Dec. 24. Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon Judge Israel
Jephthah, son of Gilead, a Gileadite was the next judge over Israel. He was also the son of a harlot. Because of his less than honorable heritage, his half brothers drove him out of the family. He became a mighty man of valor and the leader of a group of raiders.
Three hundred years after God had delivered the Ammonite nation to the Israelites, the people of Ammon attempted to recapture the land from Israel. Jephthah was called upon to lead Israel in defending their possession.
A series of negotiations between Jephthah and the Ammonites failed to bring peace. In a rash vow to God, Jephthah vowed to offer as a burnt offering “whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon.” God did deliver the people to him. To his great dismay, his daughter, his only child was the victim.
Since human sacrifices are an abomination to God, it’s possible that instead of offering her as a burnt offering, Jephthah consecrated his daughter to God as a perpetual virgin. “She knew no man, for this was a statute in Israel.”
During the period of time that had lapsed since moving into the Promised Land, the Israelites had become somewhat diverse in their lives. There were petty differences between the different tribes. That became evident when the Ephraimites attacked Jephthah because he did not “call us to go with you” when he fought against the Ammonites. He then defeated the Ephraimites in that battle.
Jephthah judged Israel for six years. Following him were Ibzan seven years, Elon ten years and Abdon eight years. During that period of time the Israelites lived in peace and obedience to God.