Judges 11:29
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.
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(29) The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah.—A weaker expression is used than that which is applied to Gideon in Judges 6:34. It implies, as R. Tanchum rightly says, that he was endowed with the courage and wisdom without which success would have been impossible. The phrase no more involves a complete inspiration of Jephthah than it does in the case of Samson; nor is it meant to imply the least approval of many of his subsequent actions. It furnished the power which he needed to work out the deliverance—and that only. To hold up characters like Jephthah and Samson as religious examples, except (as is done in Hebrews 11:32) in the one special characteristic of faith displayed at memorable crises, is to sacrifice the whole spirit of Scripture to the mis-interpretation of a phrase.

(29) He passed over Gilead and Manasseh.—Rather, he went through (Vulg., circuiens). His object clearly was to collect levies and rouse the tribes—“He swept through the land from end to end to kindle the torch of war and raise the population” (Ewald).

Passed over Mizpeh.—Perhaps, as in the next clause, to Mizpeh.

Passed over unto the children of Ammon.i.e., went to attack them.

Jdg 11:29. The Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah — The people had chosen him for their leader, and promised to continue him their chief governor, as they had already made him; and now God publicly declares his approbation of their choice; and appoints him their judge, as he had others before, (Jdg 3:10,) by endowing him with an extraordinary measure of courage and wisdom, and all other qualities necessary to render him fit to be a ruler of his people. He passed over Manasseh — That is, Bashan, which the half-tribe of Manasseh beyond Jordan possessed. Mizpeh of Gilead — So called, to distinguish it from other cities of the same name. Having gathered what forces he could, he suddenly came hither to the borders of the Ammonites.

11:29-40 Several important lessons are to be learned from Jephthah's vow. 1. There may be remainders of distrust and doubting, even in the hearts of true and great believers. 2. Our vows to God should not be as a purchase of the favour we desire, but to express gratitude to him. 3. We need to be very well-advised in making vows, lest we entangle ourselves. 4. What we have solemnly vowed to God, we must perform, if it be possible and lawful, though it be difficult and grievous to us. 5. It well becomes children, obediently and cheerfully to submit to their parents in the Lord. It is hard to say what Jephthah did in performance of his vow; but it is thought that he did not offer his daughter as a burnt-offering. Such a sacrifice would have been an abomination to the Lord; it is supposed she was obliged to remain unmarried, and apart from her family. Concerning this and some other such passages in the sacred history, about which learned men are divided and in doubt, we need not perplex ourselves; what is necessary to our salvation, thanks be to God, is plain enough. If the reader recollects the promise of Christ concerning the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and places himself under this heavenly Teacher, the Holy Ghost will guide to all truth in every passage, so far as it is needful to be understood.Then the Spirit of the Lord ... - This was the sanctification of Jephthah for his office of Judge and savior of God's people Israel. Compare Judges 6:34; Judges 13:25. The declaration is one of the distinctive marks which stamp this history as a divine history.

The geography is rather obscure, but the sense seems to be that Jephthah first raised all the inhabitants of Mount Gilead; then he crossed the Jabbok into Manasseh, and raised them; then he returned at the head of his new forces to his own camp at Mizpeh to join the troops he had left there; and thence at the head of the whole army marched against the Ammonites, who occupied the southern parts of Gilead.

Jud 11:29-31. His Vow.

29, 30. Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah—The calm wisdom, sagacious forethought, and indomitable energy which he was enabled to display, were a pledge to himself and a convincing evidence to his countrymen, that he was qualified by higher resources than his own for the momentous duties of his office.

he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh—the provinces most exposed and in danger, for the purpose of levying troops, and exciting by his presence a widespread interest in the national cause. Returning to the camp at Mizpeh, he then began his march against the enemy. There he made his celebrated vow, in accordance with an ancient custom for generals at the outbreak of a war, or on the eve of a battle, to promise the god of their worship a costly oblation, or dedication of some valuable booty, in the event of victory. Vows were in common practice also among the Israelites. They were encouraged by the divine approval as emanating from a spirit of piety and gratitude; and rules were laid down in the law for regulating the performance. But it is difficult to bring Jephthah's vow within the legitimate range (see on [222]Le 27:28).

