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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

Chapter 21

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Wives for the Survivors. 1Now the men of Israel* had sworn at Mizpah that none of them would give his daughter in marriage to anyone from Benjamin. 2So the people went to Bethel and remained there before God until evening, raising their voices in bitter lament. w Jgs 20, 26 . 3They said, “LORD, God of Israel, why has it come to pass in Israel that today one tribe of Israel should be lacking?” 4Early the next day the people built an altar there and offered holocausts and peace offerings. 5Then the Israelites asked, “Are there any among all the tribes of Israel who did not come up to the LORD for the assembly?” For they had taken a solemn oath that anyone who did not go up to the LORD at Mizpah should be put to death without fail. x Jgs 20, 8ff .

6 *The Israelites were disconsolate over their brother Benjamin and said, “Today one of the tribes of Israel has been cut off. 7What can we do about wives for the survivors, since we have sworn by the LORD not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?” 8And when they asked whether anyone among the tribes of Israel had not come up to the LORD in Mizpah, they found that none of the men of Jabesh‐gilead had come to the encampment for the assembly. 9A roll call of the army established that none of the inhabitants of that city were present. 10The community, therefore, sent twelve thousand warriors with orders to go to Jabesh‐gilead and put those who lived there to the sword, including the women and children. 11They were told to include under the ban* all males and every woman who was not still a virgin. y Nm 31, 17 . 12Finding among the inhabitants of Jabesh‐gilead four hundred young virgins, who had had no relations with men, they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan. 13 z Jgs 20, 47 . Then the whole community sent a message to the Benjaminites at the rock Rimmon, offering them peace. 14When Benjamin returned at that time, they gave them as wives the women of Jabesh‐gilead whom they had spared; but these proved to be not enough for them.

15The people were still disconsolate over Benjamin because the LORD had made a breach* among the tribes of Israel. 16And the elders of the community said, “What shall we do for wives for the survivors? For every woman in Benjamin has been put to death.” 17They said, “Those of Benjamin who survive must have heirs, else one of the Israelite tribes will be wiped out. 18 *Yet we cannot give them any of our daughters in marriage, because the Israelites have sworn, ‘Cursed be he who gives a woman to Benjamin!’ ” 19then they thought of the yearly feast of the LORD at Shiloh, north of Bethel, east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah. 20And they instructed the Benjaminites, “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards. 21When you see the girls of Shiloh come out to do their dancing, leave the vineyards and each of you seize one of the girls of Shiloh for a wife, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22When their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we shall say to them, ‘Release them to us as a kindness, since we did not take a woman apiece in the war. Had you yourselves given them these wives, you would now be guilty.’ ”

23The Benjaminites did this; they carried off a wife for each of them from their raid on the dancers, and went back to their own territory, where they rebuilt and occupied the cities. 24Also at that time the Israelites dispersed; each of them left for his own heritage in his own clan and tribe.

25 *In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best. a Jgs 17, 6; 18, 1; 19, 1 .


w: Jgs 20, 26 .

x: Jgs 20, 8ff .

y: Nm 31, 17 .

z: Jgs 20, 47 .

a: Jgs 17, 6; 18, 1; 19, 1 .

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