Judges 12:8-15 (Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon, Judges of Israel)

Artwork by Douglas Kallerson.

Judges 12:8-15
(Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon, Judges of Israel)

(Typed 18 March 2024) In previous Judges sermons, we have seen pictures of what is coming upon Israel, and indeed the whole world, in the tribulation period. That was especially on display in the story of Gideon.

However, the narrative went back in time and gave us a look into the work of the antichrist during the tribulation period through the story of Abimelech.

Tola and Jair then gave insights into the coming millennium. But the ongoing narrative again backed up in the next passage to provide further detail into the time of Israel without Christ. This was a necessary step to lead to an understanding of who is and who is not right with God.

Clarity is needed to understand who of Israel would enter the millennium. In other words, there are believers before the time of Jesus who will enter, such as Daniel. They were saved under the time of the law, but not everyone under the time of the law was saved.

Likewise, the people after the coming of Christ who hold to the law could say, “We are doing what they were doing and we will be saved.” But that is incorrect. This was clearly revealed in the sermons about Jephthah.

Each account has been given to provide insights into redemptive history and to have those who look into these things solidify their theology concerning proper doctrine during various dispensations.

With Jephthah complete, a picture similar to that of Tola and Jair appears again in today’s verses.

Text Verse: “Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?’
14 And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’
So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.” Revelation 17:13-15

Israel today is A People who are not God’s people, except in regard to His future reacceptance of them. That was clearly and unambiguously seen in the sermons on Jephthah.

So the question is, what is it that makes any people the people of God? The answer is faith. But more than that, it is properly directed faith. Those who were under the law before Jesus’ coming were saved by faith in God’s provision at that time.

Since Christ’s coming, man is saved by faith in God’s provision of Jesus Christ. One cannot back up to the law and say, “I am going to be saved by God’s provision of the Law of Moses.” No! It didn’t save at that time, except as it anticipated Christ, and it cannot save at all now – in any way, shape, or form because Christ has come and fulfilled it. The time of the law is done.

Jephthah cleared that up. Now, we come to the results of that typology in the naming of three Judges of Israel. The passage is filled with wonderful hints of what God has ahead in history. Please enjoy the pictures to come. They are a magnificent part of God’s superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again, and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. They Judged Israel (verses 8-15)

The narrative now turns to three judges whose combined time of judging Israel comprises a mere eight verses. They are not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture, so this is all that we have to go on.

Unlike Jephthah, all three of these judges are located west of the Jordan. Each of them is said to be “after him,” so there is a chronological aspect to them. However, it does not logically follow that they judged in order with the other events and judges later noted, such as Samson. They simply judged after Jephthah and after one another.

That they come after Jephthah chronologically is seen in the opening words of our passage today…

After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.

vayishpot akharav eth Yisrael ivtsan mi’beithlakhem – “And judges, after him, Israel, Ibzan from Bethlehem.” This judge, Ibzan, judges after the time of Jephthah. The location of his judgeship is said to be Bethlehem, but it is not necessarily Bethlehem in Judah.

In Judges, Bethlehem is noted nine times. Seven of those times, it specifically notes Bethlehem Judah to define which Bethlehem. This is also true of the opening words of Ruth which occurred during the time of the judges. Only after it was specifically defined twice as Bethlehem Judah is the word Judah omitted.

Josephus says that it is Bethlehem Judah, but his writings are not always reliable. They need to be considered as mere possibilities, not as adamant proofs. Also, due to the closeness of spelling between Ibzan and Boaz, some Jewish commentaries state it is the same person. However, the Hebrew spelling is not that close. The names are derived from different roots.

Taking this to a ludicrous extreme, however, Cambridge says, “His city was probably not the Beth-lehem in Judah, because the Bk of Judges is not concerned with Judah.” Judah is mentioned over twenty times in Judges. Samson’s judgeship, which is the next major section coming in the book of Judges, has dealings with Judah.

There isn’t definitive proof either way, but the lack of noting Judah after Bethlehem may indicate another Bethlehem, probably that noted in Joshua 19, is being referred to. That Bethlehem was within the borders of Zebulun which lies to the north of Judah and west of the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee in Canaan.

Having said all that, a couple of points should be considered. The first is that arbitrarily trusting commentaries without verifying what they say is not a sound approach to learning what is being conveyed in Scripture.

The second is that whether this is in Judah or Zebulun, it is irrelevant to what is needed to understand the typology being conveyed. In fact, we can deduce that by stating the tribe it would mar whatever typology needs to be drawn from the passage.

Of the name Ibzan has several possibilities: Their Whiteness, literally, Their Tin as White (Jackson’s dictionary); Great Fatigue (Jones’); Splendid (Young’s); or, using the same root as Young’s, ebets (to gleam or conspicuous), it could mean Gleam, Illustrious, Conspicuous, etc.

Bethlehem means House of Bread (lekhem), but without the vowel pointing it is identical to the verb meaning war (lakham). Thus, it has a secondary meaning of House of War (Battle). The connection between the two is that in battle, it is as if those being killed are consumed like food. Of him, it next says…

He had thirty sons.

v’hi lo sh’loshim banim – “And is, to him, thirty sons.” He is noted just after Jephthah who had no surviving children, at least as recorded in the narrative. A son in Scripture can have a multitude of significations, but the main sense of being a son is that of identity of character or nature.

Of the number of sons, Bullinger says –

“THIRTY being 3 x 10, denotes in a higher degree the perfection of Divine order, as marking the right moment. CHRIST was thirty years of age at the commencement of His ministry, Luke 3:23. JOSEPH, His type, was the same age, Genesis 41:46. DAVID also, when he began to reign, 2 Samuel 5:4.” E.W. Bullinger

In their lives, both Joseph and David were types of Christ. Along with Ibzan’s thirty sons, it next says…

9 (con’t) And he gave away thirty daughters in marriage, and brought in thirty daughters from elsewhere for his sons.

u-sh’loshim banoth shilakh ha’khutsah u-sh’loshim banoth hevi l’banav min ha’khuts – “and thirty daughters sends the outside-ward. And thirty daughters came to his sons from the outside.” The idea of daughters in Scripture carries a similar connotation to that of sons for people and things that are feminine. It conveys the idea of identity of character or nature.

Here, the contrast between Jephthah and Ibzan is strikingly set forth for us to see. Jephthah’s only child, his daughter, was sacrificed as an offering to the Lord for the victory realized in battle. She remained unmarried. On the other hand, Ibzan has thirty daughters he gave away in marriage and he gained thirty daughters-in-law through marriage to his sons.

Of this, Ellicott says, “Implying polygamy, wealth, and state.” Actually, none of these is implied. He may have outlived or divorced many wives. He may have been rich or poor. And he may have lived in the most modest of conditions.

Ellicott then states, “The only reason for recording the marriage of his sons and daughters is to show that he was a great man, and sought additional influence by intermarriages with other families.” But we have already shown another reason, which is that his life is set in complete contrast to his predecessor.

In other words, we must be careful to not insert what the text is silent on, and we must not assume we know everything that is being conveyed. Any speculation should always be noted as such. Specific words are provided by the Lord, but as simple as they are, they may carry more intent than we realize. Of Ibzan, it next says…

9 (con’t) He judged Israel seven years.

vayishpot eth Yisrael sheva shanim – “And judges, Israel, seven years.” Seven is the number of spiritual perfection. Bullinger continues to define it, saying –

“In the Hebrew, seven is shevah. It is from the root savah, to be full or satisfied, have enough of. Hence the meaning of the word ‘seven’ is dominated by this root, for on the seventh day God rested from the work of Creation. It was full and complete, and good and perfect. Nothing could be added to it or taken from it without marring it. Hence the Shavath, to cease, desist, rest, and Shabbath, Sabbath, or day of rest. … It tells of that eternal Sabbath-keeping which remains for the people of God in all its everlasting perfection. In the creative works of God, seven completes the colours of the spectrum and rainbow, and satisfies in music the notes of the scale. In each of these the eighth is only a repetition of the first. Another meaning of the root [Shava] is to swear, or make an oath. It is clear from its first occurrence in Genesis 21:31, ‘They sware both of them,’ that this oath was based upon the ‘seven ewe lambs’ (vv 28,29,30), which point to the idea of satisfaction or fulness in an oath. It was the security, satisfaction, and fulness of the obligation, or completeness of the bond, which caused the same word to be used for both the number seven and an oath; and hence it is written, ‘an oath for confirmation is an end of all strife.’”

10 Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.

vayamath ivtsan vayiqaver b’veithlakhem – “And dies, Ibzan, and buried in Bethlehem.” The time he was a judge was seven years. But his age at death is left unstated. He could have become judge at ninety and died at ninety-seven. The details of his life, though sparse, are carefully recorded.

11 After him, Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel.

vayishpot akharav eth Yisrael elon hazvuloni – “And judges, after him, Israel, Elon the Zebulunite.” The words “after him” can mean immediately after him or at some point after him. It also does not negate someone else judging at the same time. Elon is a judge of Israel after the time of Ibzan. The name Elon comes from elon, a terebinth or oak. Jones’ dictionary defines it as Magnificent Oak.

However, elon is derived from ayil, a ram. That in turn comes from ul, to be strong. Thus, Young’s defines it as either Oak or Strong.

Zebulun means Glorious Dwelling Place.

Even less is said of him than of his predecessor…

11 (con’t) He judged Israel ten years.

vayishpot eth Yisrael esher shanim – “And judges, Israel, ten years.” These five words sum up his time as judge. Ten, according to Bullinger signifies –

“Completeness of order, marking the entire round of anything, is, therefore, the ever-present signification of the number ten. It implies that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete.”

12 And Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.

vayamath elon hazvuloni vayiqaver b’ayalon b’erets zevulun – “And dies, Elon the Zebulonite. And buried in Aijalon in land Zebulun.” There appears to be a play on words here based on the Hebrew spelling of the name and his burial location –

אלון
אילון

Other than the additional letter yod, the spelling is identical. And there is a reason for them being so similar. Aijalon comes from ayyal, a deer. Hence, it signifies Place of the Deer. However, that also comes from the same root as elon, which is ul, or strength. Hence, Place of Strength is not out of line.

Noting that Aijalon is in the country of Zebulun is to distinguish it from another location with the same name recorded in the territory of Dan.

To close out the chapter, one more judge is introduced…

13 After him, Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel.

vayishpot akharav eth Yisrael avdon ben hilel hapirathoni – “And judges, after him, Yisrael, Abdon son Hillel the Pirathonite.” Again, the words “after him” can mean immediately after him, or at some point after him. It also does not negate someone else judging at the same time. Abdon is a judge of Israel after the time of Elon.

The name Abdon comes from abad, to work or serve. It is variously defined as Servile, Hard Slavery, etc. However, the on (vavnun couple) at the end of the name is often used as a locative or personified structure. Therefore, it can mean Place of Work or Working One.

Hillel comes from halal, generally translated as praise. It is also variously translated as glory, boast, etc. It means Praise (of God), Praised Greatly, Praise, He has Praised, etc.

Pirathon is variously defined as Just Revenge, Peak, Top, or Height. However, Abarim says –

“Here at Abarim Publications we surmise that the town and both the judge and the mighty-man were named after a method of social formation that also sits at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and which would make Israel a “kingdom of kings” (Daniel 2:44, 1 TIMOTHY 6:14-15, REVELATION 5:10, 17:14), namely by the joining of autonomous people without compromising anybody’s freedom and autonomy and in fact adding to it (GALATIANS 5:1). Our name means [Town] Of The Confederation, and since the early Scriptures respect Egypt as ancestral (rather than reject it as some mere fruitless oppressor), our name even means Place Of The Little Pharaohs.”

Of Abdon, it next says…

14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons,

v’hi lo arbaim banim u-shloshim b’ne banim – “And is, to him, forty sons and thirty sons’ sons.” The number forty is defined by Bullinger, saying –

“It is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8). This is certainly the case where forty relates to a period of evident probation. But where it relates to enlarged dominion, or to renewed or extended rule, then it does so in virtue of its factors 4 and 10, and in harmony with their signification.”

As this is speaking of an enlarged dominion and extended rule, it should rather be defined by four, the number of material creation, and ten, the number of completeness of order. It would thus refer to completeness of order in the material creation.

Thirty was previously defined.

Of these progenies, it next says…

14 (con’t) who rode on seventy young donkeys.

rokhvim al shivim ayarim – “riding upon seventy donkey-colts.” This is not unlike Jair in Judges 10 who was said to have thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys.

The word translated as donkey is ayir. It is a colt, a young donkey. The word comes from ur, to rouse oneself or awaken. The connection is that of raising (bearing) a burden. This type of donkey pictures ruling status. This is seen in Zechariah –

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt [ayir], the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9

As with Jair, this is equivalent to saying, “seventy who ruled.”

The number seventy, as defined by Bullinger, “signifies perfect spiritual order carried out with all spiritual power and significance. Both spirit and order are greatly emphasised.”

Concerning Abdon, it says…

14 (con’t) He judged Israel eight years.

vayishpot eth Yisrael sh’moneh shanim – “And judged, Israel, eight years.” Of this number, Bullinger says, “It is 7 plus 1. Hence it is the number specially associated with Resurrection and Regeneration, and the beginning of a new era or order.” With this short description complete it next says…

*15 (fin) Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mountains of the Amalekites.

vayamath avdon ben hilel hapirathoni vayiqaver b’pirathon b’erets ephrayim b’har amaleqi – “And dies, Abdon, son Hillel the Pirathonite. And buried in Pirathon, in land Ephraim, in mount the Amalekite.” The chapter ends with these words.

The name Ephraim means Twice Fruitful and Ashes.

Amalek is derived from am, people, and malaq, to nip or wring off the head of a bird with or without severing it from the body. Thus, they are The People Who Wring Off. They are those who are disconnected from the body and strive to disconnect the body.

As has been seen many times, a mountain is a lot of something gathered. It is synonymous with a large but centralized group of people. There has not been a lot of surface information in these accounts. However, because typology is being conveyed, a lot can be gleaned from them.

Ibzan came after Jephthah to show us some stuff
Then came Elon to show us some more
But these two weren’t quite enough
And so came Abdon, to show us the score

Three judges over Israel
Three men who anticipate the coming Christ
What a marvelous thing that their lives tell
Showing us how pleasing God is priced

It doesn’t come by works of the law
It isn’t found in arrogant pride
Remember the things you heard and saw
Come to Jesus and stand on His side

Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! In Him the victory
All hail our Lord Jesus there before the glassy sea

II. Pictures of Christ

The account of these three judges comes after that of Jephthah. This tells us that any typology is to be taken sequentially after what was said in the narrative of Jephthah, regardless as to whether the times of these judges is chronologically sequential or not.

Jephthah’s battle was against Ammon, A People. That battle anticipates the people of Israel who reject Christ during this dispensation. They have no inheritance among the redeemed of the Lord.

That included the narrative of Jephthah’s daughter being sacrificed which indicated the price God was willing to pay to secure true believers in Christ during this dispensation. Those who believe will be saved while those who do not will be eternally separated from God.

The first seven verses of this chapter showed that anyone of this dispensation who relies on the law for salvation, assuming he can be saved through it, will also be eternally separated from God. The law cannot save. It only brings condemnation. Only Jesus can save.

The first judge introduced after Jephthah is Ibzan of Bethlehem. He anticipates Jesus, Splendid (Illustrious, etc.) from Bethlehem, the House of Bread. He is Splendor of God and the Bread of Life. Saying he has thirty sons refers to the sonship that comes through Him and which is ultimately revealed “at the right moment.”

There is a time when the sonship of His people or the rejection of His people will be fully realized. The thirty daughters going out and the other thirty daughters coming in for his sons anticipate the inheritances of His people.

The word inheritance is feminine in both Hebrew (nakhalah) and Greek (kléronomia). At the right moment in time, those who reject Him will have their inheritances sent out while those who are His will have their inheritances brought in.

Saying Ibzan judged Israel seven years signifies the spiritual perfection of those saved. As Bullinger noted, the root signifies satisfied or have enough. And more, Bullinger noted the connection to rest, something that is finally granted to those who are saved, as well as the satisfaction of an oath, something that comes through the covenant promises which are finally realized.

Ibzan’s death closes out the typology. Stating that he was buried in the same place he came from is a confirmation of the typology concerning Christ being the Bread of Life that feeds His people eternally.

After Ibzan, Elon the Zebulunite is mentioned. He is Strong, the Glorious Dwelling Place-ite, referring to Jesus who is from heaven. He judged Israel ten years. It speaks of the totality of the millennium, marking completeness of order of the dispensation. Nothing is wanting and the entire cycle is complete.

Saying that Elon the Zebulunite was buried in Aijalon in Zebulun is a way of saying that Jesus, the Man from heaven, retains His strong position at the end of the millennium that He possessed at the beginning of it. Thus, it reflects the state of those who possess the millennium in Christ.

After Elon came Abdon, son of Hillel, the Pirathonite. Translated, it speaks of Jesus: Working One, son of Praise, the Confederationite. Jesus, the Working One, is the One who accomplished all the work necessary for man to be reconciled to God.

He is the Son (meaning His character and nature) of Praise and the One who brings together as one every tribe, tongue, and nation, on earth “by the joining of autonomous people without compromising anybody’s freedom and autonomy and in fact adding to it” (Abarim). As it says in Revelation 5 –

“And they sang a new song, saying:
‘You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.’” Revelation 5:9, 10

The millennium will be filled with those who accepted Christ, both Jew and Gentile from everywhere, when it is populated after the tribulation. That includes both those who survived through the tribulation as well as those who will reject the mark of the beast –

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4-6

This period is defined in the words concerning the forty sons and thirty grandsons. As noted, because this speaks of enlarged dominion and extended rule, it is to be defined by four, the number of material creation, and ten, the number of completeness of order.

