|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:1-11 Men ought not to be blamed for their parentage, so long as they by their personal merits roll away any reproach. God had forgiven Israel, therefore Jephthah will forgive. He speaks not with confidence of his success, knowing how justly God might suffer the Ammonites to prevail for the further punishment of Israel. Nor does he speak with any confidence at all in himself. If he succeed, it is the Lord delivers them into his hand; he thereby reminds his countrymen to look up to God as the Giver of victory. The same question as here, in fact, is put to those who desire salvation by Christ. If he save you, will ye be willing that he shall rule you? On no other terms will he save you. If he make you happy, shall he make you holy? If he be your helper, shall he be your Head? Jephthah, to obtain a little worldly honour, was willing to expose his life: shall we be discouraged in our Christian warfare by the difficulties we may meet with, when Christ has promised a crown of life to him that overcometh?
Verse 3. - The land of Tob. This is certainly the same country as is spoken of in Ish-tob, i.e. the men of Tob, of whom 12,000 were hired by the children of Ammon to fight against David. They are thus named side by side with the men of Beth-Rehob, and Zoba, and Maacah, other small Aramean or Syrian states (2 Samuel 10:6, 8). Tob is again mentioned in all probability in 1 Macc. 5:13; 2 Macc. 12:17, and the Thauba of Ptolemy agrees in situation as well as in name with Tob, but no identification with any existing place has been hitherto effected. Vain men, as in Judges 9:4.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then Jephthah fled from his brethren,.... Being ill used by them, and a man of spirit and courage, and could not bear to be treated with contempt, nor to live in a dependence on others, and therefore sought to make himself another way:
and dwelt in the land of Tob; which Kimchi and Ben Gersom think was the name of the lord and owner of the land; Abarbinel interprets it, a good land, as Tob signifies, so the Targum; but others the name of a city or country, and conjecture it may be the same with Ishtob, and which was not far from the children of Ammon, since they sent thither for assistance, 2 Samuel 10:6. Jerom (g) takes it for a country, in which Jephthah dwelt, but says no more of it. Junius says it was on the entrance of Arabia Deserta, in the Apocypha:"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.'' (1 Maccabees 5:13)"Then departed they from thence seven hundred and fifty furlongs, and came to Characa unto the Jews that are called Tubieni.'' (2 Maccabees 12:17)where the inhabitants of it are called Tobienians or Tubienians:
and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah; not wicked men, but empty men, whose pockets were empty; men without money, as Abarbinel interprets it, had nothing to live upon, no more than Jephthah, and he being a valiant man, they enlisted themselves under him:
and went out with him; not on any bad design, as to rob and plunder, but to get their living by hunting; or rather by making excursions into the enemy's country, and carrying off booty, on which they lived. Josephus (h) says he maintained them at his own expense, and paid them wages.
(g) De loc. Heb. fol. 25. A. (h) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 7. sect. 7.)
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. Jephthah … dwelt in the land of Tob—on the north of Gilead, beyond the frontier of the Hebrew territories (2Sa 10:6, 8).
there were gathered vain men to Jephthah—idle, daring, or desperate.
and went out with him—followed him as a military chief. They led a freebooting life, sustaining themselves by frequent incursions on the Ammonites and other neighboring people, in the style of Robin Hood. The same kind of life is led by many an Arab or Tartar still, who as the leader of a band, acquires fame by his stirring or gallant adventures. It is not deemed dishonorable when the expeditions are directed against those out of his own tribe or nation. Jephthah's mode of life was similar to that of David when driven from the court of Saul.
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