TOLA was the next person to rescue Yisharal. He belonged to the Tribe of Issachar, but he lived in Shamir, a town in the hill country of Ephraim. His father was Puah, and his grandfather was Dodo. Tola was a leader of Yisharal for twenty-three years, then he died and was buried in Shamir.
JAIR was the next leader of Yisharal and he lived in Gilead and he was a leader for twenty-two years, having thirty sons, and being wealthy, each son had his own donkey and was in charge of a town in Gilead. Those thirty towns are still called the Settlements of Jair. When he died, he was buried in the town of Kamon.
TOLA AND JAIR WERE "MINOR JUDGES" BECAUSE ALMOST NOTHING IS RECORDED ABOUT THEM.
THE BOOK OF THE JUDGES WAS A TIME OF TRANSITION, FROM A TIME WHEN YISHARAL OPERATED UNDER A TYPICAL MIDDLE-EASTERN TRIBAL STRUCTURE IN WHICH EACH TRIBE SOUGHT MAINLY TO CARE FOR ITS OWN INTERESTS (THE TIME IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING JOSHUA) TO THE TIME WHEN YISHARAL WOULD RECOGNISE THEIR NEED FOR A KING AND WOULD OPERATE MORE LIKE A NATION-STATE. TRANSITION PERIODS WITHIN SOCIETIES ARE INVARIABLY MESSY AND UNEASY TIMES OF TURMOIL AND UNREST. PEOPLE INSTINCTIVELY FEEL A SENSE OF INSTABILITY AND CHANGE.
And before long, the Yisharalites began disobeying Yahusha again by worshiping Baal, Asherah and deities from Syria, Sidon, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia.
THE CONDITION OF YISHARAL IS ONE OF NATIONAL APOSTASY AND SYNCRETISM, ADOPTING OTHER DEITIES AGAIN. THE MELDING OF CANAANITE PAGAN BELIEFS WITH THE RELIGION OF THE HEBREWS HAS BEEN CALLED "THE CANAANIZATION OF YISHARAL", BY MANY. ALMOST IMMEDIATELY UPON JOSHUA’S DEATH YISHARAL STARTED TO WATER DOWN YAHUSHA’S INSTRUCTIONS TO RID THE LAND OF CANAAN OF PAGANS AND THEIR DEITIES. YAHUSHA EXPLICITLY TOLD YISHARAL THEY WERE TO DRIVE OUT OR KILL ALL WHO WERE DEDICATED TO THE MYSTERY BABYLON RELIGIONS BUT, INSTEAD YISHARAL DECIDED THAT PEACE AND BROTHERLY LOVE WAS A BETTER COURSE OF ACTION AND THAT MEANT THAT THEY SHOULD FIND WAYS TO GET ALONG WITH THESE PAGANS AND OF COURSE THIS MEANT THEY HAD TO (AT THE LEAST) SHOW RESPECT AND TOLERANCE FOR THESE OUTSIDE NATION'S DEITIES AND CUSTOMS.
FROM YAHUSHA’S PERSPECTIVE THE MAIN EVIL YISHARAL WAS COMMITTING WAS WORSHIPPING OTHER DEITIES; AND WE GET A LIST OF THE NAMES OF THE OTHER DEITIES THEY WERE WORSHIPPING.
WE GET ANOTHER KEY STATEMENT “THEY ABANDONED YAHUSHA AND DID NOT SERVE HIM”. NOW DON'T GET THE IDEA THAT THE HEBREWS NO LONGER WORSHIPPED YAHUSHA; FOR IF YOU HAD ACCUSED THEM OF SUCH A THING THEY WOULD HAVE VIOLENTLY DENIED IT. IN THEIR MISGUIDED MINDS THEY HAD IN NO WAY ABANDONED YAHUSHA. MOST STILL OBSERVED THE WEEKLY SHABATH, THE FEASTS, WENT TO THE WILDERNESS TABERNACLE AT THE SPECIFIED TIMES, OFFERED UP ASCENDING-NEAR OFFERINGS AND SO ON. RATHER THEY SERVED THE ALAHIM OF YISHARAL AND THE DEITIES OF THE LOCAL PAGANS AS WELL, BECAUSE THAT SEEMED TO MAKE SENSE TO THEM. THE PROBLEM IS THAT YAHUSHA MAKES IT VERY CLEAR THAT WE CANNOT WORSHIP HIM AND SOMETHING ELSE. AND ANY KIND OF MIXING OF OUR WORSHIP (MIXING BEHAVIOUS) AMOUNTS TO ABANDONING HIM IN HIS EYES, AND HIS PERSPECTIVE IS ALL THAT MATTERS, ISN’T IT?
And Yahusha was furious at Yisharal and decided to let Philistia and Ammon conquer them. So the same year that Jair died, Yisharal’s army was crushed by these two nations and for eighteen years, Ammon was cruel to the Yisharalites who lived in Gilead, the region East of the Jordan River that had once belonged to the Amorites. Then the Ammonites began crossing the Jordan and attacking the Tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim.
THE CONSEQUENCE WAS THAT YAHUSHA’S ANGER BLAZED UP AND HE TURNED THE HEBREWS WHO LIVED ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE JORDAN (IN CANAAN) OVER TO THE PHILISTINES TO BE OPPRESSED, AND THE HEBREWS ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE JORDAN (IN THE TRANS-JORDAN) WERE PUT UNDER THE OPPRESSION OF THE AMMONITES. FURTHER THE AMMONITES CROSSED OVER THE JORDAN AND FOUGHT AGAINST THE SOUTHERN YISHARALITE TRIBES OF JUDAH AND BENJAMIN, AND THE NORTHERN YISHARALITE TRIBE OF EPHRAIM. IN OTHER WORDS, THIS CYCLE OF EVIL APOSTASY OF YISHARAL LED TO THE MOST WIDESPREAD SIMULTANEOUS OPPRESSION AT THE HANDS OF THE OUTSIDE NATIONS SO FAR.
