Judges Chapter 21  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Judges 21
Jdg 21:1(top)
Jdg 21:2(top)
Jdg 21:3(top)
Jdg 21:4(top)
Jdg 21:5(top)
Jdg 21:6(top)
Jdg 21:7(top)
Jdg 21:8(top)
Jdg 21:9(top)
Jdg 21:10

“the mouth of the sword.” Used to show great destruction, as if the sword was eating its victims (see commentary on Josh. 6:21).

Jdg 21:11

“devoted to destruction.” [For more on things “devoted” to Yahweh and devoted to destruction, see commentary on Josh. 6:17].

Jdg 21:12

“which is in the land of Canaan.” Of course Shiloh was in the land of Canaan! So this statement is giving us more than simple fact, it is pointing to the fact that the Israelites are not behaving like God’s people but behaving like pagans and are abandoning morals for the sake of expediency. In Judges 21:5, the oath was that anyone who did not help out the cause of Israel would be put to death. But now they need virgins for the men of Benjamin (and they would not have needed those virgins if they had not, for some unexplained reason, decided to kill every last Benjamite in Benjamin). So for expediency’s sake the Israelites now abandon their oath and kill all the people of Jabesh-gilead except for the young women. Many of the details of exactly what happened are left out of the record. The inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead killed everyone except the “young women” who were virgins. But how did the Israelite warriors discover who exactly had had sex? And what age qualified a “young woman?” Girls were often married by age 12, so were the female babies killed up to perhaps age 8? The text is vague, and the whole venture disgusting. The Devil moved in people on both sides of the war and ruined lives on both sides. This whole record, Judges 19-21, shows the importance of having godly leaders.

Jdg 21:13(top)
Jdg 21:14(top)
Jdg 21:15

“made a breach in the tribes of Israel.” Here God is speaking metaphorically of Israel being a wall, and now there is a breach in it.

Jdg 21:16(top)
Jdg 21:17(top)
Jdg 21:18(top)
Jdg 21:19

“a feast of Yahweh from year to year.” This could be Sukkoth, (the Feast of Tabernacles), or it could be another feast the locals invented for some reason. If this is a grape harvest festival, the time is late summer or early fall.

“which is on the north of Bethel.” It seems unusual that the text would have to describe where Shiloh was. The Tabernacle was first set up there (Josh. 18:1). It seems as if the worship of Yahweh had been neglected to the point that some people did not even know where Shiloh was. This is the kind of verse that helps archaeologists and historians located the ancient cities. Shiloh was on the road of the Patriarchs (just to the east of the road).

“Lebonah.” A well-known site on the road of the Patriarchs, known because when traveling from south to north there starts a sharp decline in elevation.

Jdg 21:20(top)
Jdg 21:21

“Shiloh...Benjamin.” The town of Shiloh was in Ephraim, north of the tribe of Benjamin. Israel’s plan for Benjamin was that they leave the tribal area of Benjamin and go north to Shiloh in Ephraim, kidnap young girls and then hurry back to Benjamin.

Jdg 21:22

“Be gracious to them, because.” This sentence is very difficult in the Hebrew text, and the scholars differ on how to translate it, which is why the English versions differ so much in their translations.

“in the battle.” That is, in the battle at Jabesh-gilead when wives were acquired for only 400 of the 600 men.

Jdg 21:23

“whom they carried off.” The Hebrew verb translated “carried off” is a strong word in Hebrew. It suggests that the women did not go willingly. The NRSV has “abducted.” E. Fox (The Shocken Bible), has “kidnapped.” The tribe of Benjamin grew in numbers, and although there were now no “purebred” Benjamites, where both the man and woman descended from Benjamin, some notable people did come from Benjamin, among them King Saul and the Apostle Paul.

Jdg 21:24

“from there.” This may have been at Shiloh, where the elders of Israel had to explain themselves to the fathers and brothers of the kidnapped girls.

Jdg 21:25

“In those days there was no king in Israel, every man did what was right in his own eyes.” This sentence occurs in Judges 17:6 and 21:25, thus near the beginning and also the very last sentence of Judges, thus setting apart the last five chapters from the rest of Judges (see commentary on Judg. 17:6).


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