Judges 11 Commentary
The story of Jephthah is similar to Abimelek’s. Both are born under similar circumstances. You would expect Jephthah suffered abuse from other family members before he was eventually driven out. That is the difficulty that men subject their children to when they decide to have children in that way. The LORD, however, treats all equally as we learned from Jacob’s multiple marriages.
Like Abimelek, Jephthah found solace in a group of scoundrels. He was an effective leader.
When Ammon pressed against Israel, the elders sought out Jephthah from the land of Tob. They needed a leader.
Jephthah’s knowledge of the history of Israel is very impressive. We are however disappointed with his knowledge of the LORD that put him on this mission. How dare he thinks of offering the LORD an incentive in form of a promise? What is Jephthah thinking about? Does he think of the LORD as one of the Canaanites gods who demanded such incentives or offerings?
Regardless, Jephthah goes ahead and does what the LORD had clearly forbidden.
There are fewer stories as depressing as Jephthah’s story. It is this story and a couple of others right close to this chapter that makes the Book of Judges eligible for a spot on the list of the ‘most horrific stories’.
It is the sin of child sacrifice that compelled the LORD to act against Canaanite peoples. But here we are with Israel very much practicing the same. We are looking at a people hardly distinguishable from the nations they needed to drive out.
What is very interesting is that Jephthah decides to keep a sinful promise that he shouldn’t have made in the very first place. This strong feeling to stick to a wrong decision that has neither the LORD’s blessing nor support from the written word of the LORD is most amazing.
John the Baptist died because of a foolishly made promise that an evil king thought he needed to keep. If only men manifested the same attachment to the commandments of the LORD!
The chapter closes on this very sad note. Does anyone still ask why we need salvation?
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