Judges 21:18 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 21:18, NIV: We can't give them our daughters as wives, since we Israelites have taken this oath: 'Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to a Benjamite.'

Judges 21:18, ESV: Yet we cannot give them wives from our daughters.” For the people of Israel had sworn, “Cursed be he who gives a wife to Benjamin.”

Judges 21:18, KJV: Howbeit we may not give them wives of our daughters: for the children of Israel have sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife to Benjamin.

Judges 21:18, NASB: But we cannot give them wives from our daughters.' For the sons of Israel had sworn, saying, 'Cursed is he who gives a wife to Benjamin!'

Judges 21:18, NLT: But we cannot give them our own daughters in marriage because we have sworn with a solemn oath that anyone who does this will fall under God's curse.'

Judges 21:18, CSB: But we can't give them our daughters as wives." For the Israelites had sworn, "Anyone who gives a wife to a Benjaminite is cursed."

What does Judges 21:18 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This provides more details about the oath which prevents the other eleven tribes from quickly and easily providing wives to prevent the tribe of Benjamin from becoming extinct. Before the battle against Gibeah (Judges 20:11–13), when they were the most outraged at Benjamin's defense of the city, the Israelites had made a hasty oath (Judges 21:1). They had pledged themselves before God not to give their daughters to the men of Benjamin in marriage. The oath included the line that anyone who gives a wife to Benjamin will be cursed.

The Lord had instructed the people of Israel to take their oaths and His curses with deadly seriousness (Deuteronomy 23:21–23). They did not even consider breaking this oath, even after deciding that Benjamin must be saved instead of ended. No one bound by the oath can give a daughter to Benjamin. Neither can wives be taken from the Canaanites, or their children won't be true sons and daughters of Israel (Deuteronomy 7:1–5).

To solve the dilemma, Israel has already punished a clan who didn't support the war—and was not present to make the marriage oath—which provided wives for about two-thirds of Benjamin's survivors (Judges 21:8–14). To account for the remaining two hundred wives (Judges 20:47–48), Israelites will look for loopholes in their self-made trap.