Mourning a Lost Tribe

Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, “None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin [a]in marriage.” So the people came to Bethel and sat there before God until evening, and raised their voices and wept [b]profusely. And they said, “Why, Lord, God of Israel, has this happened in Israel, that one tribe is missing today from Israel?” And it came about the next day that the people got up early and built an altar there, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.

Then the sons of Israel said, “Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who did not go up to the Lord in the assembly?” For [c]they had taken a solemn oath concerning anyone who did not go up to the Lord at Mizpah, saying, “He shall certainly be put to death.” And the sons of Israel were sorry for their brother Benjamin, and said, “Today one tribe is cut off from Israel! What are we to do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by the Lord not to give them any of our daughters as wives?”

Provision for Their Survival

And they said, “What one is there of the tribes of Israel that did not go up to the Lord at Mizpah?” And behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly. For when the people were [d]counted, behold, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there. 10 And the congregation sent twelve thousand [e]of the valiant warriors there, and commanded them, saying, “Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, along with the women and the children. 11 And this is the thing that you shall do: you shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman who has [f]slept with a male.” 12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins who had not known a man by [g]sleeping with him; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.

13 Then the whole congregation sent word and spoke to the sons of Benjamin who were at the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace to them. 14 And the tribe of Benjamin returned at that time, and they gave them the women whom they had allowed to live from the women of Jabesh-gilead; but they [h]were not enough for them. 15 And the people were sorry for Benjamin, because the Lord had created a gap in the tribes of Israel.

16 Then the elders of the congregation said, “What are we to do for wives for those who are left, since the women have been eliminated from Benjamin?” 17 And they said, “There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, so that a tribe will not be wiped out from Israel. 18 But we cannot give them wives from our daughters.” For the sons of Israel had sworn, saying, “Cursed is he who gives a wife to Benjamin!”

19 So they said, “Behold, there is a feast of the Lord from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the road that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south side of Lebonah.” 20 And they commanded the sons of Benjamin, saying, “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards, 21 and watch; and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to [i]take part in the dances, then you shall come out of the vineyards, and each of you shall seize his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22 And when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we shall say to them, ‘[j]Give them to us voluntarily, because we did not take for each man of Benjamin [k]a wife in battle, [l]nor did you give them to them, [m]otherwise you would now be guilty.’” 23 The sons of Benjamin did so, and took wives according to their number from those who danced, whom they seized. And they went and returned to their inheritance, and rebuilt the cities and lived in them. 24 And the sons of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and each one departed from there to his inheritance.

25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.


  1. Judges 21:1 Lit as a wife
  2. Judges 21:2 Lit with great weeping
  3. Judges 21:5 Lit there was a great oath
  4. Judges 21:9 Or mustered
  5. Judges 21:10 Lit men from the sons of valor
  6. Judges 21:11 Lit known the bed of
  7. Judges 21:12 Lit the bed of a male
  8. Judges 21:14 Lit did not find it so
  9. Judges 21:21 Lit dance
  10. Judges 21:22 Lit Favor us with them
  11. Judges 21:22 Lit his
  12. Judges 21:22 Lit because you did not
  13. Judges 21:22 Lit as