The number, therefore, refers to completeness of order in the material creation. This is exactly what is contemplated in the thought of the millennium, meaning the final thousand years of man in the redemptive narrative.

The number thirty signifies the perfection of Divine order as marking right moment. The dispensational plan is complete with the ending of the millennium. Every word of the provided typology leading up to this point has carefully and precisely marked out all that is going on in the redemptive narrative from the time of the law through the completion of the millennium.

To fully reveal this, the two numbers are combined when noting the seventy donkeys. It reveals the “perfect spiritual order carried out with all spiritual power and significance. Both spirit and order are greatly emphasized” (Bullinger).

As noted, the type of donkey here pictures ruling status. That could not be more perfectly summed up than with the words of Revelation 20:6, they “shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

Of Abdon, Working One, it says he judged eight years. That exactingly describes the completion of the millennium, the seventh dispensation. It refers to regeneration and the beginning of a new era or order. This is just what lies ahead after the millennium –

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’
Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’” Revelation 21:1-5

The final verse of the chapter referred to Abdon’s death and where he was buried. It is a beautifully fitting end to this narrative –

“And dies, Working One, son of Praise, the Confederationite. And buries him in Confederation in the land of Twice Fruitful/Ashes in mount the People Who Wring Off.”

Exodus 17 ended with the words –

“And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner; 16 for he said, “Because the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” Exodus 17:15, 16

Jesus, because of the afflictions of His work (Ashes) became Twice Fruitful, gathering people from Jews and Gentiles despite the constant ongoing battle with the legalism of law observance. His work alone has defeated Amalek once and forever.

From Christ’s comprehensive, consummate, complete, and continuously effective work, there will be a heavenly confederation from every people group on the planet, hailing the Lamb of God for all eternity.

Without any manipulation at all, but simply reading the provided information gathered from these verses, it has revealed exactly what has been going on throughout the entire redemptive narrative since Judges 1.

Each step has carefully and meticulously provided doctrine to lead Israel to an understanding of what God in Christ is doing. As Gentiles today are included in the commonwealth of Israel, it is inclusive of us as well.

In this section, the three Judges combined reigned for a total of twenty-five years. The total is purposeful. It sums up the millennium dispensation. Each separate period bears its own signification. However, this total does as well –

“TWENTY-FIVE being the square of five (52 or 5×5), expresses the essence of the signification of five, i.e. grace, whether used alone or occurring as a factor in larger numbers.” Bullinger

The meaning is that whether before the coming of Christ or after His coming, and even through the millennium, man is saved solely by the grace of God in Christ. But there is more. Because these three narratives are linked to Jephthah’s rule by the words “after him,” the total, thirty-one years, has its own relevance.

“THIRTY-ONE The Hebrew expression of this is l), El, the name of God, and its signification as a number or factor would be Deity.” Bullinger

Without needing to stretch this at all, and because all four of these Judges clearly and unambiguously picture Christ, it is a resounding note to us that Jesus Christ is God.

As noted previously, to say that one must observe the law (which Jesus fulfilled) in order to be saved is an implicit denial of the truth that Jesus is God. Thus, to rely on the law after the completion of His work is the spirit of the antichrist, meaning denying the Father/Son relationship.

A battle is being waged, a spiritual battle, that is being worked out in literal human history, including worldwide battles that are prophesied to happen in the future. Every step of this process is given to refine and purify those who will come to God through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

No person can be saved apart from His work. This is what the Bible says. Let us pay heed to the message, put ourselves and our pride aside, and let us trust – wholly and completely – in Jesus Christ alone. He can (and He will ) save. Hooray for Jesus!

Closing Verse: “They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 17:16, 17

Next Week: Judges 13:1-14 Fun a ton! His story is so swell… (Samson, Judge of Israel, Part I) (39th Judges Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who judges His people according to their deeds. So, follow Him, live for Him, and trust Him, and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon, Judges of Israel

After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel
He had thirty sons, that’s several tons
And he gave away thirty daughters in marriage
And brought in thirty daughters from elsewhere for his sons

He judged Israel seven years, certainly enjoying them
Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem

After him, Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel
He judged Israel ten years, sure was fun
And Elon the Zebulunite died
And was buried at Aijalon in the country of Zebulun

After him, Abdon the son of Hillel
The Pirathonite judged Israel
He had forty sons and thirty grandsons
Who rode on seventy young donkeys. What a story to tell!

He judged Israel eight years
Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died
And was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim
In the mountains of the Amalekites. From there, he will make
———-his transformation ride

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons. And he gave away thirty daughters in marriage, and brought in thirty daughters from elsewhere for his sons. He judged Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.

11 After him, Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel. He judged Israel ten years. 12 And Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.

13 After him, Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy young donkeys. He judged Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mountains of the Amalekites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judges 12:1-7 (Jephthah, Judge of Israel, Part V)

Artwork by Douglas Kallerson.

Judges 12:1-7
Jephthah, Judge of Israel, Part V

(Typed 11 March 2024) The linguistic challenge set before the Ephraimites in today’s story is something we all would fail at, depending on the language. Unless you are practiced, there are some sounds that are just not possible for you to utter.

For instance, the “sh” sound is not easy for Danes. Some American Indian tribes lack it as well. An internet search said that Greek, Icelandic, Latin, Maori, Finnish, and Spanish have only a “ch” sound. The position of the tongue is what makes such sounds possible. They take practice.

The test in today’s passage is meant to identify if someone belongs to a particular group of people. It is said that during World War II, one way of identifying German spies in American ranks was to ask questions about baseball stars. The Germans didn’t follow baseball closely and were easily found out.

However, the British didn’t follow baseball either and in David Niven’s The Moon’s a Balloon, Niven (who served with the commandos in WWII) says that he was queried concerning who won the ’43 World Series. His response was, “I don’t know but I starred in Bachelor Mother with Ginger Rogers.” This helped him thread the needle.

In another example, John Lange notes, “When, during the Flemish war, the insurrection against the French broke out, May 25, 1302, the gates were guarded, and no one was suffered to pass out, except such as were able to say, ‘Scilt ende friend,’ which words no Frenchman could pronounce.”

Text Verse: “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-8

If you want to embarrass yourself, go to a foreign country, or try to identify with foreign language speakers here in the US. I attended a Korean church for several years. They only spoke in Korean. Therefore, it was necessary to learn Korean. They have some really difficult sounds. To me, learning to read it was way easier than trying to speak it.

Apparently, one of the hardest languages to speak is Icelandic. However, a savant, gifted in such things, was challenged to learn to speak it in one week. He did. You can watch that on YouTube.

God divided the languages for His purposes. Those divisions continue even today as people move, isolate, etc. When I lived in Malaysia, there were little pockets of Indians, first brought from India when the tea plantations were planted. They later settled in little villages.

Their dialects changed so much over the years that their language is complete gibberish to the Indian population that stayed together in the larger cities.

There is no end to the amount of diversity that various languages of the world have in relation to other languages. As a nice hint for you, if you are ever wanting to win a free dinner in Japan, just ask a non-English speaking Japanese person to say refrigerator.

Great things, such as diversity of speech are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again, and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. You Sould’ve Said Shibboleth (verses 1-7)

The next events are based on what occurred in the previous chapter. The king of Ammon challenged Israel for their inheritance. Jephthah told him why he had no right to it. The king refused to listen, and so Jephthah engaged him in battle. The narrative of Judges 11:29-33 said –

“Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed through Mizpah of Gilead; and from Mizpah of Gilead he advanced toward the people of Ammon. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, ‘If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, 31 then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.’
32 So Jephthah advanced toward the people of Ammon to fight against them, and the Lord delivered them into his hands. 33 And he defeated them from Aroer as far as Minnith—twenty cities—and to Abel Keramim, with a very great slaughter. Thus the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.”

It is based on those events that it next says…

Then the men of Ephraim gathered together, crossed over toward Zaphon,

vayitsaeq ish ephrayim vayaavor tsaphonah – “And cries man Ephraim, and crosses over Zaphon-ward.” The idea of crying is that of someone yelling out to alert the people, mustering them for battle.

As for the word tsaphonah, it can mean either “northward” or “toward Zaphon.” The latter would probably be the case. It is a city east of the Jordan noted in Joshua 13:27. Zaphon means North, but also Concealed because the north is the hidden direction in the northern hemisphere.

Ephraim means Twice Fruitful and Ashes.

1 (con’t) and said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the people of Ammon, and did not call us to go with you?

vayomru l’yiphtakh madua avarta l’hilakhem bivne amon v’lanu lo qaratha lalekheth imakh – “and says to Jephthah, ‘Why crossed over to fight in sons Amon and to us no called to go with you?’” A battle has been won. Ephraim did not participate in it. and they were overcome with jealousy. It is the same wicked spirit they displayed in Chapter 8 when Gideon had gone to war against the Midianites –

“Now the men of Ephraim said to him, ‘Why have you done this to us by not calling us when you went to fight with the Midianites?’ And they reprimanded him sharply.
So he said to them, ‘What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? God has delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. And what was I able to do in comparison with you?’ Then their anger toward him subsided when he said that.” Judges 8:1-3

Gideon’s humility alone kept things from getting out of hand. Ephraim’s jealousy over the events between him and his brother are once again on full display…

1 (con’t) We will burn your house down on you with fire!”

beithkha nishroph alekha ba’esh – “Your house burning upon you in the fire.” The meaning is capital punishment. It is a phrase used again in Judges 14:15 in the passage about Samson and a Philistine woman. That punishment was actually carried out in Judges 15:6. It was used as a form of suicide in 1 Kings 16:18 as well.

And Jephthah said to them, “My people and I were in a great struggle with the people of Ammon;

The sense of the Hebrew is lost: vayomer yiphtakh alehem ish riv hayithi ani v’ami uvne amon meod – “And says, Jephthah, unto them, ‘Man strife was I and my people, and sons Ammon exceedingly.’” Jephthah places himself as a warrior at a particular time for a particular purpose. He was challenged along with his people and he arose to meet the challenge…

2 (con’t) and when I called you, you did not deliver me out of their hands.

va’ezaq etkhem v’lo hovoshatem oti miyadam – “and crying, you, and no saved me from their hand.” In verse 1, a man of Ephraim cried to wage war against his brother and the tribe responded, but when his brother cried to him for help, they failed to show up and assist in the battle.

Nothing of this request is recorded in Chapter 11, but it is apparent from Jephthah’s words that the call was made. Ephraim was either too pusillanimous or too arrogant to assist his own brother in the struggle he faced…

So when I saw that you would not deliver me, I took my life in my hands and crossed over against the people of Ammon;

Rather: va’ereh ki en’kha movoshia va’asimah napshi b’khapi va’ebrah el bene amon – “And seeing when you not saving, and setting it, my soul, in my palm, and crossing it, unto sons Ammon.” Jephthah says “palm” rather than “hand.” Though similar in meaning, the hand signifies power and/or authority. The palm (and sole) signifies possession and/or the state of something.

The meaning is that because of Ephraim’s lack of assistance, Jephthah decided to go it alone. He set his soul into a state of peril, crossed over, and faced Ammon alone. One can think of something precious and brittle being set in the palm. Without care, it could tumble out and crash to the floor, shattering it. But he was unwilling to have the challenge against the inheritance harmed because of Ammon’s invalid claim…

3 (con’t) and the Lord delivered them into my hand.

vayitnem Yehovah b’yadi – “and gives them, Yehovah, in my hand.” Here, instead of palm, he says hand. Ammon was delivered into the power of Jephthah. Noting that it was Yehovah who decided the matter, it shows that Jephthah’s actions were just and that the Lord approved of his decision to press forward alone.

It is unknown what tone he used, whether belligerent or conciliatory, but these words probably riled them up even more. Whether intended to instigate or not, it meant that they failed to participate in the Lord’s battle. But because it was the Lord’s battle, Jephthah asks…

3 (con’t) Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?”

v’lamah alithem elay ha’yom ha’zeh l’hilakhem bi – “And why ascending unto me, the day, the this, to fight in me?” Depending on where they are located, this could be a verbal poke at Ephraim. If they were at a higher elevation, then it would be appropriate to acknowledge the elevation. However, some scholars place Zaphon near the Jordan.

If so, it would seem more likely Jephthah would say, “Why have you crossed over to me?” Thus, to say ascend, may be his way of showing supremacy over them. Again, without hearing the tone of his voice, one can only speculate on his words.

One other possibility is that the word ascend could be used in a military sense because attackers are said to “go up” to battle when besieging a city. Cities are normally at locations where they can be defended from above armies gathered against them. This may be the best option because of the next words…

Now Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim.

vayiqbots yiphtakh eth kal anshe gilad vayilakhem eth ephrayim – “And gathers, Jephthah, all men Gilead, and fights Ephraim.” Jephthah is from the half-tribe of Manasseh east of the Jordan. Ephraim is situated west of the Jordan. The name Ephraim, however, is often used inclusively of the half-tribe of Manasseh west of the Jordan. At times, it is also called the House of Joseph.

Jephthah has mustered troops from his half of Manasseh (He Forgets/From a Debt) who occupy Gilead (Perpetual Fountain) and engaged the western tribe. The reason is next explained…

4 (con’t) And the men of Gilead defeated Ephraim,

vayaku anshe gilad eth ephrayim – “And strikes men Gilead, Ephraim.” Some try to find fault in the text. The Pulpit Commentary says, “The English version of these somewhat obscure verses is obviously wrong, and devoid of sense.” They do this because the words seem out of place. Any noted slaying of the Ephraimites comes in the next verse. Further…

4 (con’t) because they said, “You Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites and among the Manassites.”

ki amru p’lite ephrayim atem gilad b’thokh ephrayim b’thokh m’nasheh – “for said ‘Fugitives Ephraim, you, Gilead, in midst Ephraim and in midst Manasseh.’” Of these words, Cambridge and the Pulpit Commentary are completely befuddled, as if they are incomprehensible. It’s hard to understand why though.

Those of Ephraim (west of the Jordan) are saying to Jephthah, who is from Manasseh east of the Jordan, that the Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim and Manasseh who reside west of the Jordan, as if they didn’t want to share of life in Canaan with them and fled from them.

But this is wholly incorrect. The Gileadites had settled west of the Jordan, receiving their inheritance from Moses before Israel crossed the Jordan. However, they always considered themselves as a part of Israel. That is exactly why Joshua 22 is recorded.

After the land of Canaan was secured, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh (here called the Gileadites based on Numbers 26:29, etc.) returned to their inheritance east of the Jordan. As they returned, they built the great and impressive altar as a witness, testifying to the fact that they were also the people of the Lord.

The tribes west of the Jordan saw the altar, freaked out because they thought it was for idolatry, and came ready for battle against the eastern tribes. At that time, however, the eastern tribes responded to them –

“Then the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh answered and said to the heads of the divisions of Israel: 22 “The Lord God of gods, the Lord God of gods, He knows, and let Israel itself know—if it is in rebellion, or if in treachery against the Lord, do not save us this day. 23 If we have built ourselves an altar to turn from following the Lord, or if to offer on it burnt offerings or grain offerings, or if to offer peace offerings on it, let the Lord Himself require an account. 24 But in fact we have done it for fear, for a reason, saying, ‘In time to come your descendants may speak to our descendants, saying, “What have you to do with the Lord God of Israel? 25 For the Lord has made the Jordan a border between you and us, you children of Reuben and children of Gad. You have no part in the Lord.” Joshua 22:21-25

This is exactly what has happened. Jephthah accredited the battle to the Lord, saying that He had given Ammon into his hand. The implied response, which is here repeated in the text, was, “You Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites and among the Manassites.”

It is a way of saying, “You have no part in us. You are fugitives from us and the Lord couldn’t be with you. We are the people of the Lord.” The altar stood as a witness that this was not so, but that was ignored by these western brothers of theirs.

Remembering that the altar clearly pictured Christ, the passage makes complete sense. Because of the offensive accusation, the Gileadites mustered and attacked. Ephraim obviously retreated towards home because it next says…

The Gileadites seized the fords of the Jordan before the Ephraimites arrived.

vayilkod gilad eth mabroth ha’yarden l’ephrayim – “And seizes, Gilead, fords the Jordan to Ephraim.” The meaning of “to” is “against.” They secured the fords of the Jordan (the Descender) against any possible passage by the Ephraimites in order to return to their inheritance in Canaan…

5 (con’t) And when any Ephraimite who escaped said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead would say to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,”

The words are ironic in the extreme: v’hayah ki yomru p’lite ephrayim eevorah vayomru lo anshe gilad ha’eprathi atah vayomer lo – “And became when says fugitives Ephraim, ‘I crossing over,’ and says to him, men Gilead, ‘The Ephraimite, you?’ And says, ‘No.’”

This is where the confusion by those scholars mentioned above comes from. The same word is used now that was used in verse 4 –

“for said ‘Fugitives [palyit] Ephraim, you, Gilead, in midst Ephraim and in midst Manasseh.’”
“And became when says fugitives [palyit] Ephraim…”

These scholars think it is talking about the same people. In fact, it is an ironic twist of words. Those of the western tribes accused those of the eastern tribes of being fugitives. Now, the western tribes are the fugitives. They are trying to escape back to their own land, having been trounced by Jephthah.

Joshua 22 is the key to comprehending what is going on. These retreating fugitives were seized and asked if they were from Ephraim…

then they would say to him, “Then say, ‘Shibboleth’!” And he would say, “Sibboleth,”

Of these words, John Lange, unfortunately, says, “What ‘Shibboleth’ meant, is of minor importance.” vayomru lo emar na shibboleth vayomer siboleth – “And says to him, ‘Say, I pray, Shibboleth.’ And says, ‘Sibboleth.’” There is a single letter difference between the two. The first letter is either shin (shhh) or samekh (sss).

