Judges 11:9
And Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, If you bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the LORD deliver them before me, shall I be your head?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Shall I be your head?—We must not be surprised if Jephthah does not display a disinterested patriotism. He was only half an Israelite; he had been wronged by his father’s kin; he had spent long years of his manhood among heathens and outlaws, who gained their livelihood by brigandage or mercenary warfare. “As Gideon is the highest pitch of greatness to which this period reaches,” says Dean Stanley. “Jephthah and Samson are the lowest points to which it descends.” Since, then, we have marked elements of ferocity and religious ignorance and ambition even in the noble character of Gideon, we must remember that we might naturally make allowance for a still lower level of attainment in one who had been so unfavourably circumstanced as Jephthah. Apart from the Syrian influences which had told upon him, the whole condition of the pastoral tribes on the east of the Jordan was far below that of the agricultural western tribes.

Jdg 11:9. If ye bring me home — If ye recall me from this place where I am now settled to the place whence I was expelled. Shall I be your head? — Will you really make good this promise? Jephthah was so solicitous in this case, either from his zeal for the public good, which required that he should be so; or from the law of self-preservation, that he might secure himself from his brethren; whose ill-will he had experienced, and whose injuries he could not prevent, if, after he had served their ends, he had been reduced to his private capacity.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?Jephthah made his own aggrandisement the condition of his delivering; his country. The circumstances of his birth and long residence in a pagan land were little favorable to the formation of the highest type of character. Yet he has his record among the faithful Hebrews 11:32. 7-9. Jephthah said, Did not ye hate me?—He gave them at first a haughty and cold reception. It is probable that he saw some of his brothers among the deputies. Jephthah was now in circumstances to make his own terms. With his former experience, he would have shown little wisdom or prudence without binding them to a clear and specific engagement to invest him with unlimited authority, the more especially as he was about to imperil his life in their cause. Although ambition might, to a certain degree, have stimulated his ready compliance, it is impossible to overlook the piety of his language, which creates a favorable impression that his roving life, in a state of social manners so different from ours, was not incompatible with habits of personal religion. If ye bring me home again; if you recall me from this place where I am now settled, to the place whence I was expelled.

Shall I be your head? will you really make good this promise? Jephthah was so solicitous in this case, either from his zeal for the public good, which required that he should be so; or from the law of self-preservation, that he might secure himself from his brethren; whose ill will he had experienced, and whose injuries he could not prevent, if, after he had served their ends, he had been reduced to his private capacity: or there might be some tincture of ambition in him; for which God therefore severely, though paternally, chastiseth him, as we see afterwards. And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead,.... Considering the former usage he had met with from them, and the character which he himself bore, and the fickleness of men, when their turn is served, was willing to make a sure bargain with them:

if ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon; that is, should he consent to go along with them, and fight their battle for them:

and the Lord deliver them before me; or into his hands, on whom he depended for success, and not on his own courage and valour, and military skill:

shall I be your head? not only captain general of their forces during the war, but the chief ruler of them when that was ended.

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 them before me, shall I be your head?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. shall I be …?] Rather it is I who am to be your head, accepting the agreement in Jdg 11:6.Verse 9. - Shall I be, etc. There is no interrogative in the Hebrew. The words may be taken as the laying down of the condition by Jephthah, to which in the following verse the elders express their assent. Jephthah departed from his brothers into the land of Tob, i.e., according to 2 Samuel 10:6, 2 Samuel 10:8, a district in the north-east of Perea, on the border of Syria, or between Syria and Ammonitis, called Τώβιον in 1 Macc. 5:13, or more correctly Τουβίν, according to 2 Macc. 12:17, where loose men gathered round him (cf. Judges 9:4), and "went out with him," viz., upon warlike and predatory expeditions like the Bedouins.
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