Judges 21:1-25

21  Now the men of Israel had sworn this oath in Mizʹpah:+ “Not one of us will give his daughter to a man from Benjamin as a wife.”+  Consequently, the people came to Bethʹel+ and sat there before the true God until evening, crying out and weeping bitterly.  And they were saying: “Why, O Jehovah the God of Israel, has this happened in Israel? Why should one tribe be missing today from Israel?”  And the next day the people got up early and built an altar there to offer up burnt offerings and communion offerings.+  Then the people of Israel said: “Who of all the tribes of Israel did not come up to assemble before Jehovah?” for they had taken a great oath that anyone who did not come up to Jehovah at Mizʹpah would be put to death without fail.  So the people of Israel felt sorrow over what had happened to Benjamin their brother. They said: “Today one tribe has been chopped off from Israel.  What should we do to provide wives for those who are left, now that we have sworn by Jehovah+ not to give them any of our daughters as wives?”+  They asked: “Who among the tribes of Israel did not come up to Jehovah at Mizʹpah?”+ It so happened that no one had come from Jaʹbesh-gilʹe·ad into the camp where the congregation was.  When the people were counted, they saw that none of the inhabitants of Jaʹbesh-gilʹe·ad were there. 10  So the assembly sent there 12,000 of the mightiest men. They commanded them: “Go and strike down the inhabitants of Jaʹbesh-gilʹe·ad with the sword, even the women and the children.+ 11  This is what you should do: Every male, as well as every woman who has had sexual relations with a male, you should devote to destruction.” 12  Among the inhabitants of Jaʹbesh-gilʹe·ad, they found 400 girls who were virgins, who had never had sexual relations with a man. So they brought them to the camp at Shiʹloh,+ which is in the land of Caʹnaan. 13  Then all the assembly sent a message to the Benʹja·min·ites on the crag of Rimʹmon+ and offered them peace. 14  So Benjamin came back at that time. They gave them the women whom they had kept alive from the women of Jaʹbesh-gilʹe·ad,+ but they did not find enough for them. 15  And the people felt sorrow over what had happened to Benjamin+ because Jehovah had made a division among the tribes of Israel. 16  The elders of the assembly said: “What should we do to provide wives for the remaining men, since all the women were annihilated out of Benjamin?” 17  They replied: “There should be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, so that a tribe may not be wiped out of Israel. 18  But we are not allowed to give them wives from our daughters, because the people of Israel have sworn: ‘Cursed is the one who gives a wife to Benjamin.’”+ 19  Then they said: “Look! There is a festival of Jehovah from year to year in Shiʹloh,+ which is north of Bethʹel and east of the highway that goes up from Bethʹel to Sheʹchem and south of Le·boʹnah.” 20  So they commanded the men of Benjamin: “Go and set an ambush in the vineyards. 21  And when you see the young women* of Shiʹloh come out to join in their circle dances, each of you should come out from the vineyards and seize a wife from the young women of Shiʹloh, and you should return to the land of Benjamin. 22  And should their fathers or their brothers come to make a complaint against us, we will then tell them, ‘Show us favor for their sakes, because we could not provide each one a wife by war+ and you could not give a wife to them without becoming guilty.’”+ 23  So the men of Benjamin did just that, and they each carried off a wife from the women who were dancing. After that they went back to their inheritance and rebuilt their cities+ and settled in them. 24  And the Israelites dispersed from there at that time, each one to his tribe and his family, and they departed from there, each one to his inheritance. 25  In those days there was no king in Israel.+ Each one was doing what was right in his own eyes.*


Lit., “the daughters.”
Or “what he thought was right.”

Study Notes