“And the people of Israel had compassion for Benjamin their brother and said, ‘One tribe is cut off from Israel this day. What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by the Lord that we will not give them any of our daughters for wives?'” (ESV – Read the chapter)
You would think that here at the end of the book we would get some kind of a happy ending. And as this chapter starts, it looks like we might. The people collectively realize what they have done in nearly completely eliminating the tribe of Benjamin by civil war. They also consider the gravity of having sworn an oath to the Lord together that they would not give their daughters as wives to the surviving men, thereby guaranteeing their eventually disappearance. It leaves the reader finally cheering a bit: “Here, now they will finally turn back to the Lord and get back on the right track.” But, that’s not the kind of book this is.
Instead, the people reveal they are still living according to their own rules and not the Lord’s. The evidence of this is the moral insanity of their “solution.” First, they go and completely wipe out all the men, women, and children of a village that didn’t participate in the civil war with the exception of the 400 virgins of the town whom they forcibly give as wives to the men of Benjamin. This got them 2/3 of the way to their goal.
For the final 200, they tell the remaining unmarried men of Benjamin to sneak up to a festival at Shiloh and kidnap brides from among the peoples who are gathered there for worship. This gets them their wives and the people technically didn’t give the women to be wives so they didn’t break their oath to the Lord. Problem solved…right? Are you kidding me? As I said before: This is obviously moral insanity. How could they think this is okay?
Because everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes. And, as we’ve said before, living this kind of way leads to nothing good. When we decide what is right, we are drawing from a broken and even poisoned well. The “solutions” we devise when we lean on our own power will almost certainly be disastrous. The only way to solve our sin-caused problems is to repent and turn away from our sin to the righteousness of God. Everything else will lead us further into trouble.