And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come you out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Jdg 21:21. Daughters of Shiloh — By whom we may understand not those only who were born or settled inhabitants there, but all those who were come thither upon this occasion, and for a time sojourned there: for although only the males were obliged to go up to the three solemn feasts, yet the women had liberty to go, and those who were most devout did usually go. Vineyards — Which were near to the green where they danced. Catch — Take them away by force, which they might the better do, because the women danced by themselves. Thus they thought they kept their oath, because they did not give them wives, but only suffered them to take them, and to keep them when they had taken them. But, alas! what better was this than a mere evasion of it, and at the same time an authorizing of fraud, violence, and the marriage of children without the consent of their parents? Which last particular, if it might have been dispensed with, there was no need of this scheme, for the Benjamites could easily have found themselves wives, without the Israelites giving them their daughters.1 Samuel 1:3 instead of thrice; only the males kept the Feasts, and therefore the virgins of Shiloh would naturally be the only maidens present, and the public festival would be a likely occasion for their festive dances. It is, however, possible that some particular feast unique to Shiloh is meant, like the yearly sacrifice of David's family in Bethlehem 1 Samuel 20:29. The daughters of Shiloh; by whom he may possibly understand not those only who were born or settled inhabitants there, (as many conceive,) but all those who were come thither upon this occasion, and for a time sojourned there; for although only the males were obliged to go up to the three solemn feasts, yet it is apparent that the women had liberty to go, and those who were most devout did usually go, and others, upon special reasons or occasions: see 1 Samuel 1:7,21,22 2:1 Luke 2:22,23,41-43. And it may be justly presumed, especially concerning those women that lived at no great distance from the place of public worship, that they came thither in great numbers. Moreover, the daughters of Shiloh, strictly so called, are not only they that lived in that town or city, but in the country belonging to it, which off comes under the name of the city to which it belongs. And these may be here particularly named, because though others might come, yet they were under great obligations to come, because of their nearness to the place.
The vineyards were near to their dancing-place.
Catch ye every man his wife; take them away by force or violence; which they might the better do, because mixed dances were not used by the people of God in their solemnities, but the women danced by themselves, and therefore were more liable to this rape. Exodus 15:20 and as in latter times the most religious men used to express their joy at this feast; now the two hundred men in the vineyards, which lay near the field where these virgins used to dance at this time, were to watch and observe when they came out of the city thither, and were engaged in such an exercise:
then come ye out of the yards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin; they are directed to rush out at once upon them, as they were dancing, secure, as they thought, from molestation and danger; and they were to take everyone one, not more, and go off directly with them to their own tribe.And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)21. to dance in the dances] For the religious dance on occasions of joy cf. Exodus 32:19, 2 Samuel 6:14, Psalm 149:3; Psalm 150:4.
catch you every man his wife] A legend of early Rome tells how Romulus demanded wives from the neighbouring cities for the men whom he had collected. When this was refused, he announced a festival of the god Consus at the foot of the hill he occupied. Sabines and Latins crowded to the spot with their wives and daughters, when the Roman youth rushed upon them and carried off the women to their stronghold: Livy i. 9.Verse 21. - Come out. The verb is in the masculine gender, though the daughters of Shiloh is the subject (see above, ver. 12, note), To dance in dances. Bishop Patrick says that the feast of tabernacles was the only feast at which Jewish maidens were permitted to dance. Go to the land of Benjamin. The close vicinity of the high road leading from Shechem to Bethel on the border of Benjamin would facilitate their flight. Judges 21:15, Judges 21:16, and Judges 21:18 are only a repetition of Judges 21:6 and Judges 21:7, with a slight change of expression. The "breach (perez) in the tribes of Israel" had arisen from the almost complete extermination of Benjamin. "For out of Benjamin is (every) woman destroyed," viz., by the ruthless slaughter of the whole of the people of that tribe (Judges 20:48). Consequently the Benjaminites who were still unmarried could not find any wives in their own tribe. The fact that four hundred of the Benjaminites who remained were already provided with wives is not noticed here, because it has been stated just before, and of course none of them could give up their own wives to others.
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