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CHAP XXI.

2 And the people came to the house The people lament over Benjamin; are in difficulty, having of God, and abode there till even before sworn not to give a wife to any of that tribe; and inquire after such as had not joined them, having sworn also to put them to God, and e lifted up their voices, and death, 1-7. On that account they destroy the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead, except four hundred virgins, whora they give wept sore; to that oumber of the remaining Benjamiles, 215. 3 And said, O LORD God of Israel, elders consult, how to find wives for the rest consistently with their oath; and by their advice they carry off the virgins who

why is this come to pass in Israel, that danced ai Shiloh, 16-23. The people separate and return

there should be to-day one tribe lacking of Israel a had

in Israel?

sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There shall

4 And it came to pass on the morrow, not any of us give his daughter unto that the people 6 rose early, and be built Benjamin to wife.

d 12. 20:18, 23, 26. Josh. 18:1.

24:18,25. 1 Kings 8:64. Heb. c Ex. 34:12-16. Deut. 7:2,3.

home, 24, 25.

the men

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Ps. 78:34,35 Hos 5:15. h 6:26. Ex. 20:24,25. 2 Sam.

Rom. 10:2.

a 20:8. Jer. 4:2.
b 5. 11:30,31. 1 Sam. 14:24. Ec.
5.2. Mark 6:23. Acts 23:12.

e 2:4. Gen. 27:38. 1 Sam. 30:4.
f Deut. 29:24. Josh. 7:7-9. Ps.
74:1. 80:12. Proy. 19:3. Is. 63:
17. Jer. 12:1.

13:10.

sinful propensities, and tenderness toward the “evil pursueth sinners;” their triumphing is short, persons of others.-If we attempt, however, to and increases their hardness and presumption: execute wrath upon offenders, or even to reprove and how dreadful will be their case, when they and reform them, while we are under the guilt of shall see destruction coming upon them, without unrepented and allowed sin in our hearts and any possibility of escape! Hitherto there is space lives; it is merciful in God to rebuke us sharply given for repentance, a refuge provided, mercy for our hypocrisy, and not leave us to be harden- | proclaimed, and a throne of grace erected: thither ed through impunity: nor can we reasonably hope | let sinners come, and plead the Savior's name, and to be useful to others unless our own sins are par- they shall yet be safe and happy. But "how will doned. (Notes, Matt. 7:1-5. Rom. 2:1-3, 17— they escape, who neglect so great salvation?” All 24.)-We should not judge of the final event of things will combine to hasten and enhance their things, unless we can determine it by the divine condemnation; especially that of men who live law. And if we are baffled in our endeavors, | under the light of the gospel. And all, who patthough honestly meant and zealously persisted in, || ronise and delight in the workers of iniquity, will to serve the cause of God; we ought not to infer as accomplices share their awful doom. (Note, that we should desist, or content ourselves in our Rom. 1:32.) ill succes: but we are reminded to inquire, whether we have begun our work in the proper

NOTES. manner and spirit; whether our private conduct CHAP. XXI. V.1. The vehement indignation do not blight our public endeavors: whether we excited by the brutal conduct of the men of Gibhave not been precipitate in our measures; wheth-eah, and the support given them by the tribe er we have duly adverted to our own character of Benjamin, induced the Israelites, without due as sinners, and are habitually exercising "repent- || consideration, to bind themselves by a solemn ance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus oath and awful curse, that none of them would Christ;" whether we have not failed of humility | give his daughter to wife to any Benjamite. and tenderness towards others; and, by self-pref-Notes, 19—21. 11:30,31. 1 Sam. 14:24–46. 25: erence and self-confidence, provoked the Lord | 21,22,39—42. Matt. 14:8–11.). They deemed to leave us experimentally to learn what we are those, who were capable of such atrocious con in ourselves, and what we can do without him. || duct towards the wife of another man, or of vin Many an honest and zealous endeavor, in a good dicating it in others, unworthy to be married cause, has attained but little success, for such to any of the daughters of Israel; and thus thes reasons as these. We should therefore strictly || ranked them with the Canaanites, and other idol examine ourselves, and be deeply humbled for aters! Had this oath been rigidly adhered to our sins; praying earnestly, that God “would not either the whole tribe must have been extirpated, condemn us, but shew us wherefore he contend- || or the survivors must have violated the law by eth with us."

