Judges 21:5
And the children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up with the congregation to the LORD? For they had made a great oath concerning him that came not up to the LORD to Mizpeh, saying, He shall surely be put to death.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Who is there . . .?—This verse is anticipatory of Judges 21:8.

They had made a great oath.—Another detail which has been omitted up to this point. The spirit of this cherem was exactly the same as that which we find in Judges 5:23 : “Curse ye Meroz . . . because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” Now that these victories had been so complete, they probably were sick with slaughter, and would not have inquired after any defaulters but by way of finding an expedient to mollify the meaning of their rash oath. We see once more in this narrative both the force derivable from a vow and the folly and wickedness of fierce vows rashly taken in moments of passion. It is obvious that the direct meaning of the vow, taken in connection with the curse under which they had placed the Benjamites, had been to annihilate the tribe.

Jdg 21:5. That came not up with the congregation — When summoned to come together under a great penalty upon those who absented themselves. For they had made a great oath — That is, a solemn oath, joined with some terrible execration against the offenders herein. This oath probably was made by the great assembly of their rulers (called the whole congregation) when they summoned the people to Mizpeh, as the other oath (mentioned Jdg 21:1) was made after the people were come thither, upon the Benjamites’ refusal to do justice. He shall surely be put to death — Because, by refusing to execute the vengeance due to such malefactors, they were presumed to be guilty of the crime, and therefore liable to the same punishment, as was the case of that city that would not deliver up an idolater, dwelling among them, to justice.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.It is not certain whether the brass altar was at Bethel at this time, or whether it may not have been elsewhere, e. g., at Shiloh with the tabernacle. Some, however, think that the altar here mentioned was "additional" to the brass altar, in consequence of the unusual number of sacrifices caused by the presence of the whole congregation (compare 1 Kings 8:64 note). 2-5. the people came to the house of God, … and lifted up their voices, and wept sore—The characteristic fickleness of the Israelites was not long in being displayed; for scarcely had they cooled from the fierceness of their sanguinary vengeance, than they began to relent and rushed to the opposite extreme of self-accusation and grief at the desolation which their impetuous zeal had produced. Their victory saddened and humbled them. Their feelings on the occasion were expressed by a public and solemn service of expiation at the house of God. And yet this extraordinary observance, though it enabled them to find vent for their painful emotions, did not afford them full relief, for they were fettered by the obligation of a religious vow, heightened by the addition of a solemn anathema on every violator of the oath. There is no previous record of this oath; but the purport of it was, that they would treat the perpetrators of this Gibeah atrocity in the same way as the Canaanites, who were doomed to destruction; and the entering into this solemn league was of a piece with the rest of their inconsiderate conduct in this whole affair. A great oath. i.e. a solemn oath, joined with some terrible execration against the offenders herein.

He shall surely be put to death; because by refusing to execute the vengeance due to such malefactors, they were justly presumed guilty of the crime, and therefore liable to the same punishment, as was the case of that city that would not deliver up an idolater dwelling among them to justice. And the children of Israel said,.... One to another, after they had offered their sacrifices, and while they were together in Shiloh:

who is there among all the tribes of Israel, that came not up with the congregation unto the Lord? when they were summoned to come to Mizpeh, to consult together about the affair of the Levite's concubine, as appears by what follows:

for they had made a great oath; in a very awful and solemn manner, with a curse annexed to it, as that about not giving a wife to Benjamin, Judges 21:18.

concerning him that came not up to the Lord to Mizpeh: not about him who did not go out to battle against Benjamin, nor about every individual that did not come to consult about it; but every city that did not send their proper representatives or quota to assist in that affair:

he shall surely be put to death; this was sent along with the summons, in order to quicken their attention to them.

And the children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up with the congregation unto the LORD? For they had made a great oath concerning him that came not up to the LORD to Mizpeh, saying, He shall surely be put to death.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. The first half of the v. anticipates Jdg 21:8; while the second half is awkwardly expressed (lit. ‘the great oath was in respect of him that came not up’ etc.). Like the previous v., this can only be regarded as a later addition; together they interrupt the natural connexion between Jdg 21:3; Jdg 21:6. to Mizpah was no doubt intended to harmonize with Jdg 21:1; the people are at Beth-el according to Jdg 21:2-3.Verse 5. - And the children of Israel said. The idea evidently occurred to them that they might supply wives to the 600 Benjamites in the way that actually came to pass, and they asked the question, Who is there among all the tribes, etc., with this view. On the total number of the slain, see the remarks on Judges 20:15. - In Judges 20:47 the statement already made in Judges 20:45 with regard to the flight is resumed; and it is still further related, that 500 men reached the rock Rimmon, and dwelt there four months, i.e., till the occurrence described in Judges 21:13.
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