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Bible Commentaries
Judges 21

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-25

Chapter 21

Now, these men [in chapter twenty-one, had made an oath] they had sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin for a wife ( Judges 21:1 ).

These Benjamites do these things; none of us will allow them to marry our daughters. It was a vow that they made. Now, let me say that most vows, like this one, are stupid. Most of the vows that are given in the Bible are stupid. This is a stupid vow. Saul made a stupid vow when he saw Jonathan wiping out the Philistines with his armorbearer he said, "Cursed be the man who eats anything today until Saul be avenged of all of his enemies." Stupid vow because later on in the day as they were chasing the Philistines the guys were so hungry and they were getting faint and weak because they didn't have any food, they were running out of energy and they really could have slaughtered a lot more of the Philistines that day, had a total victory.

But the stupid vow of Saul which really had no sense behind it, "Cursed be any man who eats anything until Saul" sort of exalting of himself. And of course Jonathan his son didn't hear his old man say that. He was busy fighting the Philistines and running through the forest. He saw this honeycomb and he put his spear out and you know reached through and licking on his spear as he's chasing the Philistines and the honey, the quick energy, he was revived you know and had all that energy and really got after them and was able to go and then later on his old man said, "Someone broke my vow today. Who was it?"

No one would rat on him and so he says, "Divide in two companies. All of you and my son Jonathan will cast lots. The lots fell on Saul and his son and he said, "Jonathan what have done?"

"Hey dad, I didn't know what you said. I'm going through the forest and I saw the honeycomb and I put my spear in it and ate it and I was revived. Hey dad, it was sort of foolish for you to say that. Look how faint the guys are. We could've wiped out the Philistines totally today if the guys had strength but they ran out of energy."

Saul said, "Put him to death." Oh, that stupid guy. No wonder, well he admitted himself at the end of his life he said, "Hey I played the fool." That's no understatement.

Jephthah made a stupid vow. We studied that last week; remember? "The first thing that comes out of my house I'll sacrifice it as a burnt offering unto the Lord."

The Bible says quite a bit about keeping your mouth shut. When you go into the temple of the mount or when you go into the temple of the Lord, you know, put a lock on your mouth lest you sin with your mouth. I don't think it's a proverb but it ought to be. It is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you're a fool then to open it and dispel all doubts. The problem we get into with our mouth.

Now here was a foolish vow. They wiped out the Benjamites, only six hundred guys left. The rest of the Benjamites are wiped out and now they think, "Oh, we're not gonna have a tribe of Benjamin. The tribe of Benjamin's gonna get wiped out. Oh that's horrible. Oh, we can't do that. What should we do?"

"Well is there any city that didn't send anybody?"

Someone says, "I didn't see anybody come from Jabeshgilead." So they checked that.

"Anybody here from Jabeshgilead?" Nobody there from Jabeshgilead.

"All right. Then let's go to Jabeshgilead and we kill everybody except the virgins and we'll bring them back and let them marry these guys, in that they didn't enter into the vow, you see." No one from Jabeshgilead was there to enter into the vow, so horrible. You know it's covering one stupidity with a greater. But you know, you get into these kinds of things where you begin to follow one sin with another. You do one and then it leads to another, another, another. You get further and further down the line. It's tragic.

And so what they did was horrible. They went to Jabeshgilead and they wiped out the city, killed all of the married women, killed all of the men. And they got the virgins and brought them back but there still wasn't enough, there's still some guys that weren't married. "What are we gonna do?"

Well, Shiloh was the religious center at that particular time and they would have the feast in Shiloh. And during the feast the young virgins would come out and do some traditional folk dances.

And so they said to the men of Benjamin who still didn't have wives, "Now, during this feast when the young virgins come out you guys hide in the bushes and you watch and see if you know, cute gal that you like. Grab her and take off with her." Sort of a reverse of Sadie Hawkins kind of a day. And when the men from Shiloh come to us and say, "Hey, they've kidnapped our daughters" we'll say, "Ah, that's all right. Just let it go, you know, and we'll protect you in it." So that year when they had the feast and the young virgins from Shiloh came out and were doing their little ritual traditional dances, these Benjamites were hiding and they each find them a gal that they liked the looks of and they grabbed them and took off with them. And thus, the tribe of Benjamin was spared and did not, you know, they weren't deleted as a tribe in Israel.

But again, no condoning of the scripture. In fact, the condemning of it in the scripture; it was wrong, it was stupid but that's just the way things were going because they had lost their conscienceness of God as king. And so it gives you just a little insight into the civil and religious confusion that existed during the time of the Judges.

And again the chapter ends as this section began.

In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes ( Judges 21:25 ).

But I'll tell you, when people do that which is right in their own eyes, quite often it is very, very wrong. Because of the mentality and the moral level of many people you can't just let people live as they want, they will revert to an animal state. How important that we submit our lives to God as king.

Next week the beautiful little book of Ruth. Shall we stand?

Let's turn back to Numbers six. For a long time I've been wanting us to learn this chorus that Crystal taught us tonight as a sort of a departing kind of a chorus. I think it's beautiful, you know, as a sort of a conclusion to the service and departing from one another to pronounce this blessing of God upon each other and I don't know if Crystal's still here but if she is she can probably help me. I don't think I know this chorus but I think I can start it if you can finish it. Ah, all right Crystal. I'll sing the after part. No, tell you what. Let the men sing the first "Lord Bless you" and let the women echo it, "and keep you" the women echo it and then we all sing together those other parts. So men, join with me. Women, join with Crystal and then we'll all sing those parts together. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Judges 21". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/judges-21.html. 2014.
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