And life was utterly miserable for the Yisharalites and they were put in great distress (ISN'T THIS THE STATUS OF THE WORLD TODAY?) Then they begged Yahusha for help and cried out, “We were disobedient to you, our Alahim. We stopped worshiping you and started worshiping the idols of Baal.”
Then Yahusha answered: “In the past when you came crying to Me for help, I rescued you. At one time or another I’ve rescued you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Midianites. But I’m not going to rescue you any more! Nup, forget it!! If you’re in such big trouble, then go cry to your other lovers (DEITIES) and get them to help you!"
THE PEOPLE OF YISHARAL MAY HAVE HAD SHORT MEMORIES BUT THEY WEREN’T STUPID. SO IN THEIR MISERY, THEY DECIDED TO TURN TO THEIR LAST RESORT AND THEY CRIED OUT TO YAHUSHA TO SAVE THEM FROM THIS AWFUL SITUATION. BUT YAHUSHA WHO KNOWS THE HEART CONDITION OF EVERY MAN SAYS THAT THIS TIME HE’S NOT GOING TO DELIVER THEM JUST BECAUSE THEY ASKED.
THIS PERIOD OF INTENSE TRIBULATION UPON YISHARAL HAD GONE ON FOR 18 YEARS BEFORE YISHARAL BEGAN TO LOOK TO YAHUSHA FOR HELP, AND EVEN WHEN THEY DID, HE SAW THAT THEY WEREN'T SINCERE. IT IS COMMON AMONG HUMANS THAT WE DON’T REALLY WANT TO CHANGE; WE ONLY WANT OUR CIRCUMSTANCES TO BE DIFFERENT, MORE TO OUR LIKING. SO YAHUSHA SAYS THAT SINCE YOU ENJOY SERVING THE DEITIES OF YOUR NEIGHBOURS THEN GO TO THEM AND ASK THEM TO RESCUE YOU.
AN INTERESTING LESSON HERE IS THAT CRYING OUT TO YAHUSHA FOR HELP AND MERCY, BY ITSELF, HAS UTTERLY NO MERIT AND YAHUSHA WILL NOT PAY ANY ATTENTION TO OUR FAKE LIP-SERVICE. OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM MUST BE ON FIRM FOOTING OR HE CLOSES HIS EARS TO OUR PLEADINGS. IF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM HAS BEEN SEVERELY COMPROMISED THEN ACTION ON OUR PARTS (REAL CHANGE) IS REQUIRED, NOT PITIFUL EMOTIONS OR PIOUS WORDS. AND THE FIRST ACTION IS SINCERE REPENTANCE, ACKNOWLEDGING THAT WE HAVE BROKEN HIS COMMANDMENTS AND COMMITED SERIOUS CRIMES AGAINST HIM. FACING THAT HE IS RIGHT AND WE ARE WRONG. REPENTANCE IS NOT A PROMISE OR INTENT TO DO BETTER. REPENTANCE IS ACTIVE CHANGE; BUT THE CHANGE MUST BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH YAHUSHA’S INSTRUCTIONS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH OUR SENSE OF GOODNESS OR MORALITY. REPENTANCE IS CEASING TO DO WHAT IS WRONG IN YAHUSHA’S EYES, AND INSTEAD DOING WHAT IS RIGHT IN HIS EYES. HOW DO WE KNOW WHICH IS WHICH? READ HIS WORD, ALL OF IT.
"We have been disobedient,” the Yisharalites admitted. “If we must be punished, then do it, but please rescue us from the Ammonites.”
YISHARAL’S RESPONSE TO YAHUSHA’S REFUSAL TO HELP THEM IS ACTUALLY KIND OF FUNNY IF IT WEREN’T SO SAD AND TYPICAL: “TREAT US IN WHATEVER WAY SEEMS GOOD TO YOU BUT SAVE US TODAY, PLEASE!” THIS STATEMENT IS THE SCRIPTURAL VERSION OF, “I’LL GLADLY PAY YOU TUESDAY FOR A HAMBURGER TODAY”. YAHUSHA SAVE ME NOW, AND PLEASE ACCEPT THIS IOU; I’LL START DOING RIGHT LATER, AT A MORE CONVENIENT TIME. BUT YAHUSHA IS AN ALAHIM OF TOUGH LOVE. HE WASN’T GOING TO RESCUE THEM UNTIL THEY TURNED FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS, DISCONTINUED THEIR LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE CANAANITE DEITIES AND TURNED BACK TO HIM IN FULL DEVOTION. THE SAD REALITY IS THAT WHEN WE ABANDON YAHUSHA, AND WE LIVE A LIFE COMPROMISED BY EVIL, THE DAY WILL COME THAT WE NEED HIM. AND THE YAHUSHA-PRINCIPLE AND PATTERN WE SEE DEMONSTRATED HERE IS THAT EVEN AFTER WE CONFESS OUR EVIL TO HIM, AND EVEN AFTER WE BEGIN THE PAINFUL PROCESS OF LETTING GO OF THE EVIL IN OUR LIVES, WE’LL LIVE WITH IT’S EARTHLY CONSEQUENCES (POSSIBLY FOR A LONG TIME).
Then the Yisharalites got rid of the idols of the foreign deities, and they began serving only Yahusha again. And finally there came a time when Yahusha could no longer stand watching them suffer because He loved them so much.
ONLY AFTER YISHARAL DEMONSTRATED TRUE REPENTANCE BY GETTING RID OF THEIR FOREIGN DEITIES AND RETURNING TO PROPER WORSHIP OF YAHUSHA (THEY HAD TO CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOUR), DID YAHUSHA NOW LOOK UPON HIS PEOPLE IN COMPASSION AND RESPOND. WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO WALLOW IN THE SAME WICKED BEHAVIOURS (WHOSE CONSEQUENCE WE WANT TO BE RESCUED FROM) AND EXPECT YAHUSHA TO ACT.
