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Judges 12




SCRIPTURE:  JUDGES 12 – Jeremy Witt

This chapter begins with conflict.  Imagine having conflict with someone else!  They must have had to watch a musical.  (Okay, that is from the last devotional I did in case you missed that amazing piece of writing.)  Jepthah is confronted by the men of Ephraim.  Ephraim had been attacked by the Ammonites (Judges 10:9) and were upset that they had not been invited to the fight.  In verse 2, Jepthah claims that he sent them a request, and they didn’t respond.  Outside of this, the Biblical record is silent, so we are not certain when or even if this occurred outside of this passage. 

In verse 4, we see that the conflict has only gotten bigger.  The insult given by the Ephraimites at the end of verse 4 prompted Jepthah to call in his army and settle this on the battlefield.  A little back-story is that Ephraim had a history of doing this with those in Gilead. (see Judges 8:1-3) 

Verses 5-6 show us a tactical move of Jepthah by taking a strategic location and then utilizing the differences in speech between Jepthah’s men and the Ephraimites.

Full disclosure:  I read this chapter and told my wife that this chapter was really bland for Judges and I didn’t know much spiritual meat I could relay to you.  It is an amazing thing how God helps us see His Word through other’s eyes.  (Just a plug for you being a part of Sunday School and small groups!)

Verses 8-15 tell us about 3 different judges who really don’t do a whole lot.  Ibzan’s claim to fame is a whole lot of kids.  Elon doesn’t have much for us to learn.  Abdon’s sons and grandsons rode donkeys.  Not a lot here I have to say!  My wife pointed out to me that this is their legacy.  The book of Judges shows us a lot of people who did things for Israel and for God.  But not everyone’s legacy leaves much behind.  Jepthah made it into the chapter of faith, but these three are never heard of again.  So that brings up a question for me.  What kind of legacy am I leaving for those who follow me after I am gone?  What impact will my life have on my kids and those I ministered to?  What about you? 

This chapter is one of those that many ask, “why is this in the Bible?”  I’ve asked that question many times.  Why are there the lineage chapters or the passages in the Old Testament with the list of sons that just seem to go on and on?  While I was in seminary, a professor made us read a book by Joanne Shetler called “And the Word came with Power.”  Joanne was a missionary in the Philippines, and this book is her story of how God moved and brought many to salvation.  Stay with me, because there is a point to this.  In one particular village that she and her missionary partner were trying without any success to share Jesus, a breakthrough happened.  While telling stories of the Bible, she read the lineage of Jesus (see Matthew 1 and Luke 3).  The patriarch of the village began asking questions which he had never done before.  His questions prompted more.  Joanne showed him the lineages.  She took him in the Old Testament and showed him those lineages.  The man was suddenly energized and asked for more stories.  He then had all his family and village to listen to the stories of the Bible.  What changed?  The lineage showed that this was real.  It showed that it was not a made up fable.  It showed him a heritage and legacy.  In his village and in his culture, few things were more important than family history.  These passages from Scripture opened the door to the Gospel!  Imagine that!  God’s plans and purposes are above our ways and our understanding at times.  But He has a purpose.  We may not be aware of them at the moment, but even passages like Judges 12 serve a purpose for us. 

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

Judges 11





As you read through this chapter, there is undoubtedly one thing that jumps out at you.  It is of course, the last part of the chapter that involves the vow of Jephtheh and his daughter.  I will get to that in a bit.  But if we jump just to that we will miss some important stuff that we probably need to talk about.

One thing to remember as you are thinking through this chapter is Jephtheh is listed in the hall of faith in Hebrews 11.  So whatever happens in this chapter needs to seen through that particular lens.  Jephtheh was a man of faith

Jephtheh was also the son of a prostitute.  Because of that his brothers ran him out of town.  But because the Ammonites were still oppressing the nation of Israel, the elders eventually asked him to come back to lead the charge against the Ammonites.

It is important to notice that Jephtheh’s first step was not to go to war.  He tried to reason with the Ammonites.  But they would have none of that.  It is also important to notice that Jephtheh had a good grasp of the history of Israel which would necessarily mean that he had a good grasp of Biblical history. 

The Ammonite king would not listen to reason.  He would not listen to history.  And he wouldn’t trust his god to give him what he “deserved”.  Jephtheh asked God for help and then made a vow. Israel won hands down. 

Jephtheh returned home only to see his daughter come out of his house first which, according to his vow, meant that she would be sacrificed.  Let’s be honest.  This is one of those weird stories that we periodically find in the Bible.  But it is important that we let the Bible tell the story.

To begin with, God did not ask for a vow.  God did not ask for the fulfillment of that vow.  On top of all of that God is not in favor of human sacrifices.  We will add to that the fact that Jephtheh, being a man of faith, would have known that he would have to travel to Shiloh to offer this burnt offering of his daughter and no self-respecting priest would have been a party to that.  Finally, I would add that we don’t read here that the girl was actually sacrificed.  We know that she wept for her virginity and remained virginal which means that her lineage (and for that matter her dad’s lineage) stopped there.

I have said all of that to say we have to be careful reading into the story.  Instead we have to let the Word of God speak for itself.  We could argue about whether the girl was sacrificed or not but there would be no true way to win that argument.

The thing that we should talk about is the caution we should take when we are making promises.  When we make them flippantly, they almost always come back to haunt us.  That may be one of the reasons we are cautioned to “let your yes be yes and your no be no”. 

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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