by Rev Joel Yong
Others said, “Every year the LORD’s festival is held at Shiloh. Shiloh is north of Bethel, east of the highway going from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.” So they told the men of Benjamin, “Hide in the vineyards and watch. When the young women of Shiloh come out to take part in the dances, come out of the vineyards. Each of you catch a woman from Shiloh to be your wife. Then go back to the territory of Benjamin.
The Benjamites- because of armed conflict, no longer had women surviving in their tribe.
Yet the rest of Israel had sworn not to give them their daughters as wives.
So a way was designed for them to ‘kidnap’ wives for themselves.
The Benjamites were told where to find young women dancing at a festival and given permission to ‘kidnap’ them.
Some have said this was a ploy devised to get around a previous oath to not give Israelite daughters to Benjamin.
If they were ‘kidnapped’, then the oath was not broken.
So this elaborate event is staged whereby single women dance at a specified site – knowing they will end up matched to a Benjamite.
Matthew Henry writes-“They may not bestow their daughters upon them, but to save their oath, and yet marry some of their daughters to them, they put them into a way of taking them by surprise, and marrying them, which should be ratified by their parents’ consent, ex post facto —afterwards. The less consideration is used before the making of a vow, the more, commonly, there is need of afterwards for the keeping of it.I. That which gave an opportunity for the doing of this was a public ball at Shiloh, in the fields, at which all the young ladies of that city and the parts adjacent that were so disposed met to dance, in honour of a feast of the Lord then observed..”
Number of lessons here-
- Don’t make hasty foolish vows that bind your hands and put you in a spot later
- Creative solutions may emerge even when previously there seemed to be none.