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Wives for the Men of Benjamin

21 The men of Israel had made a promise in Mizpah, saying, “None of us will give his daughter in marriage to a man of Benjamin.” So the people came to Bethel and sat there before God until evening. In loud voices they cried, “O Lord, God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel? Why should there be one family group missing in Israel today?” The people got up early the next day and built an altar there. They gave burnt gifts and peace gifts on it.

Then the people of Israel said, “Who among all the family groups of Israel did not come with the people to the Lord?” For they had made a promise about the one who did not come to the Lord at Mizpah, saying, “For sure he will be put to death.” The people of Israel were sorry for their brother Benjamin. They said, “One family is cut off from Israel today. What will we do for wives for those who are left? We have promised by the Lord not to give them any of our daughters in marriage.”

They said, “Who of the families of Israel did not come to the Lord at Mizpah?” And they found that no one had come to the meeting from Jabesh-gilead. When the people were called, they saw that not one of the people of Jabesh-gilead was there. 10 The people sent 12,000 powerful soldiers to go there. They told them, “Go and kill the people of Jabesh-gilead with the sword. Kill the women and the children also. 11 This is what you must do. Destroy every man and every woman who has had a man.” 12 They found 400 young women who had never had a man. So they brought them to the tents at Shiloh, in the land of Canaan.

13 Then all the people sent news to the people of Benjamin at the rock of Rimmon. They told them they wanted to have peace with them. 14 So the people of Benjamin returned. The people of Israel gave them the women they had saved alive from the women of Jabesh-gilead. But there were not enough for them. 15 The people were sorry for Benjamin because the Lord had divided the families of Israel.

16 Then the leaders of the people said, “What will we do for wives for those who are left? All the women of Benjamin were killed.” 17 And they said, “There must be something that can be given to those of Benjamin who are left. Or a family will be taken out of Israel. 18 But we cannot give them our daughters for wives.” For the men of Israel had promised, “A curse will come to the one who gives a wife to Benjamin.”

19 So they said, “See, there is a special supper to the Lord every year in Shiloh. It is north of Bethel, east of the road that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.” 20 They told the men of Benjamin, “Go and hide in the grape-fields. Wait there 21 and watch. The daughters of Shiloh might come out to dance. Then come out of the grape-fields. Each of you will catch his wife from the daughters of Shiloh. Then go to the land of Benjamin. 22 When their fathers or brothers come to complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Give them to us of your own free will. For we did not leave a wife for each of the men of Benjamin in battle. And you did not give them any. You would have been doing wrong.’” 23 The men of Benjamin did so. They took wives from those who danced, one for each man. They carried them away and returned to their land. Then they built the cities again and lived in them. 24 The people of Israel left there at that time. Each man returned to his family in his own land.

25 There was no king in Israel in those days. Each man did what he thought was right.

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)


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

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