Judges 11-12

Gilead puts Jephthah in command because of his strength, though they cast him away before, and though he gathered worthless men to himself.  He gives the Ammonites, gathered for war against Israel, a history lesson in how God gave Israel the land the Ammonites want back.  He gathers Israel, takes a rash vow to sacrifice to God the first thing out of his gate when he returns home, and wins the battle.  His daughter, his only child, comes out first!

Ephraim complains to Jephthah like they did to Gideon (8:1-3).  But Jephthah isn't the diplomat Gideon was and civil war ensues.  Jephthah conducts tribal genocide (42,000 dead) by the watchword "shibboleth."  Jephthah judges for 6 years.  Ibzan of Bethlehem judges for 7 years.  Elon judges for 10 years.  Abdon judges for 8 years.

How this is about Jesus

  • Could Jephthah's daughter be a pre-quel to Christ?  Killed out of misguided zeal by Israel's leader.  Her purity is emphasized as Jesus' innocence was.
  • The stone the builders rejected became the capstone - as Israel rejected Jephthah at first then took him as leader, so Israel rejected and crucified Jesus.  He came to bring division and a sword - brother against brother.  But every knee will bow to Him in the end.


  • Just because you CAN do a thing doesn't mean you should.  Jephthah grew strong and thought might meant right.  His treatment of Ephraim was horrific.
  • Just because you make a promise doesn't mean you should keep it, if it would mean sinning.  We should swear to our own hurt (Psalm 15:4), but not that of others (e.g., Jephthah's daughter).
  • Just because someone else succeeds, doesn't mean you should envy them and complain against them.  Ephraim does this twice, to Gideon and Jephthah, and neither time with good reason.  Gideon's gentle answer turned away wrath.  Jephthah's rough handling of people led to unnecessary and bloody violence.

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