The regret of the Israelites (Judg 21:1-21:7)

“Now the Israelites had sworn at Mizpah. ‘No one of us shall give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin.’ The people came to Bethel. They sat there until evening before God. They lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. They said. ‘O Yahweh, the God of Israel, why has it come to pass that today there should be one tribe lacking in Israel?’ On the next day, the people got up early. They built an altar there. They offered burnt offerings and sacrifices of well-being. Then the Israelites said. ‘Which of all the tribes of Israel did not come up in the assembly to Yahweh?’ A solemn oath had been taken concerning whoever did not come up to Yahweh to Mizpah. ‘That one shall be put to death.’ But the Israelites had compassion for Benjamin their brother, and said. ‘One tribe is cut off from Israel this day. What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by Yahweh that we will not give them any of our daughters for wives?’”

The Israelites seem to have buyer’s remorse. They just wiped out the tribe of Benjamin, but now they were worried about losing one of the 12 tribes. They had sworn not to give their daughters in marriage to the Benjaminites. Now what were they to do for the less than 1,000 Benjaminites who had no women to marry? Clearly Bethel is the chief place of worship. The Israelites built an altar there and offered sacrifices.

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