marrying heathen wives. (Note, Acts 23:12 V. 26-48. Solemn times set apart for fasting and prayer V. 2, 3. When the anger and resentment of are never more seasonable, than when we are the people began to subside, and they had time constrained to lament the ill success, which has for cool reflection; they bewailed the conseattended our labors to glorify God and promote || quences of their victory, with every expression his cause, whether as ministers or private Chris- of vehement sorrow; and they seem even to have tians. When our failures have this effect, they kept a day of fasting and prayer: yet it is evident will promote our success; our very mistakes will that they did not properly repent of their own be over-ruled to teach us wisdom, and our weak- misconduct, or they would not have acted, as they ness will prove an occasion of increasing our spir-afterwards did, to the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilitual strength; Satan, and his most formidable ead. (Note, 9-12.). If it was likely, that “a tribe agents will in due time be constrained to give should be lacking in Israel," it might be justly ground; and whatsoever we attempt shall pros- || imputed to their un-commanded and most unreaper. In the mean time we should thankfully sonable and cruel slaughter of the women, who accept of chastisement, and not despair of that could not be supposed to approve the conduct of success which we at first prematurely expected. the men of Gibeah, or refuse to give them up to But it is very difficult to temper zeal with ten- || be punished; and of the children, who had comderness, and boldness with meekness and wisdom: | mitied no fault, and ought not to have been put to impetuosity burries us into unwarrantable ex-death for the crimes of their parents. ( Notes, 20: cesses, or timidity stops short of proper decis- | 43-48. Num. 31:14-18. Deut. 24:16.) In reion. We ought therefore to watch carefully over spect to the devoted Canaanites, and cities in Isour own spirits, and to pray continually to be rael wholly given up to idolatry, the Lord himself preserved from this "strange fire” in the work of | had commanded the women, (who were as prone Sod: and the same considerations should induce to idolatry as the men,) and the children also, to is to make candid allowances for those, who are be slain: but the case of Benjamin was of a very 'setrayed into similar or contrary mistakes. But || different nature. Vol. 1.

1753 95

there an altar, and offered burnt-offerings || and every woman that hath lain by man. and peace-offerings.

12 And they found among the inhabit5 And the children of Israel said, Who ants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young is there among all the tribes of Israel, + virgins, that had known no man by lythat came not up with the congregation ing with any male: and they brought unto the LORD? for they had made i a them unto the camp to P Shiloh, which is great oath concerning him that came not in the land of Canaan. up to the LORD to Mizpeh, saying, He 13 And the whole congregation sent shall surely be put to death.

some i to speak to the children of Benja6 And the children of Israel repent-min that were in the rock Rimmon, and ed them for Benjainin their brother, and to call peaceably unto them. said. There is one tribe cut off from Is- 14 And Benjamin came again at that rael this day:

time; and they gave them wives, which 7 How shall we do for wives for them they had saved alive of the women of that remain, seeing we have sworn by Jabesh-gilead: and yet so "they sufficed the LORD, that we will not give them of them not. our daughters to wives?

15 And the people s repented them 8 And they said, What one is there for Benjamin, because that the LORD of the tribes of Israel that came not up to had made a breach in the tribes of Israel. Mizpeh to the LORD? And, behold, there

(Practical Observations.) came none to the camp from m Jabesh- 16 1 Then the elders of the congre- . gilead to the assembly.

gation said, How shall we do for wives 9 For the people were numbered, and, for them that remain, seeing the women behold, there were none of the inhabitants are destroyed out of Benjamin? of Jabesh-gilcad there.

17 And they said, there must be tan 10 And the congregation sent thither inheritance for them that be escaped of twelve thousand men of the valiantest, Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed and commanded them, saying, "Go and out of Israel.

n smite the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead

18 How beit, we may not give them with the edge of the sword, with the wives of our daughters: for the children women and the children.

of Israel have "sworn, saying, Cursed be 11 And this is the thing that ye shall do, he that giveth a wife to Benjamin. Ye shall utterly destroy

every male,

* Heb. knoweth the lying with Or, proclaim peace.

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1 1,18. 5:23. Lev. 27:28,29. 1m 1 Sam. 11:1,3. 31:11-13. 2 Sam. 11:7. Jer. 48:10.

Sam. 2:5,6. k 15. 20:23. 2 Sam. 2:26. Hos. n 5. Deut. 13:15. Josh. 7:24. 11:8. Luke 19:41,42.

1 Sam. 15:3. 1 1,18. Sam. 14:28,29,45. o Num. 31:17, 18. Deut. 2:34.

Deut. man.

20:10. Is. 57:19. Luke 10:5. † Heb. women, virgins.

Eph. 2:17.
p 20:18, 23. Josh. 18:1. Ps. 78: r 12 20:47. I Cor. 7:2.
60. Jer. 7:12.

$ See on 6,17.
Heb. and spake and called. t Num. 26:55. 36:7.
9 20:47. Josh. 15:32.

I u See on 1. 11:35.

