The Period Of The Judges

 Chapter 100
Expedition Against Jabesh-gilead [Judges 21.8-21.12]


Scripture (KJV) Judges 21.8-12

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 Jabeshgilead there.
10 And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead 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 Jabeshgilead 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.


INTRODUCTION

By their friendly treaty with the poor distressed refugees that were hidden in the rock of Rimmon, they assured them upon the common faith, that they would no longer treat them as enemies, but receive them as brethren (v. 13). When friends have a falling out, there should be the renewing of friendship. Even those that have sinned, if, in time they repent, they must be forgiven and comforted: “Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement” (2 Cor 2:7; NLT). The Israelites showed their forgiveness by the care they took to provide wives for them, so that their tribe could be built up, and their cities repaired. Had the men of Israel sought to improve themselves, they would have been secretly pleased with the extinguishing of the families of Benjamin, because then the land allotted to them would be divided up between the remainder of the tribes. But, they were so far from any plan of this kind that all heads were at work to find out ways and means for the rebuilding of this tribe.

This is the dilemma that Israel faced: All the women and children of Benjamin were slain: they had sworn not to marry their daughters to any of the six hundred that remained at Rimmon; it was against the divine law for them to marry with the Canaanites; and they could not bring themselves to suggest they go and serve other gods. What must they do then for wives for them? While the poor distressed Benjamites that were hidden in the rock feared their brethren were contriving to ruin them, they were at the same time upon a project to make their life better; but it would be done at the expense of the people of Jabesh-gilead.


Commentary


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 Jabeshgilead to the assembly.—Judges 21.8 (KJV) 
8 So they asked, “Who among the tribes of Israel did not join us at Mizpah when we assembled in the presence of the LORD?” And they discovered that no one from Jabesh-gilead had attended the assembly.—Judges 21.8 (NLT)

And they said, what one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up to Mizpeh to the Lord?
This verse goes back a little to explain why the children of Israel asked the question in Judges 21:5[1]. There was definitely a self-serving reason behind it; who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up with the congregation unto the LORD?  They not only wanted to bring them to justice, and put them to death, because they were found guilty according to their oath, but they found here a means to find wives for the surviving Benjaminites. They built their case against the people of Jabesh-gilead, by making several points:
1. They ignored the call to deputize a group of men to go to Mizpeh; putting themselves in danger. Note: The call to Mizpeh included a warning that failure to appear would result in their death; Judges 21.5[1]. Therefore, the men of Jabesh-gilead knew what was at stake when they remained at home; and the ensuing slaughter of their city was their own fault.
2. Wives for the men of Gibeah could be taken from the women of Jabesh-gilead, without violating their oath; that they would not give any of their daughters to a Benjamite for a wife, since they did not take this oath.
3. Israel regretted that they had almost wiped-out the tribe of Benjamin; therefore, Jabesh-gilead would be condemned as lovers of evil, because they would not punish it.

[1]Judges 21:5 (KJV) 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.

and, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabeshgilead to the assembly.
Here, Jabesh-gilead is mentioned for the first time in scripture. The name of Jabesh survives only in the Wady Yabes (running down to the east bank of the Jordan), near the head of which are situated the ruins called Ed-Deir, which are identified with Jabesh-gilead; Robinson, and Eusebius in the Onomasticon, agree.
In answer to the question Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up with the congregation unto the LORD, an investigation was made, and some observed that no one was there from the city of Jabesh-gilead. This city was in the land of Gilead, from where it got its name. It is situated on the other side of the Jordan River and about fifteen miles from it, and it is placed by Adrichomius in the half tribe of Manasseh; and Jerom says it was a village in his time, six miles from the city of Pella, upon a mountain, as you go toward Gerasa. According to JOSEPHUS, it was the capital of Gilead.

Why was it that Jabesh-gilead ignored the call to go to Mizpeh and the threat against their lives if they didn’t go? The reason for this failure is not hard to find, since “Jabesh-gilead was related by blood to Gibeah” (1 Chronicles 7:12-15[2]). It was a very costly mistake which they made.
This is the first mention of Jabesh-gilead in the Bible," but it is mentioned twice, later on.
(1) In 1 Sam. 11, it is stated that King Saul responded to their appeal and rescued them from an invasion of the Ammonites; and
(2) When King Saul was slain, the citizens of Jabesh-Gilead took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Bethsban and buried them at Jabesh (1 Samuel 31:11-13[3]), and David thanked them (2 Samuel 2:5[4]) for their gallant and courageous action. We are not told how the city was kept alive following their brutal depopulation, which is reported in this passage, but the fact of their survival is evident. Perhaps, a large number of them escaped. This passage relates how Israel by attempting to repair the consequences of one rash proceeding, hurriedly rushed to carry out another, though it was a smaller tragedy. But it appears (Judges 21:11) that, besides acting in fulfillment of their oath, the Israelites had the additional objective by this raid of supplying wives to the Benjamite remnant. This shows the extreme fury of the Israelites in the indiscriminate slaughter of the men, women and children of Jabesh-gilead.
The remainder of this passage reports the plan and its implementation for the attack on Jabesh-gilead.