AN INTERESTING POINT: DO YOU THINK IT WAS A SIMPLE MATTER FOR YISHARAL TO RID ITSELF OF THOSE FOREIGN DEITIES? IT WOULD HAVE CREATED ALL SORTS OF SERIOUS SOCIETAL PROBLEMS AND FAMILY DIVISIONS. NOT EVERY YISHARALITE WOULD HAVE AGREED; AND NOT EVERYONE WOULD HAVE APPROACHED THIS NEW PATH TO THE SAME DEGREE OR IN THE SAME ENTHUSIASM. NOT EVERY PERSON IN A FAMILY WOULD HAVE BEEN WILLING TO CHANGE THEIR THEOLOGY. HOW DO YOU SUPPOSE IT WENT WHEN A HEBREW MAN TOLD HIS CANAANITE BUSINESS PARTNER THAT HE WOULD NO LONGER ACKNOWLEDGE HIS DEITIES? WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPENED WHEN THE YISHARALITES WHO LIVED IN THE (MOSTLY MIXED) ETHNIC VILLAGES THAT FORMED THE LAND OF CANAAN ANNOUNCED THEY WOULD NO LONGER PARTICIPATE IN THE CELEBRATIONS TO THE DEITIES THAT WERE SO MUCH A PART OF THEIR CANAANITE FRIENDS’ LIVES? FOLKS, ONCE WE’VE WANDERED DOWN THE PATH OF TOLERANCE TO EVIL, IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO TURN AROUND AND CLIMB BACK UP TO SET-APART GROUND. WE WILL BE ACCUSED OF HYPOCRISY, INTOLERANCE, UNKINDNESS, IGNORANCE, EVEN HERESY. . . . BUT WHO DO YOU WANT TO SERVE, AND WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR ETERNAL DESTINATION TO BE?
Then the rulers of Ammon called their soldiers together and led them to Gilead, where they set up camp. The Yisharalites gathered at Mizpah and set up camp there. The leaders of Gilead asked each other, “Who can lead an attack on the Ammonites?”Then they agreed, “If we can find someone who can lead the attack, we’ll make him the ruler of Gilead.”
NOW WE SEE TWO ARMIES; ONE WAS YISHARAL’S ARMY (A MILITIA ACTUALLY) WHO GATHERED AT MIZPAH ON THE WEST BANK AND THE OTHER WAS AMMON’S ARMY WHO ASSEMBLED IN GILEAD IN THE TRANS-JORDAN. THE TIME FOR CONFRONTATION BETWEEN YISHARAL AND ITS EASTERN OPPRESSOR WAS AT HAND BUT SOMETHING WAS MISSING; YISHARAL DID NOT HAVE A FIELD GENERAL. SO THE CHIEFS OF YISHARAL SAT IN COUNCIL AND DECIDED THAT IN ORDER TO GET A GENERAL CAPABLE OF ACHIEVING VICTORY THEY’D HAVE TO OFFER HIM SOMETHING OF VALUE. AND THAT SOMETHING OF VALUE WAS THAT IF THIS GENERAL SUCCEEDED, HE WOULD BECOME THE HEAD OVER ALL THE YISHARALITES WHO LIVED IN GILEAD.
NOTICE THAT WHAT THESE COUNCIL CHIEFS HAD IN MIND WAS NOT A JUDGE OR A TRIBAL LEADER. FIRST, A JUDGE, A SHOPHET, WAS A PERSON RAISED UP BY YAHUSHA, NOT A PERSON CHOSEN BY MEN. A JUDGE RULED BY DIVINE ORDER, NOT BY HUMAN AGREEMENT. SECOND, GILEAD WAS NOT AN ALLOTTED TRIBAL TERRITORY. IN OTHER WORDS GILEAD WASN’T ONE OF THE 12 WELL-DEFINED DISTRICTS THAT HAD BEEN ASSIGNED BY MOSES AND JOSHUA TO ONE OR THE OTHER OF THE 12 TRIBES OF YISHARAL. RATHER THIS WAS A POLITICAL REGION, SET UP BY MEN. THESE MEN WHO FORMED THE MILITARY GENERAL SEARCH-COMMITTEE COULD USE THE TERM “HEAD” OR “CHIEF” WHEN DESCRIBING THE POSITION THAT THIS CANDIDATE WOULD ASSUME (IF HE WAS VICTORIOUS), BUT IN REALITY THEY ALL KNEW THAT THIS PERSON WOULD BE THEIR KING.
So the leaders of the Gilead Clan decided to ask a brave warrior named Jephthah son of Gilead to lead the attack against the Ammonites (GILEAD WAS ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE JORDAN RIVER). Even though Jephthah belonged to the Gilead Clan, he had earlier been forced to leave the region where they had lived, because Jephthah’s father Gilead had many sons from his wife, however Jephthah was the illigitimate son of a prostitute. So one day his half-brothers told him, “Oy you, you don’t really belong to our family, so you ain't gett'in any of the family inheritance.”Then they forced Jephthah to leave home.
WE ARE INTRODUCED TO JEPHTHAH, A BRAVE SOLDIER, MILITARY STRATEGIST AND THE SON OF A PROSTITUTE. HIS FATHER WAS A HEBREW MAN WHO PRODUCED OTHER SONS AS WELL BY MEANS OF HIS LEGAL WIFE (A HEBREW). BUT WHEN GILEAD’S OTHER SONS GREW UP THEY DROVE JEPHTHAH AWAY BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T WANT TO SHARE THEIR FAMILY INHERITANCE WITH HIM.
