Judges 11:3: Jephthah's Worthless Crew

Verse 3:[1] Then Jephthah fled from (Heb. from the face of[2]) his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered (Judg. 9:4; 1 Sam. 22:2) vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him.


[He, fleeing them, וַיִּבְרַ֤ח יִפְתָּח֙ מִפְּנֵ֣י אֶחָ֔יו] And he fled from the face of his brethren (Montanus), that is, on account of fear of his brethren (Vatablus).


[In the land of Tob (thus Pagnine, Montanus, Junius and Tremellius)] Tob is the name of a man (Munster). In the province of Tob, that is, over which a certain man by the name of Tob was in charge (Vatablus). Or Tob is the name of a region (Drusius out of Eusebius, Lapide, Junius). It was situated in the land of Gilead. Thus Josephus[3] and Adrichomius (Lapide, Bonfrerius). Not far from the Ammonites was the entry to the desert of Arabia. See 2 Samuel 10:6, 8; 1 Maccabees 5:13[4] (Piscator out of Junius).


[בְּאֶ֣רֶץ ט֑וֹב] In a good land (Syriac). This land was certainly good to Jephthah, because it benignly received and nourished him fleeing (Lapide). In a certain fertile region (Arabic).


The land of Tob, the name either of the land or territory, or of the man who was the owner or ruler of it. This place was in or near Gilead, as appears by the speedy intercourse which here was between Jephthah and the Israelites.


[And there were gathered unto him needy men, אֲנָשִׁ֣ים רֵיקִ֔ים] Men empty, or vain (most interpreters), that is, idle (Vatablus).


Vain men; idle persons, who desire to get their living rather by spoil and rapine, than by honest and diligent labour. These evil-minded persons Jephthah managed well, employing them against the enemies of God and of Israel that bordered upon them; and particularly, upon parties of the Ammonites, which made the Israelites more forward to choose him for their chieftain in this war.


[They were following] They made for his regions (Vatablus). Hebrew: they went out with him,[5] suppose, for military expeditions, which Jephthah, a man exiled and fugitive, was compelled to undertake for a tolerable life: by the report of which sallies and excursions the Gileadites were induced to put him in charge over them (Piscator out of Junius). They were taking booty, but only just booty, suppose, from the Ammonites and Philistines; like those that were following David, 1 Samuel 22; 23 (Lapide, Lyra, Bonfrerius, Estius). There is not anything said here of Jephthah that is not elsewhere said of David (Estius). They went out with him, either, to battle, or, from the city of Gilead, to seek new habitations (Drusius).


Went out with him, when he made excursions and attempts upon his and their enemies.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּבְרַ֤ח יִפְתָּח֙ מִפְּנֵ֣י אֶחָ֔יו וַיֵּ֖שֶׁב בְּאֶ֣רֶץ ט֑וֹב וַיִּֽתְלַקְּט֤וּ אֶל־יִפְתָּח֙ אֲנָשִׁ֣ים רֵיקִ֔ים וַיֵּצְא֖וּ עִמּֽוֹ׃


[2] Hebrew: מִפְּנֵי.


[3] Antiquities 5:8.


[4] 1 Maccabees 5:13: “Yea, all our brethren that were in the places of Tobie are put to death: their wives and their children also they have carried away captives, and borne away their stuff; and they have destroyed there about a thousand men.”


[5] Hebrew: וַיֵּצְא֖וּ עִמּֽוֹ׃.

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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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