A Decision Is Made About the Tribe of Benjamin
1The men of Israel had sworn at Mizpah, saying, “None of us will give his daughter to Benjamin as a wife.” 2And the people of Bethel came and sat there until evening before God, and they lifted their voices and wept bitterly.#Literally “they cried a great weeping” 3And they said, “Why, Yahweh, God of Israel, has it happened today in Israel that one tribe is lacking from Israel?” 4On the next day the people rose early, and they built there an altar and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. 5And the Israelites#Literally “sons/children of Israel” said, “Who in the assembly has not come up from all the tribes of Israel to Yahweh?” For a solemn oath was taken concerning whoever did not come up to Yahweh at Mizpah, saying, “He will certainly be put to death.” 6But the Israelites#Literally “sons/children of Israel” had compassion for Benjamin, their relatives,#Hebrew “his brother” and they said, “Today one tribe is cut off from Israel. 7What will we do for them—for the ones being left over—for wives? For we have sworn by Yahweh not to give to them our daughters as wives.”
8They asked, “Which one is there from the tribes of Israel who did not come up to Yahweh at Mizpah?” And behold, no one came from Jabesh-gilead to the camp, to the assembly. 9The people were counted, and no one was there from the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead. 10And the congregation sent there twelve thousand men from the troops, and they commanded them, saying, “Go, strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword,#Literally “the mouth of the sword” and the women and children. 11This is the thing you will do: you will destroy#Literally “you will devote to destruction” every man and every woman who had sex with a man.”#Literally “every woman who knows the bed of a man” 12And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins#Hebrew “virgin” who had not had sex with a man,#Literally “known a man, as far as the bed of a male” and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
13Then the congregation sent and spoke all this to the descendants#Or “sons/children” of Benjamin who were at the rock of Rimmon, and they assured them they would not be hurt.#Literally “they proclaimed peace to them” 14And Benjamin returned at that time, and they gave to them the women whom they kept alive from Jabesh-gilead; but they were not enough for them.
15And the people felt sorry for Benjamin because Yahweh weakened the tribes of Israel.#Literally “Yahweh make a breach with the tribes of Israel” 16So the elders of the congregation said, “What should we do for the remaining ones for wives, since the women from Benjamin have been destroyed?” 17And they said, “There must be a remnant for Benjamin, so that a tribe will not be blotted out from Israel. 18But we cannot give them wives from our daughters.” (For the Israelites#Literally “sons/children of Israel” swore, saying, “Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to Benjamin.”) 19And they said, “Look, the annual feast of Yahweh is in Shiloh, which is to the north of Bethel, east#Literally “rising of the sun” of the main road that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah. 20They instructed the descendants#Or “sons/children” of Benjamin, saying, “Go, lie in ambush in the vineyards, 21and watch and look; when the daughters of Shiloh dance in the dances, come out from the vineyards and seize for yourselves a wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22And if their fathers or their brothers complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Allow us to have them, because we did not capture a wife for each man in the battle, and because you did not give them to them, or else#Literally “as the time” you would have been guilty.’ ” 23The descendants#Or “sons/children” of Benjamin did likewise, and they took wives for each of them from the dancers whom they seized, and they went and returned to their territory, and they rebuilt the cities and they lived in them. 24So the Israelites#Literally “sons/children of Israel” dispersed from there at that time according to tribe and family; and they went out from there, each one to their own territory. 25In those days there was no king in Israel; each one did what was right in his own eyes.