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Israel Preserves the Benjaminites

21 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah saying, “None of us will give his daughter to Benjamin in marriage.” So the people came to Bethel and sat there till evening before God, and lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. They said, “Adonai God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel, that one tribe should be missing in Israel?”

Then it was on the next day that the people rose up early and built an altar there, and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then Bnei-Yisrael asked, “Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who did not come up to the assembly before Adonai?” For they had made a great oath concerning anyone who did not come up to Adonai at Mizpah saying, “He will surely be put to death.”

Now Bnei-Yisrael felt sorry for Benjamin their brother and said, “Today one tribe has been cut off from Israel. What should we do about providing wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by Adonai not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?”

Then they inquired, “Which one of the tribes of Israel that did not go up to Adonai at Mizpah?” Then behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly. For when the people were numbered, behold not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there. 10 So the congregation sent 12,000 valiant warriors there, and commanded them saying, “Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the little ones. 11 Now this is the thing that you will do: you are to utterly destroy every male and every woman who has lain with a man.” 12 So they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 young virgins who had not known man by lying with him. They brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.

13 Then the whole congregation sent and spoke to the children of Benjamin who were in the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed shalom to them. 14 When Benjamin returned at that time, they gave them the women whom they had spared from the women of Jabesh-gilead. Yet they were not enough for them. 15 So the people were sorry for Benjamin because Adonai had made a breach in the tribes of Israel. 16 Then the elders of the congregation said, “What should we do about wives for those who are left, since the women have been destroyed out of Benjamin?” 17 They said “The survivors of Benjamin must have heirs, so that a tribe would not be blotted out from Israel. 18 Yet we cannot give them wives of our daughters,” for Bnei-Yisrael had sworn saying, “Cursed is he who gives a wife to Benjamin!”

19 So they said, “Behold, there is the feast of Adonai from year to year at Shiloh” (which is to the north of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and to the south of Lebonah). 20 So they commanded the children of Benjamin saying, “Go and hide in the vineyards, 21 and watch, and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh should come out to join in the dances, then come out of the vineyards, and let each of you catch his wife from among the daughters of Shiloh. Then go to the land of Benjamin. 22 So it will be, if their fathers or brothers come to complain to us, that we will say to them, ‘Grant them graciously for us, because we did not provide each one of them his wife in battle—nor did you give the girls to them, else you would now be guilty.’”

23 So the children of Benjamin did so, and took the number of wives from the dancers whom they carried off. Then they went and returned to their inheritance, and rebuilt the towns and settled in them.

24 So Bnei-Yisrael departed from there at that time, each man to his tribe and family. Everyone went out from there to his own inheritance.

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