Jephthah Answers the Call
Adult 1 Sunday School Class JUDGES 11:4-11,29-31 June 18, 2017
Theme: People sometimes view their circumstances as a hindrance to being effective leaders. How do they deal with their doubts? Gideon voiced his doubts and requested a miraculous sign. Understanding and Interpreting the Scriptures (answers are in bold print)
Please explain the meaning or significance of the following verses:
Who was Jephthah? He was born of Gilead and a harlot outside of his father’s marriage. He was not warmly accepted by his half sibling or his community, and when he was older he was asked to leave town. His siblings did not want to share their inheritance with Jephthah. He left Gilead and settles among ruffians in the land of Tob. Later in life, he became an excellent warrior and negotiator, talents which Gilead could use in their time of trouble. Decisions and negotiations would have to be worked out to assist the needs of Gilead.
* JUDGES 11:4 “And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel.” “And it came to pass” means that something had happened before, that will impact what will or has happened recently. Ammon in the past, had been beaten by the Israelites during the time that they had left Egypt. Revenge is a constant way of life in the Holy Land.
* v.5 and 6, “And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob: 6. And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.”
This points out the curious nature of people. You may be despised or even hated by a person or persons, but if you can bail them out of trouble, their entire attitude toward you changes. The question is what do you do in a situation like that? That is the predicament that Jephthah found himself. When the Ammonites marched toward Gilead, the Israelites asked who would be their leader and deliver them from their enemy. The reason that they were in this position is because Gilead was practicing idol worship and God allowed their enemies to harass them. Gilead asked themselves how and with who could they be protected. Jephthah met their requirements, but would he come and help after the previous treatment which he had received. 6. They came to ask Jephthah to be their captain and lead Gilead’s troops with his ruffians against the Ammonites.
* v.7, “And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father’s house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?
- And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”Jephthah may have been born at night, but not last night. He questioned their motives and discerned that desperation was at the heart of their offer. Seeing that he was not taking the bait, they sweeten the deal and would make him head of Gilead if he won the war with the Ammonites.
*v.9 and 10, “And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again, to fight against the children of Ammon, and the LORD deliver them before me, shall I be your head? 10. And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The LORD be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words.” With skillful negotiations, if God gave him the victory over the Ammonites, Jephthah would be transformed from the head of the military to the civil head of the government. The elders solidify their position with an old custom of stating that, “the LORD be witness between us”. This means that they have sworn before God and that commitment cannot be negated. With God as their witness, this compels the parties to comply.
*v.11, “Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the LORD in Mizpeh.” Jephthah goes to Mizpeh to make his commitment to God at the same place that Laban and Jacob had agreed to Jacob taking care of both Leah and Rachel. God is brought into the mix when both parties distrust each other.
*v.29, “Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.” Jephthah, although born out of wedlock, God had taken him from obscurity to become the deliverer of the Gilleadites from being last in his community to first. Certain judges were given the gift of the Holy Spirit and given the authority and power to carry out the task that was given to them. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah and gave him the victory over the Ammonites. It proves it was not the skill or tactics of Jephthah, but the will of God.
*v.30 and 31, “And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, 31. 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.” Now Jephthah made a vow to the LORD to solidify his victory over the Ammonites, that he would, if successful, offer up a sacrifice for whatever came from the door of his house to greet him when he returned. When he returns home, it is his only child, his daughter that is first to greet him. His rush to win without careful consideration what might be the consequences of his vow to God, has cost him his daughter who must dedicate herlife to religious service.