Wives Provided for the Tribe of Benjamin

21 Now the men of Israel had sworn (A)at Mizpah, “No one of us shall give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin.” And the people came to (B)Bethel and sat there till evening before God, and they lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. And they said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel, that today there should be one tribe lacking in Israel?” And the next day the people rose early and (C)built there an altar and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the people of Israel said, “Which of all the tribes of Israel did not come up in the assembly to the Lord?” (D)For they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah, saying, “He shall surely be put to death.” And the people of Israel (E)had compassion for Benjamin their brother and said, “One tribe is cut off from Israel this day. (F)What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by the Lord that we will not give them any of our daughters for wives?”

And they said, “What one is there of the tribes of Israel that did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah?” And behold, no one had come to the camp from (G)Jabesh-gilead, to the assembly. For when the people were mustered, behold, not one of the inhabitants of (H)Jabesh-gilead was there. 10 So the congregation sent 12,000 of their bravest men there and commanded them, (I)“Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword; also the women and the little ones. 11 This is what you shall do: (J)every male and every woman that has lain with a male you shall devote to destruction.” 12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 young virgins who had not known a man by lying with him, and they brought them to the camp at (K)Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.

13 Then the whole congregation sent word to the people of Benjamin who were at the (L)rock of Rimmon and (M)proclaimed peace to them. 14 And Benjamin returned at that time. And they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead, but they were not enough for them. 15 And the people (N)had compassion on Benjamin because the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.

16 Then the elders of the congregation said, (O)“What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?” 17 And they said, “There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, that a tribe not be blotted out from Israel. 18 Yet we cannot give them wives from our daughters.” (P)For the people of Israel had sworn, “Cursed be he who gives a wife to Benjamin.” 19 So they said, “Behold, there is the yearly feast of the Lord at Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, on the east of (Q)the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.” 20 And they commanded the people of Benjamin, saying, “Go and lie in ambush in the vineyards 21 and watch. If the daughters of Shiloh come out to (R)dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards and snatch each man his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22 And when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Grant them graciously to us, because we did not take for each man of them his wife in battle, neither did you give them to them, else you would now be guilty.’” 23 And the people of Benjamin did so and took their wives, according to their number, from the dancers whom they carried off. Then they went and returned to their inheritance (S)and rebuilt the towns and lived in them. 24 And the people of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance.

25 (T)In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Wives for the Benjamites

21 The men of Israel had taken an oath(A) at Mizpah:(B) “Not one of us will give(C) his daughter in marriage to a Benjamite.”

The people went to Bethel,[a] where they sat before God until evening, raising their voices and weeping bitterly. Lord, God of Israel,” they cried, “why has this happened to Israel? Why should one tribe be missing(D) from Israel today?”

Early the next day the people built an altar and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.(E)

Then the Israelites asked, “Who from all the tribes of Israel(F) has failed to assemble before the Lord?” For they had taken a solemn oath that anyone who failed to assemble before the Lord at Mizpah was to be put to death.

Now the Israelites grieved for the tribe of Benjamin, their fellow Israelites. “Today one tribe is cut off from Israel,” they said. “How can we provide wives for those who are left, since we have taken an oath(G) by the Lord not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?” Then they asked, “Which one of the tribes of Israel failed to assemble before the Lord at Mizpah?” They discovered that no one from Jabesh Gilead(H) had come to the camp for the assembly. For when they counted the people, they found that none of the people of Jabesh Gilead were there.

10 So the assembly sent twelve thousand fighting men with instructions to go to Jabesh Gilead and put to the sword those living there, including the women and children. 11 “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Kill every male(I) and every woman who is not a virgin.(J) 12 They found among the people living in Jabesh Gilead four hundred young women who had never slept with a man, and they took them to the camp at Shiloh(K) in Canaan.

13 Then the whole assembly sent an offer of peace(L) to the Benjamites at the rock of Rimmon.(M) 14 So the Benjamites returned at that time and were given the women of Jabesh Gilead who had been spared. But there were not enough for all of them.

15 The people grieved for Benjamin,(N) because the Lord had made a gap in the tribes of Israel. 16 And the elders of the assembly said, “With the women of Benjamin destroyed, how shall we provide wives for the men who are left? 17 The Benjamite survivors must have heirs,” they said, “so that a tribe of Israel will not be wiped out.(O) 18 We can’t give them our daughters as wives, since we Israelites have taken this oath:(P) ‘Cursed be anyone who gives(Q) a wife to a Benjamite.’ 19 But look, there is the annual festival of the Lord in Shiloh,(R) which lies north of Bethel(S), east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem,(T) and south of Lebonah.”

20 So they instructed the Benjamites, saying, “Go and hide in the vineyards 21 and watch. When the young women of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing,(U) rush from the vineyards and each of you seize one of them to be your wife. Then return to the land of Benjamin. 22 When their fathers or brothers complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Do us the favor of helping them, because we did not get wives for them during the war. You will not be guilty of breaking your oath because you did not give(V) your daughters to them.’”

23 So that is what the Benjamites did. While the young women were dancing,(W) each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance(X) and rebuilt the towns and settled in them.(Y)

24 At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance.

25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.(Z)

Footnotes

  1. Judges 21:2 Or to the house of God

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