Shibboleth comes from shobel, a flowing skirt, or a train. That comes from an unused root meaning to flow. Shibboleth signifies both a flowing stream and an ear of grain (as it grows out in a flowing manner). It is also used in Zechariah 4 when referring to an olive branch –

“And I further answered and said to him, ‘What are these two olive branches [shibale] that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?’” Zechariah 4:12

Saying branches there seems a bit forced. Rather, one can think of the olive streams flowing forth and dripping into receptacles.

In this verse in Judges, the Jordan is flowing from God, just as a grain is given the increase by God (see the text verse) and as the flowing of the fatness of the olive is metaphorically used of God’s religious privilege in Romans 11 (see our closing verse). God is the Source of each.

In the change of the letter from shin to samekh, the root word is changed. It is now identical in spelling to a word, siblah, as it is used six times in Exodus –

“Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens [siblah]. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses.” Exodus 1:11
“Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens [siblah].” Exodus 2:11“Then the king of Egypt said to them, ‘Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people from their work? Get back to your labor [siblah].’ And Pharaoh said, ‘Look, the people of the land are many now, and you make them rest from their labor [siblah]!’” Exodus 5:4, 5
“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens [siblah] of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens [siblah] of the Egyptians.’” Exodus 6:6, 7

Both words, sibboleth and siblah, are derived from sabal, to bear (a heavy load). The reason for the change is next given…

6 (con’t) for he could not pronounce it right.

The words “could not” may or may not be ultimately correct and they don’t properly convey the meaning: v’lo yakhin l’daber ken – “And no established to speak thus.” The word kun means to be erect, but that is applied in numerous ways. In this case, their lips and tongue were not established through use to properly pronounce a “sh” sound.

Because of their failure to fruitfully formulate the word, being found to not vocalize it validly, and not enouncing it with eloquence or pronouncing it with precision, the Gileadites probably chuckled out “Awwww, shucks,” while the Ephraimites may have responded, “Oh, soot!”

6 (con’t) Then they would take him and kill him at the fords of the Jordan.

vayokhazu otho vayishkhatuhu el mabroth ha’yarden – “And grasps him, and slaughters him, unto fords the Jordan.” It seems like a harsh thing to do to one’s brother. After all, this is the kind of thing the Lord looked down on Edom for –

“For violence against your brother Jacob,
Shame shall cover you,
And you shall be cut off forever.” Obadiah 1:10

However, the accusations and arrogance against these western inhabitants were insufferable, intolerable, insupportable, unacceptable, unendurable, and unbearable, and so the wrath of the Gileadites was taken out on them.

6 (con’t) There fell at that time forty-two thousand Ephraimites.

vayipol ba’eth ha’hi me’ephrayim arbaim ushnayim aleph – “And falls in the time, the it, from Ephraim, forty and two thousand.” Of this, Cambridge arrogantly proclaims, as if they had any clue concerning the matter, “Obviously an exaggeration.”

The number itself is a derivative of forty-two and ten. Forty-two is one of the most interesting numbers of all. It is closely associated with the antichrist. Bullinger sums up the number saying –

“Being a multiple of seven, it might be supposed that it would be connected with spiritual perfection. But it is the product of six times seven. Six, therefore, being the number of Man, and man’s opposition to God, forty-two becomes significant of the working out of man’s opposition to God.”

And Jephthah judged Israel six years.

vayishpot yiphtakh eth Yisrael shesh shanim – “And judged, Jephthah, Israel, six years.” For a guy that is so prominent in Scripture and who accomplished so much, six years is not a very long time.

It may be, however, that he was selected to lead the people at a later time in his life. Or he may have died of a broken heart over the offering of his daughter. Without more information, all we can do is speculate.

Of the number six, Bullinger says, “it has to do with man; it is the number of imperfection; the human number; the number of MAN as destitute of God, without God, without Christ.” He also notes –

“Six, therefore, is the number of labour also, of man’s labour as apart and distinct from God’s rest. True, it marks the completion of Creation as God’s work, and therefore the number is significant of secular completeness.”

*7 (fin) Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried among the cities of Gilead.

vayamath yiphtakh ha’giladi vayiqaver b’are gilad – “And died, Jephthah the Gileadite. And buried in cities Gilead.” His full name is given. Jephthah the Gileadite means He Opens, the Perpetual Fountanite. Of him, it says he was buried “in cities Gilead.”

The curious expression, using the plural instead of the singular has precedent elsewhere in Scripture, such as Genesis 19:29. In this case, it is a purposeful way of not giving the name of the city. Thus, typology is being maintained.

Here is a challenge for you
And you’d better get it right
A simple thing I’ll ask you to do
And then, things will turn out alright

A question that will reveal your doctrine
The answer is one that will affect your soul
A wrong answer, and you will be done in
Are you ready? Cue the drumroll

Who is Jesus to you?
What is it about Him that you proclaim?
What is it that you think you must do?
When speaking out His glorious name?

Speak your shibboleth wisely this day
Sould you fail, you’ll be swept away

II. Pictures of Christ

Verse 1 began by showing the passage is dealing with Ephraim, Twice Fruitful and Ashes. It speaks of the work of Christ being effective for both Jews and Gentiles, securing His people through His afflictions, symbolized by the ashes. Thus, these people claim to accept Christ’s completed work.

Despite this, they head tsaphonah, meaning either toward the north or toward Zaphon, which means North. Either way, the north is the hidden direction in the northern hemisphere as the sun moves toward or away from it depending on the time of year. Thus, it signifies Concealed. Something is hidden that will be revealed.

To make the point about what is being pictured, and what will be seen as we continue, the Greek word that the Bible uses is the adjective kruptos, hidden. That is derived from the verb kruptó. It is the etymological root of our modern word crypto. The adjective is used in 2 Corinthians concerning what we are seeing now. It signifies something concealed –

“But we have renounced the hidden [kruptos] things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:2-6

Jesus used the verb form, alerting the people to their need to pay heed to His instruction, but He knew they would keep it willfully concealed from themselves –

“Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden [kruptó] from your eyes.’” Luke 19:41, 42

The Ephraimites next ask Jephthah (He Opens) why he went to fight against the people of Ammon (A People) but didn’t call them. The battle against Ammon, as seen, pictured the Jews who, after Christ’s work, tried to take the inheritance through law observance instead of coming to Christ. It is they who were defeated.

Now, these Ephraimites are asking why they weren’t called. As they are from west of the Jordan, they signify those who have come after Christ’s incarnation. They say they will burn down Jephthah’s house with fire. They intend to destroy He Opens, meaning Jesus and His being the only path to salvation.

Jephthah then notes (verse 2) that he was, in fact, a man of strife against Ammon (A People – the Jews trying to obtain the inheritance without Jesus), he and his people. Again, that pictures Jesus and His believers in a battle against the false doctrine of law observance to obtain salvation.

So duplicitous and pernicious is this infection that we see the cunningness of it in the words of verse 2, “and crying, you, and no saved me from their hand.” They were, in fact called, but they refused to respond.

Such people claim one thing, but they do another. How many teachers say they believe in God’s grace while they secretly (or even openly) teach law observance?

In verse 3, Jephthah notes that in being rejected by Ephraim, he set his soul in his palm. For the sake of grace, Jesus placed His life in a state of peril. He was unwilling to have the challenge against Him marred by those who hold to the law.

The thought is beautifully and exactingly expressed in the 22nd Psalm, a psalm about Jesus on the cross –

“Deliver Me from the sword [חרב HRV (kherev/Khorev – the law)],
My precious life from the power of the dog.” Psalm 22:20

In placing His precious life in His palm, Jesus prevailed. As it said, “and gives them, Yehovah, in my hand.” He is the Victor!

Next, Jephthah asks, “And why ascending unto me, the day, the this, to fight in me?” Jesus is in the exalted position. Why anyone would ascend against Him is incredible to imagine, but people do it every day of the week and twice on Saturday. There is no end to the attempts to undermine His authority.

Therefore, verse 4 says, “And gathers, Jephthah, all men Gilead, and fights Ephraim.” Jesus, He Opens, and all the men of Gilead, Perpetual Fountain (meaning those sealed with the Spirit because of the work of Christ), go to battle against Ephraim.

Ephraim in this case signifies any Jew or Gentile who claims Jesus after the cross, and yet who still teaches law observance. This will be clearly seen. Remember, they have crossed the Jordan. They are in the land of the inheritance prior to Christ’s coming.

Those with Jephthah prevail (verse 4) because they have the Lord on their side. The law observers make the claim that they are the ones who are right and that the Gileadites are fugitives. However, despite being east of the Jordan (prior to Christ’s coming), they are the ones in right standing with the Lord.

As such, they not only struck the Ephraimites in battle, but they also seized the fords of the Jordan (Christ, the Descender) to keep them from returning to any sort of inheritance they thought they had west of the Jordan.

In holding the fords, these church-age-supposed-Christian-law-observers are asked if they are of Ephraim. Ironically, they are now called the fugitives. If they answered yes, then no other explanation was needed.

However, if they said “No,” then they were subjected to a laughable little linguistic litmus test. They would say to him (verse 6) “Say, I pray, Shibboleth.” It signifies to flow. It is something that was seen to flow from God in each of its uses.

It is a picture of God’s grace that flows from God in Christ. However, these lifeless lackluster losers couldn’t say shibboleth, could they? They lacked the grace of God and lived without the loquaciousness to proclaim salvation by grace alone through faith alone. Instead, they said, Sibboleth.

They remain under the burdens of Egypt (man under sin), never coming to the grace of God in Christ. They continue to bear the heavy load of law upon them. In their case, it is not only the burden of Adam’s sin, but the imputation of Mosaic sin as well.

Of them, the words v’lo yakhin l’daber ken – “And no established to speak thus” are quite appropriate. They can almost speak about the grace of God. They claim it, but the very first hint of their speech, the samekh instead of the shin, betrays them, just as the very first part of their spiritual being, law over grace, betrays them.

Because of their failure to proclaim shibboleth (Christ’s grace) correctly, they were taken and killed at the fords of the Jordan (the Descender, Jesus). The meaning is plain, poignant, painfully pitiful, and perfectly clear: those (supposedly) in the church after Christ’s coming who hold to law observance will never go through Christ and into their supposed inheritance.

The text noted that forty-two thousand fell. It is beautifully and exactingly described by Bullinger –

“Being a multiple of seven, it might be supposed that it would be connected with spiritual perfection. But it is the product of six times seven. Six, therefore, being the number of Man, and man’s opposition to God, forty-two becomes significant of the working out of man’s opposition to God.”

The law is completely opposed to the grace of God in Christ. As for being antichrist, that is explained by John –

“Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” 1 John 2:22, 23

“For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” 2 John 1:7

One could certainly argue this doesn’t apply to law observance. It is speaking of the denial of the Father/Son relationship, specifically meaning the incarnation of Christ (coming in the flesh). However, that would be incorrect.

What does the gospel say? Christ died for our sins. Christ was buried. Christ rose again. To teach law observance is an implicit denial of the deity of Christ. If we must work in order to be right with God, it means that what Jesus did was insufficient to save us.

But if Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the One who ends sin, then He must be God. John’s words logically point to the doctrine of law observance for salvation as a denial of the deity of Christ and the Father/Son relationship of Christ.

Stated another way, if the hope is to be in fellowship with God the Father, and yet Jesus didn’t accomplish that, then there is no Father/Son relationship as the Bible proclaims. Jesus explicitly states this in John 14 –

“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.’” John 14:9-11

Jesus is God. To say that one must observe the law (which He fulfilled) to be saved denies this truth. Thus, to rely on the law after the completion of His work is the spirit of the antichrist, denying the Father/Son relationship.

Verse 7 noted that Jephthah judged Israel for six years. Jesus accomplished the human work of man before entering His rest, exactly as Bullinger describes in the number –

“Six, therefore, is the number of labour also, of man’s labour as apart and distinct from God’s rest. True, it marks the completion of Creation as God’s work, and therefore the number is significant of secular completeness.”

Finally, it said that Jephthah (He Opens) the Gileadite (the Perpetual Fountainite) died and was buried “in cities Gilead.” To avoid marring the typology, this is all it said. The meaning is that Jesus, the Giver of the Spirit rested from His labors and now is in the city (plural for the singular) Perpetual Fountain. He is in the city of God where His people will someday join Him.

This account was a necessary addition to what we have already seen. The previous account showed that those who came to God before Jesus came but who had faith under the Law of Moses, obtained their inheritance.

It will not be compromised, however, by those of Israel or the church who reject Christ after His incarnation.

This account, though similar, identifies a different group of people. They claim that they are of the inheritance after Christ’s coming, using Jesus as a mere tool in their arsenal of law observance. Think of the Judaizers of Paul’s time. Think of the Seventh Day Adventists. Think of Hebrew Roots Movement adherents.

Despite their proclamations, they implicitly deny the sufficiency and, thus, the deity of Christ through their doctrine and conduct. These had to be addressed separately from those of the previous passage because they are a separate, even if similar, category.

It may seem that these pictures of Christ deal an inordinate amount with law observance, as if other things should be seen in typology. This is totally incorrect. It is a main issue dealt with in Scripture. It is the introductory thought presented to man in Genesis 2, and it is the last thought presented to man in Revelation 22.

It is the main issue in Paul’s epistles, taking up a large majority of what he says, and almost the entire book of Galatians deals with salvation by grace, not law. It is the key point to understanding the gospels as well, even if it doesn’t appear that way on the surface.

Jesus is dealing with Israel under the law in the gospels. He is preparing the world for grace through His life and through His proclamations, but Israel is being instructed under the law about those things. If the issue of law observance is not cleared up, no other matters can be properly searched out.

The giving of the Spirit? Dealing with law must come first. Sharing the gospel? One can only do that if he understands grace, not law. Each aspect of our relationship with Christ is only possible because He has first dealt with the law.

He cannot be our mediating High Priest if we observe the law. The law already has a priestly system in place for that. What we need to do is to trust in the grace of God in Christ, first and foremost. This is, once again, the lesson that is taught in this passage that would be otherwise completely unnecessary to include in Scripture.

What possible difference does this passage make otherwise? Even if the battle had temporary effects for Israel, it has none now. But it is a part of God’s eternal word. Therefore, we are being taught an important, eternal lesson about what God is doing, what pleases Him, and what He expects from His people. Faith! Have faith in the full, final, finished, and forever work of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Closing Verse: “And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.” Romans 11:17, 18

Next Week: Judges 12:8-15 Get it on; get in the zone; your mind will be blown… it’s so swell (Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon, Judges of Israel) (38th Judges Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who judges His people according to their deeds. So, follow Him, live for Him, and trust Him, and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Jephthah, Judge of Israel, Part V

Then the men of Ephraim gathered together
Crossed over toward Zaphon, and to Jephthah said
“Why did you cross over to fight
Against the people of Ammon leading them as their head?

And did not call us to go with you, so we inquire?
We will burn your house down on you with fire!”

And Jephthah said to them, “My people and I were
In a great struggle with the people of Ammon in these lands
And when I called you
You did not deliver me out of their hands

So when I saw that you would not deliver me
I took my life in my hands, understand?
And crossed over against the people of Ammon
And the LORD delivered them into my hand

Why then have you come up to me, how can it be?
This day to fight against me?

Now Jephthah gathered together
All the men of Gilead and against Ephraim fought
And the men of Gilead defeated Ephraim
Because they said words that were distraught

“You Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim (say your last rites)
Among the Ephraimites and among the Manassites”

The Gileadites seized the fords of the Jordan
Before the Ephraimites arrived
And when any Ephraimite who escaped said
“Let me cross over,” thus he was deprived:

The men of Gilead would say to him
“Are you an Ephraimite?” (If so, you’ll meet your death!)
If he said, “No,”
Then they would say to him, “Then say, ‘Shibboleth’!”

And if he would say, “Sibboleth”
For he could not pronounce it right
Then they would take him and kill him at the fords of the Jordan
There fell at that time forty-two thousand of the Ephraimite

And Jephthah judged Israel six years
Then Jephthah the Gileadite died
And was buried among the cities of Gilead
A humble man, lacking any pride

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then the men of Ephraim gathered together, crossed over toward Zaphon, and said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the people of Ammon, and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house down on you with fire!”

And Jephthah said to them, “My people and I were in a great struggle with the people of Ammon; and when I called you, you did not deliver me out of their hands. So when I saw that you would not deliver me, I took my life in my hands and crossed over against the people of Ammon; and the Lord delivered them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?” Now Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim. And the men of Gilead defeated Ephraim, because they said, “You Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites and among the Manassites.” The Gileadites seized the fords of the Jordan before the Ephraimites arrived. And when any Ephraimite who escaped said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead would say to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,” then they would say to him, “Then say, ‘Shibboleth’!” And he would say, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it right. Then they would take him and kill him at the fords of the Jordan. There fell at that time forty-two thousand Ephraimites.

And Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried among the cities of Gilead.

After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons. And he gave away thirty daughters in marriage, and brought in thirty daughters from elsewhere for his sons. He judged Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.

11 After him, Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel. He judged Israel ten years. 12 And Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.

13 After him, Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy young donkeys. He judged Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mountains of the Amalekites.

 

 

 

Judges 11:34-40 (Jephthah, Judge of Israel, Part IV)

Artwork by Doug Kallerson

Judges 11:34-40
Jephthah, Judge of Israel, Part IV

(Typed 5-7 March 2024) As I was typing this sermon, a person in the Veterans Administration, RimaAnn Nelson, published a memo calling for the VJ Day photo known as the Victory Kiss to be removed from all VA medical buildings. She did this despite having no authority to write the memo.

She explained her actions, stating that “it doesn’t foster a more trauma-informed environment that promotes psychological safety.” Her actions have nothing to do with keeping people from psychological trauma. Ironically, this mirrors the main intent of the democrat party of late: to ensure more psychological trauma is brought upon the people of the nation rather than less.

