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had neglected an important duty, in pot consulting the oracle at the tabernacle, before they went to battle.
In verse 31st, there are two ways alluded to went
up to the house of God; and the other to Gibeah. Here house of God should be Bethel, unless the tabernacle was stationed near, in the same direction. The battle was not now in Gibeah, but at a little distance. The object was to draw the Benjamites away from Gibeah. The same ruse is employed here as at Ai, and it meets with the same success. Jos. viii.
The loss of thirty persons, alluded to in verse 39, may seem small. But as the army of Israel were fleeing before the Benjamites, merely to draw them away from the city, the loss of life would not naturally be great. It was not the loss of so few men, that
the Benjamites encouragement, but it was the apparent cowardice of their enemies.
The great destruction of the Benjamites, in this battle, was due mainly to two facts — first, that they were hemmed in on all sides, and it was not then customary, as now, to surrender to an enemy; and second, that the Benjamites were few compared with their foes. A large army is desirable only, when the victory is theirs. When defeated, the destruction is generally in proportion to size. This accounts for the great numbers that fell in the first two battles.
The few that escaped fled to a noted rock, or ledge of rocks, called Rimmon.
They gleaned five thousand men. The figure is taken from the harvest field. No mention is made of the num. ber that surrendered, nor of the missing. Men did not then lay down their arms and ask quarter. They did not skulk away, so as to be numbered with the "missing.'
The number slain on the side of Benjamin is given as 25,000, and then as 25,100. The latter is the exact num. ber— the other is given as the whole number, without the fractional parts. Probably neither is correct to a
After the custom of the times, the victors turned their weapons to the rest of the tribe, unarmed and at home. The wives of the soldiers are now slain, since their husbands are This will account for the lack of wives, so deplored after the battle. The wives of the hidden soldiers are sacrificed with the rest. We can the more easily believe this, of men who had been in the habit of pursuing this kind of warfare with the Canaanites
How WIVES WERE OBTAINED.
JUD. XXI. 1. Now the men of Israel had, there of the tribes of Israel that sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There came not up to Mizpeh to the Lord? shall not any of us give his daugh. And, behold, there came none to ter unto Benjamin to wife. the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the
2. And the people came to the assembly. house of God, and abode there till 9. For the people were number. even before God, and lifted up their ed, and, behold there were none of voices and wept sore ;
the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 8. And said, O Lord God of Is- there. rael, why is this come to pass in 10. And the congregation sent Israel, that there should be to-day thither twelve thousand men of the one tribe lacking in Israel? valiantest, and commanded them,
4. And it came to pass on the saying, Go and smite the inhabimorrow, that the people rose early, itants of Jabesh-gilead with the and built there an altar, and offer- edge of the sword, with the women ed burnt-offerings and peace-offer- and the children. ings.
11. And this is the thing that ye 8. And the children of Israel shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy said, Who is there among all the every male, and every woman that tribes of Israel that came not up hath lain by man. with the congregation unto the 12. And they found among the Lord ? For they had made a great inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four oath concerning him that came not hundred young virgins, that had up to the Lord to Mizpeh, saying, known no man by lying with any He shall surely be put to death. male: and they brought them unto
6. And the children of Israel re the camp to Shiloh, which is in the pented them for Benjamin their land of Canaan. brother, and said, There is one 13. And the whole congregation tribe cut off from Israel this day: sent some to speak to the children
7. How shall we do for wives for of Benjamin, that were in the rock them that remain, seeing we have Rimmon, and to call peaceably unsworn by the Lord, that we will to them. not give them of our daughters to 14. And Benjamin came again at wives?
that time: and they gave them 8. And they said, What one is wives which they had saved aliye
of the women of Jabesh-gilead : and 21. And see, and, behold, if the yet so they sufficed them not. daughters of Shiloh come out to
15. And the people repented dance in dances, then come ye cut them for Benjamin, because that the of the vineyards, and catch you Lord had made a breach in the every man his wife of the daughtribes of Israel.
ters of Shiloh, and go to the land of 16. Then the elders of the con- Benjamin. gregation said, How shall we do 22. And it shall be, when their for wives for them that remain, fathers or their brethren come unseeing the women are destroyed out to us to complain, that we will say of Benjamin ?
unto them, Be favorable unto them. 17. And they said, There must for our sakes; because we reserved be an inheritance for them that be not to each man his wife in the war; escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe for ye did not give unto them at be not destroyed out of Israel. this time, that ye should be guilty.
