Judges 20:36
So the children of Benjamin saw that they were smitten: for the men of Israel gave place to the Benjamites, because they trusted to the liers in wait which they had set beside Gibeah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(36) That they were smitten.—The “they” refers to the Israelites. The rest of the verse gives the reason for the feigned flight.

Jdg 20:36-37. The children of Benjamin saw that they were smitten — Namely, when they saw the flame in Gibeah, as mentioned Jdg 20:40. But after these words, in the following part of the verse, begins a relation of the whole day’s action, the particulars of which are related in the following verses. The liers in wait drew themselves along — Or extended themselves; whereas before they lay close, and contracted into a narrow compass, now they spread themselves, and marched in rank and file as armies do.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.Baal-tamar is only mentioned here. It took its name from some palm-tree that grew there; perhaps the same as the "palm-tree of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel" Judges 4:5, the exact locality here indicated, since "the highway" Judges 20:31 along which the Israelites enticed the Benjamites to pursue them, leads straight to Ramah, which lay only a mile beyond the point where the two ways branch off.

The meadows of Gibeah - The word rendered "meadow" is only found here. According to its etymology, it ought to mean a "bare open place", which is particularly unsuitable for an ambush. However, by a change in the vowel-points, without any alteration in the letters, it becomes the common word for "a cavern".

34. there came against Gibeah ten thousand chosen men—This was a third division, different both from the ambuscade and the army, who were fighting at Baal-tamar. The general account stated in Jud 20:35 is followed by a detailed narrative of the battle, which is continued to the end of the chapter. No text from Poole on this verse. So the children of Benjamin saw that they were smitten,.... Their forces broken and worsted, many being killed:

for the men of Israel gave place to the Benjaminites; at first, and made as if they were afraid of them, and so fled before them, which was only to decoy them to a greater distance from the city Gibeah:

because they trusted unto the liers in wait, which they had set beside Gibeah; that these would not only enter the city, and burn it, but meet the Benjaminites fleeing back to it, when they should turn upon them and smite them, and so cut off all that remained of them.

So the children of Benjamin saw that they were smitten: for the men of Israel {r} gave place to the Benjamites, because they trusted unto the liers in wait which they had set beside Gibeah.

(r) Retired to draw them after.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
36. the children of Benjamin] must refer to the 600 survivors. This half verse introduces the account of the flight, which is continued by Jdg 20:42.

Clause b may be regarded as a continuation of Jdg 20:29 in the narrative of A; the description of the feint is parallel to that in Jdg 20:32 b.Verses 36-41. - The children of Benjamin saw that they were smitten. Not of course after 25,000 of them had been smitten, but at that period of the battle more fully described in vers. 40, 41, when the Benjamites, looking behind them, saw Gibeah in flames, and immediately broke and fled towards the wilderness. In the latter half of this verse and in the following verses to ver. 41 the writer recapitulates all the preceding circumstances, some of which have been already mentioned, which led to the particular incident mentioned in the beginning of the verse, that "Benjamin saw that they were smitten;" viz., the feigned flight of the Israelites, the seizing and burning of Gibeah by the liers in wait, the signal of a great smoke, and the turning again of the flying Israelites. It was then that "the men of Benjamin saw that evil was come upon them," and turned their backs and fled. Thus vers. 36 (latter half)-41 bring us back through the details to the identical point already reached at the beginning of ver. 36. In vers. 39, 40 there is another retrograde movement in the narrative, in which the statement of vers. 31, 32 is repeated in order to bring into close juxtaposition Benjamin's keen pursuit of the enemy with his terror when he saw the smoke rising in his rear. Hasted (ver. 37). This is an amplification with further particulars of ver. 33. The liers in wait not only came forth out of their place, but they made a dash to get into Gibeah before the men of Gibeah, who were pursuing the flying Israelites, could be aware of their intention. Rushed upon. Perhaps better rendered fell upon. It is exactly the same phrase as 2 Samuel 27:8, there rather tamely rendered invaded and in ver. 10 made a road. Drew themselves along. Some take the word in the common sense of blowing the trumpet, but it rather means spread themselves out (ἐξεχὺθη, LXX.) through the defenceless city, so as to slay and burn in all parts simultaneously. That they should make a great flame with smoke, etc. (ver. 38). The Hebrew of this verse is difficult to construe, but the A.V. gives substantially the right sense. They seem to be the very orders given to the leader of the ambush. "Make them (the ambush) multiply to send up (i.e. send up in great quantities) the column of smoke from the city." It seems that the appearance of the smoke was the signal for the Israelites to turn (ver. 41). The flame, etc. (ver. 40). Rather, the column began to go up in (or as) a pillar of smoke. The flame of the city. Literally, the whole of the city, meaning of course the whole city in flames. They then advanced as on the former occasions.
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