Judges 21:16 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 21:16, NIV: And the elders of the assembly said, 'With the women of Benjamin destroyed, how shall we provide wives for the men who are left?

Judges 21:16, ESV: Then the elders of the congregation said, “What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?”

Judges 21:16, KJV: Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?

Judges 21:16, NASB: Then the elders of the congregation said, 'What are we to do for wives for those who are left, since the women have been eliminated from Benjamin?'

Judges 21:16, NLT: So the elders of the assembly asked, 'How can we find wives for the few who remain, since the women of the tribe of Benjamin are dead?

Judges 21:16, CSB: The elders of the congregation said, "What should we do about wives for those who are left, since the women of Benjamin have been destroyed? "

What does Judges 21:16 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The leaders of the Israelites speak as if they are separated from their own choices and actions (Judges 21:3, 15). Either in the heat of the moment or as a pre-determined act of vengeance, eleven of Israel's tribes followed the destruction of Benjamin's army with the slaughter of virtually the entire tribe (Judges 20:47–48). At no point was this said to be the will of the Lord. As far as context indicates, they went beyond God's instruction, applying His commands regarding depraved Canaanites (Deuteronomy 7:1–5) to their own people. Rather than acknowledging their own role in the slaughter, Israel's leaders use a passive expression, saying the women were destroyed.

Now that the recent civil war has ended, the Israelites also want to reverse the dire consequences of their choices. They have spared and made peace with the surviving six hundred men. They have committed more killings—to avoid breaking an unwise vow (Judges 21:1, 5, 8–12)—to secure four hundred wives to replace some of those they have killed. This only provides a future for two-thirds of the surviving men. Another two hundred suitable brides are needed to give the tribe of Benjamin the best chance for survival.

Once again, Israel will find themselves looking for loopholes and strained interpretations to avoid breaking their word.