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 to the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)They brought them.—It can hardly be doubted that the “them” means the young virgins, although the pronoun is masculine (otham), as in Judges 21:22. If so, the idiom is like the Greek one in which a woman speaking of herself in the plural uses the masculine (Brief Greek Syntax, p. 61). There is no other trace of this idiom in Hebrew, but we can hardly suppose that many Jabesh-Gileadite captives were brought to Shiloh, and then put to death in cold blood in accordance with the ban.
Unto the camp to Shiloh.—The Israelites, now that the war with Benjamin was over, appear to have moved their stationary camp to Shiloh, the normal and more central seat of the tabernacle at this period (Judges 18:31).
Which is in the land of Canaan.—We find the same addition in Joshua 21:2; Joshua 22:9. Perhaps there was another Shiloh on the east of the Jordan; but see Note on Judges 21:19. The mere fact of Jabesh being in Gilead does not seem sufficient to account for it.Jdg 21:12. They brought them into the camp — If the vow they had made would admit of their sparing the virgins, why could they not also, in consistency with that oath, have spared the other women and children, and innocent persons, and only punished the guilty? But it is evident “that convenience, rather than justice or piety, induced them to spare the virgins, that they might extricate themselves from the difficulties in which their rash oath had involved them.” — Scott.Young virgins; not married, yet marriageable. It is probable there were other and younger virgins; but whether they were slain or spared Scripture determines not, and the learned do not agree. But these could not serve the present and urgent occasion, and therefore he takes notice only of these four hundred which were of riper age.
and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan; this is observed because that Jabeshgilead was not in the land of Canaan, from whence they were brought, but in the land of Og king of Bashan; only what was on this side Jordan was the land of Canaan, and in that Shiloh was, to which they were brought; and this shows that not the city Bethel, but Shiloh, was the place whither the people or army of Israel came to offer sacrifice after the war was ended.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)12. unto the camp] From the foregoing one would naturally conclude that the main body of the Israelites was at Beth-el.
to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan] What can be the point of this remark? ‘which is in the land of Canaan,’ by way of contrast to the Israelite territory E. of the Jordan, is intelligible in Joshua 22:9 but not so suitable here. The sentence can hardly have stood originally in B; it looks like an editorial addition designed to prepare the way for A’s narrative: all Israel must be brought upon the scene of Jdg 21:23. Probably the words were borrowed from Joshua 21:2; Joshua 22:9; cf. Joshua 18:9; behind them lies the tradition that Shiloh was the meeting-place and sanctuary of the tabernacle for all Israel after the conquest under Joshua; Joshua 18 :1 P.Verse 12. - To Shiloh, whither it should seem they had now taken the tabernacle back, the war with Benjamin no longer requiring its presence at Bethel Them. It is masculine in the Hebrew, though it refers to the women. So again in ver. 22, their fathers and their brothers in the masculine (see above, Judges 19:23, and vers. 21, 22). It is perhaps an archaism. In the land of Canaan. This is inserted to contrast it with Jabesh in Gilead (Genesis 33:17, 18, and ch. 8:5, note). Judges 21:5) with the question, "Who is he who did not come up to the meeting of all the tribes of Israel, to Jehovah?" In explanation of this question, it is observed at Judges 21:5, "For the great oath was uttered upon him that came not up to Jehovah to Mizpeh: he shall be put to death." We learn from this supplementary remark, that when important meetings of the congregation were called, all the members were bound by an oath to appear. The meeting at Mizpeh is the one mentioned in Judges 20:1. The "great oath" consisted in the threat of death in the case of any that were disobedient. To this explanation of the question in Judges 20:5, the further explanation is added in Judges 21:6, Judges 21:7, that the Israelites felt compassion for Benjamin, and wished to avert its entire destruction by procuring wives for such as remained. The word ויּנּחמוּ in Judges 21:6 is attached to the explanatory clause in Judges 21:5, and is to be rendered as a pluperfect: "And the children of Israel had shown themselves compassionate towards their brother Benjamin, and said, A tribe is cut off from Israel to-day; what shall we do to them, to those that remain with regard to wives, as we have sworn?" etc. (compare Judges 21:1). The two thoughts, - (1) the oath that those who had not come to Mizpeh should be punished with death (Judges 21:5), and (2) anxiety for the preservation of this tribe which sprang from compassion towards Benjamin, and was shown in their endeavour to provide such as remained with wives, without violating the oath that none of them would give them their own daughters as wives, - formed the two factors which determined the course to be adopted by the congregation. After the statement of these two circumstances, the question of Judges 21:5, "Who is the one (only one) of the tribes of Israel which," etc., is resumed and answered: "Behold, there came no one into the camp from Jabesh in Gilead, into the assembly." שׁבטי is used in Judges 21:8, Judges 21:5, in a more general sense, as denoting not merely the tribes as such, but the several subdivisions of the tribes.
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