Judges 21:15-25 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
15 And the people were sorry for Benjamin because the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel. 16 Then the elders of the congregation said, “What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?” 17 They said, “There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, so that a tribe will not be blotted out from Israel. 18 But we cannot give them wives of 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 highway 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 [h]take part in the dances, then you shall come out of the vineyards and each of you shall catch his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22 It shall come about, when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, that we shall say to them, ‘Give them to us voluntarily, because we did not take for each man of Benjamin [i]a wife in battle, [j]nor did you give them to them, else 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 carried away. And they went and returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the cities and lived in them. 24 The sons of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and each one of them went out from there to his inheritance. 25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

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Based on the map, Shiloh is in Ephraim, and I would say that it is safe to say that the men of Shiloh did join the war against the tribe of Benjamin.
Furthermore, the men of Shiloh took the sworn oath of Not giving their women to the remaining males of the tribe of Benjamin.

However, I'm trying to get a clearer understanding of Judges 21:20-22 verses. Is it correct to say that "since the men of Shiloh did Not know that their women would be carried away by the men of Benjamin, therefore, the men of Shiloh are Not guilty of breaking their sworn oath" ?

1 Answer 1


Furthermore, the men of Shiloh took the sworn oath of not giving their women to the remaining males of the tribe of Benjamin.

Precisely. Women (daughters) were given in marriage by their parents (fathers). The women gathering mentioned in the quoted passage was for the purpose of finding a (suitable) spouse. Men would approach them, and then ask their parents about contracting a marriage. (We have a similar tradition in Romania, it's called the Bobalna Girls Fair). The men of Benjamin were, for rather obvious reasons, unsuitable, hence the oath. So the only way forward was rape (in the original sense, of abduction or kidnapping). The ancient Romans, for instance, famously raped the Sabine women, ultimately for similar reasons, since their well-off fathers looked down on them, and did not consider them to be desirable husbands for their (precious) daughters. In the latter case, the conflict was settled by the mediation of Sabine women, stilling the resentment between their former families, and their newfound spouses. Here, the issue was settled by invoking a formality: technically, the rape allowed the girls' parents to keep their word (which was given before the war, i.e., before it became apparent that the destruction it wrought would eventually lead to the complete extinction of an entire tribe), while, at the same time, the undesired side-effect of obliterating a whole dynasty out of Israel was avoided as well.

  • 1
    I hope this answers your other question as well.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 13:56

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