The men of Israel had taken an oath1 at Mizpah:2 "Not one of us will give3 his daughter in marriage to a Benjamite."
The people went to Bethel,a where they sat before God until evening, raising their voices and weeping bitterly.
"O LORD, the God of Israel," they cried, "why has this happened to Israel? Why should one tribe be missing4 from Israel today?"
Early the next day the people built an altar and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.b55
Then the Israelites asked, "Who from all the tribes of Israel6 has failed to assemble before the LORD?" For they had taken a solemn oath that anyone who failed to assemble before the LORD at Mizpah should certainly be put to death.
Now the Israelites grieved for their brothers, the Benjamites. "Today one tribe is cut off from Israel," they said.
"How can we provide wives for those who are left, since we have taken an oath7 by the LORD not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?"
Then they asked, "Which one of the tribes of Israel failed to assemble before the LORD at Mizpah?" They discovered that no one from Jabesh Gilead8 had come to the camp for the assembly.
For when they counted the people, they found that none of the people of Jabesh Gilead were there.
So the assembly sent twelve thousand fighting men with instructions to go to Jabesh Gilead and put to the sword those living there, including the women and children.
"This is what you are to do," they said. "Kill every male9 and every woman who is not a virgin.10"
They found among the people living in Jabesh Gilead four hundred young women who had never slept with a man, and they took them to the camp at Shiloh11 in Canaan.
Then the whole assembly sent an offer of peace12 to the Benjamites at the rock of Rimmon.1314
So the Benjamites returned at that time and were given the women of Jabesh Gilead who had been spared. But there were not enough for all of them.
The people grieved for Benjamin,14 because the LORD had made a gap in the tribes of Israel.