The cycle of sinning and contrition continues in – this is the 5th time we have read the same basic story. (There will be 12 judges in all.) Only the details change – the number of years the Israelites are enslaved, the people that God sells them to, and the person God chooses to help with the massacre. The dialogue in verses 11-15 will sound familiar to any parent who has had to deal with a brat – the more the parent threatens, the more the kid whines.
Next up, Jephthah. He’s nothing but a small-time crook when the Israelites persuade him to become their leader and take on the Ammonites. First thing he does is argue with the Ammonite king over their respective land claims. Here’s a quote: “You keep whatever your god Chemosh gives you, and we will keep whatever the Lord our God gives us.” (v 24). That describes the basis of most of the wars in history. Everyone thinks ‘god’ is on their side.
Verses 29-40 describe the (arguably) most despicable story of the whole bible – you can read it yourself or watch one of the 2 videos below. I ain’t tellin’ ya what happens. (Hint: It makes Abraham look like a wuss for sparing Isaac. Or maybe god just doesn’t value women enough to bother to intervene and save them.)
he Ephraimites are complaining again about not being invited to join the battle. (Remember they complained to Gideon in chapter 8?) A civil war between tribes ensues, with Jephthah winning and claiming access to the Jordan River crossing for Gilead. Read verses 5 and 6 for the origin of the term ‘Shibboleth’. It’s not a particularly familiar expression to me, but it makes sense.