Wow. Israel is so angry at at the tribe of Benjamin that they do something way over the top in response to their not coming to the gathering that was planned at Bethel to offer sacrifices to God at their sorrow for what the Benjaminites had done to the concubine.
It was because of the fear of retribution that the tribe of Benjamin didn’t show up. They had stayed in Jabesh Gilead. But Israel had made an agreement that anyone who didn’t come to Bethel to participate would be put to death. Of course, this agreement was, to say the least, overzealous.
But in their zeal, Israel sent 12,000 warriors to kill every man, woman and child who were living in Jabesh Gilead. But they were to spare the virgins.
After this, the Israelite tribes realized that the tribe of Benjamin would become extinct if something wasn’t done, and the couldn’t allow that, so they sent an offer of peace to where the remaining Benjaminites were hiding. They accepted the offer of peace.
In order to ensure the survival of the tribe of Benjamin, they were given the 400 virgins that had been spared from the attack on Jabesh Gilead, but there were not enough for all the men.
And that’s when the elders of the community hatched another bone-headed plan. They devised a way for the remaining Benjaminites to kidnap wives for themselves. Not their best hour, to be sure.
Which is why the chapter, and the book, ends with the words, “In those days Israel didn’t have a king. The people did anything they thought was right.”