They found wives for the men of the tribe of Benjamin
1 When the Israeli men gathered at Mizpah before the battle started, they solemnly declared, “None of us will ever allow one of our daughters to marry any man from the tribe of Benjamin!” 2 But now the Israelis went to Bethel and they cried loudly to Yahweh all day, until the sun went down. 3 They kept saying, “Yahweh, God of us Israeli people, one of the tribes of us Israelis does not exist any more! ◄Why has this happened to us?/It is terrible that this has happened to us!►” [RHQ]
4 Early the next morning the people built an altar. Then they completely burned some sacrifices on the altar, and also offered other sacrifices to restore fellowship with God.
5 Then, because they had solemnly declared that anyone who did not meet with them at Mizpah to help fight the men of the tribe of Benjamin would be killed, they asked among themselves, “Were there any of the tribes of Israel who did not come to Mizpah to meet with us in the presence of Yahweh?”
6 The Israelis felt sorry for their fellow Israelis from the tribe of Benjamin. They said, “Today one of our Israeli tribes ◄has disappeared/no longer exists►. 7 Yahweh heard us solemnly declare that we would not allow any of our daughters to marry any man from the tribe of Benjamin. What can we do to make certain that the men of the tribe of Benjamin who were not killed will have wives?” 8 Then one of them asked, “What group from any of the tribes of Israel did not send any men here to Mizpah?” 9 They realized that when the soldiers were counted, there was no one from Jabesh-Gilead city who had come there.
10 So all the Israelis decided to send 12,000 very good soldiers to Jabesh-Gilead to kill the people there with their swords, even to kill the married women and children. 11 They told this to those men: “This is what you must do: you must kill every man in Jabesh-Gilead. You must also kill every married woman. But do not kill the unmarried women.” 12 So those soldiers went to Jabesh-Gilead and killed all the men, married women, and children. But they found 400 unmarried young women there. So they brought them to their camp at Shiloh, in Canaan, across the river from the Gilead area that belonged to the tribe of Benjamin.
13 Then all the Israelis who had gathered sent a message to the 600 men who were at Rimmon Rock. They said that they would like to make peace with them. 14 So the men came back from Rimmon Rock. The Israelis gave to them the women from Jabesh-Gilead whom they had not killed. But there were only 400 women There were not enough women for those 600 men.
15 The Israelis still felt sorry for the men of the tribe of Benjamin, because Yahweh had ◄decimated/almost wiped out► one of the Israeli tribes. 16 The Israeli leaders said, “We have killed all the married women of the tribe of Benjamin. Where can we get women to be wives of the men who are still alive? 17 These men must have wives to give birth to children, in order that their families will continue. If that does not happen, all the people of one of the tribes of Israel will die. 18 But we cannot allow our daughters to marry these men, because we solemnly declared that Yahweh will curse anyone who gives one of his daughters to become a wife of any man of the tribe of Benjamin.” 19 Then one of them ◄had an idea/thought of something that they could do►. He said, “Every year there is a festival to honor Yahweh at Shiloh, which is north of Bethel and east of the road that extends from Bethel to Shechem, and it is south of Lebonah city.”
20 So the Israeli leaders told the men of the tribe of Benjamin, “ When it is the time for that festival, go to Shiloh and hide in the vineyards. 21 Keep watching for the young women to come out of the city to dance. When they come out, run out of the vineyards. Each of you can seize one of the young women of Shiloh. Then you can all return to your homes with those women. 22 If their fathers or brothers come to us and complain about what you have done, we will say to them, ‘Act kindly toward the men of the tribe of Benjamin. When we fought them, we did not leave any women alive to become their wives, and you did not give those young women to the men from the tribe of Benjamin. They stole them. So you will not be guilty, even though you said that you would not allow any of your daughters to marry one of them.’ ”
23 So that is what the men of the tribe of Benjamin did. They went to Shiloh at the time of the festival. And when the young women were dancing, each man caught one of them and took her away and married her. Then they took their wives back to the land that God had given to them. They rebuilt their cities that had been burned down, and they lived there.
24 The other Israelis went to their home in the areas where their tribes and clans lived, the areas that God had allotted to them.
25 At that time, the Israeli people did not have a king. Everyone did what they themselves thought was right.