Judges 10
Sermon Bible
And after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim.

Jdg 10:6Jdg 12:7

I. As is frequently the case, the chief interest and instructiveness of Jephthah's career gather round that event in his life which, to himself and his contemporaries, might seem to mar its symmetry and destroy its usefulness. It is the great blunder of his life, his unfortunate vow, which unceasingly draws back men's attention to him. Through all his nature he was moved in prospect of the approaching battle. It made him thoughtful, concentrated, grave. He felt more than usually thrown back upon God's help and so, according to his light, he vowed a vow. As we have no distinct evidence regarding Jephthah's state of mind in making his vow, it is the part of charity to believe that though he was incomprehensibly rash in the terms of his vow, yet he was justified in vowing to make some offering to God should He deliver the Ammonites into his hand.

II. Supposing him to have been right in making the vow, was he right in keeping it? There is an obvious distinction between a promise made to God and a promise made to man. God can never wish a man to fulfil a contract which involves sin. By the very discovery of the sinfulness of a vow the maker of it is absolved from performing it. God shrinks much more than we can do from the perpetration of sin. Both parties fall from the agreement.

III. It has often been urged that Jephthah did not keep his vow, but compromised the matter by causing his daughter to take a vow of virginity, to become a nun, in fact. This seems to sacrifice the plain and obvious interpretation of the narrative. In Jdg 11:39 we are plainly informed that her father did with her according to the vow which he had vowed. Why did she ask for the one favour of two months to bewail her virginity if she was to have thirty or forty years with leisure for that purpose? And lastly, if the mere fact of her remaining unmarried fulfilled even that part of the vow which specified that she was to be the Lord's, a stronger foundation need not be sought for the establishment of nunneries.

IV. We can scarcely help thinking that while the sacrifice itself was horrible, her spirit, the spirit of the sacrifice, was acceptable to God, and what she did through reverence and dutiful submission to her father, was accepted by Him.

M. Dods, Israel's Iron Age, p. 91.

References: Jdg 10:16.—Parker, vol. vi., p. 167. 10-12:7—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iv., p. 453. 10—J. Reid Howatt, The Churchette, p. 235. 10—Parker, vol. vi., p. 61. 10-12.—Parker, Pulpit Notes, p. 273. Jdg 11:7.—Parker, vol. vi., p. 167. Jdg 11:30, Jdg 11:31.—M. Nicholson, Communion with Heaven, p. 132. Jdg 11:34-36.—M. Dods, Israel's Iron Age, p. 90. Jdg 11:35.—J. Keble, Sermons for the Christian Year: Lent to Passiontide, p. 328; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii., No. 1341. 11—Parker, vol. vi., p. 71. Jdg 12:6.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 269. 12—Parker, vol. vi., p. 85.

And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir.
And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years.
And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havothjair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead.
And Jair died, and was buried in Camon.
And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him.
And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.
And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead.
Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed.
And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.
And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines?
The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand.
Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.
Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.
And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day.
And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.
Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh.
And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon? he shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.
William Robertson Nicoll's Sermon Bible

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