Judges 20:1-48

Daybreak for Students

Judges 20:1-48

Judges 20
Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the Lord, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. — Judges 20:26

One Saturday night, a few days after we moved into our new home in St. Louis, a power surge tripped our main circuit breaker, and the electrical supply to the house went off. For many hours, I searched for the cause of the problem. I went to the basement and examined the circuit breakers, trying to set every one of them to “on.” Still the power was not restored. I checked with our neighbors to make sure there was not a widespread outage, but all our neighbors had power in their homes. That night we were unable to cook. The next day was a Sunday, and we went to church without our usual hot breakfast. Everybody in the family was inconvenienced because there was no power supply to the house.

In church that day, I prayed that God would help us out of the situation, and the Lord assured me that He would. Upon returning home, I went back to the switch and pushed it very hard toward “on.” The power came on, and everybody in the house rejoiced! The power had been there all the time, but it could not flow because, on my first attempts, I had failed to push hard enough to make a connection.

Have you ever faced difficulties where you prayed but the problems remained unsolved? Perhaps Scriptural promises indicate that it was God’s will for you to have victory over the troubling problems. Maybe you wrote prayer requests and other believers joined you in prayer on these matters, yet the problem remained. You examined your life and found no sin. You consecrated your life, died daily to self, and you could not think of anything you had not done.

In today’s text, the Children of Israel teamed up together as one man against the tribe of Benjamin to bring justice for an evil perpetrated by a small gang among this tribe. Twice the Israelites prayed, and received the “green light” to fight against Benjamin, yet on two occasions they met defeat. The third time, the Children of Israel prayed and fasted until the evening, and then victory came.

When we face problems that are not quickly solved and we seem to be having trouble making a “connection,” we may need to “push harder.” We may discover that prayer and fasting are necessary to move the hand of God to work. Israel found that God rewarded such efforts, and you will find that out too.


Since Dan was the northernmost city of Israel and Beersheba was the southernmost city, the phrase, “from Dan even to Beersheba” indicates that the whole nation was outraged by the Levite’s action with his concubine’s body. Mizpeh was about eight miles north of Jerusalem and was the place where the na-tion assembled. A host of 400,000 footmen gathered there to deliberate and decide on what action to take against those who committed this wicked act. When the Levite recounted the story, he noticeably omitted any admission of blame on his part.

Demand was made on the tribe of Benjamin to hand over the perpetrators, because the men of Israel wanted to take action to cleanse the national guilt. Benjamin refused but instead decided to declare war on the rest of the tribes, thereby bringing guilt upon themselves for this sin and wickedness. A costly civil war was the result.

The eleven tribes twice sought the face of God about punishing the tribe of Benjamin, and He indicated that they should. However, in the first two attempts they met defeat. On the third occasion, the Israelites wept, prayed, and fasted until they received the victory on their knees. Using a tactic similar to Joshua’s at Ai, Gibeah was captured, its men were destroyed, and the city was reduced to ashes.

The eleven tribes continued their attack beyond Gibeah. By the end of the war, the tribe of Benjamin was nearly annihilated. When Israel left Egypt, there were 35,400 warriors in the tribe (Numbers 1:37). By the second census (before they entered the Promised Land), their number was 45,600 (Numbers 26:41). At the end of these three days of war, there were only 600 men of Benjamin left.


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III.   Appendices
     B.   Moral decline during the time of the judges
           2.   The war against Benjamin
                 a.   The disgrace at Gibeah rehearsed (20:1-7)
                 b.   The resulting war (20:8-48)
                       (1)   Israel’s assembly for war (20:8-11)
                       (2)   Benjamin’s assembly for war (20:12-16)
                       (3)   Israel’s early defeats (20:17-28)
                       (4)   The near extermination of the Benjamites (20:29-48)


  1. What did the eleven tribes of Israel want the Benjamites to do with the wicked men?

  2. What might have happened if the tribe of Benjamin had complied with this request?

  3. What basis did the eleven tribes have for their subsequent actions?

  4. What lessons can we learn about problem solving from this account?


Have you been praying to God for a long time on a particular issue in your life that you know is within God’s will, yet it seems that Heaven is closed? Don’t give up! Tarry with God in prayer, because your miracle is on the way.