JEPHTHAH'S MUM WAS NOT A CONCUBINE OR SERCVANT-WIFE OF GILEAD, SHE WAS A PROSTITUTE, AND HE WAS AN ILLEGITIMATE CHILD. THE HEBREW WORDS SAY THAT HE WAS BORN TO AN ISHAH (OR WOMAN) ZONAH (ONE WHO COMMITS FORNICATION, A HARLOT, A PROSTITUTE). ZONAH IS THE COMMON HEBREW WORD FOR PROSTITUTE AND IT IS USED NO OTHER WAY. JEPHTHAH’S MOTHER WAS A PROSTITUTE, NOT A CONCUBINE.
SADLY IT WASN’T ALL THAT UNCOMMON FOR A MAN IN THAT ERA TO PRODUCE ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN WITH A PROSTITUTE AND IT WAS COMMON FOR THE MEN OF YISHARAL TO PARTAKE OF THESE WOMEN RATHER ROUTINELY; THERE WAS NO SOCIAL STIGMA FOR HAVING SEX WITH A HARLOT WHILE BEING MARRIED, EVEN AMONG THE HEBREWS. THAT OUGHT TO GIVE US SOME INSIGHT AS TO HOW LOW YISHARAL HAD SUNK BY THIS TIME. BUT IT WAS ALSO NOT SOMETHING THAT WAS OPENLY DISCUSSED, NOR ADMITTED. SO THE ODDS OF ANY CHILD OF A HARLOT BEING CLAIMED BY HIS OR HER FATHER WERE NEAR ZERO.
ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN OF HARLOTS WERE THE LOWEST OF THE LOW IN YISHARALITE SOCIETY (AND MOST OTHER SOCIETIES AS WELL). THEY WERE IGNORED AND SCORNED, HAD NO RIGHTS, RECEIVED NO SCHOOLING, AND WERE SOCIAL OUTCASTS. THEY LIVED MISERABLE POVERTY STRICKEN LIVES. HOWEVER IT SEEMS THAT GILEAD HAD AN ATTACK OF CONSCIENCE AND MUST HAVE MADE IT CLEAR TO HIS LEGITIMATE SONS THAT JEPHTHAH WAS TO BE ACCORDED FAMILY STATUS SUCH THAT HE WOULD EVEN INHERIT SOME OF THE FAMILY’S WEALTH; GILEAD’S LEGITIMATE SONS WEREN’T HAPPY ABOUT THIS. NOT ONLY WOULD JEPHTHAH TAKE AWAY FROM THEIR PORTION BUT ALSO IT BROUGHT THIS SOCIAL MISFIT TOO NEAR THIS FAMILY OF ARISTOCRATS FOR COMFORT. I SUSPECT WE ALL KNOW OF FAMILY SITUATIONS WHERE A WELL-TO-DO PERSON WITH CHILDREN GETS DIVORCED OR IS WIDOWED AND THEN REMARRIES TO SOMEONE WHO HAS CHILDREN FROM A PREVIOUS MARRIAGE THUS PRODUCING A BLENDED FAMILY OF BIOLOGICAL AND STEP CHILDREN. AND OFTEN THE NATURAL CHILDREN OF THE AFFLUENT PARENT DON’T LIKE THE IDEA OF SHARING AN INHERITANCE WITH THEIR STEPBROTHERS AND STEPSISTERS. SO THIS SORT OF THING IS AN AGE-OLD PROBLEM.
So Jephthah went to the country of Tob WHICH MEANS, GOOD where he was joined by a number of men who would do anything for money A GANG OF HIT-MEN MUCH LIKE THE MAN CALLED GA’AL OF THE EARLIER CHAPTER. Then the Ammonites went to war against Yisharal, so the leaders of Gilead went to Jephthah (who was a military strategist) and said, “Please come back to Gilead! If you lead our army, we’ll definitely be able to fight off the Ammonites.” JEPHTHAH MUST HAVE GAINED QUITE A REPUTATION AS A FIGHTER AND A LEADER OF FIGHTERS, BECAUSE HE WOULD SOON BE IN DEMAND TO RESCUE YISHARAL FROM YET ANOTHER OPPRESSION OF FOREIGNERS.
JEPHTHAH HAD GONE OFF AND CREATED A GANG OF DESERT PIRATES WHO RAIDED CARAVANS AND VILLAGES AND GENERALLY HIRED THEMSELVES OUT AS MERCENARIES TO RICH MEN AND MINOR POTENTATES IN ORDER TO MAKE A LIVING.
“Oh, now you want my help? I thought you all hated me?” Jephthah replied. “Weren’t you the ones who forced me to leave my family? And now you’re skulking down here to suck-up to me, just because you’re in trouble.”
“No we do, we really want you to come back,”the leaders said. “And if you lead us in battle against the Ammonites, we’ll even make you the ruler of Gilead.”
“All right,” Jephthah said. “If I go back with you and Yahuah lets me defeat the Ammonites, will you really make me your ruler?”
“You have our word,” the leaders answered. “And Yahuah is a witness to what we’ve said.”
So Jephthah went back to Mizpah with the leaders of Gilead and the people of Gilead gathered at the place of worship and made Jephthah their ruler and Jephthah also made promises to them.
Then after the ceremony, Jephthah sent messengers to the King of Ammon saying, “Are you try'in to start a bloody war mate? You’ve invaded my country, and I wanna know why ya'bitch?”WITH THE FORMAL AGREEMENT NOW ACKNOWLEDGED, JEPHTHAH PROCEEDED WITH THE ASSIGNED MISSION. SURPRISINGLY WE FIND THAT HE IS A VERY INTELLIGENT MAN AND NOT SIMPLY SOME IGNORANT STREET-THUG; JEPHTHAH’S FIRST STEP IS TO TRY AND NEGOTIATE WITH THE AMMONITES IN AN EFFORT TO AVOID WAR AND LOSS OF LIFE, IF IT WAS POSSIBLE. I SUSPECT HE KNEW THAT THIS HAD LITTLE CHANCE OF SUCCESS, BUT IT WAS WORTH THE TRY. HE SHOWED HIMSELF TO BE A SKILLED NEGOTIATOR, QUITE INTELLECTUAL, AND A CLEAR THINKER; BUT ALSO A TOUGH-GUY WHO DOESN’T BACK DOWN.
