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Judges 21 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

21 The men of Isra’el had sworn in Mitzpah that none of them would let his daughter marry a man from Binyamin. The people came to Beit-El and stayed there before God till evening crying out and weeping. They said: “Adonai, why has this come about in Isra’el? Why should there be today in Isra’el one tribe missing?” The next day the people got up early, built an altar and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. The people of Isra’el asked, “Who among the tribes of Isra’el did not come up to assemble before Adonai? For they had made a great oath to put to death whoever didn’t come up to Adonai at Mitzpah. The people of Isra’el became sorry for Binyamin their brother and said, “Today one tribe has been cut off from Isra’el. How are we going to obtain wives for those who remain alive, since we’ve sworn by Adonai that we won’t let our daughters marry them?”

Then they asked who from the tribes of Isra’el had not come up to Adonai at Mitzpah and found that none had come from Yavesh-Gil‘ad to the camp where the assembly was; since when the people were counted, none of the inhabitants of Yavesh-Gil‘ad were found there. 10 So the gathering sent 12,000 warriors there and ordered them, “Go, and put the people who live in Yavesh-Gil‘ad to death with the sword, including women and children. 11 Completely destroy every man and every woman who has had sex with a man.” 12 Among the inhabitants of Yavesh-Gil‘ad they found 400 young virgins who had not known a man by lying with him, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Kena‘an.

13 Then the whole gathering sent a message proclaiming peace to the people of Binyamin who were at the Rock of Rimmon. 14 So Binyamin returned at that time, and the people of Isra’el gave them the women they had kept alive of the women from Yavesh-Gil‘ad. But those weren’t enough for them. 15 The people were still sorry for Binyamin because Adonai had made a division among the tribes of Isra’el.

16 The leaders of the assembly asked, “What are we to do for those who still don’t have wives, inasmuch as all the women of Binyamin have been killed?” 17 They said, “There has to be a way to help the survivors preserve Binyamin’s inheritance, so that a tribe will not be eliminated from Isra’el. 18 Yet we can’t give them our daughters as wives.” For the people of Isra’el had sworn, “Cursed be whoever gives a wife to Binyamin.”

19 Then they said, “Look, each year there’s a festival in honor of Adonai in Shiloh, north of Beit-El, on the east side of the road that goes up from Beit-El to Sh’khem, and south of Levonah.” 20 They ordered the men of Binyamin, “Go, hide in the vineyards, 21 and keep watch. If the girls of Shiloh come out to do their dances, then come out of the vineyards, and each of you catch for himself a wife from the Shiloh girls, and go on to the land of Binyamin. 22 When their fathers or brothers come to complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Give them as a personal favor to us, because we didn’t take wives for each of them in battle. You didn’t give them to them; that would have made you guilty of breaking your oath.’” 23 So the men of Binyamin did this — they took wives for themselves from the girls who were dancing, as many as they needed. They carried them off, went back to the land of their inheritance, rebuilt the cities and lived in them. 24 The people of Isra’el then left that place, each man returned to his tribe and family, and each man went out from there to the land he had inherited.

25 At that time there was no king in Isra’el; a man simply did whatever he thought was right.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Judges 21 New International Version (NIV)

Wives for the Benjamites

21 The men of Israel had taken an oath at Mizpah: “Not one of us will give his daughter in marriage to a Benjamite.”

The people went to Bethel,[a] where they sat before God until evening, raising their voices and weeping bitterly. Lord, God of Israel,” they cried, “why has this happened to Israel? Why should one tribe be missing from Israel today?”

Early the next day the people built an altar and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.

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 was to be put to death.

Now the Israelites grieved for the tribe of Benjamin, their fellow Israelites. “Today one tribe is cut off from Israel,” they said. “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?” 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. 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 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.

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, which lies north of Bethel, east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, 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, 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 your daughters to them.’”

23 So that is what the Benjamites did. While the young women 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; everyone did as they saw fit.


  1. Judges 21:2 Or to the house of God
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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