Judges 11

Judges 11 has the leadership of Israel taking a new twist.  “Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute”.  He is the man the leaders want to help them deal with the enemy.  But years earlier, his half-brothers “drove Jephthah out and said….You shall not have an inheritance in our father’s house”.  They drove him out of town and he headed to another land to live.  Now, the leaders have asked him to return and lead the army into battle.

They said to Jephthah, “Come and be our leader that we may fight with the Ammonites”.  He wasn’t good enough to remain as part of the family and receive any inheritance, but now in the hour of need, the elders want him back.  Isn’t that how we do things so often?  It is all about what we need at the moment.  Jephthah is a bit bitter about what happened years ago, and doesn’t just rush back.  But he bargains with the elders as he sees this as a chance to restore things the way they should be.

If you bring me home again to fight with the Ammonites, and the Lord gives them over to me, I will be your head”.  Basically he’s willing if the outcome will be that he becomes leader over all.  Not only will he be able to return, but he’ll be over his half-brothers who drove him away earlier as well.  They agree and immediately “Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites” in an attempt to negotiate a peaceful settlement.  But they want no part of it and there is going to be a battle.

Jephthah goes to the Lord and “made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering”.  If God allows him the victory, he’ll sacrifice the first person who comes out to meet him.  He didn’t think it through well, as God gave him the victory and the person who came out was his only daughter.  He did follow through with his vow, and it was a painful experience.  We must be careful what we vow to God.

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