Judges 21

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1 καὶ οἱ υἱοὶ ισραηλ ὤμοσαν ἐν μασσηφα λέγοντες ἀνὴρ ἐξ ἡμῶν οὐ δώσει θυγατέρα αὐτοῦ τῷ βενιαμιν εἰς γυναῖκα

2 καὶ ἦλθεν ὁ λαὸς εἰς βαιθηλ καὶ ἐκάθισαν ἐκεῖ ἕως ἑσπέρας ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἦραν φωνὴν αὐτῶν καὶ ἔκλαυσαν κλαυθμὸν μέγαν

3 καὶ εἶπαν εἰς τί κύριε θεὲ ισραηλ ἐγενήθη αὕτη τοῦ ἐπισκεπῆναι σήμερον ἀπὸ ισραηλ φυλὴν μίαν

4 καὶ ἐγένετο τῇ ἐπαύριον καὶ ὤρθρισεν ὁ λαὸς καὶ ᾠκοδόμησαν ἐκεῖ θυσιαστήριον καὶ ἀνήνεγκαν ὁλοκαυτώσεις καὶ τελείας

5 καὶ εἶπον οἱ υἱοὶ ισραηλ τίς οὐκ ἀνέβη ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ ἀπὸ πασῶν φυλῶν ισραηλ πρὸς κύριον ὅτι ὁ ὅρκος μέγας ἦν τοῖς οὐκ ἀναβεβηκόσιν πρὸς κύριον εἰς μασσηφα λέγοντες θανάτῳ θανατωθήσεται

6 καὶ παρεκλήθησαν οἱ υἱοὶ ισραηλ πρὸς βενιαμιν ἀδελφὸν αὐτῶν καὶ εἶπαν ἐξεκόπη σήμερον φυλὴ μία ἀπὸ ισραηλ

7 τί ποιήσωμεν αὐτοῖς τοῖς περισσοῖς τοῖς ὑπολειφθεῖσιν εἰς γυναῖκας καὶ ἡμεῖς ὠμόσαμεν ἐν κυρίῳ τοῦ μὴ δοῦναι αὐτοῖς ἀπὸ τῶν θυγατέρων ἡμῶν εἰς γυναῖκας

8 καὶ εἶπαν τίς εἷς ἀπὸ φυλῶν ισραηλ ὃς οὐκ ἀνέβη πρὸς κύριον εἰς μασσηφα καὶ ἰδοὺ οὐκ ἦλθεν ἀνὴρ εἰς τὴν παρεμβολὴν ἀπὸ ιαβις γαλααδ εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν

9 καὶ ἐπεσκέπη ὁ λαός καὶ οὐκ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἀνὴρ ἀπὸ οἰκούντων ιαβις γαλααδ

10 καὶ ἀπέστειλεν ἐκεῖ ἡ συναγωγὴ δώδεκα χιλιάδας ἀνδρῶν ἀπὸ υἱῶν τῆς δυνάμεως καὶ ἐνετείλαντο αὐτοῖς λέγοντες πορεύεσθε καὶ πατάξατε τοὺς οἰκοῦντας ιαβις γαλααδ ἐν στόματι ῥομφαίας

11 καὶ τοῦτο ποιήσετε πᾶν ἄρσεν καὶ πᾶσαν γυναῖκα εἰδυῖαν κοίτην ἄρσενος ἀναθεματιεῖτε τὰς δὲ παρθένους περιποιήσεσθε καὶ ἐποίησαν οὕτως

12 καὶ εὗρον ἀπὸ οἰκούντων ιαβις γαλααδ τετρακοσίας νεάνιδας παρθένους αἵτινες οὐκ ἔγνωσαν ἄνδρα εἰς κοίτην ἄρσενος καὶ ἤνεγκαν αὐτὰς εἰς τὴν παρεμβολὴν εἰς σηλων τὴν ἐν γῇ χανααν

13 καὶ ἀπέστειλεν πᾶσα ἡ συναγωγὴ καὶ ἐλάλησαν πρὸς τοὺς υἱοὺς βενιαμιν ἐν τῇ πέτρᾳ ρεμμων καὶ ἐκάλεσαν αὐτοὺς εἰς εἰρήνην

14 καὶ ἐπέστρεψεν βενιαμιν πρὸς τοὺς υἱοὺς ισραηλ ἐν τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ καὶ ἔδωκαν αὐτοῖς οἱ υἱοὶ ισραηλ τὰς γυναῖκας ἃς ἐζωοποίησαν ἀπὸ τῶν θυγατέρων ιαβις γαλααδ καὶ ἤρεσεν αὐτοῖς οὕτως

15 καὶ ὁ λαὸς παρεκλήθη ἐπὶ τῷ βενιαμιν ὅτι ἐποίησεν κύριος διακοπὴν ἐν ταῖς φυλαῖς ισραηλ

16 καὶ εἶπον οἱ πρεσβύτεροι τῆς συναγωγῆς τί ποιήσωμεν τοῖς περισσοῖς εἰς γυναῖκας ὅτι ἠφανίσθη ἀπὸ βενιαμιν γυνή

17 καὶ εἶπαν κληρονομία διασῳζομένων τῷ βενιαμιν καὶ οὐκ ἐξαλειφθήσεται φυλὴ ἀπὸ ισραηλ

18 ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐ δυνησόμεθα δοῦναι αὐτοῖς γυναῖκας ἀπὸ τῶν θυγατέρων ἡμῶν ὅτι ὠμόσαμεν ἐν υἱοῖς ισραηλ λέγοντες ἐπικατάρατος ὁ διδοὺς γυναῖκα τῷ βενιαμιν

