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Judges Chapter Twenty One（ESV）
16 Then the elders of the congregation said, “What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?” 17 And they said, “There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, that a tribe not be blotted out from Israel. 18 Yet we cannot give them wives from our daughters.” For the people of Israel had 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 And they commanded the people of Benjamin, saying, “Go and lie in ambush 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 snatch each 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 complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Grant them graciously to us, because we did not take for each man of them his wife in battle, neither did you give them to them, else you would now be guilty.’” 23 And the people of Benjamin did so and took their wives, according to their number, from the dancers whom they carried off. Then they went and returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and lived in them. 24 And the people of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance.
25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
- The people’s compassion for the few surviving Benjaminites seems to be a good sign, but rather than admit the foolishness of their own oath (v1), the Israelites attempt to solve the problem by adding even more violence to the excessive violence already perpetrated. The entire population of Jabesh gilead is murdered, except for four hundred virgins, who are kidnapped as wives for the Benjamites (vv8-12). And to top it off, the people then sanction the abduction of innocent young women in order to avoid taking personal responsibility for their own foolishness (vv15-24). All in all, things could hardly be more ludicrous, aptly demonstrating the concluding assessment that everyone was doing “what was right in their own eyes” (v25).
- Judges encourages us to practice the spiritual disciplines of worshiping and obeying God alone. Such disciplines are grounded in the amazing grace and unfailing love of a God who simply will not abandon His people just as the Israelites in Judges.
O Lord, Your love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give You back the life I owe, That in Your ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.