Home Introduction Jesus Mary Apostles Saints Spiritual Themes Genesis Moses Deuteronomic History Educating Arte Full new Screen

The Virgins of Shiloh

The Book of Judges terminates with several short stories. A crime was committed in Gibeah, a Benjaminite town. A man there had to offer his concubine to a group of bandits who raped the woman. He then cut his concubine in twelve pieces and sent the pieces throughout the territory of Israel. The tribes of Israel wanted to punish this crime, but the tribe of Benjamin did not agree. So a breach started to grow among the tribes of Israel. There was a great battle between the Israelites and the Benjaminites before Gibeah and with Yahweh’s help the Benjaminites were defeated. The town of Gibeah was burned down. The men of Israel swore an oath then never to give any daughter of theirs to marriage to a Benjaminite. The people built an altar at Mizpah and swore a new oath that anyone who did not come to Yahweh and to the assembly of the tribes to offer would certainly die.

After a while the Israelites felt sorry for their deed to banish the tribe of Benjamin. Israel was thus amputated of a tribe. So the Israelites thought of how to give wives again to the tribe of Benjamin. Bu they had sworn not to give the any daughters of their own. It was discovered however that no one from the tribe of Jabesh in Gilead had come to the assembly of the great offering to Yahweh at Mizpah. The Israelites attacked Jabesh, took the virgins and brought them to their camp to Shiloh in Canaan. These were given to the Benjaminites.

In another version of this story however, also told in the Book of Judges, slightly different events happened to the virgins of Shiloh. In this version the Israelites were indeed sorry for the Benjaminites. So they brought the men of Benjamin to Shiloh, where there was a feast to Yahweh every year. They told the Benjaminites to hide in ambush in the vineyards and to fall upon the girls of Shiloh who came out to dance. Each of the Benjaminites thus seized a wife from the girls of Shiloh. The Benjaminites caught as many wives as there were men, set off to their heritage and rebuilt their towns.

The last lines of the Book of Judges are sad. They say that, ‘In those days there was no king in Israel and everyone did as he saw fit’. The Israelites longed for a king and the next books of the Bible tell how indeed kings came to be chosen for Israel.

Copyright: René Dewil Back to the navigation screen (if that screen has been closed) Last updated: January 2007
Book Next Previous

Copyright: René Dewil - All rights reserved. The electronic form of this document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source as 'René Dewil - The Art of Painting - Copyright'. No permission is granted for commercial use and if you would like to reproduce this work for commercial purposes in all or in part, in any form, as in selling it as a book or published compilation, then you must ask for my permission formally and separately.