Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Judges 11


          One of the most heart-rending and perplexing stories in the Bible is the story of Jephthah and his daughter. Jephthah was the son of Gilead and a harlot. His brothers, sons of Gilead’s wife, drove Jephthah out so as not to share their inheritance with him: “Then fled from his brothers and dwelt in the land of Tob; and worthless men banded together with and went out raiding with him” (Judges 11: 3).

          Sometime later, the children of Ammon made war against Israel, and so the elders of Israel went to seek out to convince him to come back and lead the army against the Ammonites.  Jephthah accepted the offer and became the leader of the army. Before the confrontation between the two armies took place, Jephthah made the now infamous vow:

“If YOU Will Indeed Deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be The LORD'S and I will offer it up as a burnt offering” (Judges 11:31).

          GOD Delivered Israel and Gave them a great victory and “the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel” (Judges 11:33). Ecstatic Jephthah returned home “with timbrel and dancing” but, unfortunately, the first person to welcome him was his only daughter.  Jephthah was devastated by what he saw and “tore his clothes” and said to his daughter:

“Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to The Lord, and I cannot go back on it” (Judges 11: 35).

          Jephthah’s daughter reacted with a total spirit of submission. She simply asked her father that she be allowed to wander on the mountains for two months to bewail her virginity (Judges 11:38). At the end of the two months, “she returned to her father and he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed” (Judges 11:39).

          While all this was transpiring, GOD Watched the whole story and Did Not Intervene. This is perplexing. After all, Had HE Not Intervened with Abraham and Isaac? Is GOD Not Averse to human sacrifices? Did GOD Not Cleanse the land of Canaan of its inhabitants because, in large part, they “passed their children through the fire;” that is, they sacrificed their children to their gods? How could that same GOD Allow Jephthah to kill his own daughter?

          Let’s go back to Jephthah’s original mistake. Jephthah vowed to GOD that he would sacrifice “anything” that would come out to welcome him, upon his return. By that he also included humans—most probably his servants. Could it be that that was the reason GOD Allowed him to go through his excruciating experience? Jephthah’s callousness may have deserved a sobering consequence. His callousness and cruelty toward others ended up rebounding onto himself.

          What If GOD Had Intervened? What If GOD Had Sent an angel to stop him from his horrific act, like HE Did With Abraham? 

If HE Had Intervened, we would have been reassured as ㅆo GOD’s seeming Kindness and Forgiveness, but what would have happened to Jephthah? What would have happened within Israel? What effect would it have had on the multitudes that would have read or heard about it later on?

            We can speculate that if Jephthah would not have been consequenced, he might have remained hasty and foolish. Israel would have had a written record that GOD Overlooks foolishness all too easily. Oaths are promises made ㅠefore GOD, and they must not be made hastily.

The Book of Deuteronomy emphasizes the seriousness of making vows To GOD:

“When you make a vow To The LORDyour GOD, you shall not delay to pay it; for The LORD your GOD Surely Will require it of you, and it would be sin to you” (Deuteronomy 23:21).

If GOD Had Intervened, the seriousness of the event would NOT have been emphasized. The fact that oaths must not be taken lightly would NOT have been stressed, nor the reality that foolishness has a way of bringing about disastrous consequences.

JESUS Says, "Do Not Swear An Oath At All"

Judges 11:1-40 NIV

1Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute2Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away. “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said, “because you are the son of another woman.” 3So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him.

4Some time later, when the Ammonites were fighting against Israel, 5the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6“Come,” they said, “be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.”

7Jephthah said to them, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now, when you’re in trouble?”

8The elders of Gilead said to him, “Nevertheless, we are turning to you now; come with us to fight the Ammonites, and you will be head over all of us who live in Gilead.”

9Jephthah answered, “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and The LORD Gives them To me—will I really be your head?”

10The elders of Gilead replied, “The LORD IS our Witness; we will certainly do as you say.” 11So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated all his words Before The LORD in Mizpah.

12Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: “What do you have against me that you have attacked my country?”

13The king of the Ammonites answered Jephthah’s messengers, “When Israel came up out of Egypt, they took away my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, all the way to the Jordan. Now give it back peaceably.”

14Jephthah sent back messengers to the Ammonite king, 15saying:

“This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites. 16But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Seaa and on to Kadesh. 17Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Give us permission to go through your country,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. They sent also to the king of Moab, and he refused. So Israel stayed at Kadesh.

