Judges 21:8–15 (ESV)
And they said, “What one is there of the tribes of Israel that did not come up to the LORD to Mizpah?” And behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead, to the assembly. For when the people were mustered, behold, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there. So the congregation sent 12,000 of their bravest men there and commanded them, “Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword; also the women and the little ones. This is what you shall do: every male and every woman that has lain with a male you shall devote to destruction.” And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 young virgins who had not known a man by lying with him, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
Then the whole congregation sent word to the people of Benjamin who were at the rock of Rimmon and proclaimed peace to them. And Benjamin returned at that time. And they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead, but they were not enough for them. And the people had compassion on Benjamin because the LORD had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
Oh, goody. They decide to solve the problem of having killed too many Benjamites by killing a bunch of Giliadites. Gee, what could possibly go wrong?
So they kill everyone but 400 virgins, whom they then declare will be the wives of the 600 remaining Benjamite soldiers. What began with the violation of one woman, now yields the violation of 400 women.
Sin seems to have an amazing ability to reproduce.
So, why are the folks from Jabesh-Gilead targeted?
Because they weren’t involved in swearing the oath. So, let’s get this perfectly straight. They decide that the death penalty is appropriate for anyone who did not come up to the LORD to Mizpah. That’s where they swore the oath that everyone now regrets swearing. Seriously? How did things get that crazy?
They swore two oaths at Mizpah: one about their daughters and another about any no-shows.
For they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the LORD to Mizpah, saying, “He shall surely be put to death.” — Judges 21:5b (ESV)
So, unless they’re willing to break their oaths, they’re stuck. But, as we noted yesterday, oaths are their one absolute. We also saw this earlier when Jephthah sacrificed his daughter rather than break a vow.
And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” — Judges 11:30–31 (ESV)
Thus, we reach an astonishing conclusion. False gods aren’t the problem. Israel is worshipping and vowing to the real LORD, yet they act like they don’t know Him at all.
These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.