11.1-3 Jephthah (the eastern region). Jephthah is the ninth judge of Israel and delivered God’s people from 18 years of oppression by Ammon. Jephthah was an illegitimate child cast out from the family because they did not want to share the inheritance. Jephthah fled to Tob and joined himself to some worthless men. The inhabitants of Gilead summon him back to deliver them from Ammon. He is successful and makes his famous vow concerning his daughter. He later killed 42,000 of the tribe of Ephraim. He is mentioned in Hebrews 11 as a hero of faith.

11.4-10 Gilead. This region is very luxuriant and well watered. The contrast the western part of the country is stark. Ammon claims Israel took this region from them after the exodus from Egypt, which Jephthah ignores. The story of this man draws an early parallel to Jesus. Jesus was also rejected by his brethren, then becomes the captain of our salvation. As with Jesus, Jephthah did not allow his parents to deter his mission. Jephthah realizes they turn to him in desperation, not because of love or respect.

11.11-24 Once Jephthah is made captain he dialogs with Ammon. The discussion rehashes old accusations. Included in the argument, Jephthah challenges them to allow their God to prove himself. This may be the catalyst that causes the writer of Hebrews to include Jephthah in the heroes of faith. Jephthah tried to negotiate without war, but was unsuccessful. Jephthah’s final answer was we will see whose God is more powerful. 

11.25-28 Jephthah bolsters his argument by submitting the witness of Balak, and by extension Balaam. The King of Ammon is unconvinced so they go to war. 

11.29-40 the vow. Few subjects in holy scripture have been scrutinized as much as this. The answer is still inconclusive. The evidence is difficult because he says whatever comes out of his house. This limits the vow greatly. Some believe he offered his daughter as a burnt offering in the custom of the nations around him at that time (Mic 6.6-8). They argue God did not condone this, but he did not intervene. Later the prophets would rebuke this practice. It was based on giving to God your most prized possession and mirrored Abraham and Issac. Added to this is her surrender to the vow, this is mirrored in Mary (Luke 1.38). This deep love for God would overshadow any human love by both Jephthah and his daughter. This would be cause for him to be included in the great chapter of faith in Hebrews 11. It is easy to lose sight of the world at that time because we see it 3,500 years later. Should it be the case that he offered her on a burnt offering, is this less to be pitied than the parent who lays their child on the altar of worldliness? Many parents lay their children on altars of sin, ungodliness, and unrighteousness. Do we grieve as acutely for these children as we do for this damsel offered in deep love and consecration to God? The tribute to this girl by the daughters of Israel lend further support to the finality of Jephthah’s actions. She was praised each year for 4 days by the young maidens. Jephthah won the greatest of victories and paid the highest of prices. Such is life, great victory always comes at the highest price.

Thanks for reading today….

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