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Description

Detailed engraving, illustrating the Battle of Gibeah, from the Book of Judges, Chapter XX.

The Battle of Gibeah iwas triggered by an incident in which the concubine of a man from the Tribe of Levi was raped by members of the Tribe of Benjamin and later died. The Levite had offered his concubine to the mob in his place. In the morning he found the concubine unresponsive on the doorstep. He later cut her body into twelve pieces, and sent the pieces throughout all the territories of the Israelite tribes.

The outraged tribes of Israel sought justice, and asked for the miscreants to be delivered for judgement. The Benjamites refused, so the tribes then sought vengeance, and in the subsequent war, the members of Tribe of Benjamin were systematically killed, including women and children. When Benjamin was nearly 'extinguished', it was decided that the tribe should be allowed to survive, and all the men from another town, Jabesh Gilead, who had refused to take part in the punishment of the Tribe of Benjamin, were killed, so that their daughters could be wed to the surviving men of Benjamin.

The first king of Israel, Saul, was descended from these surviving men. Due to this war, the Tribe of Benjamin was subsequently referred to as "the smallest of all the tribes."