Embassy of Peace [Judges 21.13-21.15]
Scripture (KJV) Judges 21.13-15
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 Jabeshgilead: 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.
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. —Judges 21.13 (KJV)
13 The Israelite assembly sent a peace delegation to the remaining people of Benjamin who were living at the rock of Rimmon.—Judges 21.13 (NLT)
And the whole congregation sent some to speak to the children of Benjamin
It was about four months after the punishment, (Judges 20:47), and the Congregation of Israel sent some messengers or ambassadors to the Benjamite soldiers, who had sought safety in the Rock of Rimmon, to proclaim to them that the war was over, and now they wanted to peaceably welcome them back into the congregation as friends.
The messengers may have approached the Rock under a flag of truce, because the Benjamites feared the Israelites and didn’t trust them. The memories of the wickedness of the Israelites in killing their wives and daughters were still fresh.
Judges 20:47 (NLT) leaving only 600 men who escaped to the rock of Rimmon, where they lived for four months
that were in the rock Rimmon;
The people of Israel were informed that there were six hundred men of Benjamin, who had hid themselves in a cave in the Rock of Rimmon.
and to call peaceably unto them;
There would be another visit to Rimmon by the Israelite ambassadors, but this time they assured them that there would be peace, and let them know that they had no ill will against them, and that they might come safely to them. They let them know that all the tribes promised to make them feel welcome and would protect them. They could now safely leave their stronghold.
14 And Benjamin came again at that time; and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabeshgilead: and yet so they sufficed them not.—Judges 21.14 (KJV)
14 Then the men of Benjamin returned to their homes, and the 400 women of Jabesh-gilead who had been spared were given to them as wives. But there were not enough women for all of them.—Judges 21.14 (NLT)
And Benjamin came again at that time;
The six hundred Benjaminites must have believed the messengers and trusted them, since they returned with the messengers to their own homes in the tribe of Benjamin at the same time, showing confidence in the assurances they had given them of peace and safety.
and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabeshgilead:
Our hearts cannot fail to be touched with the heartbreak, apprehension and fear which undoubtedly filled the hearts of these four hundred young women. They had witnessed the destruction of their city, the ruthless butchering of their sisters, mothers, fathers, and brothers by the overwhelming army that descended in fury upon their helpless village, and they could have had no clear idea whatever of what was to be their fate. We shall comment on this again under Judg. 21:24.
The 600 returned with the messengers to a place where the 400 virgins were being held; there they were given the 400 virgins of Jabesh who had been spared their lives only because they were needed to fulfill the Israelites plans to salve their conscience by providing wives for the remnant of Benjamin. But how could they give them wives when they had vowed (Judges 21.1) that they would not provide wives for them from the daughters of Israel. Could they have supposed they had not violated their oath; they may have sworn that they would not give their own daughters, but they had not sworn they would not give the daughters of others; and besides, since the men of Jabesh-gilead were not at Mizpeh when the oaths were made, they had taken none, and so their daughters might be given in marriage to the Benjaminites, without breaking their oath. It is a stretch, but that is the opinion of most commentators. Another opinion which is held by some goes like this: Because they were a victim taken in war, they were at the disposal of the conquerors. So, they would not violate the oath they had taken, but they would circumvent it in ways that did not conflict with it.
Judges 21:1 (NKJV) Now the men of Israel had sworn an oath at Mizpah, saying, "None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin as a wife."
and yet so they sufficed them not.
There were not enough wives for them all; for the simple reason that there were six hundred men, whereas the daughters of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead were only four hundred, so that there were still two hundred more men that did not receive a wife.
Abarbinel interprets the word we render "so" in a different manner, by giving it the meaning "right", which gives this sense to the line; that they did not do this to the daughters of Jabesh-gilead out of a desire for justice and judgment, but it was to give the remnant of Benjamin wives; but mostly, they did this because the people repented for what they had done to Benjamin.
There was peace between the Benjamites and the Israelites, but there remained two hundred Benjamites who were still without a wife; it was the problem of supplying that deficiency that was the next problem facing the whole congregation.
15 And the people repented them for Benjamin, because that the LORD had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.—Judges 21.15 (KJV)
15 The people felt sorry for Benjamin because the LORD had made this gap among the tribes of Israel.—Judges 21.10 (NLT)
And the people repented them for Benjamin
The people of Israel felt sorrow and guilt, because they had destroyed all their women, and that they had saved no more of the daughters of Jabesh-gilead, since there were not enough women so that all the remaining Benjamite men had a wife. Of course, there were other issues that weighed heavily on the national conscience; the almost complete annihilation of the tribe of Benjamin, the destruction of their cities, the loss in battle of 40,000 of their fighting men to such a small force, doing all of it without the approval of Jehovah.
Josephus relates that the surviving Benjamites confessed their sins and accepted the offer of peace: They confessed that what had been done to them was according to the decree of God, and that it had happened because of their own wickedness; which agreed with the congregation, and they acquiesced to those that invited them, and came down to their own tribe. However, Josephus did not mention it, even though it is clear that all Israel also repented (Judges 21.6; 21.) of their own sins and confessed them.
When commenting upon the emotional thrust of this chapter, Moore remarked that, "The feelings and action of the Israelites here are entirely in the spirit of primitive times, and by no means indicate that the story was invented at a later period."
Matthew Henry pointed out that in this provision of wives for the Benjamites; only one wife was allotted to each person, which is another indication of the divine approval of monogamy.
Judges 21:6 (KJV) And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day.
Judges 21:17 (KJV) And they said, There must be an inheritance for them that be escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel.
because the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel;
Of the six hundred Benjaminites who had escaped, there still remained two hundred to be provided with wives. To these the congregation gave permission to take wives by force at a festival at Shiloh (see chapter 102). The account of this is once more introduced, with a description of the anxiety felt by the congregation for the continuance of the tribe of Benjamin.
Judges 21:15, Judges 21:16, and Judges 21:18 are only a repetition of Judges 21:6 and Judges 21:7, with a slight change of expression. The "breach in the tribes of Israel" had arisen from the almost complete extermination of Benjamin. "For out of Benjamin is (every) woman destroyed," by the ruthless slaughter of almost the entire people of that tribe (Judges 20:48). Consequently, the Benjaminites who were still unmarried could not find any wives in their own tribe. The fact that four hundred of the Benjaminites who remained were already provided with wives is not noted here, because it has been stated just before this, and of course none of them could give up their own wives to others. The next chapter is about the attempt, though crude, brutal, but effective to find 200 more maidens for the men of Benjamin. It is another attempt by the Israelites to do things their own way.
The tribe of Benjamin was almost destroyed by the Israelites, nevertheless they had permission from God, and it was according to the will of God, and through his overruling providence. The Benjamites were the only authors of the sin, but God was the chief author of the punishment and the Israelites were just his executioners.
Judges 21:16 (KJV) 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?
Judges 21:18 (KJV) 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.
Judges 21:7 (KJV) 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?
Judges 20:48 (NKJV) And the men of Israel turned back against the children of Benjamin, and struck them down with the edge of the sword--from every city, men and beasts, all who were found. They also set fire to all the cities they came to.
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