Judges 11 Outline
– Jephthah saved the Israelites from the Ammonites (Judges 11:1-33)
– Jephthah’s daughter (Judges 11:34-39)
Judges 11 Summary
The leaders at Gilead remembered Jephthah and asked him to lead them in the attack against the Midianites. Earlier, Jephthah was forced out of his own clan and forced to live in a foreign country because he was disrespected by his half-brothers. Jephthah was the son of a prostitute while his half-brothers were the sons of his father’s wife. His half-brothers looked down on him and said he doesn’t deserve to receive any inheritance from his father so they get rid of him from Gilead. Jephthah moved to the country of Tob, and found a gang of reckless men who were willing to do anything for money. The leaders of Gilead pleaded Jephthah to return and lead them in the attack against the Ammonites. They promised to make Jephthah the ruler of Gilead if he successfully conquers the enemy soldiers. He agreed with the leaders and decided to go back with them to Gilead.
As soon as he returned, he sent messenger to ask the king of Ammon why he had started war with them. The messenger returned and told him that the king wanted to wage war against the Israelites because he believed the land from the Arnon River to Jabbok River and Jordan River belonged to him. Jephthah sent back a messenger and replied that the land belonged to them because God gave it to them. Jephthah complained that the Israelites had settled in the land for 300 years and yet the Ammonites didn’t do anything to claim back the land until now. Before Jephthah went into battle, he promised God that he will sacrifice the first person that comes out to meet him at his home. Jephthah and his army successfully conquered the Ammonites and defeated them.
When he returned, the first person that came out of his house to meet him is his daughter. His daughter came out of his house and welcomed him with dancing and tambourines. Jephthah was heartbroken when he learned that his daughter was the first one to greet him. He broke the news to her daughter. Her daughter was willing to be sacrificed by his father but she asked for permission to go into the hill with her friends to cry for 40 days. This is because she will not be able to marry and have children anymore. After 40 days, she returned and her father did what he promised to the Lord. This is why the Israelite girls walked around for 40 days every year in remembrance of the sacrifice Jephthah’s daughter made.
Judges 11 Bible Study
1. Jephthah was called by Men to Be Judge Yet God Chose Him
Jephthah was not called to serve as a judge for the Israelites through a dream, prophet or angel. When the Israelite people were in trouble of getting attacked by the Ammonites, they sought the help of Jephthah instead of God. Jephthah was well known for its fighting skill so the leaders decided to let him come back to Gilead. When Jephthah saw the opportunity of becoming ruler over Gilead, he decided to return with them. Yet, Jephthah was chosen by the Lord as a qualified warrior to fight the Ammonites. The Spirit of the Lord filled Jephthah so that he was able to gain victory in the battle. As soon as the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, his victory against the enemies was assured.
2. Jephthah’s Daughter was Dedicated to God
Jephthah was a good judge. He was wise in seeking the help of God before going into battle. He promised God that he will give his daughter as a burnt sacrifice. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Jephthah promised to burn her daughter and offer her as a human sacrifice to God. Human sacrifice is not allowed according to the Law of Moses. It could mean that Jephthah’s daughter was offered to God so that she will serve him for the rest of her life. If Jephthah’s daughter was dedicated to serve God forever, she will no longer be allowed to marry and have children. Jephthah only had one daughter. Therefore, if Jephthah’s daughter died, she will not be able preserve the lineage of her family. Jephthah’s daughter was the firstborn of Jephthah.
Once a firstborn is dedicated to the Lord, she cannot be redeemed (Exodus 13:2). This is why Jephthah’s daughter wept. She wept for two months because she could not get married and have children in the future. There are many things Jephthah’s daughter can do in servicing God. For example, in Like 2:36-37, it was mentioned that an old widow named Anna stayed at the temple the Lord after the death of her husband.
3. Keeping Our Promises to God
Like Jephthah, we should always keep our promise to God. For example, if you promise God that you will give 30% of your salary if he blesses your business, you must keep your promise. If you do this, God will continue to bless you.