21 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter to the Benjaminites as wife.
2 And the people came to Bethel, and abode there till even before God, and lifted up their voices and wept bitterly,
3 and said, Jehovah, God of Israel, why is it come to pass in Israel, that there should be this day one tribe lacking in Israel?
4 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered up burnt-offerings and peace-offerings.
5 And the children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up with the congregation to Jehovah? For they had [made] a great oath concerning him that came not up to Jehovah to Mizpah, saying, He shall certainly be put to death.
6 And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, To-day is one tribe extirpated from Israel.
7 What shall we do for wives for them that remain? since we have sworn by Jehovah that we will not give them of our daughters for wives.
8 And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up to Mizpah to Jehovah? And behold, there came none to the camp from Jabesh-Gilead, to the congregation;
9 for the people were numbered, and behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead there.
10 And the assembly sent thither twelve thousand men of the most valiant and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead with the edge of the sword, and the women and the children.
11 And this is the thing which ye shall do: ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain with man.
12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead four hundred young women that were virgins, who had known no man by lying with any male, and they brought them to the camp, to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
13 And the whole assembly sent to speak to the children of Benjamin that were at the cliff of Rimmon, and to proclaim peace to them.
14 And Benjamin came again at that time; and they gave them the wives whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-Gilead; but even so they found not enough for them.
15 And the people repented them for Benjamin, because Jehovah had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
16 And the elders of the assembly said, What shall we do for wives for them that remain? for the women have been destroyed out of Benjamin.
17 And they said, There must be a possession for those of Benjamin that have escaped, that a tribe be not blotted out of Israel.
18 But we cannot give them wives of our daughters, for the children of Israel have sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife to the Benjaminites!
19 And they said, Behold, there is a feast of Jehovah from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north side of Bethel, toward the sun-rising of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.
20 And they commanded the sons of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards;
21 and see, and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
22 And it shall be, when their fathers or their brethren come to complain to us, that we will say to them, Gratify us with them, because we did not take each man his wife in the war; for ye did not give them to them, that ye should now be guilty.
23 And the children of Benjamin did so, and took wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught; and they went and returned to their inheritance, and built the cities, and dwelt in them.
24 And the children of Israel departed thence at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from thence every man to his inheritance.
25 In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.
New International Version
Wives for the Benjamites
2 The people went to Bethel,[a] where they sat before God until evening, raising their voices and weeping bitterly. 3 “Lord, God of Israel,” they cried, “why has this happened to Israel? Why should one tribe be missing(D) from Israel today?”
4 Early the next day the people built an altar and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.(E)
5 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.
6 Now the Israelites grieved for the tribe of Benjamin, their fellow Israelites. “Today one tribe is cut off from Israel,” they said. 7 “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?” 8 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. 9 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)
- Judges 21:2 Or to the house of God