21 Now the men of Israel had sworn at Mizpah, None of us shall give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin.
2 And the Israelites came to the house of God [Bethel] and sat there until evening before God and lifted up their voices and wept bitterly.(A)
3 And they said, O Lord, the God of Israel, why has this come to pass in Israel, that there should be today one tribe lacking in Israel?
4 And next morning the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.
5 And the Israelites said, Which among all the tribes of Israel did not come up with the assembly to the Lord? For they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the Lord to Mizpah, saying, He shall surely die.
6 And the Israelites changed their purpose [and had compassion] for the Benjamites their kinsmen and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel today.
7 What shall we do for wives for those who are left, seeing we have sworn by the Lord that we will not give them our daughters as wives?
8 And they said, Which one is there of the tribes of Israel that did not come up to Mizpah to the Lord? And behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead, to the assembly.
9 For when the people were mustered, behold, not one of the citizens of Jabesh-gilead was there.
10 And the congregation sent there 12,000 of the bravest men, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the sword, also the women and the little ones.
11 And this is what you shall do; utterly destroy every male and every woman who is not a virgin.
12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 young virgins, who had known no man by lying with him; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
13 And the whole congregation sent word to the Benjamites who were at the rock of Rimmon and invited them to be friendly with them.
14 And Benjamin returned at that time, and they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead; and yet there were not enough for them.
15 And the people had compassion on Benjamin, because the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
16 Then the elders of the congregation said, What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since the women of Benjamin are destroyed?
17 And they said, There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, so that a tribe shall not be wiped out of Israel.
18 But we cannot give them wives of our daughters, for the Israelites have sworn, Cursed be he who gives a wife to Benjamin.
19 So they said, Behold, there is the yearly feast of the Lord at Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, on the east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem and south of Lebonah.
20 So they commanded the Benjamites, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards,
21 And watch; if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards and catch every man his wife from the daughters of Shiloh and go to the land of Benjamin.
22 And when their fathers or their brothers come to us to complain, we will say to them, Grant them graciously unto us, because we did not reserve a wife for each of them in battle, neither did you give wives to them, for that would have made you guilty [of breaking your oath].
23 And the Benjamites did so and took wives, according to their number, from the dancers whom they carried off; then they went and returned to their inheritance and repaired the towns and dwelt in them.
24 And the Israelites left there then, every man to his tribe and family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance.
25 In those days [a]there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.
- Judges 21:25 This statement is made three times in these latter chapters. All was well while Joshua and those who assisted him lived; then gradually came disorder. “What is the meaning of this?... There was no king [or counselor] in Israel because in Israel there was no God. The Lord is King. You cannot have a [true] king if you have not a God. There was no nominal renunciation of God, no public and blatant atheism, no boastful impiety; there was a deadlier heresy—namely, keeping God as a sign but paying no tribute to Him as a King, worshiping Him possibly in outward form but knowing nothing of the subduing and directing power of godliness. That is more to be dreaded than any intellectual difficulty of a theological kind... Dead consciences, prayerless prayers, mechanical formalities—these are the impediments which overturn... the chariots of progress. This was the case in Israel. Where God is, the king is not [merely] a man with a crown on, but a king in the sense of kingliness, sovereignty, authority, rule—the spirit of obligation and responsibility... You find the right monarch where you find the right God” (Joseph Parker, cited by James C. Gray and George M. Adams, Bible Commentary).