The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Judges 21

Jdg 21:1

Jdg 21: "So the book closes with a dark shadow over the history of Israel. The cost of the period of anarchy was enormous. The spiritual depth to which the nation sunk would take many years to recover. The Levite's dramatic revelation of the murder of his concubine, and his demand for revenge had stirred the nation of Israel to its depths. A lust for blood seized men as they gave Benjamin over to slaughter. The land became a smoking ruin. Cities were overthrown, their inhabitants ruthlessly slain without sense or mercy, and men made with the desire for violence, marched through the land, putting all to an indiscriminate slaughter, until the tribe was on the point of extinction. And then a realisation of what they had done came over the nation. 'The people wept' (v 2). But in their passion they had bound themselves with oaths that now they regretted. Thus they set about legally to defeat the solemn promises they had made, and to provide continuance to the tribe of Benjamin and this led to further indiscriminate and senseless slaughter. The whole account in its dark and dreadful detail illustrated the comment of v 25. It was the end of the age, and we look with pleasure to the reading of the book of Ruth, and the day of the monarchy. [Likewise] this age of senseless violence... is a precursor to the glorious revelation of the Gentile Bride and the establishment of the throne of David" (GEM).

Vv 1,2: "The punitive campaign against Benjamin was no sooner concluded than the tribes immediately became very uneasy about the consequences of their zeal for righteousness. So fully and completely had they done what they had deemed to be their duty that there was now grave prospect of the complete disappearance of one of their twelve tribes. For Benjamin was reduced to a mere handful of men, and how could these continue their families since their brethren had sworn not to give their daughters in marriage to a tribe of such wickedness?

"Here is demonstrated the folly of human oaths. Only God, the Eternal, who knows the end from the beginning, can truly bind Himself by an oath never to be set aside, for with Him, only, is the wisdom to foresee the outworking of events. In this incident there is the plainest of all warnings to those who love government by constitution and minute-book and all the paraphernalia of the Medes and Persians. Such may be all very well for business executives, but in a community of the people of God reliance on a cast-iron adherence to rules and resolutions is a sign of small-mindedness. The fewer the governing principles of an ecclesia the smaller will be the risk of becoming fettered hand and foot by chains of one's own fashioning. It was a lesson Israel should have learned from this experience with Benjamin. It is a lesson the New Israel has not learned yet" (WJR).

Jdg 21:3

How ironic! It was their own doing.

Jdg 21:4

BUILT AN ALTAR: A pointer that "the house of God" (v 2) was not Shiloh, for the altar there would not need (re)building. But it is easy to understand that the ancient holy place at Bethel had fallen into disuse.

Jdg 21:5


Jdg 21:7

NOT TO GIVE THEM ANY OF OUR DAUGHTERS IN MARRIAGE: Treating Benjamin like Canaanites: Deu 7:3,4.

Jdg 21:10

"Straining out gnats and swallowing camels": this attack on Jabesh-gilead was at least as sinful as the initial sin of Gibeah.

Jdg 21:19

Such precise details of location were necessary from time of Samuel onward, because the Philistines wiped Shiloh off the map (Jer 7:12-15; 26:6,9).

Jdg 21:21

THE GIRLS OF SHILOH: They would be mostly from Ephraim. The other wives of Benjamin were from Manasseh. Thus the descendants of Rachel come together -- Ephraim and Manasseh with Benjamin.

Jdg 21:23

600 families in an area where there was once 25,000 (Jdg 20:46,47). (This incident was remembered in days of Hosea: Hos 10:9.)
Previous Index