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Dictionaries :: Jephthah

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Below are articles from the following dictionary:
International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia

Jephthah:

jef'-tha (yiphtach, "opened," or "opener," probably signifying "Yahweh will open"; Iephthae; used as the name of a place, as in Jos 15:43; 19:14; of a man, Jud 10:6-12:7): Ninth judge of the Israelites. His antecedents are obscure. Assuming Gilead to be the actual name of his father, his mother was a harlot. He was driven from home on account of his illegitimacy, and went to the land of Tobit in Eastern Syria (Jud 11:2,3). Here he and his followers lived the life of freebooters.

The Israelites beyond the Jordan being in danger of an invasion by the Ammonites, Jephthah was invited by the elders of Gilead to be their leader (Jud 11:5,6). Remembering how they had expelled him from their territory and his heritage, Jephthah demanded of them that in the event of success in the struggle with the Ammonites, he was to be continued as leader. This condition being accepted he returned to Gilead (Jud 11:7-11). The account of the diplomacy used by Jephthah to prevent the Ammonites from invading Gilead is possibly an interpolation, and is thought by many interpreters to be a compilation from Nu 20-21. It is of great interest, however, not only because of the fairness of the argument used (Jud 11:12-28), but also by virtue of the fact that it contains a history of the journey of the Israelites from Lower Egypt to the banks of the Jordan. This history is distinguished from that of the Pentateuch chiefly by the things omitted. If diplomacy was tried, it failed to dissuade the Ammonites from seeking to invade Israel. Jephthah prepared for battle, but before taking the field paused at Mizpeh of Gilead, and registered a vow that if he were successful in battle, he would offer as a burnt offering to Yahweh whatsoever should first come from his doors to greet him upon his return (Jud 11:29-31). The battle is fought, Jephthah is the victor, and now his vow returns to him with anguish and sorrow. Returning to his home, the first to greet him is his daughter and only child. The father's sorrow and the courage of the daughter are the only bright lights on this sordid, cruel conception of God and of the nature of sacrifice. That the sacrifice was made seems certain from the narrative, although some critics choose to substitute for the actual death of the maiden the setting the girl apart for a life of perpetual virginity. The Israelite laws concerning sacrifices and the language used in Jud 11:39 are the chief arguments for the latter interpretation. The entire narrative, however, will hardly bear this construction (11:34-40).

Jephthah was judge in Israel for 6 years, but appears only once more in the Scripture narrative. The men of Ephraim, offended because they had had no share in the victory over the Ammonites, made war upon Gilead, but were put to rout by the forces under Jephthah (Jud 12:1-6).

Written by C. E. Schenk

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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