Article 21.1: Jabesh-gilead
This place, as its name implies, was situated in Gilead, east of the Jordan River. Eusebius and Jerome say it was a great town in their time, standing upon a hill, six miles south from Pella, in the way to Geresa, now Djerash. The Wady Yabes, mentioned by Burckhardt, which empties itself into the Jordan, in the neighborhood of Bisan or Beth-shan (see 1 Sa 31:11,) and upon which Pella was situated, (celebrated by Pliny, 1. v. c. 18, for its fine waters,) seems to have taken its name from Jabesh. Near this spot, we must therefore look for its site; and the place called Kalaat Rabbad seems to correspond, very nearly, to the spot; though it probably still retains among the Arabs with its ancient name.
1 Samuel 11:1-3; 31:11-13; 2 Samuel 2:5,[6]


 

[2]1 Chron 7:12-15 (KJV) Shuppim also, and Huppim, the children of Ir, and Hushim, the sons of Aher. The sons of Naphtali; Jahziel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shallum, the sons of Bilhah. The sons of Manasseh; Ashriel, whom she bare: (but his concubine the Aramitess bare Machir the father of Gilead: And Machir took to wife the sister of Huppim and Shuppim, whose sister's name was Maa

[3]1 Sam 31:11-13 (NKJV)  Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and traveled all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

[4]2 Sam 2:5 (NLT) he sent them this message: “May the LORD bless you for being so loyal to your master Saul and giving him a decent burial.

 

9 For the people were numbered, and, behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead there.—Judges 21.9 (KJV)  
9 For after they counted all the people, no one from Jabesh-gilead was present.—Judges 21.9 (NLT)

For the people were numbered,
To identify who did come up, and who did not, and particularly to know whether the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead did or not, against whom an accusation was made (v. 8). In order to confirm the correctness of this accusation, which might possibly have been founded upon a phony or mistaken observation, the entire assembly of people were mustered, and not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh was found there (in the national assembly at Bethel).

and, behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead there.
There remained a piece of necessary justice to be done upon the city of Jabesh-gilead, which belonged to the half tribe of Manasseh (some say the tribe of Gad), on the other side of the Jordan River. It was found upon looking over the muster-roll (which was taken in Judges 20:2[5]) that no one appeared there from that city upon the general summons (vs.8, 9) that was given to all tribes. Then it was resolved, before it was announce what city of Israel was guilty of contempt for the public authority that that city would be an anathema (abomination); Jabesh-Gilead lies under that severe sentence, which could not be dispensed with by any means. Why couldn’t those that had spared the Canaanites in many places, who were devoted to destruction by the divine command, find in their hearts to spare their brethren that were to be destroyed by their own curse. Why did they not now send men to root the Jebusites out of Jerusalem, to avoid a repeat of the tragedy that befell the poor Levite, who they had forced to go to Gibeah (Judges 19.11, 12[6])? Men are commonly more enthusiastic to enforce their own authority than God’s.

5Judges 20:2 (KJV) And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword.

6Judges 19:11-12 (NLT) It was late in the day when they neared Jebus, and the man’s servant said to him, “Let’s stop at this Jebusite town and spend the night there.” “No,” his master said, “we can’t stay in this foreign town where there are no Israelites. Instead, we will go on to Gibeah.

 

10 And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children.
—Judges 21.10 (KJV) 
10 So the assembly sent 12,000 of their best warriors to Jabesh-gilead with orders to kill everyone there, including women and children.—Judges 21.10 (NLT)

And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest,
A detachment of 12,000 brave men, a thousand from each tribe, is sent to execute the sentence placed upon Jabesh-gilead; they followed the precedent of Numbers 31:4[7].

Having found that when the whole body of the army went against Gibeah the people were thought too many for God to deliver them into their hands; therefore, on this expedition they sent only what they thought would be needed to take the city.

Although, it says here that there were 12,000 men in their army; in the Vulgate Latin version it is only 10,000; but the Targum, Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, and Josephus, agree with the Hebrew text. Jabesh-gilead, according to Bunting, was fifty two miles from Bethel.

and commanded them, saying,
These were the orders they gave them, before they left for Jabesh-gilead.

go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children.
Just as they had sworn to destroy those who would not assist in the war (21.5[1]) they determined to destroy the men of Jabesh, and to leave none except the virgins; and to give these to the 600 Benjamites who had escaped to the rock of Rimmon. The whole account is dreadful. The crime of the men of Gibeah was of the worst kind; the punishment involving both the guilty and innocent, was extended to the most criminal excess, and their mode of remedying the evil that had taken place there was equally abominable.

[7]Num 31:4 (KJV) Of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to the war.  

