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Chapter 21

1Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter to Benjamin as wife. 2The people came to Bethel, and sat there until evening before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore. 3They said, Yahweh, the God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel, that there should be today one tribe lacking in Israel? 4It happened on the next day that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. 5The children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who didn’t come up in the assembly to Yahweh? For they had made a great oath concerning him who didn’t come up to Yahweh to Mizpah, saying, He shall surely be put to death. 6The children of Israel grieved for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day. 7How shall we do for wives for those who remain, seeing we have sworn by Yahweh that we will not give them of our daughters to wives? 8They said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel who didn’t come up to Yahweh to Mizpah? Behold, there came none to the camp from Jabesh Gilead to the assembly. 9For when the people were numbered, behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead there. 10The congregation sent there twelve thousand men of the most valiant, and commanded them, saying, Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the little ones. 11This is the thing that you shall do: you shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman who has lain by man. 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 to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan. 13The whole congregation sent and spoke to the children of Benjamin who were in the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace to them. 14Benjamin returned at that time; and they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh Gilead: and yet so they weren’t enough for them. 15The people grieved for Benjamin, because that Yahweh had made a breach in the tribes of Israel. 16Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we do for wives for those who remain, seeing the women are destroyed out of Benjamin? 17They said, There must be an inheritance for those who are escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe not be blotted out from Israel. 18However we may not give them wives of our daughters, for the children of Israel had sworn, saying, Cursed be he who gives a wife to Benjamin. 19They said, Behold, there is a feast of Yahweh from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah. 20They commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards, 21and see, and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come you out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22It shall be, when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, that we will say to them, Grant them graciously to us, because we didn’t take for each man his wife in battle, neither did you give them to them, else would you now be guilty. 23The children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of those who danced, whom they carried off: and they went and returned to their inheritance, and built the cities, and lived in them. 24The children of Israel departed there at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from there every man to his inheritance. 25In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

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