And the King of Ammon replied, “The land really belongs to me ya'know, all the way from the Arnon River in the South, to the Jabbok River in the North, and West to the Jordan River. When the Yisharalites came out of Egypt, they stole it, so give it back and there won’t be any bloodshed.”
Jephthah replied (through the messengers) “Yisharal hasn’t taken any territory from Moab or Ammon. When they came from Egypt, they traveled in the desert to the Red Sea and then to Kadesh. They sent messengers to the King of Edom asked him if they could pass through his country, but the King refused. They also sent messengers to the King of Moab, but he wouldn’t let them cross his country either. So the Yisharalites stayed at Kadesh and little later they set out into the desert, going East of Edom and Moab, and camped on the Eastern side of the Arnon River gorge. The Arnon is the Eastern border of Moab, and since the Yisharalites didn’t cross it, they didn’t even set foot in Moab. The Yisharalites sent messengers to the Amorite King Sihon of Heshbon asking him to please let them go through his country to get to their own land also.”
But Sihon didn’t think the Yisharalites could be trusted, so he called his army together and they set up camp at Jahaz, attacking the Yisharalite camp. But Yahuah, the Alahim of Yisharal helped them defeat Sihon and his army and they took over all of the Amorite land where Sihon’s people had lived, from the Arnon River in the South to the Jabbok River in the North, and from the desert in the East to the Jordan River in the West. Then Yahuah helped His nation get rid of the Amorites and take their land. So now you think you’re gunna take over that same territory? You’re dream'in mate!! If Chemosh your Alahim takes over a country and gives it to you, don’t you have a right to it? And if Yahuah our Alahim takes over a country and gives it to us, the land is ours isn’t it?
WE GET A GOOD EXAMPLE OF THE ANCIENT MIDDLE-EASTERN MIND AT WORK, AND WE SEE HOW THE PEOPLE OF THAT ERA VIEWED THE ROLE OF THE DEITIES. THE LOGIC GOES LIKE THIS: YAHUSHA IS THE ALAHIM OF YISHARAL. YAHUSHA ENABLED HIS PEOPLE TO WIN THE LAND OF THE AMORITES. THEREFORE THE LAND BELONGING TO YISHARAL’S ALAHIM BELONGS TO YISHARAL. CHEMOSH IS THE DEITY OF AMMON. WHATEVER LAND CHEMOSH HAS ENABLED HIS PEOPLE (THE AMMONITES) TO WIN IS ALL THEY SHOULD HAVE. WHY WOULD THE ALAHIM OF YISHARAL WANT TO VOLUNTARILY GIVE UP LAND UNDER HIS CONTROL TO ANOTHER DEITY?
"Are you better than Balak the son of Zippor? He was the King of Moab, but he didn’t quarrel with Yisharal or start a war with us. For three hundred years, Yisharalites have been living in Heshbon and Aroer and the nearby villages, and in the towns along the Arnon River gorge. If the land really belonged to you Ammonites, you wouldn’t have waited until now to try and get it back.
I haven’t done anything to you, but it’s certainly disgusting and wrong for you to start a war with us over this madness you speak. So let Yahuah be the judge and show whether Yisharal or Ammon is in the right". But the King of Ammon paid no attention to Jephthah’s message.
SO JEPHTHAH REALISES THAT THERE IS NO HOPE TO CONTINUE THE NEGOTIATIONS; IF AMMON WANTS GILEAD THEY’LL HAVE TO TAKE IT BY FORCE.
Then Yahusha’s Spirit took control of Jephthah, and he went through Gilead and Menasseh, raising an army.
THE WORD 'HAYYAH' IS USED, AND IT INDICATES THAT YAHUSHA’S SPIRIT OVERCAME THE MAN IN SUCH A WAY THAT HE BECOMES ESPECIALLY OBEDIENT TO YAHUSHA’S WILL. SO JEPHTHAH WAS OPERATING VERY MUCH IN OBEDIENCE TO YAHUSHA, YET AS WE’LL SEE, OBVIOUSLY NOT ENTIRELY. THIS MOVE OF THE SET-APART SPIRIT UPON JEPHTHAH REPRESENTS THAT EXACT MOMENT IN WHICH JEPHTHAH’S STATUS CHANGED; HE WENT FROM BEING A NORMAL RUN-OF-THE-MILL HUMAN APPOINTED LEADER TO A DIRECTLY AND DIVINELY APPOINTED JUDGE FOR YAHUSHA OVER YISHARAL .
Finally, Jephthah arrived at Mizpah in Gilead, where he promised Yahusha, “If you will let me defeat the Ammonites and come home safely, I promise I will offer up to you (as an ascending-near sacrifice) whoever comes out to meet me first.”(what a stupid vow!!)
IN ANTICIPATION OF GOING TO WAR, JEPHTHAH MADE A VERY RASH VOW TO THE ALAHIM OF YISHARAL, ONE THAT WOULD CAUSE HIM THE GREATEST PAIN. THE ISSUE IS THAT TO SEEK YAHUSHA’S FAVOR JEPHTHAH VOWS TO OFFER (AS A SACRIFICE) THE FIRST THING THAT WALKS THROUGH HIS DOOR TO GREET HIM. THE REASON FOR THE VOW WAS JEPHTHAH’S RECOGNITION OF THE NEED FOR DIVINE INTERVENTION BECAUSE THIS WAS GOING TO BE A SET-APART WAR (WHICH ONLY YAHUSHA COULD WIN).
So From Mizpah, Jephthah attacked the Ammonites, and Yahusha helped him defeat them, then he and his army destroyed the twenty towns between Aroer and Minnith, and others as far as Abel-Keramim. And after that, the Ammonites could not invade Yisharal any more.
