Bible Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Judges 21


1The people bewail the desolation of Benjamin.
8By the destruction of Jabesh-gilead they provide them four hundred wives.
16They advise the remainder to surprise the virgins that danced at Shiloh.

Verse 1

Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife.
had sworn
20:1,8,10; Jeremiah 4:2
5; 11:30,31; 1 Samuel 14:24,28,29; Ecclesiastes 5:2; Mark 6:23; Acts 23:12; Romans 10:2
his daughter
Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:2,3
Reciprocal: Judges 11:35 - I cannot;  Judges 21:7 - sworn;  Judges 21:18 - sworn;  Judges 21:22 - give unto;  Jeremiah 40:6 - Mizpah;  Matthew 14:9 - the oath's

Verse 2

And the people came to the house of God, and abode there till even before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore;
the house
12; 20:18,23,26; Joshua 18:1
2:4; Genesis 27:38; 1 Samuel 30:4
Reciprocal: Numbers 11:18 - ye have wept;  Joshua 7:6 - until the eventide;  1 Samuel 1:10 - wept sore;  1 Samuel 11:4 - lifted up

Verse 3

And said, O LORD God of Israel, why is this come to pass in Israel, that there should be to day one tribe lacking in Israel?
why is
Deuteronomy 29:24; Joshua 7:7-9; Psalms 74:1; 80:12; Proverbs 19:3; Isaiah 63:17; Jeremiah 12:1
Reciprocal: Judges 17:6 - no king

Verse 4

And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.
rose early
Psalms 78:34,35; Hosea 5:15
built there
6:26; Exodus 20:24,25; 2 Samuel 24:18,25; 1 Kings 8:64; Hebrews 13:10
Reciprocal: Leviticus 3:1 - a sacrifice;  Judges 6:24 - built;  1 Samuel 6:14 - offered;  1 Samuel 14:35 - built;  1 Kings 18:32 - And with

Verse 5

And the children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up with the congregation unto the LORD? For they had made a great oath concerning him that came not up to the LORD to Mizpeh, saying, He shall surely be put to death.
a great oath
1,18; 5:23; Leviticus 27:28,29; 1 Samuel 11:7; Jeremiah 48:10
Reciprocal: Joshua 11:3 - land;  Joshua 15:38 - Mizpeh;  Judges 20:1 - Then all;  Judges 20:8 - We will not;  Judges 21:10 - Go and smite;  1 Samuel 7:17 - he built;  Ezra 10:8 - And that whosoever

Verse 6

And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day.
repented them
15; 11:35; 20:23; 2 Samuel 2:26; Hosea 11:8; Luke 19:41,42
Reciprocal: Psalm 68:27 - little

Verse 7

How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing we have sworn by the LORD that we will not give them of our daughters to wives?
1,18; 1 Samuel 14:28,29,45
Reciprocal: Leviticus 5:4 - to do evil;  Judges 21:22 - give unto;  Matthew 14:9 - the oath's

Verse 8

And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up to Mizpeh to the LORD? And, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabeshgilead to the assembly.
This place, as its name imports, was situated in Gilead, east of Jordan. Eusebius and Jerome say it was a great town in their time, standing upon a hill, six miles south from Pella, in the way to Geresa, now Djerash. The Wady Yabes, mentioned by Burckhardt, which empties itself into the Jordan, in the neighbourhood of Bisan or Beth-shan (see 1 Sa 31:11,) and upon which Pella was situated, (celebrated by Pliny, 1. v. c. 18, for its fine waters,) seems to have taken its name from Jabesh. Near this spot, we must therefore look for its site; and the place called Kalaat Rabbad seems to correspond, very nearly, to the spot; though it probably still retains among the Arabs its ancient name.
1 Samuel 11:1-3; 31:11-13; 2 Samuel 2:5,6
Reciprocal: Numbers 21:24 - Israel;  Joshua 11:3 - land

Verse 10

And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children.
Go and smite
As they had sworn to destroy those who would not assist in the war (ver. 5,) they determined to destroy the men of Jabesh, and to leave none except the virgins; and to give these to the 600 Benjamites who had escaped to the rock of Rimmon. The whole account is dreadful. The crime of the men of Gibeah was of the deepest dye; the punishment involving both the guilty and innocent, was extended to the most criminal excess, and their mode of remedying the evil they had occasioned was equally abominable.
5; 5:23; Deuteronomy 13:15; Joshua 7:24; 1 Samuel 11:7; 15:3

