Jephthah the Gileadite, was born the illegitimate son of a prostitute. Gilead, his dad brought him into his family. The child had a home with his father. I can't see this being a reality in our modern family life today, can you? At a time when polygamy and concubines seem to be the norm in Israelite family life, there was still the need for prostitutes!
Whatever Gilead's reputation was, he showed integrity by having his son part of his family. It did cause problems, but then, that can only be expected. Jephthah was a leader in many ways, he attracted people around him and they followed him. His leadership was noticed by his elders and they sought him out even when "they had driven him from his fathers house". 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated all his words before the LORD in Mizpah (means Watchtower). (This is the same place where Samuel was later to judge from. Further reading Genesis 31:48-50 & I Sam7 :6). He had a clear focus of his nations history and could talk it through succinctly with other tribal leaders. More importantly he brought the matter to the Lord.
29-31Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: "If you give the Ammonites into my hands,whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering."
The sad part of the story was making an unnecessary vow to the Lord. It was an overzealous response to the "Spirit of the LORD". He should have put a "watchtower" over his mouth! God did not require the vow, but Jephthah nevertheless made it, and his daughter paid it. "Whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me" Maybe he thought his dog would be the first to greet him, would he seriously have sacrificed a dog to God? I can't see that being the case. Jephthah may have thought of "whatever" but with God, sacrifice is always a "whoever". God is never glib about a life, be it human or animal.
The bargaining appeal to the Lord is not lost on church settings that encourages rash vows by inducing guilt "for the unreached" or throw "seed/greed money" for the grandeur of "prosperity living". They do not honor the gospel of grace.
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