This was simply another communist attempt to destroy any remaining vestige of America’s great heritage. However, the heritage of the nation of Israel is permanently inscribed in the pages of Scripture and it cannot be erased.

Despite the “psychological trauma” that reading the story of Jephthah’s daughter must bring to such people, it is a part of God’s word. Because of this, it will never be erased from history. A vow was made, the Lord brought about the requested victory, and the vow was fulfilled accordingly.

One wonders, “What purpose does this story hold?” If it is not telling us something in typology, it certainly seems like something that could have just been left out of the biblical narrative. But it is, in fact, telling us something more.

Text Verse: “What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
13 I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
14 I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people.” Psalm 116:12-14

Thankfully, republican lawmakers immediately stepped in and contacted the Secretary of Veteran Affairs over the matter of the Victory Kiss photo. The memo was rescinded. And more, the lawmakers called for the removal of this communist Undersecretary.

That probably will not happen. But at least there was a small victory in the ongoing assault by the communist left to destroy every remaining tradition and value of American heritage and replace it with deviancy and perversion.

The Bible is silent on what will happen to the U.S. However, the state of Israel as a nation is carefully recorded in Scripture. From its inception to present-day times and even through the millennium, Israel will stand because the Lord has covenanted with them.

Despite this, there have been and there will be times of trouble for them. How does the sacrifice of a young virgin daughter anticipate these things? Today we will see. It’s all to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again, and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Jephthah’s Daughter (verses 34-40)

34 When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah,

va’yavo yiphtakh ha’mitspah el beito – “And comes, Jephthah, the Mizpah, unto his house.” Here the term “the Mizpah” is used as in 10:17 and 11:11. It is not the same location as Mizpeh noted twice in verse 11:29. This is the moment that will decide the outcome of the vow he made to the Lord. The result of that vow is…

34 (con’t) there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing;

v’hineh vito yotseth liqrato b’tupim u-bimkholoth – “And behold, his daughter coming out to meet him in timbrels and in dances.” This is a common thing, be it in Israel of the past or after any war even today. People rejoice in the victory, even in a Victory Kiss in Times Square. For Israel, it is what Miriam did after the victory of the Lord over Egypt –

“Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. 21 And Miriam answered them:
‘Sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea!’” Exodus 15:20-21

Hundreds of years later, the nation continued to celebrate –

“Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said:
‘Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands.’” 1 Samuel 18:6, 7

In the Psalms, the mighty acts of the Lord continued to be proclaimed in this manner as well, such as in the 68th Psalm, a Psalm that begins with the Lord in battle as a warrior –

“Let God arise,
Let His enemies be scattered;
Let those also who hate Him flee before Him.
As smoke is driven away,
So drive them away;
As wax melts before the fire,
So let the wicked perish at the presence of God.”

“They have seen Your procession, O God,
The procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary.
25 The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after;
Among them were the maidens playing timbrels.” Psalm 68:1, 2 & 24, 25

As for Jephthah’s daughter, it says…

34 (con’t) and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter.

The Hebrew is tender and mournful, anticipating the inevitable exchange that will soon take place: v’raq hi y’khidah ein lo mimenu ben o bath – “And except she, only. None to him, from him, son or daughter.” The word yakhid is used. It is the same word used to describe Isaac three times in Genesis 22.

As for the masculine word mimenu, from him, meaning “other than him (but implying her),” various suggestions have been raised as to why it is in the masculine rather than feminine form. Ellicott sees it as an idiomatic expression. Lange says, “the neutral conception ‘child’ floats before the writer’s mind.” Neither of these seems adequate.

One other suggestion is that it is referring to Jephthah, meaning there were no other children from him. But most agree that this is not what the Hebrew is conveying.

Despite that, the text is clear that this daughter is his only child. John Lange concludes that it would have been totally unexpected to have a virgin daughter come out to meet him, saying, “It never even occurred to him that she might come forth to meet him; for that was usually done only by women (נָשִׁים, Ex. 15:20; 1 Sam. 18:6), not by maidens, who remained within the house; and Jephthah’s daughter was yet a בְּתוּלָה, virgin.”

This doesn’t seem likely based on what it will say later in Judges 21 –

“Therefore they instructed the children of Benjamin, saying, ‘Go, lie in wait in the vineyards, 21 and watch; and just when the daughters of Shiloh come out to perform their dances, then come out from the vineyards, and every man catch a wife for himself from the daughters of Shiloh; then go to the land of Benjamin.’” Judges 21:20, 21

It doesn’t seem reasonable to suggest that these daughters were anything but virgins. Jephthah made his vow, and it was all-encompassing. The fact that his daughter is the one who came out to meet him may have been surprising and anguishing, but he had to take that into consideration when he made his vow.

35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes,

vayhi khirotho othah vayiqra eth b’gadav – “And was, in his seeing her, and tears his garments.” Depending on the context, the tearing of a garment is a sign of great distress, anguish, horror, sadness, etc. In this case, it seems to be all of these and more. Jephthah is utterly laid low by what has happened…

35 (con’t) and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me!

There is the epitome of distress in his words which are emphatically stated: vayomer ahah biti hakhrea hikhratini v’at hayith b’okhrai – “and says, “Ahah, my daughter! Bowing, you have bowed me, and you, you became in my troublings.’” He first says ahah. It is an interjection essentially meaning alas. It expresses a state of woe or pain exclamatorily.

Next, the word translated as bow was used in Judges 5 when Jael wiped out Sisera. When she sent the peg through his skull, it said –

“Between her feet curled, fallen, lain.
Between her feet curled, fallen.
In which curled, there fallen, pulverized.” Judges 5:27 (CG)

Jephthah is as if he has been sucker punched and is completely doubled over in anguish. One can imagine him hardly being able to catch his breath. Finally, the words, “you became in my troublings” is a way of expressing that her very presence before him has debilitated him.

As for the word akhar, or trouble, it is used in exceptionally strong situations. For example, Joshua said this to Achan in Joshua 7 –

“And Joshua said, ‘Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.’ So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.” Joshua 7:25

This is the type of distress that Jephthah felt in himself over the revelation that he would have to sacrifice his daughter to the Lord.

35 (con’t) For I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it.”

The emphatic nature of his words continues: v’anokhi patsithi pi el Yehovah v’lo ukhal la’shuv – “and I, I opened my mouth unto Yehovah, and no able to return.” The word translated as opened, patsah, comes from a primitive root meaning to rend. So far, it has only been used when referring to the earth opening, such as to receive Abel’s blood or to swallow up the households of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.

The words he spoke were intentional, and he purposefully opened his mouth. As his words were in the form of a vow, they cannot be taken back. This is explicitly stated in Numbers 30 –

“If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” Numbers 30:2

What is stated here is not unlike what the psalmist says in Psalm 66 –

“I will go into thine house with burnt-offerings: I will repay to thee my vows [neder],
14Which my lips opened [patsah] and my mouth spake in straits to me.” Psalm 66:13, 14 (SLT)

Jephthah made a vow when he opened his mouth. Now, his vow of the burnt offering must be accomplished. Completely understanding the situation, and demonstrating the most incredible devotion to the word of her father and his duty to the Lord, she responds…

36 So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth,

Adding the word “if” does a disservice to the tenor of her reply: vatomer elav avi patsithah eth pikha el Yehovah aseh li kaasher yatsa mipikha– “And says unto him, ‘My father, opened your mouth to Yehovah. Do to me according to which gone from your mouth.’” It is like the response of a king or a nobleman coming from a young virgin. They are words of personal authority over the situation –

“Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, ‘You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!’” Acts 25:12

And more, her words don’t bear any timidity or fearfulness. She fully understands the situation and has no compunction about allowing it to happen, exactly as the situation demands.

As for her next words, they clearly convey her knowledge of the matter and what it means for her. This is unlike innumerable scholars and teachers who waffle on what is conveyed, attempting to somehow change the outcome of her situation…

36 (con’t) because the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.”

akhare asher asah l’kha Yehovah n’qamoth meoyvekha mib’ne amon – “after which done to you, Yehovah – vengeances from your enemies, from sons Ammon.” The word asah, to do, is restated in this clause, after having been used in the previous clause –

*Do to me according to which gone from your mouth.
*…after which done to you, Yehovah – vengeances from your enemies, from sons Ammon.

This young virgin clearly understands the meaning of the vow. Yehovah gave victory over the lives of Jephthah’s enemies. She knows that her life is now forfeit because of that. And yet, she humbly acknowledges her sentence without any sort of personal right to protest. Rather, she makes a simple request, one that will in no way affect the matter of the vow that Jephthah has made…

37 Then she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone for two months,

vatomer el aviha yeaseh li ha’davar hazeh harpeh mimeni sh’nayim khodashim – “And said, unto her father, ‘To be done to me the word, the this: slacken from me two months.’” The young girl asks nothing inappropriate and nothing that would cause Jephthah to violate his vow.

Rather, she has already firmly and willingly offered herself up to the Lord based on his vow. A two-month reprieve for her to have a suitable time to grieve over the matter was more than acceptable, and it is quite appropriate to the situation. As for how she will use the two months…

37 (con’t) that I may go and wander on the mountains

The words are poetic: v’elkha v’yaradti al heharim – “and I am walking and descending upon the mountains.” The words seem incongruent. One must go up a mountain in order to descend upon it. To lighten the effect, some versions incorrectly state “that I may go up and down upon the mountains” (KJV et al).

Keil says, “that I may go down to the mountains (i.e., from Mizpeh, which stood upon an eminence, to the surrounding mountains and their valleys).” That seems forced concerning the words she chooses. What it appears to be saying is that she is equating her descending upon the mountains with what she next says…

37 (con’t) and bewail my virginity, my friends and I.”

v’evkeh al bethulay anokhi v’raiti – “and I am bewailing upon my virginities, I and my companions.” The word “virginity” is a masculine plural noun, bethulim, like the word mayim, or water. Water flows downward, descending on mountains and hills. And so she is bewailing the fact that her virginities will never flow –

“If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, 14 and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin [bethulim: virginities],’ 15 then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman’s virginity [bethulim: virginities] to the elders of the city at the gate.” Deuteronomy 22:13-15

Her “descending upon the mountains” seems to be a poetic way of saying, “If my virginities will never flow, then I will flow as I wish they did.” Her youthful actions as she walks with her friends as they accompany her in her final months will be a token of her dedication to her father, her nation, and the Lord.

In her words is a new word in Scripture, rayah. It signifies a female companion. It is found only here and nine times in the Song of Songs where it refers to Solomon’s darling.

Understanding her request, and probably wishing he could be the one to be with her instead, Jephthah agrees…

38 So he said, “Go.” And he sent her away for two months;

vayomer lekhi vayishlakh othah sh’ne khodashim – “And said, ‘Walk.’ And sent her two months.” It would be hard to approve such a request, and it would also be impossible to not do so. Jephthah’s two months would be like Abraham’s three days of turmoil, multiplied by twenty.

As for the number two, it is the number of division or difference. Depending on the perspective, when there are two, there is a first and a last. There is one that begins and one that ends. There is a front and a back. They contrast, and yet they confirm the whole.

38 (con’t) and she went with her friends, and bewailed her virginity on the mountains.

The words bear emphasis: vatelekh hi v’reotheha vatev’kh al bethuleha al heharim – “And walked, she, and her attendants, and bewails her virginities upon the mountains.” The hope of every godly Hebrew female was to be ancestor of the coming Messiah. It was a hope that would not be realized in her. This is the reason for bewailing her virginity, even over her death.

Despite this, she has found her own special place in redemptive history along with the other great women of faith that adorn Scripture’s pages. Though unnamed, she is remembered for her actions and faith-filled devotion to her father and her people.

She obviously understood that if she could be spared her fate, the Lord would make it happen, just as He did for Isaac. This story would have been well-known. It would certainly take much of the fear out of what lies ahead to know that the Lord could intervene. And if He didn’t, she understood that He had his reasons for not doing so.

The verse uses another new word, similar to the one in the previous verse, reah. It also signifies a companion, but to show a distinction, I translate it as attendant. It is found only elsewhere in Psalm 45 –

“The princess looks absolutely magnificent, decked out in pearls and clothed in a brocade trimmed with gold.
14In embroidered robes she is escorted to the king.
Her attendants [reah], the maidens of honor who follow her,
are led before you.
15They are bubbling with joy as they walk in procession
and enter the royal palace.” Psalm 45:13-15 (NET)

Her friends attended to her as she bewailed her virginity for two months…

39 And it was so at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed.

Out of the sake of propriety, the words are reserved and purposefully vague, providing no unnecessary descriptors: vayhi miqets sh’nayim khodashim vatashav el aviha vayaas lah eth nidro asher nadar – “And was, from end two months, and returned unto her father, and does to her his vow which he vowed.” The proclamation of the vow by Jephthah is as clear and unambiguous as anything else in Scripture –

“And is, the coming which comes from door my house to meet me, in my returning in peace from sons Ammon, and is to Yehovah, and I have ascended it – burnt offering.”  (CG).

It was only at the time of Rabbi Kimkhi, a full millennium after the coming of Christ, that these words were taken to mean anything other than her death. There is no other place in Scripture where perpetual virginity was some type of class bestowed upon women. But it certainly would have been noted if it were an acceptable allowance or practice.

And more, Scripture elsewhere has noted times when a child would be devoted to the Lord, meaning slain. This includes the obvious example of Abraham and Isaac. But it also was something Saul vowed to perform upon his own son, Jonathan, even if it was not carried out.

Jephthah made a vow, the Lord allowed the events following that vow to take place, and Jephthah did according to the vow he had uttered. And…

39 (con’t) She knew no man.

It is a Hebrew idiom meaning she was a virgin at the time of her sacrifice: v’hi lo yad’ah ish – “And she no knew man.” Of these words, John Lange (as an example of numerous others) states the following –

“Had she been put to death, that fact must here have been indicated in some way. The narrator would have said, ‘and he presented her as a sacrifice at the altar in Mizpah,’ or, ‘and she died, having known no man,’ or some other similar formula.”

There is a problem with this thinking. It is so obvious in fact, that as he continues, he fails to acknowledge that it rests in his own conclusion…

“The truth is, the whole narrative derives its mighty charm only from the mysterious, and at that time in Israel very extraordinary fact, that the daughter of the great hero, for whom a life of brilliant happiness opened itself, spent her days in solitude and virginity. Death, even unnatural, was nothing uncommon. But a life such as Jephthah’s daughter henceforth lived, was at that time unparalleled in Israel, and affords therefore profound instruction, not to be overlooked because issuing from the silence of retirement.”

If this daughter had not been offered as a burnt offering but was instead dedicated to the Lord as a perpetual virgin, living at the temple in that state, the lack of affirming it as such is absolutely no different than failing to state how and when she was offered as a burnt offering. And yet, not even a few extra words, such as “she knew no man all her days” are provided.

The only difference between the two is that Jephthah did not say he would fulfill his vow by offering up a perpetual virgin. He said he would offer her up as a burnt offering. The proposition is an argument from silence mixed with a necessary manipulation of the intent concerning what has been provided.

But more to the point, she had asked for a two-month reprieve to bewail her virginity. If she was offered up to the Lord as a perpetual virgin, she would not have needed two months to bewail her virginity. She would have had all the remaining days of her life, living in sequestered devotion to the Lord, to do so.

The twisting of the outcome of this passage into something wholly unintended diminishes every aspect of it. It leaves the outcome void of the very purpose for which it is included in Scripture.

39 (con’t) And it became a custom in Israel

Rather: vathi khoq b’Yisrael – “And became statute in Israel.” The word khoq comes from khaqaq, to inscribe or decree. This was a decree or statute that was followed. Whether it was throughout Israel, only east of the Jordan, or only in the immediate area isn’t stated, but it was statute. And this statute is based on the act.

It would be the most pointless statute of all if the daughter was only locked up as a virgin. Rather, the statute is one of remembrance to a young girl whose life was vowed as a burnt offering to the Lord by her father for the sake of those threatened by A People who were not of the people of God. Therefore…

*40 (fin) that the daughters of Israel went four days each year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

miyamim yamimah telakhna b’noth Yisrael l’thanoth l’bath yiphtakh ha’giladi arbaath yamim ba’shanah – “From days her days, walks daughters Israel to celebrate to daughter Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year.

In order to completely eradicate any correct meaning at all from the event, Charles François Houbigant translates this verse as, “But this custom prevailed in Israel that the virgins of Israel went at different times, four days in the year, to the daughter of Jephthah, that they might comfort her.”

It is not even a close translation. It is a paraphrase, injected with presuppositions and biases. Why would a statute need to be decreed for such a ridiculous proposition? But more, why would Jephthah’s daughter have asked to bewail her virginity if she was to have people coming to her for the rest of her life to bewail her virginity?

The custom, probably local in scope, was an honorary event for the daughters of the land to remember that Jephthah’s daughter willingly agreed with her father that his vow superseded any claim of her own hopes or desires, and even of her life itself.

Also, this is the second and last use of the word tanah, celebrate, in Scripture. The first was in Judges 5:11, where the people celebrated the righteous acts of the Lord in the battle against Sisera.

As for the number four, Bullinger defines it, saying –

“It is emphatically the number of Creation; of man in his relation to the world as created; while six is the number of man in his opposition to and independence of God. It is the number of things that have a beginning, of things that are made, of material things, and matter itself. It is the number of material completeness. Hence it is the world number, and especially the ‘city’ number.”

Israel means He Strives With God. Jephthah means He Opens. The Gileadite means The Perpetual Fountainite. Curiously, the name of the daughter is never stated.

Victory against the foe now calls for a proffering
A life is given up acknowledging His victory
For Jephthah, it is a mournful offering
He wonders to himself, “How can this be?”

