Judges 20:31
And the children of Benjamin went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city; and they began to smite of the people, and kill, as at other times, in the highways, of which one goes up to the house of God, and the other to Gibeah in the field, about thirty men of Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) To smite of the people, and kill.—Rather, to smite the wounded or beaten of the people. It means, apparently, that when some of the Israelites had been wounded with slings, the Benjamites began to rush on them, for the purpose of killing them, and they feigned flight along two highways, of which one led to Bethel, and the other to a place which, to distinguish it from Gibeah, seems to have been called “Gibeah in the field.” In this feigned flight thirty Israelites were killed. “Gibeah in the field” seems to be Jeba, and the main road from Gibeah (Tuleil el Fûl), at about a mile’s distance from the hill, branches off into two, of which one leads to Beitin (Bethel), and the other to Jeba (“Gibeah in the field”).

The highways.—(Mesilloth.) Roads like the Roman viae regiae, regularly built.

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.To the house of God - "To Bethel," as in the margin. On "Gibeah in the field," see Joshua 18:24 note. Jud 20:29-48. They Destroy All the Benjamites, Except Six Hundred.

29-48. And Israel set liers-in-wait round about Gibeah—A plan was formed of taking that city by stratagem, similar to that employed in the capture of Ai [Jos 8:9].

Drawn away from the city, by the dissembled flight of the Israelites.

As at other times; with the same kind, though not with the same degree of success.

Gibeah in the field; so called, to difference it from this Gibeah, which was upon a hill; wherefore they are constantly said to ascend or go up against it, as Judges 20:23,30. See Joshua 18:24,28. And the children of Benjamin went out against the people,.... Sallied out of Gibeah upon them, where they had put themselves in array against them:

and were drawn away from the city; the Israelites retreating, and dissembling a flight, which drew the Benjaminites to pursue after them, by which means they were drawn off to a greater distance from the city of Gibeah:

and they began to smite the people, and kill as at other times; at the other two battles:

in the highways; where it seems two ways met:

of which one goeth up to the house of God; to Bethel, as the Targum (t); or rather to Shiloh, where the house or tabernacle of God was, and was two miles from Gibeah, as Bunting (u) says:

and the other to Gibeah in the field; so called, to distinguish it from the other Gibeah situated on an hill:

about thirty men of Israel; which were killed in this running fight; and it seems as if one part of the army of Israel took one road, and the other the other road, and so divided the army of the Benjaminites that pursued after them.

(t) So the Septuagint, and Noldius, p. 69. No. 345. (u) Travels, &c. p. 121.

And the children of Benjamin went out against the people, and were {o} drawn away from the city; and they began to smite of the people, and kill, as at other times, in the highways, of which one goeth up to the house of God, and the other to Gibeah in the field, about thirty men of Israel.

(o) By the policy of the children of Israel.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. The opening sentence follows the pattern of Jdg 20:21; Jdg 20:25. The remainder of the v. raises difficulties; it is partly repeated in Jdg 20:39; the pretence of flight does not come properly till Jdg 20:32. Either we may regard as additional glosses they were drawn away from the city (there is no and in the Hebr.), and the topographical note in the high ways, of which … to Gibeah, leaving the statement that the Benjamites began to smite and kill in the open country as on the former occasions (so Moore): or we may retain the words just quoted, and slightly rearrange them on the model of Jdg 20:32; Jdg 20:39 : they were drawn away from the city into the highways, of which … to Gibeah, and they began to smite and kill in the field about thirty men of Israel (so Budde, Nowack, who distinguish three, instead of two versions). The first alternative has the merit of simplicity.

to Gibeah] cannot be right, for the Israelites were retreating towards the N., away from Gibeah; the general direction of the two roads must be the same. For Gibeah, therefore, read Gibeon; at a short distance beyond Tell el-Fûl the road branches northwards to Beitîn (= Beth-el) and N.W. to el-Jib (= Gibeon), 3 m. N.W. of Tell el-Fûl.Verse 31. - The house of God. Here manifestly Bethel, as in the margin. Gibeah in the field. The A.V. is the natural rendering of the Hebrew words, which imply a Gibeah in the field different from Gibeah, as the Septuagint seems to have understood them (Γαβαὰ ἐν ἀγρῷ). It is a happy conjecture, borne out by the existing roads, that this Gibeah-in-the-field is the same as Gobs, now Jeba. Indeed it is almost impossible to conceive how the pursuers, coming out of Gibeah, could be described as coming to two highways, of which one led to Bethel and the other to the very place they had come from. The latest explorers of the district fully concur in this identification of Gibeah-in-the-field with Jeba. But on the second day also the Benjaminites brought 18,000 of them to the ground. "The second day" is not the day following the first engagement, as if the battles had been fought upon two successive days, but the second day of actual fighting, which took place some days after the first, for the inquiry was made at Bethel as to the will of God between the two engagements.
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