Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Judges 21

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-25

The Fate of Benjamin and the Rape of Shiloh (21:1-25)

At Mizpah the other tribes had taken an oath to abstain from intermarriage of their daughters with the men of Benjamin. But so great had been the slaughter of the Benjaminites that the conscience of Israel was troubled. The six hundred men remaining to Benjamin had to be provided with wives if that tribe was not to face extinction, yet the Israelites must keep their oath. They gathered before the Lord at Bethel, with misgiving and concern, seeking a way out of the impasse. Then they remembered that those who did not join their expedition against Benjamin were under curse of death, and they recalled that the men of Jabesh-gilead had held back. They sent a detachment of their host to destroy the inhabitants, saving only the virgins. By this exploit, they found four hundred brides for the remnant of the Benjaminites. They returned with these, not to Bethel, but to Shiloh, whither apparently the Israelite camp had been transferred. There the Benjaminites were summoned from the rock of Rimmon and given their brides, but the brides were not sufficient in number.

With compassion still in their hearts and desiring to heal the breach in their tribal confederacy, the Israelites sought for yet more brides. The burden of their oath still rested on them, however, so they still had to supply the need circuitously. An annual festival to the Lord was due at Shiloh; it appears to have been at the vintage harvest, and during it the daughters of Shiloh danced around the vineyards. The Benjaminites were told to be in wait, and to seize each man a wife from among the dancing maidens. The Israelites argued that in this way they could get around the oath taken at Mizpah, for the Shilonites would not have given these women to the Benjaminites as wives. They would be taken without the previous consent of their fathers. Furthermore, a feud or vendetta between Shiloh and the Benjaminites would be avoided, since the maidens would not have been taken in battle or with loss of life. Hence the leaders of Israel planned to plead with their fellow Israelites from Shiloh that they graciously permit their daughters to remain with the Benjaminites. The plan was carried out successfully, and the tribe of Benjamin was saved from extinction.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Judges 21". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/judges-21.html.
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