Expanded Bible (EXB) - Judges 21

Wives for the Men of Benjamin

21 At Mizpah the men of Israel had sworn, “Not one of us will let his daughter marry a man from the tribe of Benjamin.”

2 The people went to the city of Bethel and sat before God until evening, ·crying loudly [L lifting their voices weeping greatly]. 3 They said, “Lord, God of Israel, why has this terrible thing happened to us so that one tribe ·of Israel is missing [has disappeared from Israel] today?”

4 Early the next day the people built an altar and put burnt offerings [Lev. 1:1–17] and ·fellowship [or peace; well-being] offerings [Lev. 3:1] to God on it.

5 Then the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] asked, “Did any tribe of Israel not ·come here to meet [assemble] with us ·in the presence of [before] the Lord?” They asked this question because they had ·sworn [taken a solemn oath] that anyone who did not meet with them at Mizpah would be ·killed [put to death].

6 The ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] felt sorry for ·their relatives, the Benjaminites [L Benjamin, their brother]. They said, “Today one tribe has been cut off from Israel. 7 We swore before the Lord that we would not ·allow our daughters to marry a Benjaminite [give our daughters to them for wives]. How can we make sure that the remaining men of Benjamin will have wives?” 8 Then they asked, “Which one of the tribes of Israel did not ·meet with us [assemble] ·in the presence of [before] the Lord at Mizpah?” ·They found that [L And look/T behold] no one from the city of Jabesh Gilead had come. 9 The people of Israel counted everyone, but there was no one from Jabesh Gilead.

10 So the ·whole group of Israelites [assembly; congregation] sent twelve thousand ·soldiers [L men, sons of strength] to Jabesh Gilead to kill the people with ·their swords [the edge of the sword], even the women and children.

11 “This is what you must do: Kill every man in Jabesh Gilead and every ·married woman [L woman who has known the bed of a male].”[a] 12 The soldiers found four hundred young ·unmarried women [virgins; Num. 31:17–18] among the residents of Jabesh Gilead, so they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan.

13 Then the whole ·group of Israelites [assembly; congregation] sent a message to the ·men [L sons; descendants] of Benjamin, who were at the rock of Rimmon, ·offering to make peace with [L calling/proclaiming peace to] them. 14 So the men of Benjamin came back at that time. The Israelites gave them the women from Jabesh Gilead who had ·not been killed [been spared/kept alive], but there were not enough women.

15 The people of Israel ·felt sorry [had compassion; grieved] for the Benjaminites because the Lord had ·separated [made a gap/breach in] the tribes of Israel. 16 The elders of the ·Israelites [L assembly; congregation] said, “The women of Benjamin have been ·killed [destroyed; wiped out]. ·Where can we get wives [L What shall we do] for the men of Benjamin who are still alive? 17 ·These men must have children to continue their families [L The survivors of Benjamin must have heirs/an inheritance] so a tribe in Israel will not ·die [be wiped/blotted] out. 18 But we cannot allow our daughters to marry them, because ·we swore [L the sons/T children of Israel had sworn], ‘Anyone who gives a wife to ·a man of Benjamin [L Benjamin] is cursed.’ 19 ·We have an idea [L Look; T Behold]! There is a yearly festival of the Lord at Shiloh, which is north of the city of Bethel, east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, and south of the city of Lebonah.”

20 So ·the elders [L they] told the men of Benjamin, “Go and ·hide [lie in wait/ambush] in the vineyards. 21 Watch for the young women from Shiloh to come out to join the dancing. Then run out from the vineyards and ·take [seize; catch] ·one of the young Shiloh women [L each man his wife from the daughters of Shiloh] and return to the land of Benjamin. 22 ·If [or When] their fathers or brothers come to us and complain, we will say: ‘·Be kind to the men of Benjamin [or Do us a favor], because we did not get wives for Benjamin during the war. And you are not guilty [C of breaking your oath; v. 18] because you did not [C voluntarily] give the women to the men from Benjamin.’”

23 So that is what the ·Benjaminites [L sons/descendants of Benjamin] did. While the young women were dancing, each man caught one of them [L according to their number], ·took her away, and married her [L and carried her off]. Then they went back to ·the land God had given them [their inheritance] and rebuilt their cities and lived there.

24 Then the ·Israelites [L sons/T children of Israel] went home to their own tribes and ·family groups [clans], to their own ·land that God had given them [inheritance].

25 In those days Israel did not have a king. All the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes [17:6; 18:1; 19:1].


  1. Judges 21:11 married woman Greek copies continue “But spare any who are virgins. This they did.”

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