Judges 11

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1 And Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty·​·man of valor, and he was the son of a woman that was a harlot; and Gilead begot Jephthah.

2 And the wife of Gilead gave·​·birth to sons for him; and the sons of his wife grew·​·up and they drove·​·out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father’s house, for thou art the son of another woman.

3 And Jephthah ran·​·away from before his brothers, and dwelt in the land of Tob; and worthless* men collected themselves to Jephthah, and went·​·out with him.

4 And it was after some days, and the sons of Ammon fought with Israel.

5 And it was as the sons of Ammon fought with Israel, that the elders of Gilead went to take Jephthah out of the land of Tob.

6 And they said to Jephthah, Come and be our captain, that we may fight·​·against the sons of Ammon.

7 And Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, Did you not hate me and drive· me ·out of the house of my father? And why have you come to me now when you are in adversity?

8 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, Therefore we now return to thee, and thou mayest go with us, and fight against the sons of Ammon, and be for us a head for all those who dwell in Gilead.

9 And Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, If you bring· me ·back to fight·​·against the sons of Ammon, and Jehovah give· them ·over before me, shall I be your head?

10 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, Let Jehovah hear between us, if we do not so according to thy word.

11 And Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people set him over them for their head and for their captain; and Jephthah spoke all his words before Jehovah in Mizpah.

12 And Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the sons of Ammon, saying, What is there to me and to thee*, that thou hast come against me to fight in my land?

13 And the king of the sons of Ammon said to the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took my land, when he came·​·up out of Egypt, from Arnon even·​·to Jabbok, and even·​·to Jordan; and now return it in peace.

14 And Jephthah sent messengers yet again to the king of the sons of Ammon,

15 and said to him, Thus says Jephthah: Israel took not the land of Moab, nor the land of the sons of Ammon;

16 for when they went·​·up from Egypt, and Israel walked in the wilderness even·​·to the Suph Sea*, and came to Kadesh,

17 then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land; but the king of Edom hearkened not. And he also sent to the king of Moab, and he was· not ·willing. And Israel dwelt in Kadesh.

18 And he went through the wilderness, and went·​·around the land of Edom, and the land of Moab; and came to the land of Moab from the rising of the sun, and encamped across Arnon, and came not unto the border of Moab, for Arnon was the border of Moab.

19 And Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorite, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said to him, Let us pass·​·through, we pray thee, on thy land even·​·to my place.

20 But Sihon believed not Israel* to let them pass·​·through into his border; but Sihon gathered all his people, and encamped in Jahatsah, and fought with Israel.

21 And Jehovah, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them; and Israel possessed all the land of the Amorite, that dwelt in this land.

22 And they possessed all the border of the Amorite, from Arnon even·​·to Jabbok, and from the wilderness even·​·to the Jordan.

23 And now Jehovah, the God of Israel, has dispossessed the Amorite from before His people Israel, and shouldest thou possess it?

24 Wilt thou not possess that which Chemosh thy god makes thee to possess? And whomever Jehovah our god dispossess from before us, them will we possess.

25 And now art thou any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Striving, did he strive with Israel? Fighting, did he fight against them?

26 While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns*, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that are by the sides* of Arnon three hundred years; and why did you not rescue them at that time?

27 And I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me evil to fight against me. May Jehovah, the Judge, be Judge this day between the sons of Israel and the sons of Ammon.

28 And the king of the sons of Ammon hearkened not to the words of Jephthah, which he sent him.

29 And the spirit of Jehovah was upon Jephthah, and he passed·​·through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed·​·through Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed·​·through unto the sons of Ammon.

30 And Jephthah vowed a vow to Jehovah and said, If giving Thou wilt give the sons of Ammon into my hands,

31 and it shall be that the one going·​·out, that goes·​·out from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, he shall be for Jehovah, and I will offer· him ·up as a burnt·​·offering.

32 And Jephthah crossed·​·over to the sons of Ammon to fight against them; and Jehovah gave them into his hand.

33 And he smote them from Aroer, even until thou come to Minnith, twenty cities, and even·​·to Abel-cheramim, with a very great smiting. And the sons of Ammon were humbled before the sons of Israel.

