Judges 21:8
And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up to Mizpeh to the LORD? And, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabeshgilead to the assembly.
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(8) There came none to the camp from Jabesh-gilead.—Jabesh-Gilead, which Josephus calls the metropolis of Gilead (Antt. vi. 5, § 1), is probably to be identified with the ruins now called El-Deir in the Wady Yabes (Robinson, 3:319). It was six miles from Pella, on the top of a hill which lies on the road from Pella to Gerasa. For some reason with which we are unacquainted, there seems to have been a bond of intense sympathy between the inhabitants of this town and Benjamin. If their abstinence from the assembly of vengeance was not due to this, we must suppose that the sort of companionship in misery caused by these wild events itself created a sense of union between these communities, for it is the peril of Jabesh which first arouses King Saul to action (1 Samuel 11). and in memory of the deliverance which he effected the men of Jabesh alone save the bodies of Saul and Jonathan from the indignity of rotting on the wall of Bethshan (1Samuel 31:11), which gained them the blessing of David (2Samuel 2:5-6). We see from these later incidents that Jabesh recovered from the extermination now inflicted on its inhabitants.

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.Jabesh-Galead - Is here mentioned for the first time. (See marginal references.) The name of Jabesh survives only in the Wady Yabes (running down to the east bank of the Jordan), near the head of which are situated the ruins called Ed-Deir, which are identified with Jabesh-Gilead. 8. there came none to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly—This city lay within the territory of eastern Manasseh, about fifteen miles east of the Jordan, and was, according to Josephus, the capital of Gilead. The ban which the assembled tribes had pronounced at Mizpeh seemed to impose on them the necessity of punishing its inhabitants for not joining the crusade against Benjamin; and thus, with a view of repairing the consequences of one rash proceeding, they hurriedly rushed to the perpetration of another, though a smaller tragedy. But it appears (Jud 21:11) that, besides acting in fulfilment of their oath, the Israelites had the additional object by this raid of supplying wives to the Benjamite remnant. This shows the intemperate fury of the Israelites in the indiscriminate slaughter of the women and children. A city in Gilead, and in the tribe of Manasseh; of which see 1 Samuel 11:1,3,9, &c.; 1 Samuel 31:11, &c.

And they said, what one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up to Mizpeh to the Lord?.... This is asked not only to bring them to justice, and put them to death, according to their oath, who should be found guilty, Judges 21:5 but as an expedient to find wives for the surviving Benjaminites; since these, as they came not to Mizpeh, so consequently swore not that they would not give their daughters to Benjaminites; wherefore from among them wives might be given to them, without the violation of an oath:

and, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabeshgilead to the assembly; this was observed by some upon the question put, which caused an inquiry to be made as after related. This city was in the land of Gilead, from whence it had its name, on the other side Jordan, and is placed by Adrichomius (a) in the half tribe of Manasseh; and Jerom (b) says it was a village in his time six miles from the city Pella, upon a mountain, as you go to Gerasa.

(a) Theatrum Terrae S. p. 90. (b) De loc. Heb. fol. 88. K. & fol. 93. L.

And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel that {d} came not up to Mizpeh to the LORD? And, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabeshgilead to the assembly.

(d) Condemning them as lovers of evil, who would not punish it.

8. Jabesh-gilead] This ancient city, Jabesh of G., is only mentioned again in connexion with the history of Saul, 1 Samuel 11:1 ff; 1 Samuel 31:11 ff., 2 Samuel 2:5 f., Jdg 21:12 f. The name survives in the Wâdi el-Jâbis, about half way between the Yarmuk and the W. Zerḳâ (Jabbok); the city probably lay in the upper part of the valley where it reaches the highlands of Gilead, a nights march from Beth-shean (= Bçsân) across the Jordan, 1 Samuel 31:12. It has been suggested that this narrative of the war against Jabesh was dictated by Judaean animosity against Saul1[64]; but it is clear that the narrative dates from a period later than that of the kingdom of Judah. At the same time we cannot deny that the writer, in singling out Jabesh for punishment, may have remembered its ancient loyalty to Saul (so Moore).

[64] So recently, Kittel, Gesch. des Volkes Israel2 (1909), p. 23.

Judges 21:8The congregation then resolved upon a plan, through the execution of which a number of virgins were secured for the Benjaminites. They determined that they would carry out the great oath, which had been uttered when the national assembly was called against such as did not appear, upon that one of the tribes of Israel which had not come to the meeting of the congregation at Mizpeh. The deliberations upon this point were opened (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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