And when Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, the first one to run out to meet him was his daughter, playing a tambourine and dancing to celebrate his victory (and she was his only child).
“Oh no!” Jephthah cried, as he tore his clothes in sorrow and said to his daughter, “I made a sacred promise to Yahuah, and I must keep it. Your coming out to meet me has devastated me and broken my heart.”
“Dad it's ok . . . I mean if you made a sacred promise to Yahuah, and He let you defeat the Ammonites, then you must do what you promised, even if it means I must die. But first, can I spend two months wandering in the hill country with my friends. We'll cry and mourn together, because I can never get married and have children.”
“Yes that's fair enough, two months is fine darling", Jephthah said. And she and some other girls left, and for two months they wandered in the hill country, crying and wailing because she could never get married and have children. Then she went back to her father and he did what he’d stupidly promised, and she never did get married or have children (BECAUSE SHE DIED).
And that’s why every year, Yisharalite girls walk around for four days, weeping in remembrance of Jephthah’s daughter who was sacrificed by her father, to honour the foolish, superstitious vow he’d made and carried out!
CAN YOU SEE NOW WHY YAHUSHA SAID NOT TO MAKE FOOLISH VOWS, BUT TO SIMPLY LET YOUR YES BE YES AND YOUR NO BE NO ?
JEPHTHAH IS DEVASTATED SEEING HIS DAUGHTER RUN TO GREET HIM !
JEPHTHAH SAW A DIRECT CONNECTION BETWEEN HIS VOW AND THE COMPLETE VICTORY OF YISHARAL OVER AMMON (WHETHER THERE WAS A REAL CONNECTION OR NOT, HIS ANCIENT ORIENTAL MIND ASSUMED AS MUCH). HIS DAUGHTER MADE IT CLEAR THAT SHE UNDERSTOOD THAT HER FATHER HAD NO CHOICE AND IN A SELFLESS GESTURE TOLD HIM THAT HE SHOULD DO TO HER WHAT HE VOWED. WE’RE THEN TOLD THAT AFTER TWO-MONTHS, HER FATHER FOLLOWED THROUGH WITH HIS PROMISE TO YAHUSHA.
NOW OURT OF THE ISSUES THESE FEW PASSAGES BRING UP, THE ONE THAT CAUSES THE MOST CONTROVERSY IS WHETHER OR NOT JEPHTHAH ACTUALLY MADE A HUMAN-SACRIFICE OF HIS DAUGHTER, OR WHETHER HE DID SOMETHING ELSE WITH HER THAT DID NOT INVOLVE HER DEATH, LIKE INSISTING THAT SHE REMAIN A PURE VIRGIN FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE.
IT WAS PROBABLY A HOUSEHOLD SLAVE OR SERVANT THAT JEPHTHAH ASSUMED WOULD GREET HIM, OR EVEN AN ANIMAL. INDEED IN ANCIENT TIMES IT WAS THE STANDARD PROTOCOL FOR THE CHIEF HOUSE-SERVANT TO RACE TO THE MASTER WHEN HE APPROACHED, TO BE THE FIRST TO GREET HIM, WASH THE DUST OFF OF HIS FEET, AND GIVE HIM FOOD AND DRINK. THAT WAS THEIR JOB; TO FAIL AT THAT COULD MEAN SEVERE PUNISHMENT BECAUSE IT WAS CONSIDERED A GREAT INSULT TO NOT OFFER THE MASTER SUCH RESPECT.
OBVIOUSLY JEPHTHAH NEVER IMAGINED HIS OWN DAUGHTER WOULD IN ANY WAY BE INVOLVED. THOSE WHO ARGUE THAT THE BOOK OF HEBREWS WOULDN’T MAKE JEPHTHAH OUT AS A HERO OR EXAMPLE IF HE DID SUCH A DASTARDLY AND UNSCRIPTURAL THING AS MURDERING HIS OWN DAUGHTER, NEED TO CONSIDER THE GREAT PLACE THAT KING DAVID (OR SOLOMON) HOLDS IN SCRIPTURE LITERATURE. THIS IS A MAN SAID TO BE “AFTER YAHUSHA’S OWN HEART”. THIS IS A MAN WHO WAS PROMISED THE THRONE OF THE KINGDOM OF YAHUSHA FOREVER, AND IT WOULD BE ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH MESSIAH HIMSELF. YET HE COMMITTED ADULTERY, MURDER, FORNICATION, HAD MULTIPLE WIVES, PUT THE ARK OF THE BLOOD-COVENANT IN HIS OWN PERSONAL TENT IN HOPES OF GAINING PERSONAL BENEFIT, AND MUCH MORE.
YAHUSHA WILL SHOW MERCY AND FAVOUR TO WHOM HE WILL, AND WILL CHOOSE TO USE WHOM HE CHOOSES TO USE. HOW WE FEEL ABOUT IT, OR HOW WE JUDGE THE CRITERIA OF HIS CHOICE, IS UTTERLY IRRELEVANT TO HIM AND WE NEED TO EXERCISE GREAT CARE IN USING OUR OWN PERSONAL MINDSETS BASED ON MODERN CULTURAL OPINIONS WHEN TRYING TO DETERMINE WHEN OR NOT A SCRIPTURE CHARACTER MERITS EITHER THE SCORN OR THE ADMIRATION ASSIGNED TO THEM BY SET-APART SCRIPTURE.
