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CHAPTER 21 Jun. 19 
Finding Wives for the Benjamites
Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah: Not one of us will give his daughter to a Benjamite as wife. 2The people came to Bethel where they sat until evening before God, raising their voices and weeping bitterly. 3They said, Yahweh, the God of Israel, why has this happened to Israel, that there should be today one tribe missing from Israel? 4Next day the people rose early and built an altar and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. 5They asked, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who didn’t come up to the assembly before Yahweh? For they had taken a solemn oath that anyone who didn’t come up to Yahweh to Mizpah should surely be put to death. 6The Israelites grieved for Benjamin their brother. There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day. 7How shall we provide wives for those who remain, since we have sworn by Yahweh that we will not give them our daughters as wives? 8They asked, Which of the tribes of Israel didn’t come up to Yahweh to Mizpah? They found that none from the camp from Jabesh Gilead came to the assembly. 9For when the people were counted, none of the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead were there. 10The congregation sent twelve thousand valiant fighting men and commanded them: Go and put the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead to the sword, including the women and children. 11This is what you are to do: kill every male and every woman who is not a virgin. 12They found among the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead four hundred young virgins who had not known man by lying with him, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan. 13The whole congregation sent an offer of peace to the Benjamites who were in the rock of Rimmon. 14So then Benjamin returned and they gave them the women whom they had saved alive from Jabesh Gilead, but they weren’t enough for them. 15The people grieved for Benjamin because Yahweh had made a gap in the tribes of Israel. 16Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we provide wives for those who remain, since the women are destroyed out of Benjamin? 17They said, There must be an inheritance for the surviving Benjamites so that a tribe will not be blotted out from Israel. 18We can’t give them wives from our daughters since the Israelites have taken this oath saying, ‘Cursed be he who gives a wife to Benjamin’. 19They said, Look, there is an annual feast of Yahweh in Shiloh, which is on the north of Bethel, east of the highway from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah. 20They instructed the Benjamites: Go and lie in wait in the vineyards 21and watch. When the daughters of Shiloh come out to join in the dances, then rush out of the vineyards and each of you catch a wife from the girls of Shiloh and go to the land of Benjamin. 22When their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Allow them to do this because we didn’t get wives for them in the war. You didn’t give them to them, so you are not guilty’. 23So that is what the Benjamites did. They took wives for each of them from the girls who danced, and carried them off. They returned to their inheritance, rebuilt the cities and lived in them. 24Then the Israelites departed each to his tribe and family. 25In those days there was no king in Israel; each man did that which was right in his own eyes.


21:2 This repentance of people who had many other weaknesses in their lives is similar to the situation in 17:1-4. It shows there is a religious conscience in people, no matter how far they stray from God. We should bear this in mind when we become discouraged in our preaching by the thought that ‘nobody’s interested’. People are, passively.
21:4 Peace offerings were offered in times of Israel's sadness and defeat (see too 20:26). In our traumas of life, we need to remember that the only thing that matters is our peace with God, the joyful fact that we have nothing separating us. As Israel made their peace offerings at those times, so we too should consider the possibility of breaking bread, perhaps alone, as we meet the desperate traumas of our lives.
21:5 Israel made oaths before Yahweh which they didn’t keep and yet God worked through their failure in order to preserve His people... we see here how God works through human self-righteousness, failure and hypocrisy, in order to do His work and save people. We likewise shouldn’t totally turn away from those guilty of such things but try to patiently work through them still to God’s glory.
21:24 Each man did that which was right in his own eyes- It was right that there was no human king in Israel, because God was their king. This statement may therefore not be a criticism, but rather an observation- that in the absence of a human king, the people were to make their own personal decisions about what was right and wrong, just as we should. The sad thing was that Israel turned away from God’s word and therefore lost a correct sense of right and wrong.