Continuing a plan to get through the entire Bible in a year, follow as I journal through the reading. I have chosen a straightforward approach that begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. This will not be an in-depth study or a comprehensive commentary. There are plenty of sources for such material. This is stage one Bible reading, taking the text at face value and sharing impressions.
Today’s reading comes from the book of Judges, chapters 10 through 12, the tragic tale of Jephthah. Some impressions from the text:
- Apparently, there were long periods in Israel’s history which were fairly uneventful, meriting only passing mention in scripture. Tola judged Israel for twenty-three years, and Jair judged for twenty-two years. Nothing else is mentioned of their reigns.
- Israel once again rebels, turning from God to serve the false idols of the surrounding nations. Again, God’s anger flares against them and he allows them to be captured and oppressed by their enemies. Once again, they cry out to him for help. But this time, He does not immediately oblige, citing the pattern of disobedience in spite of continual deliverance. Grace has its limits.
- Jephthah rises up from obscurity to lead Israel, again fitting God’s model of using lowly and unlikely men to fulfill his purposes.
- When the king of the Ammonites camps against Israel, he brings a grievance. “Israel on coming up from Egypt took away my land, from the Arnon to the Jabbok and to the Jordan; now therefore restore it peaceably.” Jephthah answers by recounting the true history, and attributing Israel’s victory to God. “Will you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess?” That’s some epic trolling right there.
- Jephthah’s vow to make a burnt offering of whatever comes out of his house to meet him was obviously quite reckless. What did he think was going to happen? To his credit, he followed through on the vow and offered up his daughter. To her credit, she submitted. This is one of those stories which is hard for us to reconcile with our modern sensibilities, but serves to remind us that we should be careful of what we promise, especially when we promise it to God.
Return soon as we continue our year-long journey through the text of the Bible.
Catch up on the previous entries:
Israel drifts away after Joshua’s passing. – Judges 1 and 2
Judges and assassinations. – Judges 3 through 5
Gideon’s absurd victory over Midian. – Judges 6 and 7
The rise and fall of Abimelech. – Judges 8 and 9