JEPHTHAH WAS A VERY FLAWED MAN, OPERATING LIKE ALL THE OTHER HEBREWS IN THAT TIME WHO WERE SO TERRIBLY COMPROMISED BY EVIL. HE HAD MIXED PAGAN PRACTICES WITH THE TURAH, CAME TO ALL SORTS OF CONCLUSIONS ABOUT WHAT WAS PROPER WORSHIP AND PROPER SACRIFICE THAT WERE WAY OFF THE MARK, AND YET YAHUSHA USED HIM JUST AS HE WAS FOR KINGDOM PURPOSES. EVERYTHING JEPHTHAH DID WAS NOT GOOD. EVERYTHING JEPHTHAH DID WAS NOT IN OBEDIENCE TO THE SPIRIT OF YAHUSHA. BUT SOME THINGS WERE. SUCH IS THE LIFE OF YAHUSHA'S BRIDE IN THE PROCESS OF BEING PERFECTED. WE FAIL AT TIMES, BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN YAHUSHA DOESN’T LOVE US, OR THAT HE’LL ABANDON US. OUR PROCESS OF TRANSFORMATION AND PERFECTION IS UNDER HIS AUTHORITY AND TIMING, NOT OURS. WE HAVE A GUIDE, A HELPER AND AN OPEN PORTAL DOOR ON OUR HEARTS TO ACCOMPLISH YAHUSHA’S TRAINING PLAN FOR US.
THIS SHORT CHAPTER TIES UP SOME LOOSE ENDS AND BRINGS A SPECIFIC ERA TO A CLOSE. REMEMBER: THE BOOK OF JUDGES IS NOT A BOOK WRITTEN BY ANY ONE PERSON. RATHER IT'S A COMPILATION OF TRADITION AND HISTORY THAT ANCIENT EDITORS HAVE PUT TOGETHER TO GIVE AN ACCURATE ACCOUNT OF THE 300 - 400 YEAR TIME SPAN IN-BETWEEN THE DEATH OF JOSHUA AND THE ANOINTING OF KING SAUL. SO JUST AS A PERSON GIVING AN ACCOUNT OF ANY WARS OR CONFLICTS THROUGHOUT HISTORY WOULD HAVE TO PICK AND CHOOSE WHICH OF THE COUNTLESS EVENTS AND ACTIONS DURING THAT PERIOD WOULD PAINT THE BEST PICTURE OF WHAT HAPPENED, SO HE WOULD HAVE TO WEAVE IT TOGETHER IN A LOGICAL WAY FOR IT TO BE EFFECTIVE AND HAVE MEANING FOR FUTURE READERS. THIS IS WHAT THE BOOK OF JUDGES IS, AND WHY WE EVEN FIND THE NEED FOR WHAT IS WRITTEN DOWN IN THIS CHAPTER HERE.
The men of the Ephraim Tribe got together an army and went across the Jordan River to Zaphon to meet with Jephthah. They said, “Why did you go to war with the Ammonites without asking us to help? Just for that, we’re going to burn down your house with you inside it!”
A FEW CHAPTERS AGO THEY DID THE SAME THING WITH GIDEON REMEMBER? PART OF THE REASON THAT EPHRAIM HAD THIS OVERBLOWN SENSE OF NATIONAL GRANDEUR IS THAT EPHRAIM WAS THE LARGEST OF ALL THE TRIBES, AND HAD A HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE BECAUSE JOSHUA (THE CONQUEROR OF CANAAN) WAS AN EPHRAMITE. THAT SAID THE TRIBE OF JUDAH MIGHT HAVE BEEN ITS EQUAL. SO WHILE EPHRAIM WAS DEFINITELY PREEMINENT IN THE NORTHERN AREA OF CANAAN, JUDAH HELD SWAY IN THE SOUTH. AND WE CAN BE SURE THAT IF EPHRAIM WERE TRULY POWERFUL ENOUGH IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN ON THE TRIBE OF JUDAH.
“But I did ask for your help,” Jephthah answered. “That was back when the people of Gilead and I were having trouble with the Ammonites, and you wouldn’t get off your arses and do a damn thing to help us. So when we realised you didn’t give a toss and weren’t coming, we risked our lives and attacked the Ammonites. And Yahuah let us defeat them. So you can all go back where you came from now and stop trying to get recognition for something you had no part it. Just go, there’s no reason for you to come and attack me.”
But the men from Ephraim said, “You people of Gilead are nothing but refugees from Ephraim, living on land that belongs to the Tribes of Ephraim and Menasseh.”
GIDEON SHOWED HIMSELF TO BE AN ABLE DIPLOMAT AS WELL AS A SUPERB LEADER OF WARRIORS, AND THUS APPEASED EPHRAIM. JEPHTHAH ON THE OTHER HAND IS NOT GIDEON AND HAS NO INTEREST IN GRANTING EPHRAIM’S DEMANDS NOR DOES HE HAVE THE PATIENCE TO GIVE THEIR RIDICULOUS ASSERTIONS ANY CREDIBILITY. JEPHTHAH IS PURE WARRIOR AND WHEN CHALLENGED, REACTS IN ONE WAY: ATTACK. EPHRAIM MADE A FATAL MISTAKE IN JUDGMENT; SAYING THEY WERE GOING TO KILL JEPHTHAH AND HIS WHOLE HOUSEHOLD FOR SUPPOSEDLY INSULTING EPHRAIM BY NOT CONSULTING THEM REGARDING THE WAR WITH AMMON.
NO DOUBT THIS ACCUSATION BROUGHT UP A LONG HELD BURNING BITTERNESS WITHIN JEPHTHAH AS HE HAD BEEN EXILED FROM YISHARAL BECAUSE HIS MOTHER WAS A PROSTITUTE. HE HAD BEEN BANISHED FROM HIS OWN FAMILY BECAUSE THEY SAW HIS STATUS AS TOO LOWLY. IT WAS THIS EXILE THAT CAUSED HIM TO PUT TOGETHER HIS BAND OF BANDITS AND RAID YISHARALITE AND OTHER CARAVANS TO MAKE A LIVING; AND THEN LATER THE LEADING MEN OF YISHARAL (WHEN THEY WERE IN DIRE STRAITS) ASKED JEPHTHAH TO COME HOME AND USE HIS ARMY TO FIGHT FOR THEM. IT WAS JEPHTHAH’S BAND THAT WAS NOW THE LEAD TROOPS IN ENDING AMMON’S OPPRESSION OVER YISHARAL BUT EPHRAIM (WHO DIDN’T EVEN PARTICIPATE IN THE BATTLE) SAYS THAT THE MEN OF GILEAD WERE NEVER WORTHY OF SUCH A TASK (THEY'RE NOT LETTING THEM HAVE IT!)
