Judges 21 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
Israel Provides Wives for the Surviving Men of Benjamin
21 The men of Israel had taken this oath in Mizpah: “None of us will ever let our daughters marry anyone from Benjamin.”
2 The people went to Bethel and sat there in the presence of God until evening. They cried very loudly, 3 “Lord God of Israel, why has this happened among us? Why should one tribe be missing today in Israel?”
4 The next day the people got up early. They built an altar there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. 5 The people asked, “Is there any family from Israel that did not take part in the assembly in the presence of the Lord?” They had taken a solemn oath that whoever had not come into the presence of the Lord at Mizpah must be put to death.
6 The people of Israel felt sorry for their close relatives, the men of Benjamin. They said, “Today one tribe has been excluded from Israel. 7 What will we do to provide wives for the men who are left? We swore to the Lord that we would not let any of our daughters marry them.” 8 Then they asked, “Is there any family from Israel that did not come into the presence of the Lord at Mizpah?” No one from Jabesh Gilead had come to the assembly in the camp. 9 So they questioned the people, and there was no one there from Jabesh Gilead.
10 The congregation sent 12,000 soldiers. They ordered them, “Go and kill the people of Jabesh Gilead, including the women and children. 11 These are your directions: Claim every female who has gone to bed with a man, and claim every male. Claim them for the Lord by destroying them.”
12 Among the people of Jabesh Gilead they found 400 unmarried women who had never gone to bed with a man. They brought them to the camp at Shiloh in Canaan.
13 Then the whole congregation sent messengers to the men of Benjamin at Rimmon Rock and offered them peace. 14 So the men of Benjamin came back at that time. These men were given the women from Jabesh Gilead who had been kept alive. However, the congregation had not found enough women for all of them.
15 The congregation felt sorry for the people of Benjamin because the Lord had broken the unity of the tribes of Israel. 16 The leaders of the congregation asked, “What should we do to provide wives for the men who are left, since the women in Benjamin have been killed?”
17 Some said, “Benjamin’s men who survived must be allowed to have families. No tribe of Israel should be wiped out. 18 However, we can’t give them any of our daughters as wives. The people of Israel have taken an oath that whoever gives wives to the men of Benjamin is under a curse.”
19 Others said, “Every year the Lord’s festival is held at Shiloh. Shiloh is north of Bethel, east of the highway going from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.” 20 So they told the men of Benjamin, “Hide in the vineyards and 21 watch. When the young women of Shiloh come out to take part in the dances, come out of the vineyards. Each of you catch a woman from Shiloh to be your wife. Then go back to the territory of Benjamin. 22 When their fathers or brothers come to us to complain, we’ll tell them, ‘Have pity on them, since we didn’t provide a wife for each man in the battle. You won’t be guilty because you didn’t give them the wives yourselves.’”
23 The men of Benjamin did just that. They captured the number of wives they needed from the women who were dancing and went home. So they rebuilt their cities and lived in them.
24 At that time the people of Israel left. Each man went to his tribe and family. They all went home.
25 In those days Israel didn’t have a king. Everyone did whatever he considered right.
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.”
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 from Israel today?”
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 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 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.
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.