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Jephthah's encounter with, and slaughter of the Ephraimites, ver. 1 - 6.
His death, ver. 7
A short account of three other judges, ver. 8 - 15.
1: Northward - Over Jordan, where Jephthah was, in the
northern part of the land beyond Jordan. And said - Through pride and
envy, contending with him as they did before with Gideon. Over - Not
over Jordan, for there he was already; but over the borders of the
Israelites land beyond Jordan.
2: When I called - Hence it appears, that he had craved their
assistance, which they had denied; though that be not elsewhere expressed.
3: Put my life - That is, I exposed myself to the utmost danger; as a
man that carries a brittle and precious thing in his hand, which may easily
either fall to the ground, or be snatched from him. Wherefore - Why do you
thus requite my kindness in running such hazards to preserve you and yours?
4: Ye Gileadites - These words are a contemptuous expression of the
Ephraimites concerning the Gileadites, whom they call fugitives of
Ephraim; the word Ephraim being here taken largely, as it comprehends
the other neighbouring tribes, of which Ephraim was the chief; and
especially their brethren of Manasseh, who lived next to them, and were
descended from the same father, Joseph. By Gileadites here they seem
principally to mean the Manassites beyond Jordan, who dwelt in
Gilead. And although other Gileadites were joined with them, yet
they vent their passion against these; principally, because they envied them
most; as having had a chief hand in the victory. These they opprobriously
call fugitives, that is, such as had deserted their brethren of
Ephraim and Manasseh, planted themselves beyond Jordan, at a
distance from their brethren, and were alienated in affection from them.
5: Said Nay - To avoid the present danger.
6: Shibboleth - Which signifies a stream or river, which they
desired to pass over: so it was a word proper for the occasion, and gave
them no cause to suspect the design, because they were required only to
express their desire to go over the Shibboleth or river.
Sibboleth - It is well known, that not only divers nations, but divers
provinces, or parts of the same nation who use the same language, differ in
their manner of pronunciation. Could not frame - Or rather, he did
not frame to speak right; so as he was required to do it.
The Hebrew text doth not say, that he could not do it, but that he
did it not, because suspecting not the design he uttered it speedily
according to his manner of expression. There fell - Not in that place, but
in that expedition, being slain either in the battle, or in the pursuit, or
at Jordan. See the justice of God! They had gloried, that they were
Ephraimites: But how soon are they afraid to own their country?
They had called the Gileadites, fugitives: And now they are in good
earnest become fugitives themselves. It is the same word, ver.(5), used
of the Ephraimites that fled, which they had used in scorn of the
Gileadites. He that rolls the stone, or reproach unjustly on another,
it may justly return upon himself.
9: Took in - That is, took them home for wives to his sons. What a
difference between his and his predecessor's family! Ibzan had sixty
children, and all married: Jephthah but one, and she dies unmarried.
Some are increased, others diminished: all is the Lord's doing.
15: Mount of the Amalekites - So called from some remarkable exploit,
done by, or upon the Amalekites in that place. It is strange, that in
the history of all these judges, there is not so much as once mention of
the high - priest, or of any other priest or Levite, appearing either for
council or action in any public affair, from Phinehas to Eli, which
may well be computed two hundred and fifty years! Surely this intimates,
that the institution was chiefly intended to be typical, and that the
benefits which were promised by it, were to be chiefly looked for in its
anti - type, the everlasting priesthood of Christ, in comparison of which that
priesthood had no glory.