Judges 21 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
The Benjaminites Saved from Extinction
21 Now the men of Israel had sworn at Mizpah, “No one of us shall give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin.” 2 And the people came to Bethel, and sat there till evening before God, and they lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. 3 And they said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, why has this come to pass in Israel, that there should be today one tribe lacking in Israel?” 4 And on the morrow the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. 5 And the people of Israel said, “Which of all the tribes of Israel did not come up in the assembly to the Lord?” For they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah, saying, “He shall be put to death.” 6 And the people of Israel had compassion for Benjamin their brother, and said, “One tribe is cut off from Israel this day. 7 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?”
8 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 Ja′besh-gil′ead, to the assembly. 9 For when the people were mustered, behold, not one of the inhabitants of Ja′besh-gil′ead was there. 10 So the congregation sent thither twelve thousand of their bravest men, and commanded them, “Go and smite the inhabitants of Ja′besh-gil′ead with the edge of the sword; also the women and the little ones. 11 This is what you shall do; every male and every woman that has lain with a male you shall utterly destroy.” 12 And they found among the inhabitants of Ja′besh-gil′ead four hundred young virgins who had not known man by lying with him; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
13 Then the whole congregation sent word to the Benjaminites who were at the rock of Rimmon, and 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 Ja′besh-gil′ead; but they did not suffice for them. 15 And the people had compassion on Benjamin because the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
16 Then the elders of the congregation said, “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 be not blotted out from Israel. 18 Yet we cannot give them wives of our daughters.” 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 the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebo′nah.” 20 And they commanded the Benjaminites, saying, “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards, 21 and watch; if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards and seize 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 Benjaminites 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, and rebuilt the towns, and dwelt 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 In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.