18“Next they traveled through the wilderness, skirted the lands of Edom and Moab, passed along the eastern side of the country of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon. They did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was its border.

19“Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, ‘Let us pass through your country to our own place.’ 20Sihon, however, did not trust Israelb to pass through his territory. He mustered all his troops and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel.

21“Then The LORD, The GOD of Israel, Gave Sihon and his whole army into Israel’s hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country, 22capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.

23“Now Since The LORD, The GOD of Israel, Has Driven the Amorites out before His people Israel, what right have you to take it over? 24Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever The LORD our GOD Has Given us, we will possess. 25Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them? 26For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn’t you retake them during that time? 27I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let The LORD, The Judge, Decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”

28The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.

29Then The SPIRIT of The LORD Came On Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30And Jephthah made a vow To The LORD:

“If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be The LORD'S, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

32Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and The LORD Gave them Into his hands. 33He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.

34When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter

.35When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried,

“Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow To The LORD that I cannot break.”

36“My father,” she replied, “you have given your word To The LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that The LORD Has Avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37But grant me this one request,” she said.

“Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my

friends, because I will never marry.”

38“You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 

 39After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.

From this comes the Israelite tradition 40that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Cycle Of Sin

Judges 10:1-18 NIV


1After the time of Abimelek, a man of Issachar named Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo, rose to save Israel. He lived in Shamir, in the hill country of Ephraim. 2He leda Israel twenty-three years; then he died, and was buried in Shamir.


3He was followed by Jair of Gilead, who led Israel twenty-two years. 4He had thirty sons, who rode thirty donkeys. They controlled thirty towns in Gilead, which to this day are called Havvoth Jair.b 5When Jair died, he was buried in Kamon.


6Again the Israelites did evil in the Eyes of The LORD. They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines. And because the Israelites forsook The LORD and no longer served HIM, 7HE Became Angry With them. HE Sold them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites, 8who that year shattered and crushed them. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead, the land of the Amorites. 9The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim; Israel was in great distress. 

10Then the Israelites cried out To The LORD, “We have sinned Against YOU, forsaking our GOD and serving the Baals.”

11The LORD Replied,

“When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, 12the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you and you cried To ME for help, Did I Not Save you from their hands? 13But you have forsaken ME and served other gods, So I Will No Longer Save you. 14Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!”

15But the Israelites Said To The LORD,

“We have sinned. Do with us whatever YOU Think Best, but please rescue us now.” 

16Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served The LORD.

And HE Could Bear Israel’s misery no longer.

17When the Ammonites were called to arms and camped in Gilead, the Israelites assembled and camped at Mizpah. 18The leaders of the people of Gilead said to each other, “Whoever will take the lead in attacking the Ammonites will be head over all who live in Gilead.”

Pattern of  “Sinning – Repentance – Restoration”

The children of Israel cried To JEHOVAH, saying, We have sinned against YOU - The first step of repentance is confession of sin, and the best proof of its sincerity is given by the transgressor, when he mourns not only over the painful consequences which have resulted from his offenses to himself, but over the heinous evil committed against The Holy GOD.

And JEHOVAH Was Grieved for the misery of Israel - On their abandonment of idolatry and return to purity of worship, GOD Graciously Abridged the term of national affliction and restored times of peace.

GOD Repays The Wickedness That People Had Done

Judges 9:1-57 NIV


1Abimelek son of Jerub-Baal went to his mother’s brothers in Shechem and said to them and to all his mother’s clan, 2“Ask all the citizens of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you: to have all seventy of Jerub-Baal’s sons rule over you, or just one man?’ Remember, I am your flesh and blood.”

3When the brothers repeated all this to the citizens of Shechem, they were inclined to follow Abimelek, for they said, “He is related to us.” 4They gave him seventy shekelsa of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, and Abimelek used it to hire reckless scoundrels, who became his followers. 5 He went to his father’s home in Ophrah and on one stone murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerub-Baal, escaped by hiding. 

6Then all the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered beside the great tree at the pillar in Shechem to crown Abimelek king.

7When Jotham was told about this, he climbed up on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted to them, 

“Listen to me, citizens of Shechem, so that GOD May Listen ㅆo you. 

