1. The men of Israel had sworn this oath at Mizpah, 'None of us is to give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin.'
2. The people went to Bethel and stayed there until evening, sitting before God and raising their voices, made a great lament,
3. and exclaiming, 'Yahweh, God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel that a tribe should be missing from Israel today?
4. The next day the people got up early and built an altar there; they presented burnt offerings and communion sacrifices.
5. The Israelites then said, 'Out of all the tribes of Israel, who has not come to Yahweh, to the assembly?' -- for they had sworn a solemn oath that anyone who did not come to Yahweh at Mizpah would certainly die.
6. Now the Israelites felt sorry about Benjamin their brother. 'Today', they said, 'a tribe has been amputated from Israel.
7. What shall we do to provide wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by Yahweh not to give them any of our own daughters in marriage?'
8. They then asked, 'Out of the tribes of Israel, who is it that has not come to Yahweh at Mizpah?' It was discovered that no one from Jabesh in Gilead had come to the camp for the assembly;
9. for, a muster having been called of the people, none of the inhabitants of Jabesh in Gilead was present.
10. The community then despatched twelve thousand of their bravest men there, with these orders: 'Go and slaughter all the inhabitants of Jabesh in Gilead, including the women and children.
11. This is what you are to do. All males and all those women who have ever slept with a man, you will put under the curse of destruction, but the lives of the virgins you will spare.' And this they did.
12. Among the inhabitants of Jabesh in Gilead they found four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man, and brought them to the camp (to Shiloh in the territory of Canaan).
13. The whole community then sent messengers to offer peace to the Benjaminites who were at the Rock of Rimmon.
14. Benjamin then came home: they were given those of the women of Jabesh in Gilead whose lives had been spared, but there were not enough for all.
15. The people felt sorry about Benjamin, Yahweh having made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
16. And the elders of the community said, 'What shall we do to provide wives for the survivors, since the women of Benjamin have been wiped out?'
17. They went on, 'How can we preserve a remnant for Benjamin so that a tribe may not be lost to Israel?
18. We cannot give them our own daughters in marriage' -- for the Israelites had taken an oath, 'Accursed be the man who gives a wife to Benjamin!'
19. 'However,' they said, 'there is the feast of Yahweh, held every year at Shiloh.' (The town lies north of Bethel, east of the highway that runs from Bethel up to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.)
20. So they told the Benjaminites to do as follows, 'Put yourselves in ambush in the vineyards.
21. Keep watch: when the girls of Shiloh come out in groups to dance, you then come out of the vineyards, each of you seize a wife from the girls of Shiloh and make for Benjaminite territory.
22. If their fathers or brothers come and complain to us, we shall say, "Let us have them, since we could not take wives for everyone in the battle; and you could not give them to them, or you would then have been guilty." '
23. The Benjaminites did this and, from the dancers whom they caught, took as many wives as there were men and then, setting off, went back to their heritage, rebuilt the towns and settled down in them.
24. The Israelites then dispersed, each man to rejoin his tribe and clan, each leaving that place for his own heritage.
25. In those days there was no king in Israel, and everyone did as he saw fit.