Jephthah’s Call to Leadership

At a mine disaster in West Virginia Phil Donahue, a young televison reporter, arrived just as the local pastor arrived. He was rough-hewn, and didn’t speak well but gathered all the families in a circle, and they held each other in their arms while he prayed for them. As they wer … More


The eighth judge of Israel was a man of great character, by the name of Jephthah. In his early life he was despised by his half-brothers as an illegitimate son of their father and he became an outcast and was exiled to the land of Tob (vv. 1-5). It was a normal practice to send away illegitimate children in those days so they would not share in the inheritance. Jephthah acquired the skills of a fighter and became notorious for his ability to wage war. It was this reputation that caused the tribes to contact him when they desperately needed a leader against the Ammonites (v. 6). He would not accept their invitation until they solemnly pledged full allegiance (v. 7). The elders of Gilead had swallowed their pride in approaching him to be their leader and he was not going to let pride stand in his way (vv. 8-11). While his self-seeking impulse is evident, his strong faith in God is also evident.

Jephthah’s first act as a statesman was to accuse Ammon of violating their territorial borders (v. 12). His accusation was countered by the Ammonites who claimed that the region had originally belonged to them and they had the right to get it back (v. 13). Jephthah then went into a detailed statement of history defending Israel’s right to its territory east of Jordan (vv. 14-17). They had no claim to it.


What I am is more important than where I have come from. Many people today depend more on their degrees than on their character. A good question to ask is - What am I doing now that will cause people to listen to what I have to say in the future?

Judges 11:1-17 (English Standard Version)

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