8One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. 

They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’

9“But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and humans are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’

10“Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’

11“But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’

12“Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king.’

13“But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and humans, to hold sway over the trees?’

14“Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and be our king.’

15“The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’

16“Have you acted honorably and in good faith by making Abimelek king? Have you been fair to Jerub-Baal and his family? Have you treated him as he deserves? 17Remember that my father fought for you and risked his life to rescue you from the hand of Midian. 

18But today you have revolted against my father’s family. You have murdered his seventy sons on a single stone and have made Abimelek, the son of his female slave, king over the citizens of Shechem because he is related to you. 19So have you acted honorably and in good faith toward Jerub-Baal and his family today? If you have, may Abimelek be your joy, and may you be his, too! 20But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelek and consume you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and consume Abimelek!”

21Then Jotham fled, escaping to Beer, and he lived there because he was afraid of his brother Abimelek.

22After Abimelek had governed Israel three years, 23GOD Stirred Up animosity between Abimelek and the citizens of Shechem so that they acted treacherously against Abimelek. 24GOD Did this in order that the crime against Jerub-Baal’s seventy sons, the shedding of their blood, might be avenged on their brother Abimelek and on the citizens of Shechem, who had helped him murder his brothers. 25In opposition to him these citizens of Shechem set men on the hilltops to ambush and rob everyone who passed by, and this was reported to Abimelek.

26Now Gaal son of Ebed moved with his clan into Shechem, and its citizens put their confidence in him.27After they had gone out into the fields and gathered the grapes and trodden them, they held a festival in the temple of their god. While they were eating and drinking, they cursed Abimelek. 

28Then Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelek, and why should we Shechemites be subject to him? Isn’t he Jerub-Baal’s son, and isn’t Zebul his deputy? Serve the family of Hamor, Shechem’s father! Why should we serve Abimelek? 29If only this people were under my command! Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelek, ‘Call out your whole army!’ ”b

30When Zebul the governor of the city heard what Gaal son of Ebed said, he was very angry. 31Under cover he sent messengers to Abimelek, saying, “Gaal son of Ebed and his clan have come to Shechem and are stirring up the city against you. 32Now then, during the night you and your men should come and lie in wait in the fields. 33In the morning at sunrise, advance against the city. When Gaal and his men come out against you, seize the opportunity to attack them.”

34So Abimelek and all his troops set out by night and took up concealed positions near Shechem in four companies. 35Now Gaal son of Ebed had gone out and was standing at the entrance of the city gate just as Abimelek and his troops came out from their hiding place.

36When Gaal saw them, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!”

Zebul replied, “You mistake the shadows of the mountains for men.”

37But Gaal spoke up again: “Look, people are coming down from the central hill,c and a company is coming from the direction of the diviners’ tree.”

38Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your big talk now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelek that we should be subject to him?’ Aren’t these the men you ridiculed? Go out and fight them!”

39So Gaal led out the citizens of Shechem and fought Abimelek. 40Abimelek chased him all the way to the entrance of the gate, and many were killed as they fled. 41Then Abimelek stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his clan out of Shechem.

42The next day the people of Shechem went out to the fields, and this was reported to Abimelek. 43So he took his men, divided them into three companies and set an ambush in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he rose to attack them. 44Abimelek and the companies with him rushed forward to a position at the entrance of the city gate. Then two companies attacked those in the fields and struck them down. 45All that day Abimelek pressed his attack against the city until he had captured it and killed its people. Then he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.

46On hearing this, the citizens in the tower of Shechem went into the stronghold of the temple of El-Berith. 47When Abimelek heard that they had assembled there, 48he and all his men went up Mount Zalmon. He took an ax and cut off some branches, which he lifted to his shoulders. He ordered the men with him, “Quick! Do what you have seen me do!” 49So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelek. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire with the people still inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died.

50Next Abimelek went to Thebez and besieged it and captured it. 51Inside the city, however, was a strong tower, to which all the men and women—all the people of the city—had fled. They had locked themselves in and climbed up on the tower roof. 52Abimelek went to the tower and attacked it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, 53a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull.

54Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’ ” So his servant ran him through, and he died. 55When the Israelites saw that Abimelek was dead, they went home.

56Thus GOD Repaid the wickedness that Abimelek had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. 57GOD Also Made the people of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal came on them.