A series in Judges: Jepthah

A series in Judges: Jepthah

Jephthah’s story in Judges 11 is one of major victories and devastating ruin as he wages war with the Caananites that dwell in the Promised Land. 

The first verse of the chapter introduced Jephthah as a mighty warrior stained by the fact that he was born of a prostitute. Since he was considered an illegitimate child of his father, Gilead, he was shunned from his home and lived with a throng of undesirable citizens of the land. 

After an invasion by the Ammonites, the Israelites call on Jephthah for deliverance and leadership. The Isrealites promise submission to Jephthah if he is successful in defeating the Ammonites. 

As the dawn of war approaches the Isrealites, Jephthah is concerned with the Ammonites’ power and armies, and tries to take matters into his own hands. 

Judges 11:30-31 says, “And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”

With a mighty force, Jephthah and the Israelites rage war against the Ammonites, striking down over enemy cities. Now that the Ammonites had been subdued, Jephthah can return to the people and be their leader. 

Remembering his vow to the Lord, Jephthah returns to his home in the town of Mizpah. As he approaches his house, his only child comes dancing out of the front door playing a tambourine to celebrate her dad’s victory. The moment Jephthah’s eyes fell on his only daughter, he knew what the violent repercussions of his mindless vow would be. 

Immediately, Jephthah falls to the ground tearing his clothes and announcing to his daughter the actions that would have to follow suit because of his vow. She boldly and bravely comes to terms with the reality of her future circumstances and asks for two more months of life to mourn her death as a young woman who never married. 

After those two months, Jephthah, a man of his word, followed through with the vow. For years to come, in that area of the world, young girls would mourn her death as symbolism. 

Jephthah’s vow reminds us of the importance of our words and our promises. We often speak harshly and without thinking, and we never really see the repercussions of these mistakes. We have been given a great gift of freewill with our tongue and our words, and we are responsible for the consequences of the words we speak. 

Ephesians 4:29 says, Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” This is a great reminder as we close out Jephthah’s story about his quick misuse of unthoughtful words. 

Author

  • Audrey Johnson

    Audrey is a sophomore majoring in elementary education. She is the religion section editor and a co-host of Tower Radio's podcast 'our high tops, His steps'.

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