Why did the Lord allow it to be this way?
He knew what would happen all along
Knowing that on that fateful day
Jephthah’s daughter would come forth with a song

Surely, the Lord’s ways are right
The outcome came by His design that day
Victory over Ammon by the Lord’s powerful might
And so Jephthah’s vow he did pay

II. The Virgin Daughter

Here, we have a record of Jephthah’s vow being fulfilled according to the providence of the Lord. The entire scenario could have been terminated at one of innumerable times. For example, Jephthah could have lost the battle. The battle could have been won, but Jephthah could have died in it.

It could have been that something or someone else came out of Jephthah’s doors to meet him. Or it could have been that Jephthah’s daughter immediately refused and ran away or committed suicide. She also could have died from being bitten by a snake or tumbling down the side of a mountain. On and on go the possibilities.

And yet, the battle was won, Jephthah returned home, and his daughter was first out the door to meet him. Therefore, she was offered to the Lord as a burnt offering.

The battle was won against Ammon, A People. They are the enemies of the people of God. Specifically, in typology, these people of God being on the east side of the Jordan picture those who were saved during the time under the law, meaning before the coming of Christ.

They are the people of God who anticipated Christ’s coming. However, A People, those who are not God’s people (a reflection of those referred to by Paul in Romans 9), are attempting to obtain an inheritance they have no right to. As seen, they picture those who have rejected Jesus but still claim to be God’s people.

Once Christ came, the people of God, My People, are those who have come to Christ in faith, whether Jews or Gentiles. A People have no right to the inheritance, and yet they have battled to obtain it. Jesus, He Opens, is the Perpetual Fountainite. He is the One who opens the Spirit to those of faith.

The vow of Jephthah is to devote his virgin daughter as a burnt offering to ensure the salvation of the people of God. Who is the virgin daughter? It is the tribe of Judah, a term applied to them several times in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Lamentations. (See Isaiah 37:22, Jeremiah 14:17, Lamentations 1:15, etc.).

In essence, Jesus is speaking: “If you will give me the victory of saving the inheritance for those who were of faith under the law, I will offer up my virgin daughter (Judah).”

In verse 34, Jephthah came to his house at the Mizpeh, the Watchtower. Jesus came to Jerusalem, the place where the people of God watched for the coming of their Messiah. His daughter recognizes him and comes out to meet him with timbrels and dances. Judah recognized their Messiah. They came out to meet Him –

“And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Hosanna in the highest!’” Matthew 21:8, 9

Verse 34 continues with the note that his daughter is his only child. But there is a gender discord in the word mimenu, from him, meaning “other than him.” It is referring to Israel, by this time in history summed up by the term Jew (from Judah) –

“O daughter of my people,
Dress in sackcloth
And roll about in ashes!
Make mourning as for an only son, most bitter lamentation;
For the plunderer will suddenly come upon us.” Jeremiah 6:26

In Jeremiah, the Lord uses the term daughter but then implores them to mourn as an only son. It matches what the typology is conveying perfectly. In verse 35, Jephthah is in great distress when his daughter comes joyously dancing to greet him. Jesus, likewise, mourned over Jerusalem –

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:37-39

Jephthah’s daughter sealed her own fate by coming out to meet her father. Judah sealed their own fate by coming out to meet Jesus. They openly acknowledged Him as their Savior. But the leaders of Jerusalem, the Watchtower, failed to do so.

They had become A People to God, even though they were God’s people, His virgin daughter. To save the people of God, the Lord was willing to allow His daughter to be sacrificed. This doesn’t mean as an atonement but as a pleasing aroma. Something that satisfies.

If God were to allow the Jewish people who had rejected Jesus to be saved, it would mean that Jesus’ atoning sacrifice was pointless. There must be something that gives. In the case of Jephthah’s battle, it was his virgin daughter. In the case of God’s people, it meant that He would have to give up on His people.

Jephthah’s daughter was the price to save God’s people. The Jews who rejected Jesus are the price of securing those who came to Him under the law. This price includes the final seven years of the law, known as the tribulation period. Any who fail to come to Christ will be a part of this process of release.

Jephthah acknowledged that he had opened, patsah, his mouth to the Lord, and he could not go back on it. Jesus likewise opened His mouth to the Lord, as prophesied in Psalm 66 –

“I will go into Your house with burnt offerings [olah];
I will pay You my vows [neder],
14 Which my lips have uttered [patsah]
And my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.” Psalm 66:13, 14

The words of this psalm nearly mirror Jephthah’s state and words. It is a messianic psalm about God’s kingship to the nations. It reveals the gospel of Christ. The point of focus here concerns those of Israel who were under the law but who are brought into the family of God through the work of Christ.

The virgin daughter accepts that the vow must be paid and never argues against it. This shows that without Jesus, there is no salvation. If God did not let go of the virgin daughter, Judah, none would be saved. Therefore, the exchange is made –

*Do to me according to which gone from your mouth.
*…after which done to you, Yehovah – vengeances from your enemies, from sons Ammon.

The daughter must be given up because of the victory over A People. Judah must be given up because victory over those who have rejected Jesus has taken place.

Therefore, the daughter asks for two months (verses 37 & 38) to wander on the mountains. As has been seen many times, a mountain is a lot of something gathered. It is synonymous with a large but centralized group of people.

Her descending on the mountains means on many large groups of people. It speaks of the message going out to the Jews beyond Israel. Paul, speaking of the Jews hearing the message writes –

“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth,
And their words to the ends of the world.’” Romans 10:16-18

The request is a reprieve for two months, the number of division or difference. This indicates two groups, those who believe and those who fail to believe. There is salvation and there is condemnation. They contrast, but they confirm the totality of the Jews.

However, that time had to come to an end. The Jews were given the timeline in Daniel 9. Jesus told them it would come in forty years (when referring to the sign of Jonah). The temple was destroyed and A People who are not God’s people were exiled.

They will be given seven more years to come to Christ during the tribulation. Those who come to faith will be saved, and those who do not will perish.

Verse 39 said that at the end of the two months, she returned, and her father carried out the vow he had made. Saying “she knew no man” means the daughter, standing as representative of Jephthah’s vow, had no husband. Judah, without Christ, remains unmarried.

Some must be given up for others to be saved. The Lord covenanted with Judah that they would be a people before Him forever. But this does not mean all of them. The people of God are people of faith. This was alluded to by Jesus in His parables.

Those who were of faith before the cross during the time of the Mosaic Covenant were only saved based on the coming fulfillment of the law in Christ. There can be no end around for those who have rejected Him. This is pictured by Ammon, A People, coming against the people of God to obtain an inheritance to which they are not entitled.

They picture those who want the inheritance after Christ’s coming, but based on the law that was only given to anticipate Christ. With Christ’s completion of the law, it is no longer a tool acceptable to bring people to God.

Judah, the virgin daughter, had to be given up in order to secure the true people of God from all people. Christ, pictured by Jephthah, He Opens, was the One who brought this about.

The final verse noted that the daughters of Israel went four days each year to celebrate the daughter of Jephthah. Four speaks of man in his relation to the world as created. To celebrate this daughter is to celebrate what God has done in Christ.

It is the righteous acts of the Lord that brought about the victory over A People. Without Jesus, none would be saved. The Lord had to give up on Judah to bring about the salvation of many. This is what occurred. This thought is probably best summed up in the words of Zechariah –

“‘And it shall come to pass in all the land,’
Says the Lord,
That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
But one-third shall be left in it:
I will bring the one-third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, “This is My people”;
And each one will say, “The Lord is my God.”’” Zechariah 13:8, 9

Judah must go through the fire for the people to be saved. As contradictory as that sounds, that is how it is. The word olah, or burnt offering, is translated by the Greek Septuagint and the New Testament Greek as holokautóma, a holocaust.

That is exactly what A People who are not God’s people have experienced. It is what will be finalized in the tribulation period. Jesus is the remedy to this. He gave up on His virgin daughter to save His virgin daughter. When it says that the daughters of Israel celebrated Jephthah’s daughter, it is a celebration of their faith in the providence of God’s Messiah.

Jephthah’s daughter was a woman of faith in the Lord. Thus, she will be raised at the resurrection. Those of Judah who are of faith will also be raised because of the work of Christ. Those who are not of faith in God’s Messiah, Jesus, will be a part of the eternal holocaust that lies ahead.

God used this story from Israel’s past to show us details of what has been and what lies ahead for the Jewish people. But the same truth applies to every one of us. God sent His Son into the world to save sinners. As all have sinned, all need Jesus. It is those who accept this premise and believe who will be saved.

There are no end-arounds given. This passage in Judges 11 clearly shows us this, even if it is referring to the people of Israel under different circumstances than we today find ourselves during the dispensation of grace. Those who remained under the law after Jesus came are not a part of God’s salvation. What all people need is to trust in Jesus. This is the key to your being reconciled to God.

Closing Verse: “I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people,
19 In the courts of the Lord’s house,
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!” Psalm 116:18, 19

Next Week: Judges 12:1-7 With this one, that’s all there is to tell, ain’t no jive… (Jephthah, Judge of Israel, Part V) (37th Judges Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who judges His people according to their deeds. So, follow Him, live for Him, and trust Him, and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Judges 11:34-40 (Jephthah, Judge of Israel, Part IV)

When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah
There was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels
———-and dancing, rejoicing over the slaughter
And she was his only child
Besides her he had neither son nor daughter

And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes
And said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low!
———-This I must admit
You are among those who trouble me!
For I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot go back on it

So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word
———-to the LORD
Surely, then, He has known
Do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth
Because the LORD has avenged you of your enemies
———-the people of Ammon

Then she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me
Let me alone for two months, and here is why
That I may go and wander on the mountains
And bewail my virginity, my friends and I

So he said, “Go”
And he sent her away for two months to roam the vicinity
And she went with her friends
And on the mountains bewailed her virginity

And it was so at the end of two months
That she returned to her father according to the plan
And he carried out his vow with her
Which he had vowed. She knew no man

And it became a custom in Israel
That the daughters of Israel went
Four days each year
The daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite to lament

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

34 When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it.”

36 So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.” 37 Then she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone for two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains and bewail my virginity, my friends and I.”

38 So he said, “Go.” And he sent her away for two months; and she went with her friends, and bewailed her virginity on the mountains. 39 And it was so at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed. She knew no man.

And it became a custom in Israel 40 that the daughters of Israel went four days each year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

 

 

 

Judges 11:29-33 (Jephthah, Judge of Israel, Part III)

Artwork by Douglas Kallerson.

Judges 11:29-33
Jephthah, Judge of Israel, Part III

(Typed 4 March 2024) As with all of Judges so far, we will see how the Lord is again using typology in Chapter 11 to reveal to us what is going on in the world.

So far, we have gone through all of redemptive history from the coming of Christ and then to and through the tribulation period. But there are still nuances that remain unresolved in doctrinal matters. Therefore, this passage has been given to help alleviate possible misperceptions that may arise concerning those things.

This occurred in the Joshua sermons as well. Certain things were foreshadowed, but then more passages were used to clarify matters.

It helps resolve the “Yes, but what about that?” scenarios that inevitably arise. The Lord is crossing every i and dotting every t… wait, reverse that, in order to ensure that no gaps in our theology remain. Today’s passage refutes something taught by preacher John Hagee from Texas.

Here are excerpts from an article, “San Antonio fundamentalist battles Anti-Semitism,” which explains his doctrine as detailed in the [Houston Chronicle] from April 30th, 1988 –

“Simple: The man has a mission. He’s out to attack anti-Semitism. He also believes that Jews can come to God without going through Jesus Christ.

“‘I’m not trying to convert the Jewish people to the Christian faith,’ he said. ‘There is nothing in the ‘night to honor Israel’ that does that.

“In fact, trying to convert Jews is a ‘waste of time,’’ he said. ‘The Jewish person who has his roots in Judaism is not going to convert to Christianity. There is no form of Christian evangelism that has failed so miserably as evangelizing the Jewish people. They (already) have a faith structure.’

“‘The Jewish people have a relationship to God through the law of God as given through Moses,’ Hagee said. ‘I believe that every Gentile person can only come to God through the cross of Christ. I believe that every Jewish person who lives in the light of the Torah, which is the word of God, has a relationship with God and will come to redemption.’”

“‘The law of Moses is sufficient enough to bring a person into the knowledge of God until God gives him a greater revelation. And God has not,’ said Hagee, giving his interpretation of Romans 11:25. ‘Paul abandoned the idea (of Jews knowing Christ). In the book of Romans, he said, “I am now going to go to the Gentiles from this time forward.” Judaism doesn’t need Christianity to explain its existence. But Christianity has to have Judaism to explain its existence.’”

Text Verse: “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-22

So much for “Paul abandoned the idea (of Jews knowing Christ).” Be sure to read your Bible in context and watch out for the workers of iniquity who fill pulpits throughout the world. You cannot do that unless you know the word.

Such great things as actually knowing what God is doing in the world through redemptive history are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again, and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. When I Return In Peace (verses 29-33)

In the previous passage, the king of Ammon rejects Jephthah’s appeal for him to desist from coming against Israel. Because of his response, it next says…

29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah,

vathi al yiphtakh ruakh Yehovah – “And was upon Jephthah, Spirit Yehovah.” In Judges 3:10, the Spirit of Yehovah came upon Othniel. In Judges 6:34. the Spirit of Yehovah clothed Gideon. In Judges 15:13, the Spirit will move, or impel, Samson. After that, it will be sent mightily upon him two more times.

In this case, the wording is the same as when the Spirit came upon Othniel and endowed him with the ability to accomplish the challenge before him. The Lord accepted the people’s choice of Judge. Albert Barnes nicely sums things up –

“This was the sanctification of Jephthah for his office of Judge and savior of God’s people Israel. … The declaration is one of the distinctive marks which stamp this history as a divine history.”

29 (con’t) and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh,

vayaavor eth ha’gilad v’eth m’nasheh – “and passed through the Gilead and Manasseh.” This is not referring to movement to battle but to preparation for battle. In other words, Jephthah needed to raise a suitable army, gather provisions, etc. Therefore, he passed through the Gilead and Manasseh to accomplish this. The Gilead would be the tribes of Reuben and Gad, between the Arnon and Jabbok.

Manasseh is the land of northern Gilead and Bashan. It is of note that Gilead is mentioned 12 times in this chapter but this is the only time it is prefixed by the article – the Gilead.

The Gilead means The Perpetual Fountain. Manasseh means To Forget and From a Debt.

29 (con’t) and passed through Mizpah of Gilead;

vayaavor eth mitspeh gilad – “and passed through Mizpeh Gilead.” In this verse, it twice says Mizpeh. In 10:17 and again in 11:34 the Hebrew says “the Mizpah,” with the article. The spelling of the word is the same, but the vowel pointing indicates a different location. Further, it signifies different typology is being conveyed.

Mizpeh Gilead means Watchtower, Perpetual Fountain.

29 (con’t) and from Mizpah of Gilead he advanced toward the people of Ammon.

u-mi’mitspeh gilad avar b’ne amon – “and from Mizpeh Gilead and passed over sons Ammon.” It is the same word, avar, translated as “passed through” in the previous two clauses. However, the intent must be determined from the structure of the Hebrew. Keil says, “עבר (to pass over) with an accusative signifies to come over a person in a hostile sense.”

Jephthah, He Opens, has passed through the lands of Israel’s possession to obtain a suitable army. Now, he has passed over the Ammonites to wage the battle. Ammon means A People.

With the words carefully chosen for each step of the narrative, the next words lead to both victory and personal tragedy…

30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord,

vayidar yiphtakh neder l’Yehovah – “And vowed, Jephthah, vow to Yehovah.” These words, and what later is tied to them, are disdainfully treated and almost universally condemned by commentators. It is the exception for a commentator to stand upon Jephthah’s words and subsequent actions as being wholly appropriate.

Of this vow, the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary gives this internally contradictory thought –

“…he made his celebrated vow, in accordance with an ancient custom for generals at the outbreak of a war, or on the eve of a battle, to promise the god of their worship a costly oblation, or dedication of some valuable booty, in the event of victory. Vows were in common practice also among the Israelites. They were encouraged by the divine approval as emanating from a spirit of piety and gratitude; and rules were laid down in the law for regulating the performance. But it is difficult to bring Jephthah’s vow within the legitimate range.”

The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah. He went through the lands east of the Jordan and gathered his army. What seems apparent is that the battle ahead will be most arduous. If he had an overwhelming force with him, Jephthah would surely have not needed to make a vow.

Instead, he would have simply thanked the Lord for the obvious victory ahead and gone into the battle with confidence. But what lies ahead is a great challenge that he knows only the Lord can handle. Therefore, he makes this vow. It is not one rashly rendered, but carefully contemplated…

30 (con’t) and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands,

The words bear emphasis: vayomar im nathon titen eth b’ne amon b’yadi – “And says, ‘If giving, gives sons Ammon in my hand.’” The people of Israel have obtained their rightful inheritance. It has been given to them as a possession, and yet, a challenge is made to that inheritance. If Jephthah fails, the possession, and thus the inheritance, will be lost. Therefore…

31 then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me,

The words reveal Jephthah’s understanding of the omniscience and sovereignty of the Lord: v’hayah ha’yotse asher yetse midalthe veiti liqrathi – “And is, the coming which comes from door my house to meet me.” A relative pronoun is used, which.

Thus, saying “whatever” is technically correct. And yet, if a dog came out, that would be an unacceptable offering to the Lord according to the law. Therefore, one would assume that Jephthah is thinking of a human.

