Study Guide

Book of Judges Chapter 21

Chapter 21

Their Dating Options Exhausted, The Benjamites Kidnap Some Wives

  • Now that they've all but destroyed Benjamin, the Israelites vow to put to death anyone that refused to go to war against Benjamin.
  • As they're tracking down draft-dodgers, their tempers cool down and Israel starts to feel badly about their genocidal anti-Benjamite campaign.
  • On second thought, they don't want to wipe an entire tribe off the face of the earth.
  • Unfortunately, they've all sworn an unbreakable oath to never allow any Benjamites to marry their daughters, dooming that tribe to eventually die out.
  • While they're puzzling over this, they discover that the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead didn't send any soldiers to the war, so they (somewhat ironically, given their regret over the whole "kill all the Benjamites" thing) send an army to kill every male and every non-virgin woman.
  • The army brings back 400 virgin captives from Jabesh-Gilead.
  • "Hey," someone must have said, "These virgins… They're not our daughters, right? So they can marry the Benjamites, right?" Right.
  • So they send an ambassador to the rock of Rimmon, where the last surviving Benjamite men live, and before you can say "that blessed arrangement," 400 of them get married.
  • Unfortunately, that still leaves a lot of guys without a wife. What to do for them?
  • The elders of Israel have an idea: They tell the Benjamites to go to Shiloh.
  • What's in Shiloh? Babes.
  • Each year, the people of Shiloh have a feast unto the Lord. During the feast, the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance.
  • "So here's the plan," say the elders, "You'll hide in the vineyards during the feast. As soon as the girls come out to dance, grab as many of them as you can carry, and bring them back to the land of Benjamin to wife them up."
  • A fine solution: elegantly simple, yet shamelessly chauvinistic. And it works!
  • When the girls' dads come to the elders to complain about their kidnapped daughters, the elders say, "Can't you just let it slide? These guys need wives, and you weren't about to give 'em any, right? Please?"
  • The dads consent, and they all live wickedly ever after, because lest we forget, "In those days there was no king in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (KJV 21:25).
  • And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the rape and murder of one woman was "resolved" with the forced marriage and rape of hundreds of women.
  • It's also where the Book of Judges ends. Some books end on a high note. Not this one.

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