Jephthah Accepted the Mission to Fight the Ammonites
Jephthah was one of the judges of Israel. He was always despised by others because he was conceived through his father’s relation with a prostitute. His father’s wife’s sons often mock at him.
Eventually, they drove Jephthah away from their home. Jephthah ran away to Tob and found his own gang of followers from among the scoundrels there.
One day, the Ammonites came attacking the Israelite again. The Israelite had no way of defeating the Ammonites. At this time, the Israelite elders thought of Jephthah and they went to get Jephthah from Tob to be their army commanders. Jephthah agreed on condition that they let him be Israel’s head after he successfully defeated the Ammonites.
Later, Jephthah sent messengers to the king of Ammon, asking him on what ground he is attacking Israel. The king of Ammon sent back his messengers, arguing that Israel had stole his land from the Arnon to Jabbok, and Jordan. The Ammonite king wanted Jephthah to return the land peacefully. However, Jephthah argued that they conquered the land with the help of God. If God give them the land, it belongs to them. Just like, if the Ammonite regarded the god Chemosh help them conquer the land, the land belong to them as well.
Although Jephthah was the son of a prostitute, he was used by God to deliver Israel from the Ammonites. This shows that God can use anyone regardless of his social status, race and etc to do his will. The only requirement is that you must be willing to be used by God. We can all become useful vessels for God if we surrender ourselves completely to God and abide in his commandments.
In 2 Timothy 2:20-21 KJV, but in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
In Romans 9:21 KJV, Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
In 2 Corinthians 4:7 KJV, But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
Before Jephthah go to war with the Ammonites, he made a vow to God that he will offer whatever that comes out to meet him as burnt sacrifice to God. The Spirit of God filled Jephthah and gave him strength to defeat the Ammonites. When Jephthah returned, his daughter was the first person that came out to meet him. She was dancing to the sounds of timbrels to celebrate the victory of Jephthah. Jephthah felt grieved when his daughter was the first to came out to greet him because she is his only child. Jephthah made a rash vow. Now, he must humble himself before God and fulfill the vow. Pride always has consequences.
His daughter encouraged him to fulfill his vow because breaking a promise is sin. However, before she offer herself as sacrifice to God, she ask for her father’s permission to let her and her friends go into the hills and wept for 2 months because she will never marry. After 2 months, she carried out her promise and offered herself up as a sacrifice to God.
Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5 KJV)
A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. (Proverbs 29:23 KJV)
When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2 KJV)
For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. (Galatians 6:3 KJV)
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18 KJV)
Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches. (Jeremiah 9:23 KJV)
Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him. (Proverbs 26:12 KJV)
Massacre of the Ephramites
Later, the Ephraimites complained to Jephthah that he never call them into the battle. The Ephraimites were angry and threatened to burn down Jephthah’s house. Jephthah fought back by allying armies from Gilead. The Gileadites killed many Ephraimites and seized the Jordan fords that led to the home land of the Ephraimites. The Ephraimites had to cross the Jordan fords in order to reach home. The Gileadites stood guard at the ford. Anyone that wants to cross the ford must say Shibboleth. If the person say, “Sibboleth”, the Gileadite guard will kill him. Thus, 42,000 Ephraimites were killed at the Jordan.
Jephthah was quick to angry and not forgiving. The Ephraimites were nevertheless his brothers as they are from the same ancestor, Jacob. It is wrong to take revenge against your enemies. Quick to anger is a sin as it can lead to bad consequences such as strife and bitterness. You should tell God about your enemies and let him deal with them.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32 KJV)
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. (Luke 6:37 KJV)
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25 KJV)
The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression. (Proverbs 19:11 KJV)
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. (Psalm 37:8 KJV)
He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly. (Proverbs 14:29 KJV)
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (James 1:20 KJV)
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath. (Ephesians 4:26 KJV)
I would they were even cut off which trouble you. (Galatians 5:12 KJV)
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (Romans 12:19 KJV)