New English Translation
600 Brides for 600 Brothers
1 The Israelites had taken an oath in Mizpah, saying, "Not one of us will allow his daughter to marry a Benjaminite." 2 So the people came to Bethel and sat there before God until evening, weeping loudly and uncontrollably. 3 They said, "Why, O LORD God of Israel, has this happened in Israel?" An entire tribe has disappeared from Israel today!"
4 The next morning the people got up early and built an altar there. They offered up burnt sacrifices and token of peace. 5 The Israelites asked, "Who from all the Israelite tribes has not assembled before the LORD?" They had made a solemn oath that whoever did not assemble before the LORD at Mizpah must certainly be executed. 6 The Israelites regretted what had happened to their brother Benjamin. They said, "Today we cut off an entire tribe from Israel! 7 How can we find wives for those who are left? After all, we took an oath in the LORD's name not to give them our daughters as wives." 8 So they asked, "Who from all the Israelite tribes did not assemble before the LORD at Mizpah?" Now it just so happened no one from Jabesh Gilead had come to the gathering. 9 When they took roll call, they noticed none of the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead were there. 10 So the assembly sent 12,000 capable warriors against Jabesh Gilead. They commanded them, "Go and kill with your swords the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead, including the women and little children. 11 Do this: exterminate every male, as well as every woman who has had sexual relations with a male. But spare the lives of any virgins." So they did as instructed. 12 They found among the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead four hundred young girls who were virgins - they had never had sexual relations with a male. They brought them back to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan.
13 The entire assembly sent messengers to the Benjaminites at the cliff of Rimmon and assured them they would not be harmed. 14 The Benjaminites returned at that time, and the Israelites gave to them the women they had spared from Jabesh Gilead. But there were not enough to go around.
15 The people regretted what had happened to Benjamin because the LORD had weakened the Israelite tribes. 16 The leaders of the assembly said, "How can we find wives for those who are left? After all, the Benjaminite women have been wiped out. 17 The remnant of Benjamin must be preserved. An entire Israelite tribe should not be wiped out. 18 But we can't allow our daughters to marry them, for the Israelites took an oath, saying, 'Whoever gives a woman to a Benjaminite will be destroyed!' 19 However, there is an annual festival to the LORD in Shiloh, which is north of Bethel (east of the main road that goes up from Bethel to Shechem) and south of Lebonah." 20 So they commanded the Benjaminites, "Go hide in the vineyards, 21 and keep your eyes open. When you see the daughters of Shiloh coming out to dance in the celebration, jump out from the vineyards. Each one of you, catch yourself a wife from among the daughters of Shiloh and then go home to the land of Benjamin. 22 When their fathers or brothers come and protest to us, we'll say to them, "Do us a favor and let them be, for we could not get each one a wife through battle. Don't worry about breaking your oath! You would only be guilty if you had voluntarily given them wives.'"
23 The Benjaminites did as instructed. They abducted two hundred of the dancing girls to be their wives. They went home to their own territory, rebuilt their cities, and settled down. 24 Then the Israelites dispersed from there to their respective tribal and clan territories. Each went from there to his own property. 25 In those days Israel had no king. Each man did what he considered to be right.
King James Version
1 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife.
2 And the people came to the house of God, and abode there till even before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore;
3 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?
4 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.
5 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.
6 And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day.
7 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?
8 ¶ 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 Jabesh-gilead to the assembly.
9 For the people were numbered, and, behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead there.
10 And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children.
11 And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man.
12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 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.
13 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.
14 And Benjamin came again at that time; and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead: and yet so they sufficed them not.
15 And the people repented them for Benjamin, because that the LORD had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
16 Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?
17 And they said, There must be an inheritance for them that be escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel.
18 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.
19 Then they said, Behold, there is a feast of the LORD in Shiloh yearly in a place which is on the north side of Beth-el, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Beth-el to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.
20 Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards;
21 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.
22 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.
23 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.
24 And the children of Israel departed thence at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from thence every man to his inheritance.
25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.