Judges 21:1-25 Wives for Benjamin CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
The war against Benjamin in Judges 20 was so thorough that all the tribe of Benjamin was destroyed except for the 600 men that abode in the rock Rimmon [Jud 20:47]. In this chapter, the rest of Israel realized that the tribe would become extinct if these 600 men remained unmarried. The trouble was that the other tribes of Israel vowed that they would not give their daughters in marriage to any man in Benjamin. So, they had to figure out other ways to get wives for these men.
They gave them virgins from Jabeshgilead – v.8-15 – As it turned out there were none of the men from Jabeshgilead that fought in the war with Benjamin. The tribes of Israel
agreed that if any would not come up for the fight they would be put to death, v.5. This oath was to threaten all the men with their lives if they refused to fight. Jabeshgilead was a city east of the Jordan River and south of the Sea of Chinnereth [Galilee]. 12,000 valiant men were sent to Jabeshgilead to smite all the inhabitants and to keep the young virgins alive so that they could be given to the Benjamites. They left 400 virgins alive. So, they still needed 200 more for the other men.
They captured virgins from Shiloh – v.16-23 – They instructed the remaining unmarried men to hide in the vineyards at the feast of the Lord in Shiloh. When the daughters of Shiloh came out to dance, each man stole a virgin and carried her to the land of Benjamin. Thus, the tribe of Benjamin survived. The first king of Israel came from Benjamin [1 Sam 9:1-2] and so did the great apostle Paul [Phil 3:5] who was originally called Saul
Interestingly, Saul was from Gibeah, where all this trouble with Benjamin started in the first place [1 Sam 10:26]. And a couple of interesting notes on Jabeshgilead are that Saul defended them from an attack by the Ammonites [1 Sam 11] and the men of Jabeshgilead were the ones who recovered Saul’s body and his sons’ bodies after the defeat to the Philistines [1 Sam 31:11-13] thus securing a blessing from David [2 Sam 2:5-7].