Judges 11:8: Jephthah's Call Renewed and Pressed

Verse 8:[1] (Judg. 10:18) And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we (Luke 17:4) turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.


[For this very reason we come to thee now, שַׁ֣בְנוּ אֵלֶ֔יךָ] We have returned to thee (Junius and Tremellius, Drusius), in the place of, we come. A composite in the place of a simple; like, transire, to go over, in the place of ire, to go, and respondere, to respond, in the place of loqui, to speak, even with no one asking (Drusius). Or, to return is to be referred to the soul; that is to say, we have commuted our determination and decree (Martyr). On that account we come, that is, so that we might cause the inflicted injury to be forgotten by a signal benefit (Piscator). That is to say, We acknowledge that we have sinned, and so we will offset the injury: or thus; It is as thou sayest, Compelled by necessity we come to thee, so that thou mightest free us from the Ammonites (Bonfrerius).


Therefore we turn again to thee now; being sensible that we have done thee injury, we come now to make time full reparations.


[And that thou mightest be the leader of all that dwell in Gilead] That is, of the Trans-jordanian Tribes. Initially the Principate of these alone was committed to him (Bonfrerius, Serarius); but after the victory over the Ammonites (and the punishment of the Ephraimites [Bonfrerius]), the other Tribes also accepted him as their Leader (Lapide). For, in Judges 12:7 it is said that he judged Israel six years. And he is enumerated in the same order/class as the remaining Judges, 1 Samuel 12:11; Hebrews 11:32 (Bonfrerius out of Serarius). Question: How was it lawful for them to give the Principate to Jephthah, and for him to accept it, since he was a Bastard? See Deuteronomy 23:2. Responses: 1. By an oracle they were advised to choose as Prince the one that had first strengthened himself against their enemies; and so by law they were freed from the covenant and judgment of God Himself (Martyr). God is to be thought to be the author of this calling in an extraordinary manner, from the promise of the Gileadites in Judges 10:18; for perhaps, and it is even probable that, they had already a number of times rushed upon the Ammonites (Malvenda out of Junius on verse 3. 2. When two precepts of God appear to oppose one another, in such a way that one hinders the other, which it shall be judged is to be retained as more weighty and important; as it is evident from the labor undertaken on the Sabbath when an enemy besieges the city, and from this, that David ate the showbread, with necessity urging.[2] There is a law, that the Church is not to be deprived of ministers; and there is another law that a Novice should not be made Bishop:[3] Nevertheless, the Church of Milan, since it was not able to find another more suitable, rightly chose Ambrose, a Novice and a Catechumen. God desires mercy, not sacrifice.[4] So now, since two laws press, one to defend the city from strangers, but the other, that a bastard should not be made Magistrate, that law is to be kept which was better for the salvation of the city (Martyr). Necessity at that time was demanding some good man as Leader, and there was no other at hand: And God willed to accommodate that law concerning Bastards to the advantage of the people, and to relax it in some measure (Serarius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּאמְרוּ֩ זִקְנֵ֙י גִלְעָ֜ד אֶל־יִפְתָּ֗ח לָכֵן֙ עַתָּה֙ שַׁ֣בְנוּ אֵלֶ֔יךָ וְהָלַכְתָּ֣ עִמָּ֔נוּ וְנִלְחַמְתָּ֖ בִּבְנֵ֣י עַמּ֑וֹן וְהָיִ֤יתָ לָּ֙נוּ֙ לְרֹ֔אשׁ לְכֹ֖ל יֹשְׁבֵ֥י גִלְעָֽד׃


[2] 1 Samuel 21:1-9.


[3] 1 Timothy 3:6.


[4] Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13; 12:7.

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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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