Judges 21 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Mourning the Lost Tribe
21 Now the men of Israel had sworn [an oath] at Mizpah, “None of us shall give his daughter in marriage to [a man of] Benjamin.” 2 So the people came to Bethel and sat there before God until evening, and lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. 3 They said, “O Lord, God of Israel, why has this come about in Israel, that there should be today one tribe missing from Israel?” 4 And the next day the people got up early and built an altar there and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.
5 Then the sons of Israel said, “Which one from 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 at Mizpah, saying, “He shall certainly be put to death.” 6 And the sons of Israel felt sorry [and had compassion] for their brother Benjamin and said, “One tribe has been cut off from Israel today. 7 What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn [an oath] by the Lord that we will not give them any of our daughters as wives?”
Provision for Their Survival
8 And they said, “Which one is there of the tribes from Israel that did not come up to Mizpah to the Lord?” And behold, [it was discovered that] no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead, to the assembly. 9 For when the people were assembled, behold, there was not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead there. 10 And the congregation sent twelve thousand of the most courageous men there, and commanded them saying, “Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the sword, including the women and the children. 11 And this is the thing that you shall do; you shall utterly destroy every male and every woman who [a]is not a virgin.” 12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins who had not known a man intimately; 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 [surviving] sons of Benjamin who were at the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace to them. 14 So [the survivors of] Benjamin returned at that time, and they gave them the women whom they had kept alive from the women of Jabesh-gilead; but there were not enough [to provide wives] for them. 15 And the people were sorry [and had compassion] for [the survivors of the tribe of] Benjamin because the Lord had made a gap in the tribes of Israel.
16 Then the elders of the congregation said, “What shall we do for wives for those [men] who are left, since the women of Benjamin have been destroyed?” 17 They said, “There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, so that a tribe will not be wiped out from Israel. 18 But we cannot give them wives from our daughters.” For the sons of Israel had sworn [an oath], “Cursed is he who gives a wife to [a man from the tribe of] Benjamin.”
19 So they said, “Listen, there is the yearly feast of the Lord at Shiloh, which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south side of Lebonah.” 20 So they instructed the sons of Benjamin, saying, “Go, set an ambush in the vineyards, 21 and watch; if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then you shall come out of the vineyards and each of you shall catch his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of [the tribe of] Benjamin. 22 When their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we shall say to them, ‘Give them to us voluntarily, because we did not take a wife for each man of Benjamin in battle, nor did you give wives to them, for that would have made you guilty [of breaking your oath].’” 23 So the sons of [the tribe of] Benjamin did as instructed and took wives according to their number, from the dancers whom they carried away. Then they went and returned to their inheritance, and rebuilt the towns and lived in them. 24 The sons of Israel departed from there at that time, each man to his tribe and family, and each man went from there to his inheritance.
25 In those days [when the judges governed] there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.
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.