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against the Canaanites, and took from them many horses and chariots, he was commanded to hough or ham-string the horses, and burn the chariots with fire; and when Barak and Deborah delivered Israel from Sisera, who had nine hundred chariots of iron, it is expressly said that Barak was sent on foot into the valley ; for God had taken the defence of Israel upon himself, and whenever the people took it out of his hands and placed it in their own, they were sure to be undone; for the LORD of Hosts wanted neither horse nor foot to fight His battles.
During the government of Jair the people went greatly astray, worshipping all manner of idols that were amongst the neighbouring people; by this means they not only provoked God, but exposed themselves to the derision and contempt of all the world, as it proved the fickleness of their tempers.
JEPHTHAH APPOINTED TO DELIVER ISRAEL.
From Judges, Chap. x, xi, And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him.
And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.
And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel eighteen years, all the children of Israel that
were on the other side Jordan, in the land of the Ame: rites, which is in Gilead.
Moreover, the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed.
And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, we have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.
And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines?
The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites did oppress you, and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand.
Yet ye have forsaken me and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go, and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen : let them deliver you in the time of your
tribulation. And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned : do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee ; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day.
And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the Lorn: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel,
Then the children of Ammon were gathered toge. ther, and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh.
And the people and princes of Gilead said one to an. other, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon? he shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.
Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of Gilead. And Gilead's wife bare him sons: and his wife's sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father's house ; for thou art the son of a strange woman,
Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him. And it came to pass,
process of time, that the chil. dren of Ammon made war against Israel. And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob.
And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Am
And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye
hate me, and expel me out of my father's house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress ?
And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we 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 Gileari.
And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the Lord deliver tliem before me, shall I be your
head? And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The Lord be witness between us, if we do not so aocording to thy words.
Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and VOL. II.
Jephthah uttered all his words before the Lord in Mizpeh.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
We find from this section, that the corruptions, which began to take place in the time of Jair, grew to so enormous a height, as to bring down the anger of Gon, who suffered the Israelites to be greatly oppressed. They seem to have been uncommonly humbled by this affliction, and to have repented with that contri. tion and sincerity, which are pleasing to God; who is said to have felt such compassion for them, that His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel. From what has been observed before, concerning God's repenting, &c. we may understand, that the ALMIGHTY shewed such kindness towards the Israelites, as effectually comforted, relieved, and encouraged them ; in the same manner as the sympathizing tenderness of a benevolent anil powerful friend softens calamity, and restores peace and happiness to the afflicted heart. We must not suppose that God really felt grief, for this can never happen.
Prudence required that Jephthah should make conditions for his own security, as he had received ill usage sufficient to justify his suspicions, that the Gileadites would be regardless of his interest, when their own turn was served. The Gileadites certainly had no right to expect services from him, and it was a reasonable demand of Jephthal's, that the government, with which he wis to be invested for their benefit, should be continued during his life. The people at this time seem to have entertained the highest opinion of his merit, they therefore agreed to his terms, and ratified the bargain with an oath. Jephthah likewise uttered his words before the Lori', by which is meant, that he called GOD
to witness his intention to do all in his
for their relief; trusting in the aid and protection of the LORD of Hosts, the mighty God of Israel.
What various reverses of fortune did Jephthah ex. perience! During his earliest years, we may suppose, he enjoyed peace and plenty, for it seems that he was treated like the rest of his brethren, and his father intended he should be an inheritor with them. It was a severe and cruel stroke to be condemned, for the faults of his mother, to quit a life of affluence for a state of exile ; and to be reduced to the necessity of gaining a precarious livelihood amongst a set of outcasts, who most likely supported themselves by hunting and taking wild beasts, or making incursions on those parts of Canaan .which were not yet conquered. In a short time, behold, the very man, so lately abandoned by his own relations, solicited to become the judge and commander of those very people, who had treated him with so much scorn and contempt! This incident affords an useful lesson, to all who find themselves inclined to be. have towards any of their fellow-creatures with arro. gance and injustice.
JEPHTHAH's RASH VOW.
From Judges, Chap. xi. AND Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land?
And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthal, Because Israel took away my land when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan. Now therefore restore those lands again peaceably.