V. 4. As so great a multitude was assembled, utterly: yet they directed the detachment sent on and there were so many occasions for burnt-of- this service, to spare the virgins, or unmarried ferings, thank-offerings, and vows; it is probable women, of good character; probably with referthat the brazen altar was found insufficient, and ence to the orders given concerning the Midianthis was erected at Shiloh as a temporary addition itish women. (Note, Num. 31:14-18.). But if to it for the present occasion. Note, 1 Kings 8: | the vow would admit of this limitation, why could 63–65.)

they not spare the other women and children, and V. 5. They who, when summoned, refused to innocent persons, and only punish the criminals? join on this occasion, were doubtless blame- The women and children were not required to worthy, and deserved punishment; but this did join the army, and were in no degree accessary not warrant their brethren to devote them to de- to the crime of the men. It does not appear that struction by “a great oath.” (Note, Lev. 27:28, they asked counsel of the Lord before they pro29.) They were far too backward in attempting ceeded to action: and the habit of military exeto extirpate the Canaanites, the devoted enemies cutions, contracted in the wars of Canaan, in of God; and they neglected to punish the idola- obeying the express command of God, had no doubt trous Danites: yet without hesitation they con- too great influence on them in this transaction, signed to utter destruction, as accursed of God, which was entirely of a different nature. Indeed all such of their brethren as should slight their convenience, rather than justice or piety, seems to authority! (Marg. Ref. Note, 1 Sam. 14:24— to have induced them to spare the virgins, that they 34.)

might extricate themselves from the difficulties V.9--12. Jabesh-gılcad lay at a distance, he-l in which their other rash oath had involved them; yond Jordan, on the borders of Ammon, and per- hoping, perhaps, that a sufficient number would haps the inhabitants had not heard of the vow be found.—The four hundred, here mentioned, which Israel had made. (Note, 1 Sam. 11:1--3.) seem to have been marriageable: and it is not But if they had been guilty of neglect, or disaf- certain, whether the female children were spared fection to the common cause, they had not assist- or not.—“The land of Canaan" (12) here denotes ed the Benjamites: and yet when the people the country west of Jordan. were lamenting the desolations of that tribe, V. 16--18. The whole inheritance allotted to they proceeded to treat those, who were in- the tribe belonged to the survivors, and therecomparably less criminal, with equal rigor! fore wives must be procured them, that they migth They seem, however, to have considered them- be replenished to occupy it. Thus the remnant selves as engiged by their oath to destroy them of the Benjamites were unexpectedly advanced 7541

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19 Then they said, Behold, there is sa|| plain, that we will say unto them, Be feast of the Lord in Shiloh yearly, in a favorable unto them for our sakes; beplace which is on the north side of Beth-el

, 1 cause we reserved not to each man his on the east side of the highway that wife in the war: for ye did not give unto goeth up from Beth-el to Shechem, and them at this time, that ye should be guilty, on the south of Lebonah.

23 And the children of Benjamin did 20 Therefore they commanded the so, and took them wives according to their children of Benjamin, saying, Go and number, of them that danced, whom they lie in wait in the vineyards;

caught: and they went and returned unto 21 And see, and, behold, if the daugh-their inheritance, and repaired the cities, ters of Shiloh come out to y dance in and dwelt in them. dances, then come ye out of the vine- 24 And the children of Israel departed yards, and catch you every man his wife thence at that time, every man to his of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the tribe and to his family, and they went out land of Benjamin.

from thence every man to his inheritance. 22 And it shall be, when their fathers 25 In those days there was no king in or their brethren come unto us to com- | Israel: every man did that which was

d right in his own eyes.

X F... 23:14–16. Lev. 23:2,4,6,1 Or, on.

Sam. 18: 10,34. Num. 10:10. 23:16,26. y 11:34. E.. 1.6.v. 29.12. Deut. 16:1,10,13. Ps. 6. 2 Sam. 6:14,21. Ps. 149:3. 81:3. John 5:1. 7:2.

150:4. Ec. 3.4. Jer. 31:13. * Heb. from year to year.

Matt. 10:17. Luke 15:25. Or, toward the sun-rising.

OrGratify us in them. I b 20:48.
Philem. 9—12.

c 17:6. 18:1. 19:1.
z 14. Gen. 1:27. 7:13. Mark 10: d 18:7. Deut. 12:3.
6_-8. 1 Cor. 7:2.

Prov. 3:5. 14:12.
a 1,7,18. Prov. 20:25.

Mic. 2:1,2.

