And the people the men of Israel encouraged themselves, and set their battle again in array in the place where they put themselves in array the first day.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Encouraged themselves.—Trusting, as the Vulgate adds, in their courage and numbers.Jdg 20:22-23. The men of Israel encouraged — Hebrew, strengthened themselves, supporting themselves with the consciousness of the justice of their cause, and putting themselves in better order for defending themselves, and annoying their enemies. The children of Israel wept — Not so much for their sins, as for their defeat and loss. My brother — They impute their ill success, not to their own sins, but to their taking up arms against their brethren. But still they persist in their former neglect of seeking God’s assistance in the way which he had appointed, as they themselves acknowledged presently, by doing those very things which now they neglected.
18-28. the children of Israel arose, and went up to the house of God—This consultation at Shiloh was right. But they ought to have done it at the commencement of their proceedings. Instead of this, all their plans were formed, and never doubting, it would seem, that the war was just and inevitable, the only subject of their inquiry related to the precedency of the tribes—a point which it is likely was discussed in the assembly. Had they asked counsel of God sooner, their expedition would have been conducted on a different principle—most probably by reducing the number of fighting men, as in the case of Gideon's army. As it was, the vast number of volunteers formed an excessive and unwieldy force, unfit for strenuous and united action against a small, compact, and well-directed army. A panic ensued, and the confederate tribes, in two successive engagements, sustained great losses. These repeated disasters (notwithstanding their attack on Benjamin had been divinely authorized) overwhelmed them with shame and sorrow. Led to reflection, they became sensible of their guilt in not repressing their national idolatries, as well as in too proudly relying on their superior numbers and the precipitate rashness of this expedition. Having humbled themselves by prayer and fasting, as well as observed the appointed method of expiating their sins, they were assured of acceptance as well as of victory. The presence and services of Phinehas on this occasion help us to ascertain the chronology thus far, that the date of the occurrence must be fixed shortly after the death of Joshua.Encouraged themselves, Heb. strengthened themselves; partly by supporting themselves with the conscience of the justice of their cause, and the hopes of success; and partly by putting themselves in better order for defending themselves, and annoying their enemies.
In the place where they put themselves in array the first day; hereby showing their freedom from that heathenish superstition, whereby they might have been apt to have rejected that as an unlucky place. Compare 1 Kings 20:23,28.
and set their battle again in array formed a line of battle again facing their enemy, inviting to another battle, and bidding defiance:
and in the place where they put themselves in array the first day; by which it seems they kept the field of battle; though they lost so many men, they did not flee before the children of Benjamin, but stood their ground; nor were they so superstitious as to fancy the place unlucky; nor was it a bad situation they were in, to which their want of success was owing, for then they would have changed it.And the people the men of Israel encouraged themselves, and set their battle again in array in the place where they put themselves in array the first day.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. To make sense this and Jdg 20:23 should change places. After the men of Israel the Vulgate adds trusting to their prowess and numbers, i.e. it was the presumption of the Israelites which caused their defeat.Numbers 1:47). "Out of all this people there were 700 picked men, lamed in the right hand, all these (were) slinging with a stone (hitting) at a hair's breadth without fail." These statement are not quite clear. Since, according to the distinct words of Judges 20:16, the 700 slingers with their left hands were "out of the whole people," i.e., out of the whole number of fighting men mentioned in Judges 20:16, they cannot be the same as the 700 chosen men referred to in Judges 20:15, notwithstanding the similarity in the numbers and the expression "chosen men." The obscurity arises chiefly from the word התפּקדוּ in Judges 20:15, which is separated by the Masoretic accents from שׁבע מ, and connected with the previous words: "Beside the inhabitants of Gibeah they (the men of the towns of Benjamin) were mustered." On the other hand, the earlier translators took the clause as a relative one: "Beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, who were mustered 700 men." And this seems absolutely necessary, because otherwise the following words, "700 picked men," would stand without any connection; whilst we should certainly expect at least to find the cop. vav, if these 700 men were not inhabitants of Gibeah. But even if התפּקדוּ should be taken as a simple repetition of ויּתפּקדוּ, the statement which follows could not be understood in any other way than as referring to the number of the fighting men of Gibeah. There is something striking too in the fact that only Benjaminites "out of the cities" are mentioned, and that emphasis is laid upon this by the repetition of the expression "out of the cities" (Judges 20:14, Judges 20:15). Some have inferred from this, that the Benjaminites as the rulers had settled in the towns, whilst the Canaanites who had been subdued settled as dependants in the villages (Bertheau); or that the Benjaminites had formed military brotherhoods, the members of which lived unmarried in the towns, and that this may possibly account for the abominable crime to which the inhabitants of Gibeah were addicted, and in relation to which the whole tribe took their part (O. v. Gerlach). But such inferences as these are extremely uncertain, as the cities may be mentioned a potiori for all the places inhabited by this tribe. There is another difficulty in the numbers. According to Judges 20:14, Judges 20:15, the total number of the fighting men of Benjamin amounted to 26,000 and 700, without reckoning Gibeah. But, according to the account of the battle, 25,100 were slain (Judges 20:35), viz., 18,000 in the principal engagement, 5000 as a gleaning, and 200 in the pursuit, i.e., 25,000 men in all (Judges 20:44-46), and only 600 were left, who fled into the desert to the rock Rimmon (Judges 20:47). According to these accounts, the whole tribe would have contained only 25,100 + 600 equals 25,700 fighting men, or 25,000 + 600 equals 25,600. Accordingly, in Judges 20:15, the lxx (Cod. Al. etc.) and Vulgate give only 25,000 men; whilst the rest of the ancient versions have 26,000, in agreement with the Masoretic text. Josephus (Ant. v. 2, 10) also gives the number of fighting men in Benjamin as 25,600, of whom 600 were splendid slingers; but he has merely taken the numbers from Jdg 20:44-47. Now, although mistakes do frequently occur in the numbers given, it is a most improbable supposition that we have a mistake of this kind (26,000 for 25,000) in the instance before us, since even the latter number would not agree with Judges 20:44.; and the assumption, that in Judges 20:35 and Judges 20:44. we have an account of all the Benjaminites who fell, finds no support whatever in the history itself. In the verses referred to we have simply a statement of the number of Benjaminites who fell in the defeat which they sustained on the third day, whereas the victories which they gained on the first and second days could hardly have been obtained without some loss on their part; on the contrary, we may confidently assume that they would not lose less than a thousand men, though these are not mentioned in the brief account before us. The other difference between Judges 20:35 and Judges 20:44-46, viz., that 25,100 are given in the one and 25,000 in the other, may be explained on the simple assumption that we have only the full thousands mentioned in the latter, whilst the exact number is given in the former. "Left-handed:" see at Judges 3:15.
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