 

11 And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man.—Judges 21.11 (KJV) 
11 “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Completely destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin.”—Judges 21.11 (NLT)

And this is the thing that ye shall do,
These are the orders that they are to carry out; their mission was to utterly destroy the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead, because of an oath they had sworn; Judges 21.5[1].

ye shall utterly destroy every male,
The destruction was to be without any reserve whatsoever; young or old, married or unmarried, were devoted to destruction, as a ‘herem', an accursed thing. They followed in the severity of the punishment the precedent of the destruction of the Midianites (Numbers 31:17[8]), and even in the numbers sent to destroy them — a thousand from every tribe (Numbers 31:5[9]). It is revolting to our twenty-first century beliefs and our Christian values to read about the wholesale massacre of women and children; but it must be remembered that the Israelites mitigated this evil act by pointing out that what they did was under the sanction of an oath.

To punish the people of Jabesh for their unlawful conduct, the congregation sent 12,000 brave fighting men against Jabesh, with orders to smite the inhabitants of the town with the edge of the sword, together with their wives, and children, but also with more precise instructions, "to Kill all the men, and those women who had relations with a man" (this implied that virgins who had not lain with any man should be spared).

The Gileadites were descended from Manasseh, the grandson of Rachel, and thus, were related to the descendants of Benjamin, her son. Throughout Israel’s history, there was always a close link between the tribe of Benjamin and Jabesh-gilead (I Sam 11)

Ye shall utterly destroy - More exactly, "Ye shall devote to utter destruction," or "cherem" (Lev 27.29[10]).

[8]Num 31:17 (NKJV) Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man intimately.

[9]Num 31:5 (NKJV) So there were recruited from the divisions of Israel one thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.

[10]Lev 27:29 (NKJV) No person under the ban, who may become doomed to destruction among men, shall be redeemed, but shall surely be put to death.

and every woman that hath lain by man.
Whether lawfully or unlawfully, in a married or unmarried state; if a woman had lain with a man, she would be killed, according to the law (Lev. 27:29[10]). Thus, a method is formed for providing the Benjamites with wives. When Moses sent the same number of men to avenge the Lord on Midian (Num 31:5[9]), the same orders were given as here, that all married women should be slain with their husbands; Num 31:17[8].

 

 


12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead 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.
—Judges 21.5 (KJV) 
12 Among the residents of Jabesh-gilead they found 400 young virgins who had never slept with a man, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan.
—Judges 21.12 (NLT)

And they found among the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying with any male:
 Observe: There are no details given of the battle, but I don’t think the outcome was ever in doubt.
I don’t find any commentator that offers an explanation for how it was determined if a woman was a virgin or not. Perhaps a decision was made based upon their age, their marital status, and hearsay in combination with an interrogation; or that which I think is most probable—they underwent a cruel and inhuman physical examination by matrons, or just how was it done? Perhaps it is a merciful omission that we are not given the details.

Everyone but the female virgins was killed; this supplied 400 wives for Benjamin, but still one-third of the men of Benjamin would not obtain a wife. This is doing one bad thing to make up for another. Again, we see Israel doing something that seemed right to them, but was actually horrifying—they will slaughter a whole city of Israel, the city which refused to join with Israel in the fight against Benjamin. Israel instead, should have disavowed their foolish oath made at Mizpeh, and agreed to give their daughters as wives to the men of the tribe of Benjamin. What a price was paid for these wives! But such are the “wages of sin.”

and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
The fighting men found 400 virgins in Jabesh, and brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan. Some scholars seem to be puzzled by the phrase, "In the land of Canaan,” seeing that everyone in Israel certainly knew where Shiloh was located. Hervey thought that, "It was inserted to contrast it with Jabesh in the land of Gilead." Gilead, of course, was east of the Jordan River. Only what was on the west side of the Jordan River was within the land of Canaan, and Shiloh was in Canaan. Thus far Bethel was where meetings were held and where the Lord was consulted. The Ark of the Covenant was temporarily located at Bethel, but during the expedition of the 12,000 to Jabesh-Gilead it was moved to Shiloh (a distance of about 10 miles). "Shiloh was the Israelite sanctuary par excellence in the central highlands prior to its destruction about 150 B.C.; it was the usual meeting-place of the congregation, on account of its being the seat of the tabernacle.

A strange solution. In solving their dilemma, the Israelites essentially destroyed the residents of Jabesh-gilead (in retaliation for their lack of response in the war against the Benjamites). The only exceptions were the 400 virgins who were to be given as wives to the 600 surviving men of Benjamin. It should be noted that nowhere in this passage does God give His approval of the destruction of men, women, and children.

Any questions or comments

 There are 5 websites by this author:

http://harmonyofthegospels.yolasite.com (Life of Christ)

http://teachingsermonsforpastorsandlaymen.yolasite.com (sermons)

http://theepistlesofpaul.yolasite.com (Titus and Jude

http://paulsepistletotheromans.yolasite.com (Romans)

http://theperiodofthejudges.yolasite.com (Judges)

Please review them and use them as the Lord leads you.

May God bless His precious word!!

Make a Free Website with Yola.