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Wednesday, August 10 2011
Jephthah, from the Hebrew name pronounced yif-tawkh (notice how actual Biblical names in Hebrew are often very different than their English renderings), meaning he breaks through, or God sets free, was a "school of hard knocks" deliverer of Israel during the era of the Judges i.e. the few centuries between the death of Joshua (see Joshua's Timnath) to the establishment of the Israelite monarchy in the time of Samuel (see The Civil War Kings). Jephthah was the son of a harlot who was driven away by his "legitimate" brothers.
"11:1 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah.
Later, when the weak, hypocrite leaders of the Israelites found that they were unable to defend themselves from the Ammonites, "the elders of Gilead [the area east of the Jordan that was given to the Israelite tribes of Gad, Reuben and half of Manasseh; see also Beyond Jordan] went to fetch Jephthah" from the wilderness.
"11:4 And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel.
"Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah"
After the Ammonites ignored Jephthah's warning to back off, Jephthah attacked and led the Israelites to a great victory ("the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel"). The victory was the direct result of "the spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah" (see also Who Has A Spirit Of Confrontation?) and a vow that Jephthah made to the LORD: "If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands ... whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me ... I will offer it up for a burnt offering."
"11:28 Howbeit the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent him.
Notice that Jephthah didn't say whosever, but whatsoever "cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me." Ancient houses often had an attached "barn," so he was obviously speaking of an animal to "offer up for a burnt offering" - as was the custom. It was nevertheless not a good choice of words; he should have been more specific when making a sacred vow to the LORD. Jephthah's daughter, his only child, not some animal, was the first to come out. While the result was horrendous (no one was more horrified than Jephthah himself), it should be kept in mind that the LORD permitted it to be done (does anyone wish to accuse the LORD of doing something wrong?) and that Jephthah's daughter will one day have her life restored to her, by the coming resurrection. Like all of the rest of the dead, she (her name was not recorded) was not "lost" (see the Fact Finder question below).
"11:34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. 11:35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.
Jephthah was also involved in the famous "Shibboleth" and "Sibboleth" incident that demonstrated that, even then, pronunciation differences within the Israelites were evident (just as in the time of Christ that those from Galilee could be recognized, from their accent alone, by people in the south i.e. "26:73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee" Matthew 26:73 KJV).
"12:1 And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire.
The former outcast Jephthah led Israel for six years before he died and "was buried in one of the cities of Gilead."
"12:7 And Jephthah judged Israel six years.
Fact Finder: Where is Jephthah's daughter right now? When will she be restored to life?
This Day In History, August 10
410: Alaric the Visigoth captured Rome.
757: Aethelbald, king of the Mercians from 716, died. He became a chief king of a confederation including all of the Anglo-Saxon (Saxony is in Germany; the Anglos were a tribe of the Saxons) kingdoms between the Humber River and the English Channel. By 736, he was signing himself as the "king of Britain."
955: King Otto I of Germany defeated the Magyars at the Battle of Lechfeld, ending a possible invasion.
1519: Ferdinand Magellan's 5 ships set sail to circumnavigate the Earth.
1557: The French army lost more than 14,000 men when they tried to block a Spanish army under Count Egmont at the Battle of Saint Quentin in the Spanish-French Wars. The Spaniards lost just 50.
1582: Russia ended its 25-year war with Poland.
1627: France's Cardinal Richelieu began the siege of the Huguenot fortress at La Rochelle with royal troops.
1675: The foundation stone of the Royal Observatory was laid at Greenwich in south London by order of King Charles II to improve knowledge of the positions of stars and thus aid navigation. John Flamsteed became the first Astronomer Royal.
1792: King Louis XVI of France was arrested after a mob stormed the Tuileries in Paris.
1804: Francis II became emperor of Austria-Hungary.
1846: The Smithsonian Institution was established in Washington as a center for scientific research. It was created from funds left at the bequest of British scientist James Smithson.
1876: Alexander Graham Bell made the world's first "long distance" telephone call, from Brantford to Paris, Ontario, Canada, a distance of 8 miles. Bell spoke with his father, Melville, and the conversation lasted 3 hours (Daily Bible Study is written about 10 miles from the Bell Homestead in Brantford, which is now a museum).
1911: The House of Lords in Great Britain gave up its veto power, making the House of Commons the more powerful House.
1913: The Treaty of Bucharest ended the Second Balkan War.
1920: The Treaty of Sevres was signed between Turkey and the Allied powers after the First World War, relieving Turkey of much of the land ruled by the Ottoman Empire (listen to our sermons The Ottoman Empire and The European World Wars).
1954: A ground-breaking ceremony was held at Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, New York, officially starting the St. Lawrence Seaway project. Construction of the 3,790 km. waterway took 5 years and opened Canadian and U.S. ports on the Great Lakes to ocean traffic.
1964: Pope Paul VI issued his first encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam, which stated his willingness to "mediate" in international disputes.
1966: A daylight meteor was seen from the northern U.S. to Canada. It was the only documented case of a meteor entering the Earth's atmosphere and leaving it again.
1977: In Yonkers, New York, David Berkowitz, a 24-year-old postal employee, was arrested for the "Son of Sam" killings in the New York City.
1993: A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the South Island of New Zealand.
2003: A temperature of 38.5 Celsius (101.3 Fahrenheit) became the highest ever recorded in the United Kingdom - the first time over 38 C. / 100 F.
2003: Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko became the first person to marry in space. His wife was on earth, 240 miles below.