Judges 10-12 Jephthah
11 Last time on Saviors that Fail: The “kingship” of Gideon only lasted one generation. His son, Abimelech, was killed after killing everyone in his hometown as revenge for a coup. Abimelech was a king chosen by men, and killed by a woman. How would things be different if God had chosen a king? Is Gideon’s legacy finally over? The LORD said to the Israelites, “When the Egyptians, Amoritesnot-Ammonites, Ammonites, Philistines, 12 Sidonians, Amalekites, and Maonites oppressed you, and you cried out to me, did I not deliver you from them? 13 But you have abandoned me and worshiped other gods. Therefore, I will not deliver you again. 14 Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them deliver you whenever you are oppressed.” Israel’s Rebellion and Repentance 6 Then the Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. They worshiped the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Aram, Sidon, and Moab, and the gods of the Ammonites and the 15 But the Israelites said, “We have sinned. Deal with us as you see fit; only rescue us today!” 16 So they got rid of the foreign The evil The author has defined “the evil” several times: following other gods. In Deuteronomy, “the evil” always meant following other gods and doing the terrible things that result. “Evil” is murder/theft/adultery but “the evil” is violating the first commandment—"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. Do not have other gods besides me.” Philistines. They abandoned the LORD and did not worship him. 7 So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel, and he sold them to the Philistines and the Ammonites. 8 They shattered and crushed the Israelites that year, and for eighteen years they did the same to all the Israelites who were on the other side of the Jordan in the gods among them and worshiped the LORD, and he became weary of Israel’s misery. 17 The Ammonites were called together, and they camped in Gilead. So the Israelites assembled and camped at Mizpah. 18 The rulers of Gilead said to one another, “Which man will begin the fight against the Ammonites? He will be the leader of all the inhabitants of Gilead.” Rebellion and mercy Israel was attached on both sides: Philistines from the east and Ammonites from the west. This story of Jephthah (say “Jeff-the”) concerns the Ammonites. The next major judge, Samson, will fight the Philistines. The author reminds us how Israel violated the first commandment, and the anger that God has for it. God’s anger turned them away, but mercy won the day. Did God “Deal with us as you see fit”? This section lists a lot of names. It sets up the players for the next several chapters. land of the Amoritesnot-Ammonites in Gilead. 9 The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah, Benjamin, and the house of Ephraim. Israel was greatly oppressed, 10 so Jephthah Becomes Israel’s Leader they cried out to the LORD, saying, “We have 11 Jephthah the Gileadite was a valiant sinned against you. We have abandoned our warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute, and God and worshiped the Baals.” Gilead was his father. 2 Gilead’s wife bore him sons, and when they grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You will have no inheritance in our father’s family, because you Jephthah Rejects Ammonite Claims are the son of another woman.” 3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Then some worthless men joined Jephthah and went on raids with him. Like Gideon’s concubine, the prostitute who bore Jephthah may have been a Canaanite woman. Ritual/cultic prostitution was a feature of Canaanite religion, and it ensnared many in Israel. 12 4 Some time later, the Ammonites fought against Israel. 5 When the Ammonites made war with Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 They said to Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites, asking, “What do you have against me that you have come to fight me in my land?” 13 The king of the Ammonites said to Jephthah’s him, “Come, be our commander, and let’s fight messengers, “When Israel came from Egypt, the Ammonites.” they seized my land from the Arnon to the 7 Jephthah replied to the elders of Gilead, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me out of my father’s family? Why then have you come to me now when you’re in trouble?” 8 They answered Jephthah, “That’s true. But now we turn to you. Come with us, fight the Ammonites, and you will become leader of all the inhabitants of Gilead.” 9 So Jephthah said to them, “If you are bringing Jabbok and the Jordan. Now restore it peaceably.” 14 A lie Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites 15 to tell him, “This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites. 16 But when they came from Egypt, Israel traveled through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. 17 Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, me back to fight the Ammonites and ‘Please let us travel through your land,’ but the the LORD gives them to me, I will be your king of Edom would not listen. They also sent leader.” messengers to the king of Moab, but he 10 The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, refused. So Israel stayed in Kadesh. “The LORD is our witness if we don’t do as you 18 say.” 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of and around the lands of Edom and Moab. They Gilead. The people made him their leader and came to the east side of the land of Moab and commander, and Jephthah repeated all his camped on the other side of the Arnon but did terms in the presence of the LORD at Mizpah. not enter into the territory of Moab, for the “Then they traveled through the wilderness Arnon was the boundary of Moab. 19 “Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amoritesnot-Ammonites, king of Heshbon. Israel said to him, ‘Please let us travel through your land to our country,’ 20 but Sihon would not trust Israel to pass through his territory. Instead, From Hamlet to Avengers: Sacrificing a daughter is a literary trope. Sihon gathered all his troops, camped at Jahaz, and fought with Israel. 