-The final chapter of the Judges attempts to tie up the disastrous events of the internal conflict caused by everyone doing what they thought was right according to their own opinions rather than God’s Word. The men of Israel, after the horrific clash with Benjamin, swore to themselves in Mizpah that none of them would give his daughter to the Benjamites in marriage. Instead of forgiveness and restoration, they sought vengeance and retribution with a cold heart. There is no indication that they sought God on this matter, and it led to more struggles and violence in the land. However, they did come to Bethel before the LORD and wept bitterly in grief over their missing tribe. Their brother had been cut off, and now they faced extinction due to the fact of their covenant not to give their daughters in marriage. After sacrificing burnt offerings and peace offerings unto the LORD, they felt sorry for their brother and devised a plan, which was again ill-conceived and not of God. They began to consider who among their nation had not come up to the LORD at Mizpah. It was soon discovered that no one from Jabesh-gilead had come up to the assembly. The congregation of Israel then hastily sent 12,000 of the valiant warriors there to Jabesh-gilead, and they struck down completely every man and woman who had lain with a man (Judges 21:1-11).
-Only 400 virgins were found, and these were brought back to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan. These daughters of Israel were then offered to the sons of Benjamin who were hiding out at the rock of Rimmon (see Judges 20:47), and they proclaimed peace to them. However, there were 600 men from Benjamin and only 400 virgins. There was still a shortage of women to repopulate the cut-off tribe. Something needed to be done, so the elders of the congregation considered this matter. They did not want their brother’s tribe to be blotted out from among Israel, so they devised a plan to go around their promise not to intermarry with Benjamin. They consulted to have the sons of Benjamin lie in wait in the vineyards at the feast to the LORD in Shiloh 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 (very specific instructions). These Benjamites were basically allowed to kidnap them a wife if the daughters came out to dance in the cultural tradition. They could then take them back to Benjamin and procreate. If the fathers or brothers of the virgins came to complain about this situation they would cover their guilt because they were not able to take for Benjamin enough virgins in the battle at Jabesh-gilead. The fathers would not have given them away, so they would be innocent in keeping covenant. It was convoluted, but it worked to keep the tribe of Benjamin from going extinct. The Benjamites took their wives at the appointed time and returned with them to their original inheritance and rebuilt their cities and lived in them. The sons of Israel, now satisfied with the results, departed from there back to the tribes and families of their inheritance. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:12-25).”
-*Application* Any system that is set up on the opinion of man without consulting God will eventually have catastrophic results. This is the ultimate lesson from all the events in the book of Judges. Rule of law according to the principles of a righteous and just Sovereign is the only standard by which a society can thrive and survive. We cannot just do what we want to do without having degenerating effects. Therefore, it is the ultimate heroic act to submit all of our plans, motives, desires, and dreams over to the one, real, living God and let Him be our righteousness. This is a primary theme of all Scripture, Old or New Covenant (Malachi 2:5-7, Philippians 1:11; 3:8-10, Hebrews 12:28, James 4:7, 10, 1 Peter 5:6).
Verse to Memorize: Judges 21:25