34 And Jephthah came·​·into Mizpah to his house; and, behold, his daughter came·​·out to meet him with timbrels and with dances; and she only was the only·​·one; he had none other from himself, either son or daughter.

35 And it was, when he saw her, that he rent his garments, and said, Alas, my daughter! And thou hast made me stoop·​·low, stooping·​·low, and thou art among those who trouble me; for I have opened· my mouth ·wide to Jehovah, and I am· not ·able to turn·​·back.

36 And she said to him, My father, thou hast opened· thy mouth ·wide to Jehovah; do to me according·​·to that which is gone·​·out from thy mouth; forasmuch as Jehovah has done vengeance for thee from thine enemies, from the sons of Ammon.

37 And she said to her father, Let this word be done for me; Let· me ·go for two months, and I will go and go·​·down on the mountains, and I will weep for my virginity, I and my companions.

38 And he said, Go. And he sent· her ·away for two months; and she went, she and her companions, and she wept over her virginity upon the mountains.

39 And it was, at the end of two months, that she returned to her father, and he did to her according to the vow which he had vowed; and she knew no man. And it was for a statute in Israel

40 that from days to days the daughters of Israel went to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Judges 11      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 11: Jephthah’s victory.

This chapter and most of the next are about the judge Jephthah. He was Gilead’s son by a prostitute, so Gilead’s other sons despised him, and drove him out from his homeland. He fled to the land of Tob, where he lived amongst reckless men. When the Ammonites made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to the land of Tob to ask if Jephthah would lead their army. At first, Jephthah challenged them, and asked why they would come to him for help after expelling him from their county. However, the elders swore by the Lord that they would accept him as their leader, so he agreed to go with them.

Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of Ammon, to ask why his people were attacking Gilead. The king said that Israel had taken away their land, but Jephthah recounted to them the history of Israel’s time in the wilderness, specifically pointing out that they not made war with the nations of Canaan. The only exception was the Amorite king Sihon’s attack on Israel, in which the Israelites defended themselves and defeated the Amorites. So, Jephthah explained that Israel had not taken land from the Ammonites. But the people of Ammon did not listen, and prepared for war.

While preparing his army against the people of Ammon, Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: if He would grant Gilead victory, Jephthah would make a burnt offering of the first thing which came out from his house upon his return home. Battle ensued, and the army of Jephthah utterly defeated Ammon.

When Jephthah returned home, his daughter – his only child – came out of the house to greet him with music and dancing. He tore his clothes in despair, and told her about his vow to the Lord. His daughter told him to keep his word, and asked to be left alone for two months to lament her virginity. Then, when the time came, Jephthah carried out his vow to the Lord.

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Jephthah’s dealings with both the Ammonites and his own family show that serving the Lord leads us to seek peace, not conflict or war. His account of the Israelites’ struggles showed that his people had only defended themselves against other nations, but had not fanned the flames of war. We are to do the work of making peace in our lives, while upholding and defending what is true (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 1683).

The people of Ammon stand for knowing what is true, but then corrupting that truth to live a life based in falsities. For example, if we know the Lord regenerates us, and then tell ourselves that we no longer hold any responsibility for our eternal state, we have falsified the truth. This view completely distorts the truth: the Lord regenerates us as we work to live righteously (see Swedenborg’s work, Sacred Scripture 18[3]).

The spiritual meaning of a ‘daughter’ is an affection for spiritual truths and the life they offer. Affection is the offspring of feeling delight in truths; as we develop these affections, we learn to recognize that they come from the Lord, for he is the source of all good things (Arcana Caelestia 3336[2]).

Jephthah’s daughter was his deepest love, his greatest affection. She was a virgin, representing the spiritual qualities of purity and innocence. Her request for two months of solitude can be understood as our need to reflect during any giving to the Lord, to be sure that our intentions are pure, without any selfish expectations (see Swedenborg’s work, Divine Providence 121).

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Thanks to the Kempton Project for the permission to use this New Church translation of the Word.


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