Judges 21:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 21:5, NIV: Then the Israelites asked, 'Who from all the tribes of Israel has failed to assemble before the LORD?' For they had taken a solemn oath that anyone who failed to assemble before the LORD at Mizpah was to be put to death.

Judges 21:5, ESV: And the people of Israel said, “Which of all the tribes of Israel did not come up in the assembly to the LORD?” For they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the LORD to Mizpah, saying, “He shall surely be put to death.”

Judges 21:5, KJV: And the children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up with the congregation unto the LORD? For they had made a great oath concerning him that came not up to the LORD to Mizpeh, saying, He shall surely be put to death.

Judges 21:5, NASB: Then the sons of Israel said, 'Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who did not go up to the LORD in the assembly?' For they had taken a solemn oath concerning anyone who did not go up to the LORD at Mizpah, saying, 'He shall certainly be put to death.'

Judges 21:5, NLT: Then they said, 'Who among the tribes of Israel did not join us at Mizpah when we held our assembly in the presence of the LORD?' At that time they had taken a solemn oath in the LORD's presence, vowing that anyone who refused to come would be put to death.

Judges 21:5, CSB: The Israelites asked, "Who of all the tribes of Israel didn't come to the Lord with the assembly? " For a great oath had been taken that anyone who had not come to the Lord at Mizpah would certainly be put to death.

What does Judges 21:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse reveals another oath pledged by the people of Israel before going into battle with Benjamin (Judges 20:12–13; 27–28). The first oath was that none of the eleven tribes would give daughters to marry the men of Benjamin. The other is that any clan or family group which did not participate in the assembly of tribes at Mizpah—a summit meant to bring judgment on Gibeah—would be put to death.

The intent of this oath seems to have been to unify Israel. The people intended to present a clear message that they were on the side of the Lord, and against the heinous atrocities happening in the Benjaminite city of Gibeah (Judges 19:22–28). Those who would not stand against such sin, or so the thinking seems to be, were guilty of enabling it. This oath may explain why Israel felt compelled to utterly wipe out all men, women, and children of Benjamin—despite no such command from God (Judges 20:47–48).

Only now does Israel investigate to see which groups, if any, didn't send support for the war. The motive for asking this question in this moment becomes clear as the passage continues. In addition to fulfilling an oath, Israel is looking for some way to provide wives for the surviving men of Benjamin without breaking a different oath (Judges 21:6–7).