Judges 11:34-12:35 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Jephthah Foolish Vow
Comments for Study 11

Judges 11:34-12:35
Memory Verse: 8:1

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I. Jepthah's Daughter (11:34-40)

>1. Who was Jephthah? (1, 5-6, 32)

* Judges 11:1 "Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute."

* Judges 11:5-6 "the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. "Come," they said, "be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites."

* Judges 11:32 "Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands."

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>What vow did he make thinking it will assure victory? (30-31)

* Judges 11:30-31 "And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: "If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever 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."

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>Did the Lord require such vows? (Deut. 12:31, 23:21-23; Lev. 22:18-19, 27:9-13; Num. 30:2; Eccl. 5:4-6)

* Deuteronomy 12:31 "You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods."

* Deuteronomy 23:21-23 "If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth."

* Leviticus 22:18-19 "Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites and say to them: 'If any of you--either an Israelite or an alien living in Israel--presents a gift for a burnt offering to the LORD, either to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering, you must present a male without defect from the cattle, sheep or goats in order that it may be accepted on your behalf."

* Leviticus 27:9-13 "'If what he vowed is an animal that is acceptable as an offering to the LORD, such an animal given to the LORD becomes holy. He must not exchange it or substitute a good one for a bad one, or a bad one for a good one; if he should substitute one animal for another, both it and the substitute become holy. If what he vowed is a ceremonially unclean animal--one that is not acceptable as an offering to the LORD--the animal must be presented to the priest, who will judge its quality as good or bad. Whatever value the priest then sets, that is what it will be. If the owner wishes to redeem the animal, he must add a fifth to its value."

* Numbers 30:2 "When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said."

* Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 "When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the [temple] messenger, "My vow was a mistake." Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands?"

>2. Who was the first to walk out of the house when he returned home? (34)

* Judges 11:34 "When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter."

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>Did he expect a member of his family to be the first to exit his home? (35)

* Judges 11:35 "When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, "Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break."

* He did not expect a human to be the first to exit his home.

>What did he expect?

* Livestock lived in all homes and/or courtyards in Palestine and many other parts of the world up until recent times. Even today many homes have livestock and/or pets like dogs, cats, rabbits, small rodents and reptiles living and sleeping with family members. Jephthah expected an animal to be the first thing out of his house. He did not expect a celebration lead by his daughter.

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>3. What kind of girl would respond to her father's horrible news as Jephthah's daughter did? (36-37)

* Judges 11:36-37 "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. But 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."

* Genesis 22:7-12 "Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?" "Yes, my son?" Abraham replied. "The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."

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>What did she do that began a tradition? (38-40)

* Judges 11:38-40 "You may go," he said. And he let her go for two months. She and the girls went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. After 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 custom that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite."

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>What does God really want of us? (Mark 12:32-34; Heb. 10:3-10; Rom. 12:1)

* Mark 12:32-34 "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions."

* Hebrews 10:3-10 "But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, 'Here I am--it is written about me in the scroll-- I have come to do your will, O God.'" First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

* Romans 12:1 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship."

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II. Jephthah and Ephraim (12:1-7)

>4. Why might the Ephraimites make the threat in verse 1?

* Judges 12:1 "The men of Ephraim called out their forces, crossed over to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, "Why did you go to fight the Ammonites without calling us to go with you? We're going to burn down your house over your head."

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>How did Jephthah respond? (2-3)

* Judges 12:2-3 "Jephthah answered, "I and my people were engaged in a great struggle with the Ammonites, and although I called, you didn't save me out of their hands. When I saw that you wouldn't help, I took my life in my hands and crossed over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave me the victory over them. Now why have you come up today to fight me?"

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>How is our choice to serve the Lord similar? (Matt. 5:38-42)

* Matthew 5:38-42 ""You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

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>5. What untrue words lead to civil war? (4)

* Judges 12:4 "Jephthah then called together the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim. The Gileadites struck them down because the Ephraimites had said, "You Gileadites are renegades from Ephraim and Manasseh."

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>What can be learned about watching our words? (James 3:3-8; Prov. 12:25)

* James 3:3-8 "When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."

* Proverbs 12:25 "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up."

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>6. What can we learn about the nature of this civil war from the method used to distinguish Ephraimites? (5-6)

* Judges 12:5-6 "The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, "Let me cross over," the men of Gilead asked him, "Are you an Ephraimite?" If he replied, "No," they said, "All right, say 'Shibboleth.'" If he said, "Sibboleth," because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time."

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>How long was Jephthah judge? (7)

* Judges 12:7 "Jephthah led Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died, and was buried in a town in Gilead."

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III. Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon (12:8-15)

>7. Who was the next judge? (8)

* Judges 12:8 "After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem led Israel."

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>What was he noted for? (9-10)

* Judges 12:9-10 "He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He gave his daughters away in marriage to those outside his clan, and for his sons he brought in thirty young women as wives from outside his clan. Ibzan led Israel seven years. Then Ibzan died, and was buried in Bethlehem.

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>8. Who was the next judge? (11-12)

* Judges 12:11-12 "After him, Elon the Zebulunite led Israel ten years. Then Elon died, and was buried in Aijalon in the land of Zebulun."

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>9. Who was the next? (13)

* Judges 12:13 "After him, Abdon son of Hillel, from Pirathon, led Israel."

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>What was he noted for? (14-15)

* Judges 12:14-15 "He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys. He led Israel eight years. Then Abdon son of Hillel died, and was buried at Pirathon in Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites."

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>10. What can be learned from this book about sinful men governing themselves even when they have the word of God, prophets, and God anointed leaders?

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>What kind of leadership does man need?

* Revelation 19:16 "On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."

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