Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife.
And the people came to the house of God, and abode there till even before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore;
And said, O LORD God of Israel, why is this come to pass in Israel, that there should be to day one tribe lacking in Israel?
And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.
And the children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up with the congregation unto the LORD? For they had made a great oath concerning him that came not up to the LORD to Mizpeh, saying, He shall surely be put to death.
a great oath
And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day.
How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing we have sworn by the LORD that we will not give them of our daughters to wives?
And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up to Mizpeh to the LORD? And, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabeshgilead to the assembly.
This place, as its name imports, was situated in Gilead, east of Jordan. Eusebius and Jerome say it was a great town in their time, standing upon a hill, six miles south from Pella, in the way to Geresa, now Djerash. The Wady Yabes, mentioned by Burckhardt, which empties itself into the Jordan, in the neighbourhood of Bisan or Beth-shan (see 1 Sa 31:11,) and upon which Pella was situated, (celebrated by Pliny, 1. v. c. 18, for its fine waters,) seems to have taken its name from Jabesh. Near this spot, we must therefore look for its site; and the place called Kalaat Rabbad seems to correspond, very nearly, to the spot; though it probably still retains among the Arabs its ancient name.
And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children.
Go and smite
As they had sworn to destroy those who would not assist in the war (ver. 5,) they determined to destroy the men of Jabesh, and to leave none except the virgins; and to give these to the 600 Benjamites who had escaped to the rock of Rimmon. The whole account is dreadful. The crime of the men of Gibeah was of the deepest dye; the punishment involving both the guilty and innocent, was extended to the most criminal excess, and their mode of remedying the evil they had occasioned was equally abominable.
And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man.
hath lain by man
Heb. knoweth the lying with man.
And they found among the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying with any male: and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
Heb. women, virgins. Shiloh.
And the whole congregation sent some to speak to the children of Benjamin that were in the rock Rimmon, and to call peaceably unto them.
Heb. and spake and called. the rock Rimmon.
or, proclaim peace.
And Benjamin came again at that time; and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabeshgilead: and yet so they sufficed them not.
sufficed them not
And the people repented them for Benjamin, because that the LORD had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
And they said, There must be an inheritance for them that be escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel.
Howbeit we may not give them wives of our daughters: for the children of Israel have sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife to Benjamin.
Then they said, Behold, there is a feast of the LORD in Shiloh yearly in a place which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.
Heb. from year to year. on the east side. or, toward the sun rising. of the highway. or, on. Lebonah. Maundrell supposes, that either Khan Leban, which is situated on the eastern side of a "delicious vale," four leagues south from Shechem, and two leagues north from Bethel, or the village of Leban, which is on the opposite side, occupies the site of the ancient Lebonah. It is eight hours, or about 24 miles, from Jerusalem, according to Dr. Richardson.
And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
And it shall be, when their fathers or their brethren come unto us to complain, that we will say unto them, Be favourable unto them for our sakes: because we reserved not to each man his wife in the war: for ye did not give unto them at this time, that ye should be guilty.
Be favourable unto them
or, Gratify us in them.
And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned unto their inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them.
and they went
It appears that the Benjamites acted in the most honourable way to the women they had thus violently carried off, and we may rest assured, that they took them to an inheritance more than equal to their own. But this transaction, as well as the indiscriminate massacre of the people of Jabesh-gilead, as Dr. Gray observes, was certainly stamped with injustice and cruelty; and must be condemned on those principles which the Scriptures elsewhere furnish.
In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.