Judges 21 (New International Version)
Wives for the Benjamites
1 The men of Israel had taken an oath at Mizpah: “Not one of us will give his daughter in marriage to a Benjamite.”
2 The people went to Bethel, where they sat before God until evening, raising their voices and weeping bitterly. 3 “O LORD, the God of Israel,” they cried, “why has this happened to Israel? Why should one tribe be missing from Israel today?”
“Yes, let’s think about that. Could it have been our own sins and departure from God’s ways, our excessive vengeance against our own people, our failure to teach our children to know the Lord?”
4 Early the next day the people built an altar and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.
5 Then the Israelites asked, “Who from all the tribes of Israel 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 should certainly be put to death.
6 Now the Israelites grieved for their brothers, the Benjamites. “Today one tribe is cut off from Israel,” they said.
We remember from the previous chapter that the Israelites, in their reckless zeal, had killed all the women and children of Benjamin, and only 600 men had escaped the massacre. To have such a gap in the roster of the twelve tribes of Israel was too dreadful to contemplate.
7 “How can we provide wives for those who are left, since we have taken an oath 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 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.
This city will pay dearly for not having participated in the warfare against the tribe of Benjamin.
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 and every woman who is not a virgin.” 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 in Canaan.
So to rectify matters after one act of violence, they carry out another act of violence.
13 Then the whole assembly sent an offer of peace to the Benjamites at the rock of Rimmon. 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, 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. 18 We can’t give them our daughters as wives, since we Israelites have taken this oath: ‘Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to a Benjamite.’ 19 But look, there is the annual festival of the LORD in Shiloh, to the north of Bethel, and east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, and to the south of Lebonah.”
20 So they instructed the Benjamites, saying, “Go and hide in the vineyards 21 and watch. When the girls of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing, then rush from the vineyards and each of you seize a wife from the girls of Shiloh and go to the land of Benjamin. 22 When their fathers or brothers complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Do us a kindness by helping them, because we did not get wives for them during the war, and you are innocent, since you did not give your daughters to them.’ ”
Since the previous results were insufficient, they propose yet another act of violence. And with what hypocrisy — to stage a festival to the Lord and then instruct the Benjamites to steal innocent young women from their families! Do all these wrongs make a right?
23 So that is what the Benjamites did. While the girls were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them.
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;
Psalm 149:1-2 (ESV)
Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
everyone did as he saw fit.
Yes, that has been clearly shown.
THE END OF THE BOOK OF JUDGES
(I confess I read that with a certain amount of relief.)
In the English Standard Version, the final verse says — “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
HERE is Casting Crowns and “If We’ve Ever Needed You.”