The abduction of the daughters of Shiloh (Judg 21:15-21:23)

“The people had compassion on Benjamin because Yahweh had made a breach in the tribes of Israel. Then the elders of the congregation said. ‘What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since there are no women left in Benjamin?’ They said. ‘There must be heirs for the survivors of Benjamin, in order that a tribe may not be blotted out from Israel. Yet we cannot give any of our daughters to them as wives.’ For Israelites had sworn. ‘Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to Benjamin.’

Suddenly, everyone was worried about Benjamin. That is the problem with war. Everyone is eager to start it, but they never know what to do when it is over. There were no Benjaminite women for the men. They did not worry about the dead, only the fact that the tribe of Benjamin might disappear. They were not going to give their daughters to the Benjaminites.

“So they said. ‘Look the yearly feast of Yahweh is taking place at Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, on the east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.’ They instructed the Benjaminites. ‘Go and lie in wait in the vineyards! Watch! When the young women of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards. Each of you can carry off a wife for himself from the young women of Shiloh. Then go to the land of Benjamin. Then if their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we will say to them. ‘Be generous and allow us to have them, because we did not capture in battle a wife for each man. But neither did you incur guilt by giving your daughters to them.’ The Benjaminites did so. They took wives for each one of them from the dancers whom they abducted. Then they went and returned to their territory. They rebuilt the towns and lived in them.”

Wow! The answer to the lack of women is to have the Benjaminite men wait in the vineyards while there is a big feast at Shiloh for Yahweh. Then they would abduct the female dancers at this feast. Are not these women, the daughters of other Israelites since only Israelites would be celebrating a Yahweh feast? If a father or brother of these women complained, explain that this is one way of giving your daughter to the Benjaminites without incurring guilt. Shiloh was in Ephraim territory. This is the only mention of Lebonah, which was close to Shiloh. What a stupid solution to a stupid problem!