18. Howbeit we may not give 23. And the children of Benjathem wives of our daughters; for min did so, and took them wives the children of Israel have sworn, according to their number, of them saying, Cursed be he that giveth a that danced, whom they caught: wife to Benjamin.
and they went and returned unto 19. Then they said, Behold, there their inheritance, and repaired the is a feast of the Lord in Shiloh cities, and dwelt in them : yearly, in a place which is on the 24. And the children of Israel denorth side of Beth-el, on the east parted thence at that time, every side of the highway that goeth up, man to his tribe, and to his family ; from Beth-el to Shechem, and on and they went out from thence every the south of Lebonah.
man to his inheritance. 20. Therefore they commanded 25. In those days there was no the children of Benjamin, saying, king in Israel: every man did that Go and lie in wait in the vineyards ; / which was right in his own eyes.
At last the wild fury of the Israelites subsides; and they look around on the desolation they have occasioned.
They convene at the house of God as usual, either at Shiloh, or some nearer place, where the tabernacle had been placed
for its temporary use. The Sep. has Bethel as usual. But our version is correct. The Vulgate has " house of God at Shiloh.” But it is not certain that the house of God was at Shiloh, at this particular time. It was no more difficult to change places with the tabernacle now, than it was when it was conveyed through the wilderness.
It was made a capital offense, not to meet with the people when consulting on the expediency of this war. If a tribe had violated this ordinance, they could be just
ly slain; and that would furnish wives for the surviving Benjamites. It was a happy thought, for the moment, as it would cut a knot which they could not untie. It administered deserved punishment on the absentees, and helped the nation out of serious embarrassment. not unjust, as justice was then understood.
Jabesh-Gilead had not come to the council, nor to the war. The Gileadites were generally present at the great assembly, as we are expressly informed. xx. 1. But the citizens of Jabesh were not among them. The reason is not given, and it would be vain to offer conjectures.
Josephus represents the destruction of the men of Jabesh Gilead as taking place during the progress of the war and in the heat of passion. Ant. B. v. C. ii. s. 11.
It seems unnecessary to order the women of Jabesh slain, together with their husbands; but such was the practice at that time, unless special reasons interposed.
Bringing the virgins to the camp at Shiloh, settles the question about the location of the tabernacle. It does not follow, however, that it had not been at or near Gibeah, during the war. It may have been ; but now, since the war is over, it is placed again at Shiloh. The last sentence of the 12th verse is an addition of some late copyist. No one at the first writing of this history, would have thought it necessary to offer any such qualification.
The four hundred virgins of Jabesh were not enough for six hundred men. The expedient to supply this lack, recalls a method adopted by Romulus, the founder of Rome, to obtain wives for his
citizens. There was an annual festival in Shiloh. It does not appear that this was a Mosaic festival. Josephus says it was, but the circumstances are opposed to that theory.
One of the reasons offered for this seizure of the vir. gins, is, that they had not been offered! The inconsistency of this consists in the fact, that, had they been offered, there would have been no occasion for seizing them. But how could the parents of these virgins offer
them, so long as they rested under the oath, with the rest of the nation, that they would not give their daughters to the Beniamites? That they were present, and took this oath, is evident from their not being put to death for contumacy. We think the language, ye did not give unto them at this time, that ye should be guilty,” should be understood as implying guilt in the parents, if they had offered them. And since they could not offer them without being guilty, therefore this method became a necessity.
SECTION III. THE STORY OF RUTA. This story, according to St. Jerome, instead of occupying a separate place in the Bible, was a part of the book of Judges. We here restore it to its proper position.
RUTH I. 1. Now it came to pass, in the from the country of Moab: for she days when the judges ruled, that had heard in the country of Moab there was a famine in the land. how that the Lord bad visited his And a certain man of Beth-lehem- people in giving them bread. judah went to sojourn in the coun. 7. Wherefore she went forth out try of Moab, he, and bis wife, and of the place where she was, and her his two sons.
daughters-in-law with her: and 2. And the name of the man was they went on the way to return unElimelech, and the name of his wife to the land of Judah. Naomi, and the name of his two 8. And Naomi said unto her two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Epbra- daughters-in-law, Go, return each thites of Beth-lehem-judah. And to her mother's house : the Lord they came into the country of Mo-deal kindly with you, as ye have ab, and continued there.
dealt with the dead, and with me. 3. And Elimelech, Naomi's hus- 9. The Lord grant that ye may band, died; and she was left, and find rest, each of you in the house of her two sons.
her husband. Then she kissed 4. And they took them wives of them: and they lifted up their the women of Moab; the name of voice, and wept. one was Orpah, and name of the 10. And they said unto her, other Ruth: and they dwelled Surely, we will return with thee there about ten years.
unto thy people. 8. And Mahlon and Chilion died 11. And Naomi said, Turn again, also both of them; and the woman my daughters, why will ye go with was left of her two sons and her me ? are there yet any more sons in busband.
my womb, that they may be your 6. Then she arose with her daugh. husbands? ters-in-law, that she might return 12. Turn again, my daughters,