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Judges Chapter 21 | Parsha:

1Now the men of Israel had taken an oath at Mizpah: “None of us will give his daughter in marriage to a Benjaminite.”

2The people came to Bethel and sat there before God until evening. They wailed and wept bitterly, 3and they said, “O Lord God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel, that one tribe must now be missing from Israel?” 4Early the next day, the people built an altar there, and they brought burnt offerings and offerings of well-being.

5The Israelites asked, “Is there anyone from all the tribes of Israel who failed to come up to the assembly before the Lord?” For a solemn oath had been taken concerning anyone who did not go up to the Lord at Mizpah: “He shall be put to death.” 6The Israelites now relented toward their kinsmen the Benjaminites, and they said, “This day one tribe has been cut off from Israel! 7What can we do to provide wives for those who are left, seeing that we have sworn by the Lord not to give any of our daughters to them in marriage?”

8They inquired, “Is there anyone from the tribes of Israel who did not go up to the Lord at Mizpah?” Now no one from Jabesh-gilead had come to the camp, to the assembly. 9For, when the roll of the troops was taken, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was present. 10So the assemblage dispatched 12,000 of the warriors, instructing them as follows: “Go and put the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead to the sword, women and children included. 11This is what you are to do: Proscribe every man, and every woman who has known a man carnally.” 12They found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 maidens who had not known a man carnally; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.

13Then the whole community sent word to the Benjaminites who were at the Rock of Rimmon, and offered them terms of peace. 14Thereupon the Benjaminites returned, and they gave them the girls who had been spared from the women of Jabesh-gilead. But there were not enough of them.

15Now the people had relented toward Benjamin, for the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel. 16So the elders of the community asked, “What can we do about wives for those who are left, since the women of Benjamin have been killed off?” 17For they said, “There must be a saving remnant for Benjamin, that a tribe may not be blotted out of Israel; 18yet we cannot give them any of our daughters as wives,” since the Israelites had taken an oath: “Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to Benjamin!”

19They said, “The annual feast of the Lord is now being held at Shiloh.” (It lies north of Bethel, east of the highway that runs from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.)

20So they instructed the Benjaminites as follows: “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards. 21As soon as you see the girls of Shiloh coming out to join in the dances, come out from the vineyards; let each of you seize a wife from among the girls of Shiloh, and be off for the land of Benjamin. 22And if their fathers or brothers come to us to complain, we shall say to them, ‘Be generous to them for our sake! We could not provide any of them with a wife on account of the war, and you would have incurred guilt if you yourselves had given them [wives].’”

23The Benjaminites did so. They took to wife, from the dancers whom they carried off, as many as they themselves numbered. Then they went back to their own territory, and rebuilt their towns and settled in them. 24Thereupon the Israelites dispersed, each to his own tribe and clan; everyone departed for his own territory.

25In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did as he pleased.

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