19 καὶ εἶπαν ἰδοὺ δὴ ἑορτὴ κυρίου ἐν σηλων ἀφ' ἡμερῶν εἰς ἡμέρας ἥ ἐστιν ἀπὸ βορρᾶ τῆς βαιθηλ κατ' ἀνατολὰς ἡλίου ἐπὶ τῆς ὁδοῦ τῆς ἀναβαινούσης ἀπὸ βαιθηλ εἰς συχεμ καὶ ἀπὸ νότου τῆς λεβωνα

20 καὶ ἐνετείλαντο τοῖς υἱοῖς βενιαμιν λέγοντες πορεύεσθε ἐνεδρεύσατε ἐν τοῖς ἀμπελῶσιν

21 καὶ ὄψεσθε καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐὰν ἐξέλθωσιν αἱ θυγατέρες τῶν οἰκούντων σηλων χορεύειν ἐν τοῖς χοροῖς καὶ ἐξελεύσεσθε ἐκ τῶν ἀμπελώνων καὶ ἁρπάσατε ἑαυτοῖς ἀνὴρ γυναῖκα ἀπὸ τῶν θυγατέρων σηλων καὶ πορεύεσθε εἰς γῆν βενιαμιν

22 καὶ ἔσται ὅταν ἔλθωσιν οἱ πατέρες αὐτῶν ἢ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτῶν κρίνεσθαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς καὶ ἐροῦμεν αὐτοῖς ἔλεος ποιήσατε ἡμῖν αὐτάς ὅτι οὐκ ἐλάβομεν ἀνὴρ γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ παρατάξει ὅτι οὐχ ὑμεῖς ἐδώκατε αὐτοῖς ὡς καιρὸς πλημμελήσατε

23 καὶ ἐποίησαν οὕτως οἱ υἱοὶ βενιαμιν καὶ ἔλαβον γυναῖκας εἰς ἀριθμὸν αὐτῶν ἀπὸ τῶν χορευουσῶν ὧν ἥρπασαν καὶ ἐπορεύθησαν καὶ ὑπέστρεψαν εἰς τὴν κληρονομίαν αὐτῶν καὶ ᾠκοδόμησαν τὰς πόλεις καὶ ἐκάθισαν ἐν αὐταῖς

24 καὶ περιεπάτησαν ἐκεῖθεν οἱ υἱοὶ ισραηλ ἐν τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ ἀνὴρ εἰς φυλὴν αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς συγγένειαν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐξῆλθον ἐκεῖθεν ἀνὴρ εἰς κληρονομίαν αὐτοῦ

25 ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις οὐκ ἦν βασιλεὺς ἐν ισραηλ ἀνὴρ τὸ εὐθὲς ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐποίει

  

Exploring the Meaning of Judges 21      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Wives Provided for the Men of Benjamin

This final chapter of the book of Judges deals with the wish of Israel to provide the remaining men of Benjamin with wives so that the tribe would not die out, since it was one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Yet the men of Israel had made a vow at Mizpah not to give their daughters to any men of Benjamin.

Providing wives means to add either truth or good to a situation. “In the Word, when ‘husband’ is mentioned, then ‘wife’ stands for truth. But when the husband is called ‘the man’, then ‘wife’ stands for good. This is the way it gets continually used in the Word.” (Arcana Caelestia 1468) In this chapter the men are called ‘the men of Benjamin’ or the Benjamites, so wives stand for good being joined to truth.

The men of Israel wondered who had not come to the gathering at Mizpah and recalled that no one from Jabesh Gilead had come. This meant that they were not under the obligation of the vow. The men of Israel told men to go and kill every man in that city and also any woman who was not a virgin. They found four hundred young virgins and brought them up to the camp at Shiloh.

The name Jabesh-Gilead means ‘arid’ and its spiritual meaning is in this city’s non-participation in dealing with the problem of the tribe of Benjamin. It stands for our refusal and disinclination to act to progress the spiritual life of the Word and our obedience to it.
But in it are four hundred young virgins who are not part of this non-participation and they can be taken to be wives for the men of Benjamin, to provide a future and an offspring.

“Virgins stand for the Lord’s kingdom, for everyone who is a kingdom of the Lord or a ‘church’, those who love the Lord, those who are in the affection for good, in charity to their neighbour, and those who love what is true. All of this is from the conjugial love which is there in chaste virgins.” (Arcana Caelestia 3081)

But even so, this is not enough to provide sufficient wives for the men of Benjamin. They recall that there is a yearly feast at Shiloh at which the young daughters of Shiloh dance. They tell the men of Benjamin to go there at the time of the feast and when the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance, to each seize a girl and take her away to Benjamin. And if anyone complains about breaking the vow made at Mizpah, it will be told them that this does not apply to the men of Benjamin and to be kind to this taking of wives.

The spiritual meaning of this is that it is essential that the tribe of Benjamin who stand for the link or connection between internal and external states, should have a full complement of wives so that truth and good can be together in producing and preserving this connection for our spiritual wholeness and its life. (Arcana Caelestia 5411)

The final verse of the book of Judges, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes”, very much describes the sequence of the stories in Judges to the point where good and truth, love for the Lord and obedience to the Word, are marginalised, and replaced by one wrong action after another, through to the very end.

The spiritual meaning in these wrong doings can be seen to show their purpose in terms of our spiritual life and regeneration. This is the purpose of them being included in the Word, and while the text is at times harrowing, it contains the basis for giving us the truths which lead to eternal life and the Lord.

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