Jephthah leads Gideon’s army
1: Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah. 2: And Gilead's wife bare him sons; and his wife's sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father's house; for thou art the son of a strange woman. 3: Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him. 4: And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel. 5: And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob: 6: And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon. 7: And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father's house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress? 8: And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. 9: And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the LORD deliver them before me, shall I be your head? 10: And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The LORD be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words. 11: Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the LORD in Mizpeh. 12: And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land? 13: And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably. 14: And Jephthah sent messengers again unto the king of the children of Ammon: 15: And said unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon: 16: But when Israel came up from Egypt, and walked through the wilderness unto the Red sea, and came to Kadesh; 17: Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land: but the king of Edom would not hearken thereto. And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab: but he would not consent: and Israel abode in Kadesh. 18: Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon was the border of Moab. 19: And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land into my place. 20: But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through his coast: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and pitched 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 smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. 22: And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness even unto Jordan. 23: So now the LORD God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and shouldest thou possess it? 24: Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the LORD our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess. 25: And now art thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them, 26: While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover them within that time? 27: Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the LORD the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon. 28: Howbeit the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent him.
29: Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon. 30: And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, 31: Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. 32: So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands. 33: And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel. 34: And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. 35: And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back. 36: And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon. 37: And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows. 38: And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. 39: And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, 40: That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.
Jephthah delivers Israel 6 yrs
1: And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire. 2: And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands. 3: And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me? 4: Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites. 5: And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay; 6: Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand. 7: And Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.
Ibzan delivers Israel 7 yrs
8: And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. 9: And he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent abroad, and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years. 10: Then died Ibzan, and was buried at Bethlehem.
Elon delivers Israel 10 yrs
11: And after him Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten years. 12: And Elon the Zebulonite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.
Abdon delivers Israel 8 yrs
13: And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel. 14: And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts: and he judged Israel eight years. 15: And Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites.
1: And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years. 2: And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. 3: And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. 4: Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: 5: For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no rasor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. 6: Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name: 7: But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death. 8: Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born. 9: And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her. 10: And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day. 11: And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am. 12: And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him? 13: And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware. 14: She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe. 15: And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee. 16: And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD. 17: And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour? 18: And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret? 19: So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD: and the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on. 20: For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground. 21: But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD. 22: And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God. 23: But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these. 24: And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. 25: And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
In todays Bible reading we have a description of five more Judges of Israel, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon and Samson. Jephthah is the leader of the army of Gideon. He does not have a great start, he is the son of a prostitute and when he grew up this was a constant background to his life. When his wife bear children and grew up the sons were forbidden from having their inheritance as a result of his mother’s sin. Jephthah ran away and lived with the outcasts of Tob. However when Israel was threatened in war with Ammon they sent for Jephthah asking him to come and lead Israel. Jephthah was a great man of war, fit, strong and a wise commander this was recognised by all. Jephthah answered the elders of Gilead, why did you hate me? and cast me out of my fathers house? And why come to me now when you are in distress? They answered we want you to lead us in battle. The elders swore that they would follow him if he came. Then Jephthah sent a message to the king of Amon asking why he had come to battle. But the answer came back that the children of Israel has taken their land when they came out of Egypt. They wanted their land back. Jephthah replied that Israel did not invade the land but requested to pass through and being denied, passed around the land. Then he said we entered into the land of Moab because Moab came to war with us. The Amoities refused to listen to Jephthah. Jephthah knew that this war which was unwanted was also unavoidable. At this time the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he went forward to battle and he vowed a rash vow that if the LORD gave him victory then whoever comes out of his house first will be offered to the LORD in sacrifice. This was a foolish vow but God holds men to their vows. He would regret this bitterly later. Suffice to say that the battle was a total success and the Ammonites were subdued by Israel. However when he returned home his only daughter came out firs to meet him and she was offered as sacrifice. His dear daughter understood his vow and encouraged him to keep it but asked for two months to go on the mountains and weep for my virginity. Later she returned and offered herself to her father. It became a custom in Israel that the children would go into the mountains four 4 days to weep for her virginity. Jephthah brought peace to Israel for 6 years. Then the men of Ephraim gathered to find fault with Jephthah saying that he ad not invited them to battle but Jephthah replied that he had asked them to help but that they did not come and that he had to engage in battle straightaway and put hs life on the line. And he said why have you come today – to pick a fight with me? Then Jephthah gathered the men of war of Gilead and fought with the Ephraimites and overcame them and chased them away as far as the fords of Jordan. Then they found a man who said that he was not a Ephraimite but they asked him to pronounce the word Shibboleth and when they found he could not they knew he was a man of Ephraim and they killed him there. 42,000 Ephraimies died in the battle. It’s sad to see the people of God go to war with their enemies but it is even more a tradgey when the people of God fight against each other. Next we are told of the lives of three other Judges. Ibzan had 30 sons and 30 daughters. He sent his 30 daughters out (Possibly to another country) and he took 30 daughters from a far for his sons. He judged Israel for 7 years. He was buried at Bethlehem. Then came Elon who judged Israel for 10 years. He was buried in Aijalon. Then we read of Abdon who had 40 sons and 30 nephews who rode on 70 ass colts. He judged Israel for 8 years. He was buried in Pirathon. Then lastly we are introduced to one of the most famous judges of Israel, Samson. Because the children of Israel forsook the LORD and did evil in his sight he delivered them to Philistine oppression for 40 years. After 40 years the LORD began to move in deliverance. A man called Manoah had a wife who was barren. (This barrenness was a judgment on Israel according to the Mosaic Law) Then an angel of The Lord appeared to her to tell her that she was to bear a son but she must never drink wine or fermented alcohol or eat anything unclean because the child born of her is to be a Nazarite from birth. He was to be brought up by her as a Nazarite. He would never cut his hair and he would deliver Israel from the Philistines. She told her husband what had happened and Manoah prayed that the Lord would teach them how to bring up this child. The Lord answered his prayer and appeared to the woman when she was in the field. She ran and called her husband. When they both came back, Manoah asked him how should we order his life and bring him up? The answer was that she must not eat anything from the vine. Manoah offered to give a sacrifice to him but he replied l will not eat of any food but you may offer this kid of the goats to the Lord. By this Manoah knew he was talking to an angel and not the Lord himself. Manoah asked him what was his name but the angel asked him why do you want to know because it is secret. Then Manoah offered a burnt offering and as they looked on the angel ascended to heaven in the first of the sacrifice. They both fell on their faces and Manoah said we will die because we have seen Gods face. But she answered we will not die because if we had done wrong then the Lord would not have received our sacrifice. She bore a son and the child grew and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times. Samson was learning what it was to be empowered by the Spirit of God.