The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah; endued him with a more than ordinary courage and resolution.

Manasseh, i.e. Bashan, which the half tribe of Manasseh, beyond Jordan, inhabited, Joshua 20:8 21:6.

Mizpeh of Gilead; so called, to distinguish it from other cities of that name. Having gathered what forces he suddenly could, he came hither to the borders of the Ammonites.

Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah,.... The spirit of strength, as the Targum; of fortitude of mind, of uncommon valour and courage, and of zeal for God and Israel, and against their enemies; such a spirit as used to be given to men, when they were in an extraordinary manner raised up by the Lord, to be judges, saviours, and deliverers of his people; so that as Jephthah was before chosen by the people to be the general and head of the tribes beyond Jordan, he was raised up and qualified by the Lord now to be the judge of all Israel; of which the Spirit of the Lord coming on him was a sufficient proof and evidence:

and he passed over Gilead and Manasseh; the countries that belonged to Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh; however, all that part of it which lay from the place where he was, to the land of the children of Ammon:

and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead; which lay to the north of the land of Gilead, or tribe of Gad:

and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over to the children of Ammon; did not stay for them, to bring on the war in the land of Gilead, but prevented it by carrying it into the land of the children of Ammon. It seems by this, that though the children of Ammon had encamped in Gilead some time before, Judges 10:17, yet for some reason or another they had decamped, and had retired into their own country; but yet threatening Israel with a war, and preparing for it.

Then the {l} Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.

(l) That is, the spirit of strength and zeal.

29. An editorial hand has attempted to pick up the thread of the narrative after the long interpolation, Jdg 11:12-28. Then the spirit of the Lord came upon J. may well have stood originally at the beginning of Jdg 11:32; for elsewhere the access of the divine spirit takes effect at once in a deed of strength or daring (Jdg 3:10 n.), and he passed over Gilead and Manasseh must refer to Jephthah’s efforts to rouse the tribes E. and W. of Jordan (Jdg 12:2); but according to Jdg 10:17 the Israelites are already assembled; the reference comes too late here. and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead; Jephthah, however, has not left Mizpah, where he made his vow (Jdg 11:11; Jdg 11:30). The last clause can only be rendered he passed over the children of A., an incorrect expression; the sentence occurs in its proper place and form in Jdg 11:32. The poor style of the verse (note the repetitions) betrays its character.

Verse 29. - Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, as upon Othniel, upon Gideon, and upon Samson (Judges 3:16; Judges 6:34; Judges 13:25; Judges 14:19; Judges 15:14). He passed over, i.e. he went all through, Gilead, and Manasseh, - for the purpose, no doubt, of collecting forces, - and passed over Mizpeh. It should be to Mizpeh. Mizpeh was the capital and mustering place of his army, and his base of operations (Judges 10:17; Judges 11:11, note). Having organised his forces at Mizpeh of Gilead, he passed over to the children of Ammon, i.e. commenced his attack upon the invaders, as it is stated in ver. 32, which takes up the thread of the narrative. Judges 11:29Jephthah's Victory over the Ammonites. - As the negotiations with the king of the Ammonites were fruitless, Jephthah had no other course left than to appeal to the sword.

Judges 11:29

In the power of the Spirit of Jehovah which came upon him (see Judges 3:10), he passed through Gilead (the land of the tribes of Reuben and Gad between the Arnon and the Jabbok) and Manasseh (northern Gilead and Bashan, which the half tribe of Manasseh had received for a possession), to gather together an army to battle, and then went with the assembled army to Mizpeh-Gilead, i.e., Ramoth-mizpeh, where the Israelites had already encamped before his call (Judges 10:17), that he might thence attach the Ammonites. עבר (to pass over) with an accusative signifies to come over a person in a hostile sense.

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