c He had thirty sons and thirty daughters whom he gave in marriage outside the family, while bringing in thirty
wives for his sons from outside the family. He judged Israel for seven years.
Ibzan died and was buried in Bethlehem.
After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel; he judged Israel for ten years.
Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.
After him Abdon, son of Hillel, the Pirathonite, judged Israel.
d He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys. He judged Israel for eight years.
Abdon, son of Hillel, the Pirathonite, died and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim in the mountain
region of the Amalekites.
* [12:6] Shibboleth: Hebrew meaning “ear of grain” or “torrent of water.” Though the Ephraimites probably
spoke the same dialect of Hebrew as their Gileadite neighbors, there was enough regional variation in their
pronunciation of the initial sound of this word to betray them to their enemies.

* [12:8–15] Ibzan…Elon…Abdon: three more of the so-called “minor judges”; see Introduction.

a. [12:1] Jgs 8:1.

b. [12:7] Jgs 10:2, 5; 12:10, 12, 15; 15:20.

c. [12:9] Jgs 8:30; 9:2, 5; 10:4; 12:14.

d. [12:14] Jgs 9:2, 5; 10:4; 12:9.