Judges 21:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 21:14, NIV: 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.

Judges 21:14, ESV: And Benjamin returned at that time. And they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead, but they were not enough for them.

Judges 21:14, KJV: And Benjamin came again at that time; and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabeshgilead: and yet so they sufficed them not.

Judges 21:14, NASB: And the tribe of Benjamin returned at that time, and they gave them the women whom they had allowed to live from the women of Jabesh-gilead; but they were not enough for them.

Judges 21:14, NLT: Then the men of Benjamin returned to their homes, and the 400 women of Jabesh-gilead who had been spared were given to them as wives. But there were not enough women for all of them.

Judges 21:14, CSB: Benjamin returned at that time, and Israel gave them the women they had kept alive from Jabesh-gilead. But there were not enough for them.

What does Judges 21:14 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Israelites found the six hundred survivors of Benjamin (Judges 20:47–48), all men, and arranged an end to their civil war (Judges 21:13). More than that, the other eleven tribes have told the men of Benjamin they do not want their tribe to become extinct. Of course, the reason the tribe is in danger is because Israel chose to kill all of Benjamin's husbands, wives, children, and family members. This was in addition to a foolish vow, made to God, that the other tribes would not give daughters in marriage to Benjaminites.

To keep the tribe from dying out, Israel has brought four hundred virgins to marry the surviving men. These women are the survivors of yet another morally bankrupt slaughter in Jabesh-gilead (Judges 21:8–12), involving yet another ill-considered oath (Judges 21:5).

Modern views on marriage and family make parts of this story more difficult to understand. Women being abruptly given in marriage to men they've never met is an idea alien to modern western culture. Yet that practice was neither unusual nor unexpected in that era. Other aspects of this incident would have been just as inappropriate in that era as in the modern world. Even in the bloody, brutal culture of the time, no indication is given that God sanctioned any part of Israel's plan.

The moral contradictions pile up. Either the Lord wanted Israel to completely wipe out the tribe of Benjamin or He didn't. If He did, then they should kill the six hundred survivors of the battle. If that was not God's intent, they should not have wiped out all the women and children in the territory. If God's will was that they never provide wives for Benjamin, that should be their conviction; if not, the promise never should have been made. Israel is twisting and bending, trying to find a way to declare themselves righteous before the Lord, but without the natural consequences of their choices. The Lord remains silent; what Israel does is according to their own plan.

Since the goal is to repopulate an entire tribe, four hundred brides for six hundred men is not enough. Leaving one third of the men single and childless would result in further chaos and unrest.