Okay, so Israel puts Jabesh-gilead to the sword, including women and children. But! But, how does this solve the problem? Benjamin will die out, so what does this accomplish? We’re not done yet with the worse.
See, there were more instructions.
“This is what you shall do; every male and every woman that has lain with a male you shall devote to destruction.” That means that they’re going to slaughter everybody but “four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man.”
The Israelites slaughtered an entire town, including women and children, except the virgins. Then they gave those women to the Benjamites so that they could have more children. Essentially, Israel advocated sexual slavery in order to restore the tribe of Benjamin from the verge of extinction.
And they did it twice.
Jabesh-gilead didn’t have enough women, so they also sent them to “the yearly festival of the Lord . . . taking place at Shiloh” and then instructed the Benjamites who hadn’t gotten a wife so far to “carry off a wife for himself from the young women of Shiloh” when they “come out to dance” in the festival.
Okay, need another moment, here.
Right, They did the thing with Jabesh-gilead, which was horrendous. Because there weren’t enough women from that, they tell them to go to a place that is celebrating a festival to God, and carry off even more women.
Somehow, this was acceptable. Somehow, Israel rationalized that this was a good move, that this is something that God would want and advocate. Remember when I doubted God’s involvement in this story. This is just another reason as to why. This does not sound like God at all.
The repetition of events and storytelling in this chapter also make me think that it’s been heavily edited, either because they needed to make the story fit, or they needed to emphasize the crimes that are going on here. Somehow, at the time, Israel believed that they were doing the right thing, but I really can’t see how that can be. I’d much rather go back to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, complete with the rapes from Lot’s daughters. That seems like a much more wholesome story.
Don’t worry, I’ll be back to try and make some sense of this (if that’s possible).