Further, the word qirah means “to meet.” If anything, including an animal, was intended, this word would not have been used. It is not a term used concerning animals. Dogs do come excitedly rushing out of the doors to meet people, as is evidenced in my house numerous times each day, but that does not match Jephthah’s intent. The words are pointing to a welcoming home of Jephthah by a person…

31 (con’t) when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s,

b’shuvi b’shalom mibne amon v’hayah Yehovah – “in my returning in peace from sons Ammon, and is to Yehovah.” The meaning is clear. When Jephthah returns in peace, meaning he has secured the victory over the people of Ammon, the one who comes out of his door to meet him will be the Lord’s.

31 (con’t) and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”

v’haalithihu olah – “and I have ascended him [or it] – burnt offering.” In these words, the YLT says “or” instead of “and.” In other words, it will either be dedicated to the Lord, or it will be a whole burnt offering. This would ease the impact of what is being conveyed, but it cannot mean that.

Again, if a dog or a donkey was on his mind, he could not offer it to the Lord. And more, if something was made to be a burnt offering, it would have been given to the Lord. So using “or” as a disjunctive is an illogical translation that destroys the intent of what is being conveyed.

Having said that, it is argued that this would be a violation of the law, something no different than offering a dog. To justify this, scholars cite various verses. For example –

“And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:21

“When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.” Deuteronomy 12:20-31

Using these verses to justify such an opinion is incorrect. These and other such verses are not referring to the same thing. The example in Leviticus is an offering of a living child being burnt to a pagan god. The second is referring to a form of worship of the Lord, emulating the worship a of foreign god.

Jephthah is doing neither. He is promising to make an offering to the Lord of that which comes out of his doors. A few points about this must be considered. There is no hint of the certainty of victory that was seen with Gideon. Jephthah is vowing a life for total victory over an enemy in battle. To not obtain victory would mean death for his entire army.

I believe he has the account of Abraham and Isaac in mind. Therefore, he already knew that if the Lord intended for the person to live and have a substitution as Isaac did, that would occur. He is trusting, in faith, that what the Lord will allow or do is in His providence alone. If He intervened, it would still be as if the vow was accomplished. If He didn’t, then His will be done.

One final point is that it is argued that the word olah, whole burnt offering, is used twice (I Kings 10:5 and Ezekiel 40:26) when referring to ascending to the temple, i.e., to worship. Therefore, perhaps this is what is on Jephthah’s mind. He would dedicate his daughter as a temple virgin.

This is a poor evaluation of those verses. 1 Kings 10 refers to an entranceway to the temple. Ezekiel 40 refers to steps. Neither is used in the context of what Jephthah is now saying. Jephthah’s words are clear and unambiguous, “and I have ascended it – burnt offering.”

Regardless of the seeming rashness of the words, the propriety of what is said, the event as it takes place, or the outcome of what occurs, the intent cannot be misconstrued. Lastly, if the Lord disapproved of his words, He could just as easily have caused defeat instead of granting victory.

32 So Jephthah advanced toward the people of Ammon to fight against them,

vayyaavor yiphtakh el b’ne amon l’hilakhem bam – “And passed through, Jephthah, unto sons Ammon to fight in them.” This restates the narrative from verse 29. Jephthah had passed through the areas stated and had then engaged the battle with Ammon. This concisely reiterates that thought in anticipation of the next words…

32 (con’t) and the Lord delivered them into his hands.

vayitnem Yehovah b’yado – “And gave them, Yehovah, in his hand.” The words here are intimately tied into what was said in verses 30 and 31 –

“And vowed, Jephthah vow to Yehovah, and says, ‘If giving, gives sons Ammon in my hand.”
“in my returning in peace from sons Ammon, and is to Yehovah.”
“And gave them, Yehovah, in his hand.”

The vow was made to Yehovah. The vow’s substance is to be decided by Yehovah. The victory will be attained, and the Lord will give Ammon into Jephthah’s hand. The vow was accepted by the Lord. And so the Lord Himself will determine the acceptable offering.

33 And he defeated them from Aroer as far as Minnith—twenty cities—and to Abel Keramim, with a very great slaughter.

vayakem me’aroer v’ad boakha minith esrim ir v’ad avel keramim makah g’dolah meod – “And strikes them from Aroer and until your going in Minnith, twenty city, and until Abel Keramim. Slaughter whopping, very.” It speaks of a total rout of the enemy. It is not what one would expect if the Lord disapproved of Jephthah’s vow. Rather, He was with Jephthah and ensured the victory would be absolute.

Aroer means Stripped, Bare, or Naked. Minnith means Enumeration or Apportioned. Abel Keramim means Meadow of the Vineyards.

Twenty, according to Bullinger “is the double of ten, and may in some cases signify its concentrated meaning. But its significance seems rather to be connected with the fact that it is one short of twenty-one, 21 – 1 = 20; that is to say, if 21 is the three-fold 7, and signifies Divine (3) completion as regards spiritual perfection (7), then twenty, being one short of 21, it would signify what Dr. Milo Mahan calls expectancy.”

*33 (fin) Thus the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

vayikanenu b’ne amon mipne b’ne Yisrael – “And humbles sons Ammon from faces sons Israel.” The king of Ammon was the aggressor in this matter. He held no valid right to what Israel possessed, and yet he was determined to take back what had once belonged to his people but which was lost through warfare with the Amorites.

The Lord determined that Israel was to retain its possession, and therefore, He worked through Jephthah to ensure it. The Ammonites were humbled before Israel, and the land remained the inheritance of the eastern tribes.

I will call them My people, who are not My people
And her beloved, who was not beloved
Multitudes worshiping Me ‘neath the steeple
But others from My presence will be shoved

Though the number of the children of Israel
Be as the sand of the sea
The remnant will be saved, so I tell
Because long ago, they rejected Me

I will finish the work that I have started
And cut it short in righteousness
I, the Lord, will cut off those who departed
But those who repent, them I will bless

II. Pictures of Christ

Jephthah is being given as a type of Christ in this passage. It deals with the land inheritance for those east of the Jordan, and therefore it refers to those who received their inheritance prior to the advent of Jesus in His incarnation. Remember that when the Bible refers to the actual land inheritances of Israel, each detail is giving insights into spiritual inheritances. That has been consistently seen since Numbers.

In the case of this passage, redemptive history has been carefully followed in the Judges sermons. That continued all the way through the tribulation period with Gideon. But now, the Bible is doing what it often does, and it is going back and explaining detail of the larger story previously presented.

Just as Ruth gives detail that occurred during the time of the Judges, this account is explaining detail that occurred prior to and during the tribulation, explaining pertinent information that was previously left unexplained more fully.

Jephthah is introduced (verse 1) as Jephthah the Gileadite, a mighty man of valor, the son of a woman, a harlot. The words indicate He Will Open, the Perpetual Fountainite, a mighty man of valor, the son of a harlot (zonah from zanah, to be a harlot).

It speaks of Jesus who opens the Perpetual Fountain (the Spirit giving eternal life). The words gibor khayil, or mighty valor, are used of Boaz in Ruth 2 who is also a type of Christ. The idea the word conveys is one who is strong and substantial in power, authority, riches, honor, and/or virtue.

Being a son of a harlot could be applied to Christ in both a national sense and a perceived sense. In Jeremiah, for example, Israel and Judah are noted as harlots, this is actually the context of what is being seen in typology –

“The Lord said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot [zanah]. And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot [zanah] also.” Jeremiah 3:6-8

However, the Jews of Jesus’ time said this to Him, implying that He was the son of a harlot –

“‘You do the deeds of your father.’
Then they said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.’” John 8:41

In this verse, the Sar Shalom Hebrew Bible and the Hebrew New Testament use the word zenunim, the plural coming from the same word zanah, to be a harlot. The Jews claimed to be legitimate sons but were implying that Jesus, because of His birth (not knowing He was born of God and a virgin) was the son of a harlot.

Still in verse 1, it said, “and Gilead begot Jephthah.” This means “And Perpetual Fountain begot He Opens.” It is a perfect description of Jesus, begotten of the Holy Spirit –

“And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.'” Luke 1:35

Verse 2 noted that Gilead’s wife bore sons. These would be sons of Israel born under the law, Perpetual Fountain. To understand, one must think of Israel as the means of providing the Fountain, regardless of whether individuals are included in its transmission or not (Ephesians 2:12). The Spirit is the Mode by which one is included.

Right now, Gentiles are brought into the commonwealth of Israel along with Jews. However, not all Jews nor all Gentiles receive it. Israel is Perpetual Fountain, not The Perpetual Fountain (meaning the Holy Spirit). The use or lack of use of the article tells us this.

However, the verse says that when Jephthah’s brothers grew up, they expelled Jephthah. It speaks of the fullness of time when Christ would come –

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4, 5

This refers to those of Israel under the law. However, at the time of Jesus’ coming, Israel rejected him. Likewise, Jephthah’s brothers said that he would have no inheritance with them, thus rejecting him. Jesus even told the Jews in a parable it would occur –

But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.” Matthew 21:38, 39

Verse 3 said that Jephthah (He Opens) bolted from his brothers and dwelt in the land of Tob (Good). The words erets (land) and tov (good) have been used in Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua to describe Canaan, a type of the heavenly inheritance. While Israel remained apart from the New Covenant in Christ, with no opening to the Spirit, Jesus has remained in that good land.

While in Tob, it noted that Jephthah gathered to himself “men empties.” In other words, men of no substance. It is the church described by Paul –

 “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

Verse 4 said, “And was from days, and warred sons Ammon with Israel.” It refers to Israel, the Jewish people, apart from Christ because they rejected Him. This is seen in Hosea. It is later repeated by Paul in Romans 9 –

“Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. Then God said:
‘Call his name Lo-Ammi,
For you are not My people,
And I will not be your God.’” Hosea 1:9

Israel was cast off as being God’s people. If they are not “My people,” then they are simply “a people.” It is they who have come to war against Israel, meaning those who were of Israel prior to Christ’s coming, and those who came to Christ after His coming.

In other words, there is a spiritual battle where these Jews (not My people because of rejecting Christ) war against those who have come to Christ. Jesus speaks of this time, future to us now, where there are the elect and those who are not the elect.

They not only rejected Christ who fulfilled the law, but they were left without the law. Israel’s temple and its associated rights were destroyed. They simply became a people completely disconnected from God.

The elect refers to those who “went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob.” They said to Jephthah (verse 6) to be their ruler. The elect will come to Jesus for salvation. There is a battle between those who want Christ as Head and those who do not. This has already been seen in earlier Judges sermons, such as in the Gideon series.

In verse 7, Jephthah notes to the elders of Gilead (Perpetual Fountain, the means of providing the Fountain) that they hated him and expelled him from his father’s house. He questioned why they came to him in their time of distress. This is just what Israel did to Jesus, and what they will do to Him. Those who understand who He is will call out to Him.

That is exactly the purpose of the tribulation period. It is for Israel to understand that they need Jesus. And that is just how the leaders of Gilead respond, making it perfectly clear by their choice of words (verse 8): “Thus, now turned unto you.” It is because of the distress (Thus) that they realize who Jesus is.

They ask Jephthah to go with them and fight against the people of Ammon and to be head over all inhabitants of Gilead (Perpetual Fountain). There is a spiritual battle between the non-believing Jews and the believing Jews.

Remember, this is east of the Jordan. Therefore, this refers to those who have not come to Christ after His coming. And yet, they are claiming that the same inheritance of Israel that belonged to Israel prior to His coming still belongs to them. Think of it like this –

“We don’t need Jesus! Those who received their inheritance before Jesus’ coming are saved, right? So why do we need Jesus now? We have the same covenant that those people had! Therefore, we can be saved without Him.”

In response, those who now know who Jesus is and that only He can save say, “No way, Jose. We are in this pickle because we rejected Jesus! Those people who were of Israel prior to His coming received the inheritance through faith that He would come. Now that He has come, the Old Covenant is annulled through His work. We need JESUS!”

Verse 9 makes it clear that it is a spiritual battle being referred to, not literal wars being waged during the tribulation. Jephthah said, “If taking you, me, to fight in sons Ammon, and has delivered Yehovah, them, to my face, I, I am, to you to head.”

That was not a question as various translations made it. Instead, it was an emphatic assertion, something unnecessary for a real war. Israel, the means of providing the Fountain, is what is being dealt with here.

As such, in verse 10, the elders of Gilead (Perpetual Fountain) say to Jephthah (He Opens) that the Lord would be a witness if they do not do according to his words. Jesus will be the ruler providing the means of the Fountain. It is exactly what Zechariah 13:1 says –

“In that day a fountain shall be opened [patakh] for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”

From there, verse 11 noted that the people made Jephthah their ruler and he went with them. This is exactly what Israel will do for Jesus.

With that, starting in verse 12, the long exchange between Jephthah and the king of Ammon took place, including the proverbial expression, “What to me and to you for come unto me to fight in my land?”

In essence, Jesus says to those who have rejected, and continue to reject, Him, “What do we have in common? I offer grace, but you trust in your own merits. This is My land.” The land, the inheritance, is His, not theirs.

To show that these people are not the Lord’s through either the Old or the New Covenant, verse 13 is given. The king of Ammon (Israel without any inheritance and without God) says that Israel took away his land when they came up out of Egypt “from Arnon, and until the Jabbok and until the Jordan.”

The meaning is that in Israel’s ascending from Egypt (Double Trouble – Man born in sin who cannot redeem himself), they were redeemed and given an inheritance under the law from Rejoicing to Pouring Out, up to the time of the coming of Jesus (the Descender). They were in a state of salvation because of the anticipation of Messiah.

At that time, Israel’s inheritance came through the Mosaic Covenant which was sufficient to save them. Those who did not have faith only have this life but nothing more. That has been true of Israel for the past two thousand years.

In response, Jephthah told the king that Israel didn’t take anything away from them. The inheritance was not theirs to begin with. Instead, they had already lost it in the past. In order to substantiate that, he gave the history lesson of how this land, their inheritance, came into Israel’s possession.

The Lord had meticulously laid out the lands so that Israel had to bypass Edom and Moab (verses 17 & 18). In their request to pass through this particular land, the king of the Amorites, Sihon, came out against them. As was seen in Numbers, Sihon pictured the Antichrist in typology.

That was a necessary picture to show how Israel of the past, before Jesus’ coming, could receive an inheritance in the future, after Jesus’ coming, and even after the tribulation. Take Daniel, for example. He received his inheritance (Daniel 12:13) in the past, but it will actually be received by him in the future.

This is what this passage is speaking of. However, the claim by Ammon (A People – who are not the Lord’s people) is that they have the right to the inheritance apart from this process. Wrong-ola. It is why Jephthah said to the king, “And now, Yehovah God Israel, dispossessed the Amorite from faces His people: Israel. And you, you dispossess him?”

Israel (the Fountain) possessed the land. Ammon (A People, not part of the Fountain) is trying to dispossess Israel who possessed it through faith in the coming Messiah. Again, think of Daniel. If the people of Israel today who rejected Christ could obtain the inheritance in some other way, it means that Christ died for nothing.

The faith of those of Israel in the past would have been worthless. This is the strongest typological note we have yet encountered that those of Israel today, who have rejected Jesus, have no inheritance at all. They are completely excluded from God’s salvation.

As I said in the previous sermon, “…the matter in question is possession of the land. Possession signifies an inheritance because it is from the Lord. This is the inheritance of Israel. Therefore, Ammon (A People) has no right to the inheritance.”

Verse 24 then identified Ammon with Chemosh which I defined as meaning According to His Saving. The people of Israel who are without the Lord means they are not “of Israel,” just as Paul says in Romans 9:6. Thus, they are following a god just like Chemosh, a god of self. He can’t save a thing. This is reflected in Jephthah’s taunting words of that verse.

Jephthah continued his examples explaining why Ammon had no right to the inheritance. He then asked why no challenge to the land was made during the previous three hundred years. As noted –

“The number three, therefore, must be taken as the number of Divine fulness. It signifies and represents the Holy Spirit as taking of the things of Christ and making them real and solid in our experience. It is only by the Spirit that we realise spiritual things. Without Him and His gracious operation, all is surface work: all is what a plane figure is to a solid.”

Of the number ten, Bullinger says –

“Completeness of order, marking the entire round of anything, is, therefore, the ever-present signification of the number ten. It implies that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete.”

Also, in the Gideon series, the number three hundred was shown to be a picture of the work of Christ and the cross. In other words, those saved prior to the coming of Christ obtained their inheritance through His coming work, and they still possessed it, even after Christ came and the Jews rejected Him.

It is a way of asking, “If you could have found salvation over the past two thousand years, why haven’t you? You are as dead in your sins today as you were then. Without Me and the cross I endured for you, you are goners. As such, (verse 27), therefore, I have not sinned against you, but you wronged Me by fighting against Me.”

They rejected Jesus and they are still doing wrong by continuing to reject Him. Because of this, Jephthah said that the Lord would judge between the sons of Israel and the sons of Ammon (A People) who are not the Lord’s people.

Verse 29 said, “And was upon Jephthah, Spirit Yehovah.” Isaiah 61 uses the same words concerning this exact event –

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God.” Isaiah 61:1, 2

There was the time of the Old Covenant, then the time of Christ’s coming, and now is the time of the church age. After that comes the time of the tribulation where all wickedness, including that of those in Israel who have rejected Jesus, will be weeded out.

Jephthah is said to have passed through ha’gilad, The Gilead (The Perpetual Fountain), and Manasseh (To Forget/From a Debt). It speaks of the Holy Spirit and the completed work of Christ for His people. Jephthah then passed through Mizpeh Gilead (Watchtower, Perpetual Fountain).

It speaks of the monitoring of the Fountain, which is Israel, the means of providing the Fountain. It is what the people agreed to, making Jesus their Head and giving Him full authority over them as a people. Having gone through those areas, Jephthah then advanced on the people of Ammon.

This battle typologically anticipates the question of whether Jesus is the only way to God, or can A People (Israel of today without Jesus) be saved apart from Him. After that came Jephthah’s vow about whatever came out of his doors to meet him would be a burnt offering.

