Judges 11:3
Then Jephthah fled from his brothers, and dwelled in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Dwelt in the land of Tob.—A Syrian district on the north-east of Peræa (2Samuel 10:6). It is referred to in 1 Maccabees 5:13; 2 Maccabees 12:17. The name means “good,” but lends no sanction to the idle allegories which have been based upon it.

Vain men.Judges 9:4.

Went out with him.—Jephthah simply became a sort of Syrian freebooter. His half-heathen origin, no doubt, influenced his character unfavourably, as it had done that of Abimelech.

Jdg 11:3. Of Tob — The name either of the land, or of the man who was the owner or ruler of it. This place was in or near Gilead, as appears by the speedy intercourse which there was between Jephthah and the Israelites. Vain men — Idle persons, who desired rather to get their living by spoil and rapine, than by honest labour. These evil persons Jephthah managed well, employing them against the enemies of God, and of Israel, that bordered upon them; and particularly against parties of the Ammonites, which made the Israelites more forward to choose him for their chieftain in this war. Went out with him — When he made excursions and attempts upon the enemy.11:1-11 Men ought not to be blamed for their parentage, so long as they by their personal merits roll away any reproach. God had forgiven Israel, therefore Jephthah will forgive. He speaks not with confidence of his success, knowing how justly God might suffer the Ammonites to prevail for the further punishment of Israel. Nor does he speak with any confidence at all in himself. If he succeed, it is the Lord delivers them into his hand; he thereby reminds his countrymen to look up to God as the Giver of victory. The same question as here, in fact, is put to those who desire salvation by Christ. If he save you, will ye be willing that he shall rule you? On no other terms will he save you. If he make you happy, shall he make you holy? If he be your helper, shall he be your Head? Jephthah, to obtain a little worldly honour, was willing to expose his life: shall we be discouraged in our Christian warfare by the difficulties we may meet with, when Christ has promised a crown of life to him that overcometh?The land of Tob - To the north of Gilead, toward Damascus. The readiness with which Jephthah took to the freebooter's life gives us a lively picture of the unsettled times in which he lived. 3. Jephthah … dwelt in the land of Tob—on the north of Gilead, beyond the frontier of the Hebrew territories (2Sa 10:6, 8).

there were gathered vain men to Jephthah—idle, daring, or desperate.

and went out with him—followed him as a military chief. They led a freebooting life, sustaining themselves by frequent incursions on the Ammonites and other neighboring people, in the style of Robin Hood. The same kind of life is led by many an Arab or Tartar still, who as the leader of a band, acquires fame by his stirring or gallant adventures. It is not deemed dishonorable when the expeditions are directed against those out of his own tribe or nation. Jephthah's mode of life was similar to that of David when driven from the court of Saul.

The land of Tob, the name either of the land or territory, or of the man who was the owner or ruler of it. This place was in or near Gilead, as appears by the speedy intercourse which here was between Jephthah and the Israelites.

Vain men; idle persons, who desire to get their living rather by spoil and rapine, than by honest and diligent labour. These evilminded persons Jephthah managed well, employing them against the enemies of God and of Israel that bordered upon them; and particularly, upon parties of the Ammonites, which made the Israelites more forward to choose him for their chieftain in this war. Went out with him, when he made excursions and attempts upon his and their enemies. Then Jephthah fled from his brethren,.... Being ill used by them, and a man of spirit and courage, and could not bear to be treated with contempt, nor to live in a dependence on others, and therefore sought to make himself another way:

and dwelt in the land of Tob; which Kimchi and Ben Gersom think was the name of the lord and owner of the land; Abarbinel interprets it, a good land, as Tob signifies, so the Targum; but others the name of a city or country, and conjecture it may be the same with Ishtob, and which was not far from the children of Ammon, since they sent thither for assistance, 2 Samuel 10:6. Jerom (g) takes it for a country, in which Jephthah dwelt, but says no more of it. Junius says it was on the entrance of Arabia Deserta, in the Apocypha:"Yea, all our brethren that were in the places of Tobie are put to death: their wives and their children also they have carried away captives, and borne away their stuff; and they have destroyed there about a thousand men.'' (1 Maccabees 5:13)"Then departed they from thence seven hundred and fifty furlongs, and came to Characa unto the Jews that are called Tubieni.'' (2 Maccabees 12:17)where the inhabitants of it are called Tobienians or Tubienians:

and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah; not wicked men, but empty men, whose pockets were empty; men without money, as Abarbinel interprets it, had nothing to live upon, no more than Jephthah, and he being a valiant man, they enlisted themselves under him:

and went out with him; not on any bad design, as to rob and plunder, but to get their living by hunting; or rather by making excursions into the enemy's country, and carrying off booty, on which they lived. Josephus (h) says he maintained them at his own expense, and paid them wages.

(g) De loc. Heb. fol. 25. A. (h) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 7. sect. 7.)

Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of {b} Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and {c} went out with him.

(b) Where the governor of the country was called Tob.

(c) Joined with him, as some think, against his brethren.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. the land of Tob] A Syrian district near the territory of Gilead (Jdg 11:5), 2 Samuel 10:6; 2 Samuel 10:8; cf. 1Ma 5:13; 1Ma 5:2 Mace. 12:17 (probably the same place). A town now called eṭ-Ṭaiyibe between Der‘ât and Bostra perhaps preserves the name and indicates the situation.

vain fellows] i.e. worthless fellows, Jdg 9:4, and cf. 1 Samuel 22:1 f.Verse 3. - The land of Tob. This is certainly the same country as is spoken of in Ish-tob, i.e. the men of Tob, of whom 12,000 were hired by the children of Ammon to fight against David. They are thus named side by side with the men of Beth-Rehob, and Zoba, and Maacah, other small Aramean or Syrian states (2 Samuel 10:6, 8). Tob is again mentioned in all probability in 1 Macc. 5:13; 2 Macc. 12:17, and the Thauba of Ptolemy agrees in situation as well as in name with Tob, but no identification with any existing place has been hitherto effected. Vain men, as in Judges 9:4. Therefore the Lord would not save them any more. They might get help from the gods whom they had chosen for themselves. The Israelites should now experience what Moses had foretold in his song (Deuteronomy 32:37-38). This divine threat had its proper effect. The Israelites confessed their sins, submitted thoroughly to the chastisement of God, and simply prayed for salvation; nor did they content themselves with merely promising, they put away the strange gods and served Jehovah, i.e., they devoted themselves again with sincerity to His service, and so were seriously converted to the living God. "Then was His (Jehovah's) soul impatient (תּקצר, as in Numbers 21:4) because of the troubles of Israel;" i.e., Jehovah could no longer look down upon the misery of Israel; He was obliged to help. The change in the purpose of God does not imply any changeableness in the divine nature; it simply concerns the attitude of God towards His people, or the manifestation of the divine love to man. In order to bend the sinner at all, the love of God must withdraw its helping hand and make men feel the consequences of their sin and rebelliousness, that they may forsake their evil ways and turn to the Lord their God. When this end has been attained, the same divine love manifests itself as pitying and helping grace. Punishments and benefits flow from the love of God, and have for their object the happiness and well-being of men.
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