21 Then the LORD God of Israel handed over Sihon and all his troops to Jephthah’s Vow and Sacrifice Israel, and they defeated them. So Israel took possession of the entire land of the AmoritesnotAmmonites who lived in that country. 22 They took possession of all the territory of the AmoritesnotAmmonites from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan. 23 “The LORD God of Israel has now driven out 29 The Spirit of the LORD came on Jephthah, who traveled through Gilead and Manasseh, and then through Mizpah of Gilead. He crossed over to the Ammonites from Mizpah of Gilead. 30 Jephthah made this vow to the LORD: “If you in fact hand over the Ammonites to me, 31 whoever comes out the doors of my the Amoritesnot-Ammonites before his people Israel, house to greet me when I return safely from and will you now force us out? 24 Isn’t it true the Ammonites will belong to the LORD, and I that you can have whatever your god Chemosh will offer that person as a burnt offering.” conquers for you, and we can have whatever the LORD our God conquers for us? 25 Now are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever contend with Israel or fight against them? 26 While Israel lived three hundred years in Heshbon and Aroer and their surrounding villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, why didn’t you 32 Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the LORD handed them over to him. 33 He defeated twenty of their cities with a great slaughter from Aroer all the way to the entrance of Minnith and to Abel-keramim. So the Ammonites were subdued before the Israelites. When Jephthah went to his home in Mizpah, take them back at that time? 27 I have not 34 sinned against you, but you are doing me there was his daughter, coming out to meet wrong by fighting against me. Let the LORD who him with tambourines and dancing! She was his is the judge decide today between the only child; he had no other son or daughter Israelites and the Ammonites.” 28 But the king of besides her. 35 When he saw her, he tore his the Ammonites would not listen to Jephthah’s clothes and said, “No! Not my daughter! You message that he sent him. have devastated me! You have brought great More than any prior judge, Jephthah is a diplomat first. We would have expected the “valiant warrior” to pick a fight, but he makes a long speech trying to get out of it. Chemosh was not the god of the Ammonites, but of the Moabites. Jephthah’s flawed pagan theology underlines for us his flawed overall theology: God acts and we respond, not the other way around. misery on me. I have given my word to the LORD and cannot take it back.” 36 Then she said to him, “My father, you have because Ephraim had said, “You Gileadites are given your word to the LORD. Do to me as you Ephraimite fugitives in the territories of have said, for the LORD brought vengeance on Ephraim and Manasseh.” 5 The Gileadites your enemies, the Ammonites.” 37 She also said captured the fords of the Jordan leading to to her father, “Let me do this one thing: Let me Ephraim. Whenever a fugitive from Ephraim wander two months through the mountains said, “Let me cross over,” the Gileadites asked with my friends and mourn my virginity.” him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he answered, 38 “Go,” he said. And he sent her away two months. So she left with her friends and mourned her virginity as she wandered through the mountains. 39 At the end of two months, she returned to her father, and he kept the vow he “No,” 6 they told him, “Please say Shibboleth.” If he said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce it correctly, they seized him and executed him at the fords of the Jordan. At that time forty-two thousand from Ephraim died. had made about her. And she had never been 7 intimate with a man. Now it became a custom died, he was buried in one of the cities of in Israel 40 that four days each year the young Gilead. women of Israel would commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite. What the daughter right to encourage Jephthah to finish the vow? Was her theology correct? What did God think about the vow? Conflict with Ephraim 12 The men of Ephraim were called together and crossed the Jordan to Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, “Why have you crossed over to fight against the Ammonites but didn’t call us to go with you? We will burn your house with you in it!” 2 Then Jephthah said to them, “My people and I had a bitter conflict with the Ammonites. So I called for you, but you didn’t deliver me from Jephthah judged Israel six years, and when he Short rule, no dignity in death, no heir. Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon 8 Ibzan, who was from Bethlehem, judged Israel after Jephthah 9 and had thirty sons. He gave his thirty daughters in marriage to men outside the tribe and brought back thirty wives for his sons from outside the tribe. Ibzan judged Israel seven years, 10 and when he died, he was buried in Bethlehem. 11 Elon, who was from Zebulun, judged Israel after Ibzan. He judged Israel ten years, 12 and when he died, he was buried in Aijalon in the land of Zebulun. 13 After Elon, Abdon son of Hillel, who was from their power. 3 When I saw that you weren’t Pirathon, judged Israel. 14 He had forty sons and going to deliver me, I took my life in my own thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy Gideon’s legacy. 15 hands and crossed over to the Ammonites, and donkeys. Abdon judged Israel eight years, and when he died, he was buried in Pirathon in the the LORD handed them over to me. Why then have you come today to fight against me?” 4 Then Jephthah gathered all of the men of Gilead. They fought and defeated Ephraim, land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites. Questions for application: What things do I do that seem like following God, but aren’t? How should I respond to God when he blesses me? What parts of my life am I trying to be right on my own?