The result of that is coming in the next sermon. However, the Lord accepted Jephthah’s proposition, as noted in the words “And gave them, Yehovah, in his hand. And strikes them from Aroer and until your going in Minnith, twenty city, and until Abel Keramim. Slaughter whopping, very.”

It speaks of the state of those who rejected Christ (A People). They were slaughtered from the time they were stripped of their land, and they will be until the time of enumerating the saved and the lost at the end of days. The noting of twenty cities shows that this is the expectancy for that time (the number twenty means expectancy).

Noting the town Abel Keramim, Meadow of Vineyards, speaks of all of the cultures who are included in salvation. Vineyards represent the cultural side of humanity. There are various vineyards which are various cultures. A People, who are not “My People,” will not be included among those who are a part of what Christ has done.

Thus, the verses ended with, “And humbles sons Ammon from faces sons Israel.” It is what Paul says of these Jews in Romans 9 and which will be our closing verse today.

The point of this passage is to reveal the state of the Jews of Israel today. They are just A People like any other people group on earth. They are without Christ and have no hope. Those who continue to cling to rejecting Christ are excluded from the good things coming to the people of the world from God because of Jesus.

The inheritance actually lies ahead, but it is appropriated now in Christ. For those of Israel prior to His coming, that was through the system set up for them through the law of Moses. It was not the law itself that saved them. Rather, they were positionally saved through the future work of Christ.

Since Christ has come, no person can be saved apart from Him. This includes those of Israel who think they have the possession secured because of the past grant of an inheritance through Moses. Such is not the case.

But more tragically, there are supposed Christian preachers and denominations like the RCC who teach that people can be saved apart from Christ. Their doctrine says that Jews of today are included in God’s covenant graces through Moses. Because of this, they actually harm any chance of these Jews coming to Christ because they actively do not evangelize them.

Imagine the cost they will pay for this unholy doctrine. John Hagee referred to in the opening is supposedly the great champion of Israel’s cause today, and yet he teaches the heresy of dual-covenantalism. The burden of such a proclamation is beyond imagination, and yet, he will carry it unless he repents.

Typology is important. It clears up many muddy waters that have arisen if it is properly interpreted. In the case of today’s passage, this is not the first time the issue of whether Jews can be saved through the Law of Moses has been covered. It was minutely detailed in the typology of the book of Joshua.

God is being meticulous to restate such things in advance of Christ’s first coming so we can see what He means. When you meet a Jew who doesn’t know Jesus, don’t withhold handing him or her a tract or sharing the gospel just like you would anyone else. Without Jesus, their end will not be a happy one.

As for next week’s sermon. It is a sad story that actually and truly brings contention between various scholarly camps concerning what occurred between Jephthah and his daughter. We will review the details and a conclusion will be provided.

But what I would ask you to do today is to read the passage and ask yourself, “Why did the Lord place it in His word? What is He trying to tell us?” Take time to consider why it is placed immediately after the typology that is seen in today’s explanation. What is the logical result of what occurs because of what was typologically seen here?

If you can think that through, you will realize what is being pictured in those verses. So take time to read that passage and think about what is being conveyed to us by including that story. Next week, you can see if your thoughts match what the words are telling us.

Closing Verse: “But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” Romans 9:6-8

Next Week: Judges 11:34-40 Wah wah wah! More story to tell, that’s for shor…  (Jephthah, Judge of Israel, Part IV) (36th Judges Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who judges His people according to their deeds. So, follow Him, live for Him, and trust Him, and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Gideon, Judge of Israel, Part III

Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah
And he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, all that zone
And passed through Mizpah of Gilead
And from Mizpah of Gilead he advanced toward
———-the people of Ammon

And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, and said
“If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands
Then it will be that whatever comes out
Of the doors of my house to meet me, wherever that lot lands…

When I return in peace
From the people of Ammon, hear now my proffering
Shall surely be the LORD’s
And I will offer it up as a burnt offering

So Jephthah advanced
Toward the people of Ammon, those armed bands
To fight against them
And the LORD delivered them into his hands

And he defeated them from Aroer as far as Minnith
Twenty cities—and to Abel Keramim, the record does tell
With a very great slaughter
Thus the people of Ammon were subdued before
———-the children of Israel

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our day

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed through Mizpah of Gilead; and from Mizpah of Gilead he advanced toward the people of Ammon. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, 31 then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”

32 So Jephthah advanced toward the people of Ammon to fight against them, and the Lord delivered them into his hands. 33 And he defeated them from Aroer as far as Minnith—twenty cities—and to Abel Keramim, with a very great slaughter. Thus the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

 

Judges 11:121-28 (Jephthah, Judge of Israel, Part II)

Artwork by Douglas Kallerson.

Judges 11:12-28
Jephthah, Judge of Israel, Part II

(Typed 26 February 2024) In the passage today, there are remembrances from Israel’s past that are brought back into the narrative to help explain what is going on and why certain things are the way they are.

For example, Israel ascended out of Egypt, but that is because Israel first went down to Egypt. They were in Egypt for a reason that goes beyond what the surface text says. In other words, the Lord told Abraham in Genesis 15 that his descendants would be strangers in a land not their own, they would serve another, and they would be afflicted four hundred years.

After that, the Lord told him that in the fourth generation his descendants would return to their land, “for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” The surface reason for what was coming is explained in that thought.

However, during all of that time, and in the Exodus itself, there was typology being portrayed in the movement of the people, in what happened to them as they moved, in the names that are highlighted, and so forth.

Each step of the way, each story presented, and each feature provided has led us through a history that is alive and brimming with details of what God is doing in the world and how that is anticipating other things as well.

As an example, Paul cites Scripture concerning Abraham and tells us that what is written is not simply isolated to that account…

Text Verse: “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore ‘it was accounted to him for righteousness.’
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” Romans 4:20-25

Paul says that what was said to and written about Abraham was not merely an isolated story that only pertained to him. It was written to reveal what is on God’s mind concerning justification. One might say, “Well, yeah, that is an instructive tool for us concerning a particular doctrine, but that doesn’t mean everything has this type of a purpose.”

That would be an incorrect analysis shared by far too many people. If God wanted to teach us about justification by faith, all He needed to do was speak it out plainly and be done with it. But He didn’t until many eons later. And more, Paul says to Timothy that all Scripture is given by God and is profitable for doctrine.

In other words, God having Israel bypass Edom and Moab is a part of something that is teaching us doctrine. If it wasn’t, He would not have included it in His word. Israel did innumerable things that are not recorded in Scripture, but that detail about bypassing Moab and Edom is specifically recorded for us to learn something.

The name of a king of Moab, Balak, is mentioned over forty times in Scripture. The name of the king of Ammon, with whom Jephthah is now dealing, is never given. We are being taught points of doctrine in particular names of people and places.

Everything in Scripture is there for us to learn from. Let us pay heed to what is said and do our very best to process it as best as we can. The Lord is telling us more than just one story. He is giving us insights into other things as well.

Such great things are to be considered when reading His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again, and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. All the Land of the Amorites (verses 12-22)

The verses set before us detail the words of Jephthah in his exchange with the people of Ammon. They are based on the words of Chapter 10 which introduced the events leading up to Jephthah’s appointment as Israel’s Judge –

“Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him. So the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the people of Ammon. From that year they harassed and oppressed the children of Israel for eighteen years—all the children of Israel who were on the other side of the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, in Gilead. Moreover the people of Ammon crossed over the Jordan to fight against Judah also, against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was severely distressed. … Then the people of Ammon gathered together and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled together and encamped in Mizpah. 18 And the people, the leaders of Gilead, said to one another, “Who is the man who will begin the fight against the people of Ammon? He shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” Judges 10:6-9 & 17, 18

After this came the details of Jephthah’s life that led to his selection by the people to lead them. Once he was made commander over the people, he takes his first steps as their leader…

12 Now Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the people of Ammon,

vayishlakh yiphtakh malakhim el melekh b’ne amon – “And sends, Jephthah, messengers unto king sons Ammon.” Ammon has gathered for war in Gilead, land belonging to Israel. Israel is gathered in Mizpah where they agreed to make Jephthah their commander. It is from Mizpah that Jephthah sends out these messengers to the king of Ammon…

12 (con’t) saying, “What do you have against me, that you have come to fight against me in my land?”

l’mor mah li va’lakh ki batha elay l’hilakhem b’artsi – “to say, ‘What to me and to you for come unto me to fight in my land?’” These are the words of Jephthah, even if they are transmitted by messengers. As the leader of Israel speaking to the king of Ammon, the words are in the first person and second person singular.

As for the words “to me and to you,” they are a proverbial expression that extends into the New Testament. In this case, they mean something like, “What is going on between you and me that you are preparing to wage war?”

At other times, the same expression can mean something like “Please leave me alone and let me live my life” (1 Kings 17:18) or “We have nothing in common in the matter at hand” (2 Kings 3:13). In John 2:4, Jesus uses the expression with the Greek Ti emoi kai soi gynai, or “What to me and to you, woman?” There, His words convey the sense of “Why are you bothering me with this?”

Jephthah, before aligning his troops for battle wants to know the reason for the Ammonites coming into Israelite territory and setting up in military formation, intending to engage in battle. If diplomacy can handle the matter, that is the first and preferred option.

As for the names, Jephthah means He Opens. Ammon means A People.

In response to Jephthah’s inquiry, it next says…

13 And the king of the people of Ammon answered the messengers of Jephthah,

vayomer melekh b’ne amon el malakhe yiphtakh – “And says, king sons Ammon unto messengers Jephthah.” The meaning is, “Here is my response to take back to Jephthah. These are messengers receiving the response as if it is spoken directly to Jephthah, just as an emissary or ambassador would do today. And his words are…

13 (con’t) “Because Israel took away my land when they came up out of Egypt, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok, and to the Jordan.

ki laqakh Yisrael eth artsi ba’aloto mimitsrayim me’arnon v’ad ha’yaboq v’ad ha’yarden – “For took, Israel, my land in his ascending from Egypt from Arnon, and until the Jabbok and until the Jordan.” The basis of the issue here rests upon the words “my land.” Several points must be remembered.

First, Israel, when ascending from Egypt, was prohibited from coming against his relatives, Esau, Moab, and Ammon. The record of these is found in Deuteronomy 2. The specific record for Ammon says –

“So it was, when all the men of war had finally perished from among the people, 17 that the Lord spoke to me, saying: 18 ‘This day you are to cross over at Ar, the boundary of Moab. 19 And when you come near the people of Ammon, do not harass them or meddle with them, for I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the descendants of Lot as a possession.’” Deuteronomy 2:16-19

Israel was obedient to this command and never came against these relatives. Second, this once was Ammon’s land, but it was no longer his at the time of Israel’s ascending –

“And they turned and went up by the way to Bashan. So Og king of Bashan went out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. 34 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Do not fear him, for I have delivered him into your hand, with all his people and his land; and you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon.” 35 So they defeated him, his sons, and all his people, until there was no survivor left him; and they took possession of his land.” Numbers 21:33-35.

The land Israel occupied east of the Jordan once belonged to Moab and Ammon, but Sihon and Og had taken it from them. Therefore, it no longer belonged to them. As such, what is happening now means that the king of Ammon either doesn’t know the history of the land, or he is counting on Israel not remembering what occurred.

Either way, the land was lost by Moab and Ammon in battle, becoming the possession of the Amorites. That, in turn, was taken in battle by Israel, thereby becoming the territory of Israel. Ammon had no claim on the land they had previously lost.

As for the names, Egypt means Double Trouble. Arnon means Roaring Stream, but it carries the sense of Rejoicing. Jabbok means Pouring Out. The Jordan means The Descender.

13 (con’t) Now therefore, restore those lands peaceably.”

v’atah hashivah ethen b’shalom – “And now, returning these in peace.’” The king, either depending on a faulty memory among his people or the hope of a faulty memory in Israel, is looking to regain land from Israel that they had legitimately lost in battle. He offers first to receive it without a battle.

14 So Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the people of Ammon,

va’yoseph od yiphtakh vayishlakh malakim el melekh b’ne amon – “And adds again, Jephthah, and sends messengers unto king sons Ammon.” The words of the king of Ammon were received. From there, unless Jephthah was schooled in Israel’s history, he would have consulted the scribes who kept such matters either verbally or in writing, compiled the facts, and again addresses the king of Ammon…

15 and said to him, “Thus says Jephthah: ‘Israel did not take away the land of Moab, nor the land of the people of Ammon;

vayomer lo koh amar yiphtakh lo laqakh Yisrael eth erets moav v’eth erets b’ne amon – “And said to him, ‘Thus said Jephthah, “No took, Israel, land Moab and land sons Ammon.”’” To begin his response to the king, he doesn’t just address the king’s immediate request, but expands upon it, including Moab in the response.

These people descend from the two sons of Lot, Moab and Ben Ammi. This was a great swath of land east of the Jordan controlled by these two brothers. The Jabbok divided the two portions between the two brothers with Moab to the south and Ammon to the north.

The Amorites invaded the land and took it from them. Thus Moab lived in their remaining land southward while Ammon lived in their remaining land northward. Israel had taken this land from those who possessed it. But more, when Israel asked Sihon and Og permission to pass through their land, those kings had come against them to wage war.

Israel did not initiate the events that led to their control of the land. Instead, they responded to the attack of the foes accordingly. As for the name Moab, it means From Father.

16 for when Israel came up from Egypt, they walked through the wilderness as far as the Red Sea and came to Kadesh.

ki ba’alotham mimitsrayim va’yelekh Yisrael ba’midbar ad yam suph va’yavo qadeshah – “For in our ascending from Egypt, and walking, Israel, in the wilderness until Sea Ending, and comes Kedesh-ward.” This refers to the time from leaving Egypt, spending a year at Sinai, departing from there and finally arriving at Kadesh. This covers the narrative from Exodus 12 until Numbers 13.

The name Yam Suph means Sea of the Ending, coming from the verb suph, to come to an end or cease. Kadesh means Holy or Sacred.

It was at Kadesh that Israel sent spies into Canaan, were told to go in and take the land, and failed to believe the Lord (Numbers 13 & 14). Because of that, they were sentenced to wander in the wilderness, until the disobedient generation had perished.

Jephthah skips over that period of time and simply refers to the end of those years. When they were complete…

17 Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please let me pass through your land.”

Here, Israel is spoken of as a single entity: vayishlakh Yisrael malakhim el melekh edom l’mor ebrah na b’artsekha – “And sends, Israel, messengers, unto king Edom to say, ‘Let me pass through, I pray, in your land.’” This is recorded in Numbers 20:14-17 –

“Now Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom. ‘Thus says your brother Israel: ‘You know all the hardship that has befallen us, 15 how our fathers went down to Egypt, and we dwelt in Egypt a long time, and the Egyptians afflicted us and our fathers. 16 When we cried out to the Lord, He heard our voice and sent the Angel and brought us up out of Egypt; now here we are in Kadesh, a city on the edge of your border. 17 Please let us pass through your country. We will not pass through fields or vineyards, nor will we drink water from wells; we will go along the King’s Highway; we will not turn aside to the right hand or to the left until we have passed through your territory.’”

17 (con’t) But the king of Edom would not heed.

v’lo shama melekh edom – “And no heard, king Edom.” His refusal and Israel’s repeated request, followed by Edom coming out against Israel to prohibit them from entering is recorded in Numbers 20:18-21.

17 (con’t) And in like manner they sent to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained in Kadesh.

v’gam el melekh moav shalakh v’lo avah vayeshev Yisrael b’qadesh – “And also, unto king Moab, sent. And no willing. And dwells, Israel, in Kadesh.” This is not recorded in the account in Numbers, but it is an obvious verbal tradition. As such, we can see that those things recorded in Scripture have been given for the sake of typology.

If this event had been recorded at the time it occurred, it would have marred the typology being presented. This is a logical inference to be made from the ongoing narrative.

18 And they went along through the wilderness and bypassed the land of Edom and the land of Moab,

vayelekh ba’midbar vayashav eth erets edom v’eth erets moav – “And walked in the wilderness. And skirts, land Edom and land Moab.” This is seen in Numbers 21 and it is substantially repeated in Deuteronomy 2. From this point they…

18 (con’t) came to the east side of the land of Moab, and encamped on the other side of the Arnon.

vayavo mimizrakh shemesh l’erets moav vayakhnun b’ever arnon – “And comes from ascension sun to land Moab. And encamps in side Arnon.” This continues the record of Numbers 21, particularly verses 11-15. Israel went all the way around the lands of Edom and Moab, came to where Jephthah is now, and camped on the north side of the Arnon because the south belonged to Moab. This would have been in the territory of Sihon that once belonged to Moab.

18 (con’t) But they did not enter the border of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab.

v’lo bau bigvul moav ki arnon g’vul moav – “And no entered border Moab, for Arnon border Moab.” This was due to the specific command of the Lord. Not only did Moab not give permission for Israel to pass through their land, but the Lord also instructed Israel to not even skirt within their border –

“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab, nor contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.’” Deuteronomy 2:9

19 Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon;

vayishlakh Yisrael malakhim el sikhon melekh ha’emori melekh kheshbon – “And sends, Israel, messengers unto Sihon, king the Amorite, king Heshbon.” Other than the last two words, this is a letter for letter repeat of Numbers 21:21 with one exception. The name Sihon is spelled with an additional letter, vav.

This will be the case all four times here in Judges, but it is a variant spelling seen elsewhere as well –

Judges 12:19 – סִיח֥וֹן
Numbers 21:21 – סִיחֹ֥ן

Sihon means Warrior. Amorite means Renown.

19 (con’t) and Israel said to him, “Please let us pass through your land into our place.”

