Judges 21:23
And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned to their inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelled in them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Jdg 21:23. They took them wives according to their number — That is, each man took his wife. By which we may see, they had no very favourable opinion of polygamy, because they did not allow it in this case, when it might seem most necessary for the reparation of a lost tribe. And repaired the cities — By degrees, increasing their buildings as their number increased.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.Compare the very similar account of the rape of the Sabine women by the Romero youths at the festival of the Consualia, as related by Livy. 21, 22. daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances—The dance was anciently a part of the religious observance. It was done on festive occasions, as it is still in the East, not in town, but in the open air, in some adjoining field, the women being by themselves. The young women being alone indulging their light and buoyant spirits, and apprehensive of no danger, facilitated the execution of the scheme of seizing them, which closely resembles the Sabine rape in Roman history. The elders undertook to reconcile the families to the forced abduction of their daughters. And thus the expression of their public sanction to this deed of violence afforded a new evidence of the evils and difficulties into which the unhappy precipitancy of the Israelites in this crisis had involved them. According to their number, i.e. each man his wife, as is said, Judges 21:22. By which we may see they had no very favourable opinion of polygamy, because they did not allow it is this case, when it might seem most necessary for the reparation of a lost tribe.

Returned into their inheritance; which being very near the place, they could speedily do before the parents could obtain redress.

Repaired the cities,

and dwelt in them; not at that instant, which could not be; but by degrees, increasing their buildings as their number increased. And the children of Benjamin did so,.... Went and laid wait in the vineyards, and when the daughters of Shiloh came out to dance, they rushed upon them:

and took them wives according to their number; two hundred of them, each man a wife, and no more; for though polygamy was in use in those times, and if at any time necessary, and could be excused, it might seem now; yet it was not indulged to, neither by the elders, nor by the children of Benjamin:

of them that danced whom they caught; the rape of the Sabine virgins by Romulus, at the arena plays and shows, mentioned by various authors (h), and the carrying off of fifteen Spartan virgins from the dances by Aristomenes the Messenian (i), are sometimes observed as parallel cases to this, and justified by it, particularly that of Romulus (k):

and they went and returned unto their inheritance; the six hundred Benjaminites, with their wives, returned to their own tribe, which was their inheritance by lot; and these, being the only survivors, had a right to the whole:

and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them: in process of time they rebuilt the cities the Israelites had burnt in the late war, and repeopled them as their posterity increased. And the Jewish writers say, that in later times they were allowed to marry with other tribes as before, since the oath only bound those present at Mizpeh; for they observe, that it ran only:

there shall not any of us, &c. not any of our sons; they might give wives to Benjamin, and so in time they became numerous again.

(h) Liv. Hist. l. 1. p. 7, 8. Flor Hist. Rom. l. 1. c. 1. Aurel. Victor. de Vir Illustr. c. 2. Valer. Maxim. l. 1. c. 4. (i) Hierop adv. Jovinian. l. 1. fol. 17. B, C. (k) Vid. Albericum Gentil. de armis Roman l. 2. p. 114.

And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their {k} number, of them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned unto their inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them.

(k) Meaning, two hundred.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. took them wives … carried off] Render carried off wivesseized. The expression to take wives in the sense of marry is found only in late writings; the reference here, however, is not to marriage, but to capture. This verse closes the narrative of A.Verse 23. - According to their number, i.e. so as to provide the 200 with wives. The cities, as in Judges 20:15, 42. Still Benjamin must be preserved as a tribe. The elders therefore said, "Possession of the saved shall be for Benjamin," i.e., the tribe-land of Benjamin shall remain an independent possession for the Benjaminites who have escaped the massacre, so that a tribe may not be destroyed out of Israel. It was necessary therefore, that they should take steps to help the remaining Benjaminites to wives. The other tribes could not give them their daughters, on account of the oath which has already been mentioned in Judges 21:1 and Judges 21:7 and is repeated here (Judges 21:18). Consequently there was hardly any other course open, than to let the Benjaminites seize upon wives for themselves. And the elders lent them a helping hand by offering them this advice, that at the next yearly festival at Shiloh, at which the daughters of Shiloh carried on dances in the open air (outside the town), they should seize upon wives for themselves from among these daughters, and promising them that when the thing was accomplished they would adjust it peaceably (Judges 21:19-22). The "feast of Jehovah," which the Israelites kept from year to year, was one of the three great annual festivals, probably one which lasted seven days, either the passover or the feast of tabernacles-most likely the former, as the dances of the daughters of Shiloh were apparently an imitation of the dances of the Israelitish women at the Red Sea under the superintendence of Miriam (Exodus 15:20). The minute description of the situation of Shiloh (Judges 21:19), viz., "to the north of Bethel, on the east of the road which rises from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah" (the present village of Lubban, on the north-west of Seilun: see Rob. Pal. iii. p. 89), serves to throw light upon the scene which follows, i.e., to show how the situation of Shiloh was peculiarly fitted for the carrying out of the advice given to the Benjaminites; since, as soon as they had issued from their hiding-places in the vineyards at Shiloh, and seized upon the dancing virgins, they could easily escape into their own land by the neighbouring high-road which led from Bethel to Shechem, without being arrested by the citizens of Shiloh.
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