Judges 21:1
Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter to Benjamin to wife.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) Had sworn.—The circumstance has not been mentioned in the account of the proceedings at Mizpeh. It is clear from the sequel (Judges 21:18) that the oath was not only an oath but “a vow under a curse,” as in Acts 23:14.

Jdg 21:1. The men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh — When they first assembled there in the beginning of this war, after the whole tribe had espoused the quarrel of the men of Gibeah. Saying — They do not here swear the utter extirpation of the tribe, which fell out beyond their expectation, but only not to give their daughters to those men who should survive; justly esteeming them for their villany to be as bad as heathen, with whom they were forbidden to marry.17:7-13 Micah thought it was a sign of God's favour to him and his images, that a Levite should come to his door. Thus those who please themselves with their own delusions, if Providence unexpectedly bring any thing to their hands that further them in their evil way, are apt from thence to think that God is pleased with them.They treated Benjamin as devoted to utter destruction, as Jericho had been Joshua 6:17, Joshua 6:21, and the whole tribe was all but actually extirpated. We see in the punishment inflicted the same ferocity which marked both the crime and the Levite's mode of requiring vengeance. CHAPTER 21

Jud 21:1-15. The People Bewail The Desolation of Israel.The people bewail the desolation of Benjamin, Judges 21:1-7. The inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead, for not coming up to this battle, are all destroyed, excepting four hundred damsels, whom the Israelites bestow for wives on the remaining Benjamites, Judges 21:8-15. They advise the rest to seize on the dancing maidens at the feast in Shiloh; and to carry away as many as they had need of Judges 21:16-21. The answer wherewith they should pacify their relations, Judges 21:22.

The men of Israel had sworn; in the beginning of this war, after the whole tribe had espoused the quarrel of the men of Gibeah, Judges 21:13,14. They do not (as some suppose) here swear the utter extirpation of the tribe, which fell out beyond their expectation, Judges 21:3,6, but only not to give their daughters to those men who should survive; justly esteeming them for their barbarous villany to be as bad as the worst of heathens, with whom they were forbidden to marry. In this case the Benjamites might have married among themselves, if any of their men and women were left alive.

Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh,.... Where they were there convened, before the war began; after they had heard the account the Levite gave of the affair, which brought them thither; and after they had sent messengers to Benjamin to deliver up the men of Gibeah, that had committed the wickedness; and after they perceived that Benjamin did not hearken to their demand, but prepared to make war with them; then, as they resolved on the destruction of Gibeah, and of all the cities that sent out men against them, even all the inhabitants of them, men, women, and children, entered into an oath, that they would use those men that remained as Heathens, and not intermarry with them, as follows:

saying, there shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife; seeing those that used the wife of the Levite in such a base manner, and those that protected and defended them, deserved to have no wives.

Now the men of Israel had {a} sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife.

(a) This was a rash oath, and not from judgment: for they later broke it, showing secretly the means to marry certain of their daughters.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. had sworn in Mizpah] Probably, like Jephthah’s vow (Jdg 11:30 n.), a religious oath made at the sanctuary (Jdg 20:1). This solemn oath, which could neither be broken nor withdrawn, is an essential feature of both narratives (Jdg 21:18; Jdg 21:22 A; 7 B); it created the problem for which some solution had to be found.Verse 1. - Now the men of Israel, etc. A circumstance not mentioned before is now brought forward, as is another in ver. 5, on which the events about to be narrated in this chapter depend, viz, that the men of Israel had taken two solemn oaths at Mizpeh (Judges 20:1) - the one that no Israelite would give his daughter in marriage to a Benjamite; the other that whosoever did not come up to the national assembly there should be put to death. The Benjaminites "now turned (flying) before the Israelites to the way of the desert," i.e., no doubt the desert which rises from Jericho to the mountains of Bethel (Joshua 16:1). They fled therefore towards the north-east; but the battle had overtaken (reached or seized) them, and those out of the towns (had perished). The difficult expression מהערים ואשׁר, of which very different, and for the most part arbitrary, explanations have been given, can only be in apposition to the suffix attached to the verb: "Benjamin, and in fact those who had come to the help of Gibeah out of the towns of Benjamin" (see Judges 20:14, Judges 20:15), i.e., all the Benjaminites. The following words, וגו משׁחיתים, are a circumstantial clause explanatory of the previous clause, הדב המּלחמה: "since they (the men of Israel) destroyed him (Benjamin) in the midst of it." The singular suffix בּתוכו does not refer to Benjamin, as this would yield no sense at all, but to the preceding words, "the way of the desert" (see Judges 20:45). - In Judges 20:43 the account is continued by three perfects attached to one another without a copula: "they enclosed (hedged round) Benjamin, pursued him; at the place of rest they trod him down to before Gibeah eastwards." מנוּחה is not used adverbially in the sense of "quietly," which would not give any fitting meaning, but is an accus. loci, and signifies place of rest, as in Numbers 10:33. The notice "to before Gibeah" refers to all three verbs.
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