15They turned off there and went in to spend the night in Gibeah. He went and sat down in the town square, but nobody took them indoors to spend the night. 16In the evening, an old man came along from his property outside the town. (This man hailed from the hill country of Ephraim and resided at Gibeah, where the townspeople were Benjaminites.) 17He happened to see the wayfarer in the town square. “Where,” the old man inquired, “are you going to, and where do you come from?” 18He replied, “We are traveling from Bethlehem in Judah to the other end of the hill country of Ephraim. That is where I live. I made a journey to Bethlehem of Judah, and now I am on my way to the House of the Lord, and nobody has taken me indoors. 19We have both bruised straw and feed for our donkeys, and bread and wine for me and your handmaid, and for the attendant with your servants. We lack nothing.”


22While they were enjoying themselves, the men of the town, a depraved lot, had gathered about the house and were pounding on the door. They called to the aged owner of the house, “Bring out the man who has come into your house, so that we can be intimate with him.”


25But the men would not listen to him, so the man seized his concubine and pushed her out to them. They raped her and abused her all night long until morning; and they let her go when dawn broke. 26Toward morning the woman came back; and as it was growing light, she collapsed at the entrance of the man’s house where her husband was. 27When her husband arose in the morning, he opened the doors of the house and went out to continue his journey; and there was the woman, his concubine, lying at the entrance of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28“Get up,” he said to her, “let us go.” But there was no reply. So the man placed her on the donkey and set out for home. 29When he came home, he picked up a knife, and took hold of his concubine and cut her up limb by limb into twelve parts. He sent them throughout the territory of Israel. 30And everyone who saw it cried out, “Never has such a thing happened or been seen from the day the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt to this day! Put your mind to this; take counsel and decide.”      Judges 19/15-19, 22 and 25-30 Tanakh JPS 1985


1Thereupon all the Israelites—from Dan to Beer-sheba and [from] the land of Gilead—marched forth, and the community assembled to a man before the Lord at Mizpah. 2All the leaders of the people [and] all the tribes of Israel presented themselves in the assembly of God’s people, 400,000 fighting men on foot.— 3The Benjaminites heard that the Israelites had come up to Mizpah.—The Israelites said, “Tell us, how did this evil thing happen?” 4And the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, replied, “My concubine and I came to Gibeah of Benjamin to spend the night. 5The citizens of Gibeah set out to harm me. They gathered against me around the house in the night; they meant to kill me, and they ravished my concubine until she died. 6So I took hold of my concubine and I cut her in pieces and sent them through every part of Israel’s territory. For an outrageous act of depravity had been committed in Israel. 7Now you are all Israelites; produce a plan of action here and now!”


44That day 18,000 men of Benjamin fell, all of them brave men. 45They turned and fled to the wilderness, to the Rock of Rimmon; but [the Israelites] picked off another 5,000 on the roads and, continuing in hot pursuit of them up to Gidom, they slew 2,000 more. 46Thus the total number of Benjaminites who fell that day came to 25,000 fighting men, all of them brave. 47But 600 men turned and fled to the wilderness, to the Rock of Rimmon; they remained at the Rock of Rimmon four months. 48The men of Israel, meanwhile, turned back to the rest of the Benjaminites and put them to the sword—towns, people, cattle—everything that remained. Finally, they set fire to all the towns that were left.     Judges 20/1-7 and 44-48 Tanakh JPS 1985


1Now the men of Israel had taken an oath at Mizpah: “None of us will give his daughter in marriage to a Benjaminite.”

2The people came to Bethel and sat there before God until evening. They wailed and wept bitterly, 3and they said, “O Lord God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel, that one tribe must now be missing from Israel?” 4Early the next day, the people built an altar there, and they brought burnt offerings and offerings of well-being.

8They inquired, “Is there anyone from the tribes of Israel who did not go up to the Lord at Mizpah?” Now no one from Jabesh-gilead had come to the camp, to the assembly. 9For, when the roll of the troops was taken, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was present. 10So the assemblage dispatched 12,000 of the warriors, instructing them as follows: “Go and put the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead to the sword, women and children included. 11This is what you are to do: Proscribe every man, and every woman who has known a man carnally.” 12They found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 maidens who had not known a man carnally; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.

13Then the whole community sent word to the Benjaminites who were at the Rock of Rimmon, and offered them terms of peace. 14Thereupon the Benjaminites returned, and they gave them the girls who had been spared from the women of Jabesh-gilead. But there were not enough of them.

15Now the people had relented toward Benjamin, for the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel. 16So the elders of the community asked, “What can we do about wives for those who are left, since the women of Benjamin have been killed off?” 17For they said, “There must be a saving remnant for Benjamin, that a tribe may not be blotted out of Israel; 18yet we cannot give them any of our daughters as wives,” since the Israelites had taken an oath: “Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to Benjamin!”

19They said, “The annual feast of the Lord is now being held at Shiloh.” (It lies north of Bethel, east of the highway that runs from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.)

20So they instructed the Benjaminites as follows: “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards. 21As soon as you see the girls of Shiloh coming out to join in the dances, come out from the vineyards; let each of you seize a wife from among the girls of Shiloh, and be off for the land of Benjamin. 22And if their fathers or brothers come to us to complain, we shall say to them, ‘Be generous to them for our sake! We could not provide any of them with a wife on account of the war, and you would have incurred guilt if you yourselves had given them [wives].’”

23The Benjaminites did so. They took to wife, from the dancers whom they carried off, as many as they themselves numbered. Then they went back to their own territory, and rebuilt their towns and settled in them. 24Thereupon the Israelites dispersed, each to his own tribe and clan; everyone departed for his own territory.

25In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did as he pleased.     Judges 21/1-4 and 8-25 Tanakh JPS 1985



The book of Judges is full of information about the tribes of Israel in the allotted lands after they had received the Torah and how difficult it was for a primitive uneducated people to understand G-d’s commandments and moral teachings.

It was a time when people could receive a message in the form of a body part and understand its meaning.

All of the Tribes of Israel gathered and the Levite wayfarer whose concubine was abused and killed said “Now you are all Israelites; produce a plan of action here and now!”

The plan of action was to kill all of the Benjamites since they would not tell who had abused the wayfarer’s concubine. They even killed all their women and children. Only six hundred men of the tribe of Benjamin survived.

Afterwards the Israelites wailed and wept bitterly, and they said, “O Lord God of Israel, why has this happened in Israel, that one tribe must now be missing from Israel?” Early the next day, the people built an altar there, and they brought burnt offerings and offerings of well-being.

Then the Israelites decided to kill all of the tribe members of a town who had not joined the fight to get their virgin women and offer them to the Benjamin remnant (who had taken a stand on the Rock of Rimmon and would not come down) as terms of peace and to save the tribe of Benjamin from being blotted out.

That was not enough women so knowing the annual feast of the Lord was being held at Shiloh they came up with a clever way of giving the remnant of Benjamin tribal wives without breaking their vow (not allowing their daughters to marry a Benjamite).

Look the other way.