I only found two Catholic Bibles that are close in the translation. It is first person singular and the first verb is cohortative: vayomer lo Yisrael nabrah na b’artskha ad m’qomi – “And says to him, Israel, ‘We are passing, I pray, in your land unto my place.’”

This is recorded in Numbers 21:22 where it is also first person with a cohortative verb. Israel is stating that they will pass through, but it will only be with the consent of Sihon.

Remember that at this time, the lands in question here were not a part of Israel’s land grant. Jephthah is careful to restate this to the king of Ammon. In essence, “We were on our way to our land, explicitly telling Sihon that was our destination. And yet, he would not allow our passage.

It should also be remembered why Sihon the Amorite refused this. Israel is claiming Canaan is their place. However, Amorite not only dwelt east of the Jordan but also west in Canaan. Israel is claiming land where Sihon’s own kin lived. Therefore, despite the request…

20 But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory.

Almost all translations say “trust.” That doesn’t seem likely: v’lo heemin sikhon eth Yisrael avor bigvulo – “And no confirmed, Sihon, Israel passing through his border.” This is recorded in Numbers 21:23. Here, it uses the word aman, to confirm or support. In Numbers, it uses the word nathan, give.

It isn’t that he didn’t trust Israel. Rather, Sihon did not give permission, and thus, he did not confirm passage. Israel intended to go to his place, Canaan, but that is where more Amorites dwelt. Sihon would not allow this.

20 (con’t) So Sihon gathered all his people together, encamped in Jahaz, and fought against Israel.

vayeesoph sikhon eth kal amo vayakhanu b’yehatsah vayilakhem im Yisrael – “And gathers, Sihon, all his people, and encamps in Jahaz, and fights with Israel.” The words here are recorded with variations in Numbers 21:22. Jahaz means Trodden Down.

Jephthah includes this detail so that it is understood by the king of Ammon that it was Sihon, possessor of the land, who came out against Israel. He encamped against them and fought with them. Israel was the victor of a battle they did not initiate. Thus, they had every right to possess the land of Sihon. As it says…

21 And the Lord God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them.

vayiten Yehovah Elohe Yisrael eth sikhon v’eth kal amo b’yad Yisrael vayakum – “And gives, Yehovah God Israel, Sihon and all his people in hand Israel. And struck them.” This is recorded in Numbers 21:24. However, there it said, “Then Israel defeated him with the edge of the sword.”

Here, however, in order to show the ultimate Power behind the victory, Jephthah says that it was the Lord God of Israel who gave Sihon and his people into Israel’s hand. As such…

21 (con’t) Thus Israel gained possession of all the land of the Amorites, who inhabited that country.

vayirash Yisrael eth kal erets ha’emori yoshev ha’arets ha’hi – “And dispossessed, Israel, all land the Amorite dwelling the land, the it.” In Numbers, it simply says, “And dispossessed his land.” Here, Jephthah is sure to remind the king that this is “all land the Amorite, dwelling in the land.” Therefore, any claim to the land by Ammon died when Sihon was defeated. And again…

22 They took possession of all the territory of the Amorites, from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan.

vayirshu eth kal gevul ha’emori me’arnon v’ad ha’yaboq u-min ha’midbar v’ad ha’yarden – “And possessed all border the Amorite from Arnon and until the Jabbok, and from the wilderness and until the Jordan.” This continues to loosely cite Numbers 21:24. Jephthah is carefully detailing the exact borders of the land that was taken from the Amorite.

Ammon was to the north of the Jabbok. It was fortified, and Israel did not venture into their land. However, everything between the Arnon to the Jabbok (south to north) and between the wilderness and the Jordan (east to west) was conquered by Israel in the defeat of the Amorite.

This is our inheritance and possession
Given by the Lord God of Israel
We did not take it by aggression
When the Amorites attacked, for them, things didn’t go well 

What was theirs now belongs to us
It wasn’t yours to lose
So over it, please don’t make a fuss
We will defend our land, if that is what you choose

May the Lord, the Judge decide the matter
And settle this issue once for all
Surely your hopes He will shatter
When in the battle, out to Him we call

II. I Have Not Sinned Against You (verses 23-28)

23 ‘And now the Lord God of Israel has dispossessed the Amorites from before His people Israel;

v’atah Yehovah Elohe Yisrael horish eth ha’emori mipne amo Yisrael – “And now, Yehovah God Israel, dispossessed the Amorite from faces His people: Israel.” It is the Lord God of Israel who accomplished the action, even if He used Israel to have it come about. The Amorite was dispossessed from his land and from before the Lord’s people, Israel. Thus, Israel is set in contrast to the Amorite. He now is identified with the land. With that, he says…

23 (con’t) should you then possess it?

Not a single translation gives what I believe is a proper rendering of this. The words are emphatic and incredulous. They are in the singular because of the construction: v’atah tirashenu – “And you, you dispossess him?”

Lange says, “תִּירָשֶׁנּרּ, [תִּירָשֶֽׁנּוּ ]lit. ‘seize him.’ ‘The construction of יָרַשׁ with the accusative of the people,’ says Keil, ‘arises from the fact that in order to seize upon a land, it is necessary first to overpower the people that inhabits it.’ Both he and Bertheau, however, refer the suffix to ‘the Amorite,’ and are then obliged to make the Amorite stand for the ‘and of the Amorite.’”

That isn’t what Jephthah is saying. He is no longer referring to the Amorite as the reference. Rather, the meaning is that the Lord had dispossessed the Amorite. The people stood for the land. He did this before His people, Israel. Israel now stands for the land. Israel is the nearest antecedent in the words. As the Lord placed Israel, His people, in the land, Jephthah refers to Israel in the singular – “Would you dispossess him?”

“And now, Yehovah God Israel, dispossessed the Amorite from faces His people: Israel. And you, you dispossess him?” (CG).

That may seem like too much explanation for two Hebrew words, but the matter in question is possession of the land. Possession signifies an inheritance because it is from the Lord and is the inheritance of Israel. Therefore, Ammon has no right to the inheritance. That seems evident from the next words…

24 Will you not possess whatever Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the Lord our God takes possession of before us, we will possess.

halo eth asher yorishkha k’mosh elohekha oto tirash v’eth kal asher horish Yehovah elohenu mipanenu oto nirash – “Not which you possessing, Chemosh your god he possesses? And all which dispossesses, Yehovah our God, from our faces – it we possess.”

The land is identified with the people. However, the people are identified with their God (or god). The Amorite dispossessed Ammon, and so, the land belonged to them. The Lord dispossessed the Amorite, and so, the land belongs to Israel to possess.

As for the name, Strong’s lists Chemosh under an unused root meaning “to subdue.” If so, it means something like Vanquisher. Abarim, however, lists it as a prefix, meaning As If, along with the word for salvation or a word for being ambulant or for feeling.

Thus, they say to a Hebrew it will sound like As If He Saves, As If He Moves, or As If He Feels. The k prefix is more precisely identified with “According to” rather than “as if.” Thus, I would refine it to According to His Saving.

For context, it appears Jephthah is reaching back to a proverb that is recorded in Numbers 21 –

“Come to Heshbon, let it be built;
Let the city of Sihon be repaired.
28 “For fire went out from Heshbon,
A flame from the city of Sihon;
It consumed Ar of Moab,
The lords of the heights of the Arnon.
29 Woe to you, Moab!
You have perished, O people of Chemosh!
He has given his sons as fugitives,
And his daughters into captivity,
To Sihon king of the Amorites.
30 “But we have shot at them;
Heshbon has perished as far as Dibon.
Then we laid waste as far as Nophah,
Which reaches to Medeba.”
31 Thus Israel dwelt in the land of the Amorites.

Israel defeated Sihon the Amorite. But Sihon had defeated the people of Chemosh, god of Moab who Jephthah is associating with Ammon. As Israel defeated Sihon who defeated the people of Chemosh, Israel’s God, Yehovah, is greater than Chemosh.

25 And now, are you any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive against Israel? Did he ever fight against them?

The translation is fine, but it misses the beauty of the Hebrew. The verse is filled with verbal expression: v’atah hatov tov atah mibalak ben tsipor melekh moav harov rav im Yisrael im nilkhom nilkham bam – “And now, gooding good, you, from Balak, son Zippor, king Moab? Striving, he strove with Israel? If fighting he fought in them?”

The words of Jephthah seem contradictory to Joshua 24, where it said that Balak the son of Zippor arose to make war against Israel. Arising to wage war is not the same as waging war.  He called Balaam to curse Israel so that he could wage war, but that plot failed and no war was ever waged. As such, because of the Lord, the superiority of Israel was seen in that account.

But more, Balak wasn’t concerned with retaking lands previously lost. He was, instead, troubled with the thought of being overtaken in the land he still possessed. Jephthah is asking the king of Ammon to determine if he is any greater than Balak was.

As for the names, Balak means something akin to Devastator, Empty, or Wasting. Zippor comes from tsippor, a little bird.

26 While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and its villages, in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities along the banks of the Arnon, for three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time?

The word “within” is incorrect: b’sheveth Yisrael b’kheshbon u-vivnotheha uvaror u-vivnotheha uvkhal hearim asher al yede arnon sh’losh meoth shanah u-madua lo hitsaltem baeth ha’hi – “In dwelling, Israel, in Heshbon and her daughters, and in Aroer and her daughters, and in all the cities which upon hands Arnon, three hundreds year. And why not deliver in time, the it?”

The meaning is not that they should have taken the land during those three hundred years. It is that Israel dwelt in the land and in these key cities of that time. But if Ammon wanted the land, they should have retaken it at the time of the original defeat of the Amorite by Israel, but they didn’t. Rather, Israel moved in, and they have lived there ever since.

As for the three hundred years, the total years listed from Numbers to here in Judges do not specifically match. But this does not account for the times when some judges overlap. The timeline is not necessarily chronological unless the text specifically says so, such as using the word “after” to define an event. The number itself is what the text is focusing on.

Three hundred is a multiple of three and ten. Three signifies Divine Perfection. Expanding on that, Bullinger says –

“The number three, therefore, must be taken as the number of Divine fulness. It signifies and represents the Holy Spirit as taking of the things of Christ and making them real and solid in our experience. It is only by the Spirit that we realise spiritual things. Without Him and His gracious operation, all is surface work: all is what a plane figure is to a solid.”

Of the number ten, Bullinger says –

“Completeness of order, marking the entire round of anything, is, therefore, the ever-present signification of the number ten. It implies that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete.”

In the Gideon series, the number three hundred was shown to be a picture of the work of Christ and the cross.

As for the names, Heshbon signifies an explanation of things, or Intelligence. Aroer means Stripped, Bare, or Naked.

27 Therefore I have not sinned against you, but you wronged me by fighting against me.

His words are emphatic: v’anokhi lo khatati lakh v’atah oseh iti raah l’hilakhem bi – “And I, not I sinned to you. And you do me evil to fighting in me.” Jephthah is speaking for Israel in the singular. Israel has done nothing against Ammon. But Ammon is now doing evil to Israel by coming against them for battle.

This is obviously his intent because Israel defeated the Amorite, not the Ammonite. The Lord God of Israel gave Israel what Chemosh lost to the Amorite. And Israel has had the right of possession since the time they defeated the Amorite. Therefore, Ammon is the perpetrator of evil against Israel, who is guiltless before the Lord. Therefore…

27 (con’t) May the Lord, the Judge, render judgment this day between the children of Israel and the people of Ammon.’”

yishpot Yehovah ha’shophet ha’yom ben b’ne Yisrael u-ben b’ne amon – “Judge, Yehovah, the Judge, the day between sons Israel and between sons Ammon.” The meaning is either Ammon will release its claim against Israel and thus the Lord will have judged the case through the words of His leader, or Ammon will go to battle against Israel, and the Lord will determine the outcome based on the results of the battle.

In other words, the king of Ammon will either heed Jephthah’s words or he will reject them. He chooses the latter…

*28 However, the king of the people of Ammon did not heed the words which Jephthah sent him.

v’lo shama melekh b’ne amon el divre yiphtakh asher shalakh elav – “And no heard, king sons Ammon, unto words Jephthah which sent unto him.” The king of Ammon saw the state of the land, weighed out his options in regard to the size and power of Israel in relation to his own mustered troops, and decided that he could prevail in the battle.

The problem with his analysis of the situation is that he either failed to consider the power of the Lord God of Israel, or he felt that Chemosh was a suitable god to battle against the Lord. Whatever he was thinking, he had made a miscalculation that will end in disaster for him and his people.

We are done with the verses for today. There has been a lot of information to review and I hope that the passage is beginning to make sense on a typological level. Remember, God has placed these stories in His word to tell us more than the surface story.

Everything is being woven together to tell us details of other things. In the next sermon, we will be able to deduce what those things are and the typology will be carefully explained. Keep in mind that the story of Israel is leading inextricably to the coming Messiah. Above everything else, this is the overarching reason for recording these things.

Once the Messiah came, there was still more to the story because the Lord promised that not only would Israel have a Messiah, but that they would rule with Him someday as a nation. In the interim, the Lord has established His church and we have been selected to carry the message of Jesus to the world.

There is not much of the world left that needs to hear about Jesus, and the times of the Gentiles must be coming to an end. But until it does, we still have business to attend to personally, as a congregation, and as the collective body of Christ.

Let us be active participants in what the Lord has set forth for the church to do. Eventually, our individual spans of time will be over. Collectively, the time of the church will end as well. Until these things come to pass, be sure to love the Lord and cherish the word that tells us of Him.

Closing Verse: “He who heeds the word wisely will find good,
And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.” Proverbs 16:20

Next Week: Judges 11:29-33 It’s not ‘Blah, blah, blah’, but ‘This is swell,’ just wait and see… (Jephthah, Judge of Israel, Part III) (35th Judges Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who judges His people according to their deeds. So, follow Him, live for Him, and trust Him, and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Jephthah, Judge of Israel, Part II

Now Jephthah sent messengers to the king
Of the people of Ammon, saying words bold and grand
“What do you have against me
That you have come to fight against me in my land?

And the king of the people of Ammon answered the
———-messengers of Jephthah
“Because Israel took away my land when they came up, you see
Out of Egypt, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok
———-and to the Jordan
Now therefore, restore those lands peaceably

So Jephthah again sent messengers to the king
Of the people of Ammon, and said to him because he did moan
“Thus says Jephthah: ‘Israel did not take away the land of Moab
Nor the land of the people of Ammon

For when Israel came up from Egypt
They walked through the wilderness
As far as the Red Sea
And came to Kadesh facing much distress

Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying
“Please let me pass through your land
But the king of Edom would not heed
Instead, Israel was banned

And in like manner they sent to the king of Moab
But he would not consent
So Israel remained in Kadesh
Because these kings would not relent

And they went along through the wilderness
And bypassed the land of Edom and Moab’s land
Came to the east side of the land of Moab
And encamped on the other side of the Arnon
———- at the Lord’s command

But they did not enter the border of Moab
For the Arnon was the border of Moab
Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites
———-King of Heshbon
An appeal to him was their next stab

And Israel said to him, “Please let us pass through your land
———-into our place
But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory
So Sihon gathered all his people together, encamped in Jahaz
And fought against Israel. You certainly know the story

And the LORD God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people
Into the hand of Israel, and them they defeated
Thus Israel gained possession of all the land of the Amorites
Who inhabited that country, so they were unseated

They took possession
Of all the territory of the Amorites, every Tom, Dick, and Gordon
From the Arnon to the Jabbok
And from the wilderness to the Jordan

‘And now the LORD God of Israel
Has dispossessed the Amorites, none He did omit
From before His people Israel
Should you then possess it?

Will you not possess
Whatever Chemosh your god gives you to possess?
So whatever the LORD our God takes possession of before us
We will possess, so to you I address

And now, are you any better than Balak
The son of Zippor, king of Moab?
Did he ever strive against Israel?
Did he ever fight against them, giving war with us a stab?

While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and its villages
In Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities along
———the banks of the Arnon, in that clime
For three hundred years
Why did you not recover them within that time?

Therefore I have not sinned against you
But you wronged me by fighting against me, this I bemoan
May the LORD, the Judge, render judgment this day
Between the children of Israel and the people of Ammon

However, things started looking grim
The king of the people of Ammon did not heed the words
———-which Jephthah sent him

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Now Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the people of Ammon, saying, “What do you have against me, that you have come to fight against me in my land?”

13 And the king of the people of Ammon answered the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel took away my land when they came up out of Egypt, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok, and to the Jordan. Now therefore, restore those lands peaceably.”

14 So Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the people of Ammon, 15 and said to him, “Thus says Jephthah: ‘Israel did not take away the land of Moab, nor the land of the people of Ammon; 16 for when Israel came up from Egypt, they walked through the wilderness as far as the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. 17 Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please let me pass through your land.” But the king of Edom would not heed. And in like manner they sent to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained in Kadesh. 18 And they went along through the wilderness and bypassed the land of Edom and the land of Moab, came to the east side of the land of Moab, and encamped on the other side of the Arnon. But they did not enter the border of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab. 19 Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon; and Israel said to him, “Please let us pass through your land into our place.” 20 But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. So Sihon gathered all his people together, encamped in Jahaz, and fought against Israel. 21 And the Lord God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them. Thus Israel gained possession of all the land of the Amorites, who inhabited that country. 22 They took possession of all the territory of the Amorites, from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan.

23 ‘And now the Lord God of Israel has dispossessed the Amorites from before His people Israel; should you then possess it? 24 Will you not possess whatever Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the Lord our God takes possession of before us, we will possess. 25 And now, are you any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive against Israel? Did he ever fight against them? 26 While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and its villages, in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities along the banks of the Arnon, for three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time? 27 Therefore I have not sinned against you, but you wronged me by fighting against me. May the Lord, the Judge, render judgment this day between the children of Israel and the people of Ammon.’” 28 However, the king of the people of Ammon did not heed the words which Jephthah sent him.