Title: Judges 10. Jephthah, part 1: Confession without repentance.
This beginning, JDG 10:6-18 serves as the introduction to both the judgeships of Jephthah and Samson.
JDG 10:7 And the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the sons of Ammon.
The oppression of the Philistines and Ammon are simultaneous. The historian will first deal with the Ammonite oppression and then the Philistine.
JDG 10:8 And they afflicted and crushed the sons of Israel that year; for eighteen years they afflicted all the sons of Israel who were beyond the Jordan in Gilead in the land of the Amorites.
JDG 10:9 And the sons of Ammon crossed the Jordan to fight also against Judah, Benjamin, and the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was greatly distressed.
The Ammonites afflicted Israel on the eastern side in what came to be known as Gilead, who was a descendant of Manasseh, and which was also known as the land of the Amorites, for it used to belong to the Amorite kings Sihon and Og, but Moses and Israel defeated both of those kingdoms and possessed the land (this fact will become important later in the narrative of Jephthah). The Ammonites are also making excursions across the Jordan and invading places in Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim, in the manner of the Midianites we saw in Gideon's time.
Simultaneously, the Philistines are oppressing Israel in the south west, which oppression would go on for 40 years and would come to an end at the battle of Ebenezer under Samuel in 1Sa 7.
Ammon is on the east side of the Jordan, while Philistia is on the west side. The Philistines occupied the south west coast and spread into the plains due to the richness of the soil. Remember, Israel was not able to drive them out of the plains and so when Israel was strong under the judge in the years of peace, they lived among the foreigners and when Israel was weak in apostasy, the foreigners oppressed them. In this case the oppression of the Philistines in the west and the Ammonites in the east was extremely severe. Ammon was strong enough against the trans-Jordan tribes (Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben) that they were emboldened to cross the Jordan and invade Judah and Benjamin, which are mentioned for the first time as being "greatly distressed."
In verse eight, the hammer came down all in one year and then the Philistines and the Ammonites oppressed them for eighteen years.
Finally, after 18 years, Israel cries out to the Lord.
JDG 10:10 Then the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, "We have sinned against Thee, for indeed, we have forsaken our God and served the Baals."
God gives them a history lesson.
The people most likely came to Shiloh, to the Tabernacle and inquired of the high priest who is probably Eli as a young man. Eli inquired of God on their behalf and so the Lord spoke through him.
It would be very interesting to know just how many in Israel even knew of their history. The Pentateuch is written and has been known so there is no excuse. In our day, quite a few people, especially the young, don't know very much American history. Would it be so different in apostate Israel? They were commanded to teach all of it to their sons, but if they are this apostate against the law, why would they keep that specific command?
JDG 10:11 And the Lord said to the sons of Israel, "Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians [1 - Exodus], the Amorites [2 - NUM 21:3], the sons of Ammon [3 - Ammon joined Moab in JDG 3:12-14], and the Philistines [4 - Shamgar: JDG 3:31]?
JDG 10:12 "Also when the Sidonians [5 - JDG 18:7, 28], the Amalekites [6 - EXO 17:8-16; when Moses held his hands up] and the Maonites [7 - the Septuagint has "Midianites" which is probably the correct reading] oppressed you, you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hands.
The irony is that God had delivered Israel from being oppressed by these very same nations and they had afterwards willingly allowed themselves to be oppressed in their souls by their cult religions.
The fact that God lists seven nations is significant. He delivered them from seven nations and they put themselves under the control of seven false gods. As we know, the number seven has significance in the Bible. By mentioning the seven nations that God had delivered Israel from, the writer, inspired as he is by God the Holy Spirit, is putting forth the fact that God completed perfect grace upon Israel. God filled up His grace and poured it out upon Israel. Then, by Israel worshipping the gods of the seven nations, is purring forth that Israel filled up her iniquity. So, as much as God was gracious so Israel was sinful.
Seven is the number of perfection and completion. Israel had balanced the number of divine deliverances by a similar number of idols which it served. Their iniquity filled up the same proportion as the measure of God's grace.
When God employs "seven" in the scriptures, He is putting His stamp of perfect completion upon His work. They completed iniquity while God completed grace and mercy.
JDG 10:13 Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will deliver you no more.
JDG 10:14 Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress."
And He will say, 'Where are their gods,
The rock in which they sought refuge?
'Who ate the fat of their sacrifices,
And drank the wine of their libation?
Let them rise up and help you,
Let them be your hiding place!
Almost all of this song is a warning to Israel to not forsake the Lord.
It is a sobering reality to discover that that which you worship is empty and powerless. Repentance cannot be in word only, it must be followed by action. There will be no deliverance until the idols are actually discarded.
They have verbally repented while still possessing their little idols. Repentance is a change in mind. If the mind changes how can the conduct not change? If I set off on a course to do something and then say I changed my mind, but then go on and do it anyway, I'm a liar.
None of us walk into the Christian life with a complete knowledge of the will of God. We carry with us a large amount of erroneous ideas about what is good and what is evil. Yet, by the grace of God, since we possess the Holy Spirit within us and the word of God is available to us, the word and the Spirit transform our thinking.
The Spirit and the word literally change our thinking into conformity with the will of God.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove [dokimazo] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
We prove to ourselves that the will of God is good, well pleasing [literal translation of euarestos], and perfect.
Good - flows from truth. It is guidance, confidence, purpose, singular of mind.
Good is a function of the truth. No longer confused about good and evil, what is truly good is no longer a mystery. This means that I have guidance and purpose. It also means that I am singular of mind or eye and so there is no longer conflict in my soul.
Acceptable - euarestos = well-pleasing. A heart full of joy, contentment.