So Jephthah called together the army of Gilead, then they attacked and defeated the army from Ephraim, then posted guards at all the places where the soldiers from Ephraim could cross the Jordan River to return to their own land. Whenever one of the men from Ephraim would try to cross the river, the guards would say, “Are you from Ephraim?”
“Hell No,” the man would answer, “I’m not from Ephraim.”
Then as a test, the guards would get them to say the word “Shibboleth,” because they knew that the people of Ephraim couldn’t pronounce that word properly, and would say “Sibboleth” instead. And if they did mis-pronounce the word, the guards would grab them and kill them right then and there. And altogether, forty-two thousand men from Ephraim were killed in the battle and at the Jordan.
SHIBBOLETH, LIKE SO MANY HEBREW WORDS, HAS TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT MEANINGS. IT CAN MEAN AN EAR OF CORN OR IT COULD MEAN THE FLOOD OF A STREAM; ITS USE DEPENDED ON ITS CONTEXT. SINCE THE CONTEXT HERE IS THAT THIS QUESTIONING TOOK PLACE AT THE FORDS OF THE RIVER JORDAN, IT’S OBVIOUS THAT THE MEANING WAS “FLOOD OF A STREAM” AND NOT “EAR OF CORN”.
SO WHAT WE SEE IS THAT THE SPLIT AMONG THE YISHARALITE TRIBES HAD BECOME SO SERIOUS, DEEP AND HAD DEVELOPED OVER SUCH A LONG PERIOD OF TIME THAT EACH TRIBE (OR COALITION OF TRIBES) HAD BY NOW EVEN GAINED THEIR OWN VARIED DIALECTS OF THE SAME LANGUAGE. APPARENTLY THE EPHRAIMITES HAD LOST THEIR ABILITY TO PRONOUNCE THE LETTER SHIN, WHICH IS THE “SH” SOUND, AND INSTEAD COULD ONLY SAY IT AS AN “S” SOUND. THIS DEAD GIVE-AWAY PROVED TO BE FATAL.
And Jephthah was a leader of Yisharal for six years, before he died and was buried in his hometown Mizpah in Gilead.
IBZAN, the next leader of Yisharal, came from Bethlehem, had thirty daughters and thirty sons, and he let them all marry outside his Clan. Ibzan was a leader for seven years, before he died and was buried in Bethlehem.
ELON from the Zebulun Tribe was the next leader of Yisharal. He was a leader for ten years, before he died and was buried in Aijalon that belonged to the Zebulun Tribe.
ABDON the son of Hillel was the next leader of Yisharal. He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, and each one of them had his own donkey. Abdon was a leader for eight years, before he died and was buried in his hometown of Pirathon, which is located in the part of the hill country of Ephraim where Amalekites used to live.
IT'S STILL BAFFLING TO ME THAT A MAN SO POWERFUL IN BATTLE AND FULL OF YAHUSHA'S SPIRIT AS YISHARAL'S JUDGE, COULD HAVE SO MUCH IDOLATRY AND SUPERSTITION INGRAINED IN HIM THAT HE WOULD A). MAKE SUCH AS RIDICULOUS PROMISE (ALMOST LIKE A BARGAINING CHIP TO YAHUSHA) . . . AND THEN B) WHEN SEEING HIS DAUGHTER RUN OUT TO GREET HIM, HAVE SO LITTLE UNDERSTANDING OF JUST WHO YAHUSHA IS THAT HE ASSUMES HE'S DOING A GOOD THING, A THING THAT YAHUSHA WANTS, BY FOLLOWING THROUGH AND MAKING HER A SACRIFICE !!!
CAN YOU SEE WHY BEING LED AND INSPIRED BY YAHUSHA MOMENT BY MOMENT, DAY BY DAY IS SO VITAL FOR NOT ONLY OUR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH, BUT ALSO FOR OUR DELIVERANCE, BECAUSE HOW MANY WEIRD, WACKY, IRRATIC, FLY - BY - THE - SEAT - OF - OUR - PANTS, EMOTIONAL DECISIONS HAVE WE MADE IN OUR LIFE (MAYBE WE STILL DO), AND THE ONLY GOOD WE CAN DO NOW IN THESE FLESHLY VESSELS OF FILTH AND CHAOS IS TO HEAR THE SOFTNESS AND CRYSTAL CLEAR CLARITY OF YAHUSHA'S THOUGHTS TO US, AND RESPOND TO HIM IN OBEDIENCE AND LOVE . . . FOR ALL ELSE IS FROM THE EVIL ONE!
And just as Jephthah just assumed that Yahusha would punish him and curse him if he didn't follow through on his stupid vow (clearly he has no idea just Who Yahusha is or how He feels about innocent bloodshed) . . . we too can live our lives (even once immersed) listening to counterfeit spirits, personal confidants, our dark traveller - hissing words in our ears about how cruel and horrible Yahusha and His people are, His process, His ways . . . i mean does He really even love you if you don't do this or that, what use are you if you don't suffer and be His slave . . . do you hear these sort of thoughts brothers & sisters . . . best to face where they come from and stop listening to them.
IT'S PASSOVER RIGHT NOW AND THE AGONY YOU'RE GOING THROUGH IS YAHUSHA REVEALING ALL THE LEAVEN (BEHAVIOUR) IN YOU THAT HE HATES, THAT'S STOPPING YOU AND YOUR HOME AND BUSINESS FROM EXPERIENCING HIS PRESENCE AND ANNOINTING LIKE YOU COULD . . .