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JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTERS 11 &12 (JEPHTHAH, IBZAN, ELON, & ABDON)

September 8, 2018

In chapter 11 Jephthah the eighth judge of Israel was described as a mighty man of valor and the son of a harlot. This last description caused his paternal relatives to reject and disinherit him; therefore, Jephthah left his home and went to Tob where a discontented band of desperadoes joined him.

When the Ammonites attacked Israel, the elders of Gilead found and approached Jephthah about being their leader causing him to remind them of their previous mistreatment of him. After a bit of negotiating Jephthah accepted the position and the agreement was sealed with a religious oath by the elders and reaffirmed by Jephthah before God in Mizpeh.

Prior to entering into battle with the Ammonites Jephthah attempted to investigate why they invaded the land of Israel. His finding revealed the Ammonites accused Israel of taking their land; however, since he knew the history, he was able to share with them how Israel came to possess the land. This information was not readily received by the king of Ammon and consequently conflict continued.

At the appointed time the Spirit of the Lord empowered Jephthah, and he prepared for battle by mustering up his troops. Also, he made this unadvisable vow to God, “If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering” (Judges 11:30-31). Jephthah was victorious, and he captured twenty of the Ammonites’ strongholds. Regrettably, when he arrived home, his only child who was a daughter came through the door. Jephthah was saddened, but he felt obligated to keep his vow, and this he did after granting her a two-month delay so that she could go up and down the mountain with her friends bewailing her virginity.

Chapter 12 reveals the Ephraimites as they did with Gideon complained and threatened Jephthah’s life over their noninvolvement in the battle; thus, he reminded them when he summoned them to come and participate in the battle they did not come. Unfortunately, this dispute ended with an intertribal war. Jephthah and his army fought, captured those who attempted to escape with a pronunciation test and killed forty-two thousand Ephraimites.

Chapter 12 closes with the names of three judges who served after the six-year judgeship and death of Jephthah. Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel for seven years, Elon, a Zebulonite, judged for ten years and Abdon a Pirathonite judged Israel for eight years.

Conclusion: Jephthah’s maternal birth lineage bothered his paternal family and tribesmen, but they were impressed with his valor and was willing to overlook his parentage when they need his help and military skills.

History reveals the Edomites, and Moabites did not allow Israel to pass through their land because they thought Israel wanted their territory and they did not trust them to pass through their land peacefully.

Jephthah was wise in acknowledging his success came from God, and with God’s empowerment, Jephthah was victorious.

The commentaries give various opinions on whether Jephthah offered his daughter up as a burnt sacrifice which was not approved by God. Some believed the text inferred he did offer her as a burnt offering while others felt he consecrated her to God and she remained a single virgin for the remainder of her life in the service of the sanctuary. I believe he was ignorant of the Law, did not realize it was unacceptable to God, made this rash vow and offered his daughter as a burnt sacrifice.

Also worth noting, Jephthah’s daughter loved her father so much she was willing to give up her life for him.

True friends rejoice when you rejoice and grieve when you grieve.

Some Ephraimites thought they could escape capture, but their speech gave them away for they were unable to pronounce the word “shibboleth” when asked by their captors and this led to their demise.

Spiritual Application: Your parentage does not determine your capabilities neither hinders your advancements.

When you are in a vulnerable state beware of those who attach themselves to you.

Be kind to everyone; you never know when you might need their assistance.

When in need people will overlook the past differences they had with you.

Know your history.

Before entering into a fight try to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

Use diplomacy when interacting with your adversary.

Distrust can cause unnecessary disagreements.

Make war your last option.

Take possession of all that God has for you.

When you make a vow be sure it is in line with God’s word.

Vows not only affect you but those around you.

Don’t offer God unacceptable sacrifices.

Men can recognize you from your speech.

FYI: for those of you that are following this Judges Series, in the past, I blogged on the life of Samson in a “Samson Series – Judges 13-16” and if you are interested in reading it you will be able to find it in the archives. So, my next blog in this Judges Series will pick up next week with chapter 17.

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