In the Old Testament book of Judges 19-21 we read of a “civil war” in Israel. The tribe of Benjamin sinned greatly in one of the most disturbing episodes recorded in the Old Testament. (You can read about it in chapters 19-20 if you want, but it’s a very unsettling account. You are forewarned.) Their offense was so egregious the other 11 tribes felt compelled to take up arms against their fellow Israelites, a sad state of affairs in any nation’s history.
When the dust settled and the blood stopped flowing there were almost no fighting men left for the Benjamites, and all their wives were dead as well. 600 soldiers did manage to escape and go into hiding. As I said, it is a very sorry chapter in the history of God’s Old Covenant people.
The plot thickens.
There were 400 young women of Benjamin who had never married, virgins who were now looking at very diminished prospects because of the loss of so many eligible men in their tribe. They were quickly married off to 400 of the survivors. That left 200 men of the tribe with no wives, and no prospects. What to do?
They weren’t going to get wives from the other tribes, as the bad blood between them ran deep. So the elders of the tribe hit upon this strategy:
Occasionally there was a feast in the town of Shiloh. When the next one rolled around, the elders told the young bachelors to hide in the vineyards, wait for the daughters of Shiloh to come out for the dance, basically ambush them and each one carry his bride-to-be off to his home.
And that’s what they did.
How’s that for a whirlwind courtship?
So, imagine you are one of those young warriors and/or his wife in later years, and the kids say, “So, Mom and Dad –how did you two meet?”
“Um, well, uh … see …. We met at this dance ….”
Ah, the romance … I can hardly wait for the Hollywood version of this one to come out.