So now that Israel has God on their side (at least claiming to), victory is assured. And, yeah, they win. Decisively. Israel won hard. They pwned the Benjamites that day. Seriously. Tens of thousands of Benjamite armsmen were slain.
But Israel didn’t stop.
They went after cities.
They killed civilians.
I don’t even have to do the talking, because it speaks for itself: “Meanwhile, the Israelites turned back against the Benjaminites, and put them to the sword—the city, the people, the animals, and all that remained. Also the remaining towns they set on fire” (Judges 20:48).
This is not just Gibeah, the city originally responsible for the concubine, They torched it back in verse 37. Incidentally, it got the same treatment. Now, the verses say the people were put to the sword, but that’s too easy. See, what it means is that the Israelites went in and slaughtered the elderly, women, and children. They razed the entire city to the ground, making the entire thing a gruesome funeral pyre.
This is another reason why I question God’s presence in this story. Gibeah almost certainly deserved to go down. It was Sodom reincarnated. And, sure, the Benjamite army had something to answer for because they didn’t see a problem with what Gibeah had done, but to massacre everyone . . . that doesn’t sound like God. Remember, God and Abraham had an argument, with God saying he would spare the city if there were even 10 righteous people. Well, Israel just razed all the territories of the Benjamites. Only 600 people who fled the army of Israel for Rimmon survived. The tens of thousands of Benjamites are down to just 600.
Not once does Israel have any compassion. They are caught up in a bloodlust. This was not justice for the concubine, it was vengeance for the nameless Levite, because his pride was offronted. This is blind rage and hate. Once their war began, they couldn’t stop it. The machine just continued to chew through the land until, well, there was no more land or people to go through.
And it’s not over yet. It gets worse.