Verse 11

And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man.
every male
Numbers 31:17,18; Deuteronomy 2:34
hath lain by man
Heb. knoweth the lying with man.
Reciprocal: Leviticus 27:28 - no devoted;  Numbers 31:7 - all;  Jeremiah 44:7 - to cut

Verse 12

And they found among the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying with any male: and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
Heb. women, virgins. Shiloh.
20:18,23; Joshua 18:1; Psalms 78:60; Jeremiah 7:12
Reciprocal: Numbers 31:17 - kill every male;  Judges 21:2 - the house;  Judges 21:14 - sufficed them not;  Jeremiah 7:5 - if ye thoroughly

Verse 13

And the whole congregation sent some to speak to the children of Benjamin that were in the rock Rimmon, and to call peaceably unto them.
to speak
Heb. and spake and called. the rock Rimmon.
20:47; Joshua 15:32
call peaceably
or, proclaim peace.
Deuteronomy 20:10; Isaiah 57:19; Luke 10:5; Ephesians 2:17
Reciprocal: Zechariah 14:10 - Rimmon

Verse 14

And Benjamin came again at that time; and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabeshgilead: and yet so they sufficed them not.
sufficed them not
12; 20:47; 1 Corinthians 7:2
Reciprocal: Judges 21:22 - each man

Verse 15

And the people repented them for Benjamin, because that the LORD had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
a breach
1 Chronicles 13:11; 15:13; Isaiah 30:13; 58:12

Verse 17

And they said, There must be an inheritance for them that be escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel.
an inheritance
Numbers 26:55; 36:7
Reciprocal: Judges 21:15 - repented

Verse 18

Howbeit we may not give them wives of our daughters: for the children of Israel have sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife to Benjamin.
1; 11:35
Reciprocal: Leviticus 5:4 - to do evil;  Leviticus 27:28 - no devoted;  Judges 21:5 - a great oath;  Judges 21:7 - sworn;  Judges 21:22 - give unto;  Matthew 26:74 - began

Verse 19

Then they said, Behold, there is a feast of the LORD in Shiloh yearly in a place which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.
a feast
Exodus 23:14-16; Leviticus 23:2,4,6,10,34; Numbers 10:10; 28:16,26; 29:12; Deuteronomy 16:1,10,13; Psalms 81:3; John 5:1; 7:2
Heb. from year to year. on the east side. or, toward the sun rising. of the highway. or, on. Lebonah. Maundrell supposes, that either Khan Leban, which is situated on the eastern side of a "delicious vale," four leagues south from Shechem, and two leagues north from Bethel, or the village of Leban, which is on the opposite side, occupies the site of the ancient Lebonah. It is eight hours, or about 24 miles, from Jerusalem, according to Dr. Richardson.
Reciprocal: Joshua 18:1 - Shiloh;  Joshua 19:51 - in Shiloh;  2 Samuel 20:13 - the highway

Verse 21

And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
11:34; Exodus 15:20; 1 Samuel 18:6; 2 Samuel 6:14,21; Psalms 149:3; 150:4; Ecclesiastes 3:4; Jeremiah 31:13; Matthew 10:17; Luke 17:25
Reciprocal: Joshua 19:51 - in Shiloh;  Judges 18:31 - all the time

Verse 22

And it shall be, when their fathers or their brethren come unto us to complain, that we will say unto them, Be favourable unto them for our sakes: because we reserved not to each man his wife in the war: for ye did not give unto them at this time, that ye should be guilty.
Be favourable unto them
or, Gratify us in them.
Philemon 1:9-12
each man
14; Genesis 1:27; 7:13; Mark 10:6-8; 1 Corinthians 7:2
give unto
1,7,18; Proverbs 20:25

Verse 23

And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned unto their inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them.
and they went
It appears that the Benjamites acted in the most honourable way to the women they had thus violently carried off, and we may rest assured, that they took them to an inheritance more than equal to their own. But this transaction, as well as the indiscriminate massacre of the people of Jabesh-gilead, as Dr. Gray observes, was certainly stamped with injustice and cruelty; and must be condemned on those principles which the Scriptures elsewhere furnish.

Verse 25

In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
17:6; 18:1; 19:1
18:7; Deuteronomy 12:8; Psalms 12:4; Proverbs 3:5; 14:12; Ecclesiastes 11:9; Micah 2:1,2 Reciprocal: Hosea 9:9 - Gibeah

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Judges 21". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".