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Judges 21:23

ESV And the people of Benjamin did so and took their wives, according to their number, from the dancers whom they carried off. Then they went and returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and lived in them.
NIV So that is what the Benjamites did. While the young women were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them.
NASB The sons of Benjamin did so, and took wives according to their number from those who danced, whom they seized. And they went and returned to their inheritance, and rebuilt the cities and lived in them.
CSB The Benjaminites did this and took the number of women they needed from the dancers they caught. They went back to their own inheritance, rebuilt their cities, and lived in them.
NLT So the men of Benjamin did as they were told. Each man caught one of the women as she danced in the celebration and carried her off to be his wife. They returned to their own land, and they rebuilt their towns and lived in them.
KJV And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned unto their inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them.

What does Judges 21:23 mean?

The men of Benjamin carry out the plan given to them by the leaders of Israel (Judges 21:19–22). Their former wives, daughters, and mothers were recently slaughtered (Judges 20:47–48). As instructed, the men hide in a vineyard. They wait for a specific group of young women to start dancing. Then they jump out from the vineyard, each of them catching one of the young women for his wife and carrying her off by force back to their own territory. These women become Benjaminite wives and give birth to the next generation of Benjaminite citizens. The tribe survives its brush with extinction. They rebuild the towns and repopulate their land.

This is the end of an ugly episode in the history of Israel. The situation begins with a runaway concubine (Judges 19:1–2) and ends with the staged abduction of hundreds of young women. In between, Israel wavers between seeking God's will and running out of control. The nation, at that time, seems to have some sense of worship of God and a desire to receive His direction. They hold people accountable for sin (Judges 20:11–13). Yet they repeatedly go beyond the will of the Lord in clumsy attempts to follow the law while also violating morality and virtue (Judges 21:10–14). As the final verse of this book notes, this is a time of spiritual anarchy in the Promised Land (Judges 21:25). Everyone does what is right according to their own preferences, with disastrous, tragic results.
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