Ps. 12:4. Ec. 11:9.

to great affluence, by the miserable destruction all contests, public and private; and a good cause of their relations; and had it not been for the often becomes the occasion of great crimnes, as oath, many in the other tribes, would no doubt the excess of zeal carries men beyond all the have readily contracted affinity with them. Hence bounds of equity and humanity:-Well might the it appears that the people acted conscientiously, | politic Romans refuse a triumph to the commandas reverencing an oath, though they erred in er who conquered in civil war; in which the comjudgment concerning it; being only bound to re- mon interest is weakened, and the common enepent of having rashly entered into such a per- mies exult, whatever party acquires the ascenden plexing and unwarrantable engagement. (Marg. cy. Such unnatural contentions are generally Ref.-Note, 1.)

conducted with the most pertinacious fury, and V. 19–21. (Marg: Ref.) Sacred dances form- envenomed resentment, through the depravity of ed a part of the religious solemnities under the the human heart and the subtlety of Satan. (Note, Mosaic dispensation: and as this feast was ob- Prov. 18:19.)But this enemy is most of all gratserved at Shiloh, it may be supposed that it was ified, when he can excite divisions and contena religious festival, perhaps the feast of taberna- tions in the church, by which the truth is disclcs. These dances, however, were of young graced, the weak and prejudiced are stumbled, women alone, without either men or married wo- and the enemies of religion alone rejoiced. Yet nen.—The counsel and implied permission given many persons of apparent godliness use greater to the Benjamites, were a mere evasion of the asperity against their brethren, who are not ex. vow; and also gave a direct license to fraud, vio-actly of their mind, than against the avowed oplence, and the marriage of children without the posers of all religion! But contests thus managed consent of their parents: and if that might have end in bitterness; and the combatants will ere been dispensed with, the Benjamites could have long weep over the effects of their own success. found themselves wives, without the others giving | -Nothing can be more absurd, than solemn oaths them their daughters.

and vows made in the heat of passion: many have V. 22. To each man his wife.] In this dimin-by them entangled themselves in inextricable perished state of the tribe, when every Benjamite || plexity; and been thus induced to add one crime could have maintained several wives, and when to another, or to use the most disingenuous evathe restoration of it seemed to require this meas-sions and equivocations. Of all things, such solure, the elders only devised how to procure one emn and important engagements require the most for each man; whence it appears, that polygamy, cautious reflection on future probable consequenthough connived at, was not generally practised ces.--Our penitent confessions, and devotional or countenanced. (Note, Gen. 7:7.) Neither did exercises, are too often succeeded by relapses into any one propose sending them to the neighboring sin, for want of simply seeking direction from God, nations to procure wives; by which it is probable, and depending on him to uphold us.--Even nethat marriages with them were seldom contracted cessary justice should be executed with deep conat that time.

cern: and men would not be forward in inflicting V. 23. Thus the remains of the tribe began || vengeance on the less guilty, while more atrocious to increase; and it is thought by many, that Ehud criminals were spared, were they not more ambiwas raised up from this tribe to be the judge of Is- | tious of dominion for themselves, than zealous for rael, after it had been thus diminished.

the glory of God.-Even lawful employments may V. 25. Notes, 17:6. 18:7—10.

induce habits, which will be apt to influence the

conduct in concerns of another nature, and with PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS. very bad effect: we should therefore seek for selfV. 1—15.

knowledge, keep a strict watch over our hearts, When the passions are vehemently excited, those and daily consult the word of God as the rule of measures appear needful, which are afterwards our duty. perceived to be unreasonable and unlawful; and therefore, when we at all suspect this to be our

V. 16–25. case, we should be sure to proceed with great When even great offenders are exceedingly caution and deliberation, if we would not make | cast down, they should be treated with gentleness, work for bitter repentance. This danger attends || and preserved, if possible, from temptations to

despair and total apostacy: (Note, 2 Cor. 2:5–11.) || be so absurd, as to counsel others to acts of and every act of apparent severity should be con- treachery or violence, and to countenance them nected with evident disinterestedness. Too often in such evils, from a sense of duty, forms a striking the very ordinances of God degenerate into a proof of the blindness of the human mind when mere form, and carnal mirth supplants holy re- left to itself, and of the fatal effects of an ignorant joicing; but those scenes, wbich the dissipated and or erroneous conscience.-Our troubles in this sensual inost delight in, expose them to unthought-world may be succeeded by seasons of comfort, of consequences, and give Satan and designing and end in our advantage; but they who are cut men their utmost advantage against them: all our off in their sins, sink into evil, only evil, and that cheerfulness should therefore be tempered with for ever.–Finally, we should be thankful for good reflection and watchfulness.-Children, who mar- | magistrates, to restrain the violence of wicked ry without the consent of their parents, are in | men: but the fear and love of God, if we are general very celpable; and those are still more Christians, will deter us from “doing what is right deeply crimine) who entice them to do so: yet in our own eyes,” except as they are opened to when the mav.er cannot be remedied, it is com- behold the excellency of his most holy law, and monly the parent's duty and wisdom to be favor- | as our hearts are so renewed as to delight in obey. able, and to make the best of it-That men can I ing it. 756]

END OF VOL. I.

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