Judges 20:15
And the children of Benjamin were numbered at that time out of the cities twenty and six thousand men that drew sword, beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven hundred chosen men.
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(15) Out of the cities.—They could only live in cities, because the Jebusites still held Jerusalem, and the Canaanites around them were very incompletely subdued.

Twenty and six thousand.—This seems to be the correct number, and is found in the Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic. Josephus, however (Antt. v. 2, § 10), has 25,000, as also has Codex A of theLXX., and Codex B has 23,000 (see Note on Judges 20:46). We see generally that the Benjamites, like the rest of the Israelites, in spite of their exceptional increase in the wilderness, had been now diminished by about a third since the last census (Numbers 26:41). (See Note on Judges 20:2.)

Seven hundred chosen men.—There seems to be some uncertainty or confusion in the text here. It is difficult to imagine that, as the text stands, the single city of Gibeah furnished to the Benjamites their one choice contingent of seven hundred slingers, and it would be a curious coincidence that the force of Gibeah and the slingers should each be exactly seven hundred.

Jdg 20:15. Twenty and six thousand men — “How does this agree with the following numbers; for all that were slain of Benjamin were twenty-five thousand and one hundred men, (Jdg 20:35,) and there were only six hundred that survived, (Jdg 20:47,) which make only twenty-five thousand and seven hundred?” We answer, The other thousand men were either left in some of their cities, where they were slain, (Jdg 20:48,) or were cut off in the first two battles, wherein it is unreasonable to think they had an unbloody victory: and as for these twenty-five thousand and one hundred men, they were all slain in the third battle.17:7-13 Micah thought it was a sign of God's favour to him and his images, that a Levite should come to his door. Thus those who please themselves with their own delusions, if Providence unexpectedly bring any thing to their hands that further them in their evil way, are apt from thence to think that God is pleased with them.Comparing the numbers here with those in Numbers 1; 26, it is seen that in the case both of the Benjamites and the Israelites the numbers are diminished by about one-third, i. e., they appear as about two-thirds only of what they were at the last numbering in the plains of Moab. This diminution seems to indicate disturbed and harassing times. With this agrees the mention of the cities, as containing the whole Benjamite population. The inference is that the open country and unwalled villages were not safe, but that the Benjamites kept the Canaanites in subjection only by dwelling in fortified towns.14-17. the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah—Allowing their valor to be ever so great, nothing but blind passion and unbending obstinacy could have impelled them to take the field against their brethren with such a disparity of numbers. Object. This agrees not with the following numbers; for all that were slain of Benjamin were 25,100 men, Judges 20:35, and there were only 600 that survived, Judges 20:47, which make only 25,700.

Answ. The other thousand men were either left in some of their cities, where they were slain, Judges 20:48, or were cut off in the two first battles, wherein it is reasonable to think they had an unbloody victory; and as for these 25,100 men, they were all slain in that day, i.e. the day of the third battle, as is affirmed, Judges 20:35. And the children of Benjamin were numbered at that time out of the cities,.... All that they could muster up, and gather together out of their several cities, were no more man than

twenty and six thousand men that drew the sword able bodied men fit for war, and expert in it:

beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven hundred chosen men young, stout, and strong, and in all but 26,700; and what are these to an army of 400,000 men, or however 360,000 that came up against Gibeah, while 40,000 were employed in getting provisions for them? Josephus (g) makes the number of the Benjaminites still less, no more than 25,600, led thereunto by an later account, that 25,000 Benjaminites were slain in the third and last battle, and only six hundred escaped to a rock for safety, not considering that 1000 men may well be supposed to be lost in the two first battles; for it would be strange indeed that they should lose none in two engagement with so large an army; the same error is committed in the Vulgate Latin version, which makes them no more than 25,000; with which agrees the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint version: though that, according to the Vatican exemplar, has but 23,000. The numbers in the Hebrew text are no doubt the right.

(g) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 2. sect. 10.

And the children of Benjamin were numbered at that time out of the cities twenty and six thousand men that drew sword, beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven hundred chosen men.
15. The figures in this account are inconsistent. The entire muster of Benjamites is reckoned here at 26,700; while Jdg 20:35; Jdg 20:47 give a total 25,700, and Jdg 20:44-47 a total 25,600. Some mss. of the LXX (cod. A, Luc. etc.), followed by Vulgate, read twenty and five thousand men here (see marg.); but this may be merely an attempt to harmonize with the numbers in Jdg 20:35; Jdg 20:47.

seven hundred chosen men] Repeated in Jdg 20:16 and applied to the left-handed slingers. The words can hardly be original in both places, and the Versions agree in giving them only once. Probably they should be omitted here, and the verse ended with the inhabitants of Gibeah; the insertion of were numbered would be required when the following words were added.Verse 15. - Twenty and six thousand. The numbers of Benjamin in the wilderness were at the first numbering 35,400, and at the second 45,600 (Numbers 1:36; Numbers 2:23; Numbers 26:41). It is impossible to account with certainty for the falling off in the numbers by so many as near 20,000; but perhaps many were slain in the wars of Canaan, and the unsettled times were unfavourable to early marriages. For the whole of Israel there was, as appeared by ver. 2, note, a falling off of nearly 200,000 men, or, to speak exactly (601,730-400,000 +26,700), of 175,030. Which were numbered. There is some obscurity in this latter clause; but, in spite of the accents being opposed to it, the A.V. seems certainly right. The rendering acording to the accents, "they (the Benjamites) were numbered, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah, seven hundred chosen men," makes no sense, and does not explain who the 700 were. The population of Gibeah would be about 5 × 700, i.e. 3500, according to this statement. Then all the people rose up as one man, saying, "We will not any of us go into his tent, neither will we any of us return to his house," sc., till this crime is punished. The sentence follows in Judges 20:9 : "This is the thing that we will do," i.e., this is the way in which we will treat Gibeah: "against it by lot" (sc., we will act). The Syriac gives the sense correctly - We will cast lots upon it; but the lxx quite erroneously supply ἀναβησόμεθα (we will go up); and in accordance with this, many expositors connect the words with Judges 20:10 in the following sense: "We will choose one man out of every ten by lot, to supply the army with the necessary provision during the expedition." This is quite a mistake, because in this way a subordinate point, which only comes into consideration in connection with the execution of the sentence, would be made the chief point, and the sentence itself would not be given at all. The words "against it by lot" contain the resolution that was formed concerning the sinful town, and have all the enigmatical brevity of judicial sentences, and are to be explained from the course laid down in the Mosaic law with regard to the Canaanites, who were to be exterminated, and their land divided by lot among the Israelites. Consequently the meaning is simply this: "Let us proceed with the lot against Gibeah," i.e., let us deal with it as with the towns of the Canaanites, conquer it, lay it in ashes, and distribute its territory by lot. In Judges 20:10 a subordinate circumstance is mentioned, which was necessary to enable them to carry out the resolution that had been made. As the assembled congregation had determined to keep together for the purpose of carrying on war (Judges 20:8), it was absolutely necessary that resources should be provided for those who were actively engaged in the war. For this purpose they chose one man in every ten "to fetch provision for the people," לבואם לעשׁות, "that they might do on their coming to Gibeah of Benjamin according to all the folly which had been done in Israel," i.e., might punish the wickedness in Gibeah as it deserved.
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