The eighth judge is Jephthah. Jephthah defeats Ammon. Jephthah slaughters his own daughter.
VERSE 1. Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor. He was the son of a prostitute. Gilead became the father of Jephthah.
Jephthah the Gileadite. He is a notorious leader.
He was the son of a prostitute. Jephthah was probably half Canaanite.
VERSE 2. Gilead’s wife bore him sons. When his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You will not inherit in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.”
they drove Jephthah out. Jephthah was forced out of his home by his half brothers.
VERSE 3. Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Outlaws joined up with Jephthah, and they went out with him.
Outlaws joined up with Jephthah. They formed a band of brigands.
VERSE 4. After a while, the children of Ammon made war against Israel.
VERSE 5. When the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah out of the land of Tob.
VERSE 6. They said to Jephthah, “Come and be our chief, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.”
Come and be our chief. Gideon and the other judges were called by the LORD God. But Jephthah is merely called by the elders.
VERSE 7. Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Didn’t you hate me, and drive me out of my father’s house? Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?”
VERSE 8. The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “Therefore we have turned again to you now, that you may go with us and fight with the children of Ammon. You will be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”
You will be our head. The elders of Gilead know Jephthah is a very bad man. But they vote for him anyway.
VERSE 9. Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you bring me home again to fight with the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivers them before me, will I be your head?”
will I be your head? Jephthah verifies that they want him to be their leader.
VERSE 10. The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The LORD will be witness between us. Surely we will do what you say.”
we will do what you say. They are opening the door to a fascist takeover.
VERSE 11. Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and chief over them. Jephthah spoke all his words before the LORD in Mizpah.
VERSE 12. Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the children of Ammon, saying, “What do you have to do with me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?”
Jephthah sent messengers. Jephthah’s first step is to seek a nonmilitary settlement to the conflict with Ammon.
What do you have to do with me. Instead of speaking on behalf of his tribe, he merely speaks about himself. This suggests Jephthah has a narcissistic personality.
VERSE 13. The king of the children of Ammon answered the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel took away my land when he came up out of Egypt, from the Arnon even to the Jabbok, and to the Jordan. Now therefore restore that territory again peaceably.”
Because Israel took away my land. In the verses that follow, Jephthah demonstrates their claim is not true.
VERSE 14. Jephthah sent messengers again to the king of the children of Ammon;
VERSE 15. and he said to him, “Jephthah says: Israel didn’t take away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon;
Israel didn’t take away the land of Moab. Jephthah confronts Ammon about their lying.
In the following section, Jephthah reviews their history.
VERSE 16. but when they came up from Egypt, and Israel went through the wilderness to the Sea of Suf, and came to Kadesh,
VERSE 17. then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Please let me pass through your land;’ but the king of Edom didn’t listen. In the same way, he sent to the king of Moab, but he refused; so Israel stayed in Kadesh.
VERSE 18. Then they went through the wilderness, and went around the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and they encamped on the other side of the Arnon; but they didn’t come within the border of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab.
VERSE 19. Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said to him, ‘Please let us pass through your land to my place.’
VERSE 20. But Sihon didn’t trust Israel to pass through his border; but Sihon gathered all his people together, and encamped in Jahaz, and fought against Israel.
VERSE 21. The LORD, the God of Israel, delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they struck them. So Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country.
VERSE 22. They possessed all the border of the Amorites, from the Arnon even to the Jabbok, and from the wilderness even to the Jordan.
VERSE 23. So now the LORD, the God of Israel, has dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and should you possess them?
VERSE 24. Won’t you possess that which Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whoever the LORD our God has dispossessed from before us, them will we possess.
VERSE 25. Now are you anything better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them?
VERSE 26. Israel lived in Heshbon and its towns, and in Aroer and its towns, and in all the cities that are along the side of the Arnon for three hundred years! Why didn’t you recover them within that time?
VERSE 27. Therefore I have not sinned against you, but you do me wrong to war against me. May The LORD the Judge be judge today between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.”
you do me wrong to war against me. Instead of speaking on behalf of his tribe, he merely speaks about himself. This suggests Jephthah has a narcissistic personality.
VERSE 28. However, the king of the children of Ammon didn’t listen to the words of Jephthah which he sent him.
VERSE 29. Then the LORD’s Spirit came on Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed over to the children of Ammon.
the LORD’s Spirit came on Jephthah. Jephthah is given the Holy Spirit.
VERSE 30. Jephthah vowed a vow to the LORD, and said, “If you will indeed deliver the children of Ammon into my hand,
Jephthah vowed a vow to the LORD. We should not make promises. Or vows. Rather, our YES should mean YES. And our NO should mean NO. Read more »
VERSE 31. then it shall be, that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, it shall be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”
I will offer it up for a burnt offering. That is, “I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering” (NIV translation).
Jephthah intends to kill a human as a burnt sacrifice.
VERSE 32. So Jephthah passed over to the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hand.
VERSE 33. He struck them from Aroer until you come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and to Abelcheramim, with a very great slaughter. So the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
even twenty cities. Jephthah devastated 20 Ammonite-occupied towns in Gilead.
a very great slaughter. Jephthah killed a great many Ammonites.
VERSE 34. Jephthah came to Mizpah to his house; and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter.
his daughter came out to meet him. Back in verse 30 above, Jephthah made that ridiculous vow. Now he finds the conditions are fulfilled.
She was his only child. This makes Jephthah’s vow even more catastrophic. He will slaughter his only child.
Jephthah is in a situation that reminds us of Abraham. But the outcomes are the opposite:
Abraham was called to sacrifice his child. But Abraham didn’t do it.
Foolish Jephthah is NOT called to sacrifice his own child. But he does it anyway.
VERSE 35. When he saw her, he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are one of those who trouble me; for I have opened my mouth to the LORD, and I can’t go back.”
You have brought me very low. Jephthah blames his daughter for his predicament. But he should blame himself.
Jephthah is a fool for having made a vow. And he is even more of a fool if he follows through with it.
VERSE 36. She said to him, “My father, you have opened your mouth to the LORD; do to me according to that which has proceeded out of your mouth, because the LORD has taken vengeance for you on your enemies, even on the children of Ammon.”
VERSE 37. Then she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me. Leave me alone two months, that I may depart and go down on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions.”
VERSE 38. He said, “Go.” He sent her away for two months; and she departed, she and her companions, and mourned her virginity on the mountains.
VERSE 39. At the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed. She was a virgin. It became a custom in Israel
did with her according to his vow. Foolish Jephthah slaughters his own daughter.
VERSE 40. that the daughters of Israel went yearly to celebrate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.
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