As you can see we continue to cycle. We have read about Judges 1-5, and today we will read 6-11 all in one day. Leaving Samson for Saturday!
The Judges and their Tribes:
1. Othniel – Judah
2. Ehud – Benjamin
4. Deborah – Ephraim
5. Gideon – Manasseh
6. Tola – Issachar
7. Jair – Manasseh
8. Jephthah – Manasseh
9. Ibzan – Judah
10. Elon – Zebulun
11. Abdon – Ephraim
12. Samson – Dan
This post is late because I read it several times and just was struggling with comprehension this morning (I am just like my students).
We have two “minor” judges Tola and Jair raised up to save Israel. Then we have this long story about Jephthah #8. If it all completely made sense to you, feel free to skip the blog today.
What we are reading is not just a deterioration of the Israelites but also of the judges. The evil the Israelites commit is clearly specified as apostasy evident in the long list of foreign gods they are worshiping as well as they have completely forsaken the Lord and no longer serve him at all.
They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines. And because the Israelites forsook the Lord and no longer served him, he became angry with them. He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites, who that year shattered and crushed them. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead, the land of the Amorites.
This text is also setting up the scene for Samson and the Philistines. However, this story grows as they move from the east side of the Jordan to now the west side. The Lord initially refuses to save the people telling them to go cry to the gods they serve (ouch). Instead of waiting for the Lord to raise up a Judge to deliver them, they enlist Jephthah. Two different deals are made to convince him: making him a commander and/or making him the “head” of the people. Unlike Gideon who shows doubts about his ability without the Lord’s help, Jephthah feels confident in himself and his band of hoodlums to get the job done.
Prior to this, we see Judges that show concern for the suffering of Israel, as the people deteriorated in their sins. Jephthah’s motivation is self-interest. He has a dialogue about the land with the Ammonite king. He argues:
- When Israel came out of Egypt they did not steal land, rather the Moabites did.
- The land taken away from the Amorites was given from the Lord (King Sihon battle)
- They had the land the Lord gave them for 300 years, He sarcastically adds you we will keep the land our Lord gave us, you keep the Land your god, Chemosh, gave you. (this god will come up again when we read about Solomon)
- And concluded with: “I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the Lord, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”
The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.
Let the games begin!
When preparing for war Jephthah makes a vow with the Lord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
Just like many Christians know “a little” about the BIble and OFTEN take scriptures out of context. He knows “a little” about the Law of Moses and takes it out of context. He should have known that the Lord would never want a human sacrifice.
Chapter 12…Lord have Mercy! AGAIN!! The Ephraimites cross over the Jordan to complain like babies AFTER the battle, “why weren’t we asked to fight in your battle”. This time threatening to burn down Jephthah’s house. Gideon handled this diplomatically…Jephthah on the other hand, obviously not in the mood to dialogue like he had earlier with the king, calls on the Gileadtes to fight them. They cut off their path to escape back to the other side of the Jordan and kill 42,000 Ephraimites.
If all this is confusing with all the names just remember that the Ephraimites are ISRAELITES. The conflicts are now internal and escalating in intensity.
Jephthah led Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in a town in Gilead.
It does not say ANYTHING about years of peace following this Judge 😭
Three Minor Judges are then listed Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon. If I research them later I will put my notes in comments. Remember to print the Cheat Sheet on the Judges. Click here.