Judges 11:11: Jephthah Appointed Leader before the Lord

Verse 11:[1] Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him (Judg. 11:8) head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words (Judg. 10:17; 20:1; 1 Sam. 10:17; 11:15) before the LORD in Mizpeh.


[And they made him…the prince of them] That is, of the Gileadites: they did not await victory: so that they might demonstrate their goodwill to Jephthah, and show their complete trust in him, and render him more eager for war (Menochius out of Tostatus).

[He spoke his words, אֶת־כָּל־דְּבָרָיו] All his words (Pagnine, Montanus, Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic). The sense is, either, 1. he entrusted the business of this war to God by prayer (Bonfrerius out of Serarius); or, 2. he reviewed all the words spoken above, and the previously mentioned conditions (Vatablus, Junius, similarly Serarius, Lapide, Bonfrerius). His own counsel concerning the war, and a summary this legation, so that what things were done might be confirmed, and what was to be done afterwards might be established (Menochius).


Jephthah uttered all his words, objectively so called; that is, all that was spoken, not only by him, but also by the elders of Gilead concerning him, and concerning this whole transaction, and the conditions of it; or, all his matters, the whole business.


[Before the Lord in Mizpeh (thus Pagnine, Montanus, Septuagint)] What is that, before the Lord? Responses: 1. Before the assembly, or, with the people hearing (Vatablus, Piscator, Malvenda). For, in the midst of Israelite assemblies God was supposed to be present, Deuteronomy 6:25 and elsewhere (Serarius, Menochius). See Matthew 18:20 (Malvenda). 2. By invoking God as a witness of the covenant (Lapide, Bonfrerius), and with the oath added (Bonfrerius). 3. Before the Altar, which, as it appears, they erected there, so that they might in a holy manner confirm this covenant (Lapide). Mizpeh was the place where the Kings that were going to fight with Joshua had gathered, and because of the signal victory obtained there[2] the custom obtained in Israel to assemble there, where there was also an Altar, and a house of prayer (Kimchi in Drusius, Munster). 4. Before the Priest clothed with the Ephod and Breastplate; for he was representing God, and he, consulting Him, was receiving oracles for the Prince[3] (Lapide). Now, the High Priest either by chance was present, or had been summoned, so that God might be consulted concerning the success of the war (Bonfrerius).


Before the Lord, that is, before the public congregation, wherewith God was usually and then especially present: see Exodus 20:24; Deuteronomy 6:25; Matthew 18:10. Or, before the altar, which possibly they did erect upon this special occasion, by God’s permission. Or, in God’s presence, calling him to be present, as a witness and judge between them.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֵּ֤לֶךְ יִפְתָּח֙ עִם־זִקְנֵ֣י גִלְעָ֔ד וַיָּשִׂ֙ימוּ הָעָ֥ם אוֹת֛וֹ עֲלֵיהֶ֖ם לְרֹ֣אשׁ וּלְקָצִ֑ין וַיְדַבֵּ֙ר יִפְתָּ֧ח אֶת־כָּל־דְּבָרָ֛יו לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָ֖ה בַּמִּצְפָּֽה׃


[2] Joshua 11.


[3] See Numbers 27:18-23; 1 Samuel 28:6.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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