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Free Bible Version - Judges

Judges 21

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1The men of Israel had sworn an oath at Mizpah, “None of us will allow our daughters to marry a Benjamite.”
2The Israelites went to Bethel and sat there before God until the evening, crying loudly in distress.
3“Lord, God of Israel, why has this happened to Israel?” they asked. “Today one of our tribes is missing from Israel.”
4The next day they got up early, built an altar, and brought burnt offerings and friendship offerings.
5“Which of all the tribes of Israel didn't attend the assembly we held before the Lord?” they asked. For they had sworn a sacred oath that anyone who did not come before the Lord at Mizpah would without exception be executed.
6The Israelites felt sorry for their brother Benjamin, saying, “Today one tribe has been hacked off from Israel!
7What shall we do about wives for those who are left, since we have sworn an oath before the Lord that we will not allow any of our daughters to marry them?”
8Then they asked, “Which one of all the tribes of Israel didn't attend the assembly we held before the Lord at Mizpah?” They found out that no one from Jabesh-gilead had come to the camp for the assembly,
9for once they had done a head count, there was nobody there from Jabesh-gilead.
10So the assembly sent twelve thousand of their best warriors there. They gave them orders, saying, “Go and kill the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with your swords, even the women and children.
11This is what you have to do: Destroy every male and every woman who has had sex with a man.”
12They managed to find among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred virgins who had not had sex with a man. They took them to the camp in Shiloh, in the land of Canaan.
13Then the whole assembly sent a message to the Benjamites at Pomegranate Rock to tell them, “Peace!”
14So the men of Benjamin went back home, and gave to them the four hundred women from Jabesh-gilead who had been spared as wives. However, there wasn't enough for all of them.
15The people felt sorry for the Benjamites because the Lord had made this empty hole among the Israelite tribes.
16The elders of the assembly asked, “What shall we do to supply the remaining wives because all the women of Benjamin have been destroyed?”
17They added, “There have to be heirs for the Benjamite survivors—an Israelite tribe of Israel can't be wiped out.
18But we can't let them have our daughters as wives, since we as the people of Israel swore a sacred oath, saying, ‘Anyone who gives a wife to a Benjamite is cursed!’”

19Then they said, “Look! Every year there's the Lord's festival in Shiloh. It's held north of Bethel, and east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, south of Lebonah.”
20So they ordered the Benjamites, “Go and hide in the vineyards.
21Keep a lookout, and when you see the young women from Shiloh come out to perform their dances, run out from the vineyards, and each of you abduct a wife for yourself and go back home to the land of Benjamin.
22If their fathers or brothers come complaining to us, we'll tell them, ‘Please do us a favor, because we couldn't find enough wives for them in the war. And it's not as if you're guilty of breaking the oath since you didn't give them in marriage.”
23The Benjaminites did as they were ordered. Each man grabbed one of the women dancers up to the total needed and carried her off to be his wife. Then they went back to their own land, where they rebuilt their towns and lived in them.
24Then the Israelites left and went home to their tribes and families, each one going to the land they owned.
25At that time Israel didn't have a king—everyone did what they themselves thought was the right thing to do.