Judges 12:3
And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?
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(3) I put my life in my hands.—Rather, in the hollow of my hand (caph). (See for the phrase, Psalm 119:109; Job 13:14; 1Samuel 20:5; 1Samuel 28:21.) It expresses extreme peril.

The Lord delivered them into my hand.—Here the word for “hand” is yad. Here, as he had done in arguing with the king of the Ammonites (Judges 11:21-24), Jephthah appeals to the decision of Jehovah, as proving that he had done rightly.

Wherefore then are ye come up . . . ?—For the phrase “come up” see Judges 1:1-16. Jephthah’s answer is as moderate as Gideon’s (Judges 8:2-3), though it does not display the same happy tact, and refers to topics which could not but be irritating. Whether it was made in a conciliatory spirit or not, we cannot tell. Certainly if Ephraim persisted in aggressive violence after these explanations, they placed themselves so flagrantly in the wrong that civil war became inevitable.

12:1-7 The Ephraimites had the same quarrel with Jephthah as with Gideon. Pride was at the bottom of the quarrel; only by that comes contention. It is ill to fasten names of reproach upon persons or countries, as is common, especially upon those under outward disadvantages. It often occasions quarrels that prove of ill consequence, as it did here. No contentions are so bitter as those between brethren or rivals for honour. What need we have to watch and pray against evil tempers! May the Lord incline all his people to follow after things which make for peace!I put my life in my hands - Compare 1 Samuel 19:5; 1 Samuel 28:21. The phrase expresses the utmost possible risk, knowingly incurred. 3. when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands—A common form of speech in the East for undertaking a duty of imminent peril. This Jephthah had done, having encountered and routed the Ammonites with the aid of his Gileadite volunteers alone; and since the Lord had enabled him to conquer without requiring assistance from any other tribe, why should the Ephraimites take offense? They ought rather to have been delighted and thankful that the war had terminated without their incurring any labor and danger. I put my life in my hands, i.e. I exposed myself to utmost danger; as a man that carries a brittle and precious thing in his hand, which may easily either fall to the ground, or be snatched from him. The same phrase is used 1 Samuel 19:5 28:21 Job 13:14 Psalm 119:109.

Wherefore then are ye come up unto me? why do you thus requite my kindness in running into such hazard to preserve you and yours?

And when I saw that ye delivered me not,.... Gave him no assistance against their common enemy, did not attempt to save him and his people out of their hands, but left them to defend themselves:

I put my life in my hands; ready to deliver it up in the defence of his country; the meaning is, that he exposed himself to the utmost danger, hazarded his life in going with a few troops into an enemy's country to fight him, and so liable to lose his life; which was in as much danger, as some observe, as any brittle thing contained in the hand is in danger of falling, or of being snatched out of it:

and passed over against the children of Ammon: took a long and fatiguing march over the land of Gilead into that of the children of Ammon, to fight with them:

and the Lord delivered them into my hand; gave him victory over them, which showed that his cause was just, and his call to engage in it clear:

wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day to fight against me? who rather should have come with thanks to him for the service he had done, not only for the Gileadites, but for all Israel; for had he not fought against the children of Ammon, and conquered them, they would have soon not only overrun and oppressed Gilead, but would have come over Jordan, and dispossessed the other tribes, and particularly Ephraim, as they had done already, Judges 10:9 so that it was base ingratitude in these people to come to fight against Jephthah, who had fought for them, and wrought salvation for them.

And when I saw that ye delivered me not, {c} I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?

(c) That is, I ventured my life, and when man's help failed, I put my trust only in God.

3. that thou wast not going to save me] Or omit thou, and render that there was none to save, LXX. cod. A, Luc. Cf. Isaiah 63:5.

I put my life in my hand] Cf. 1 Samuel 19:5; 1 Samuel 28:21, Job 13:14, Psalm 119:109.

Judges 12:3Jephthah's War with the Ephraimites, and Office of Judge. - Judges 12:1. The jealousy of the tribe of Ephraim, which was striving after the leadership, had already shown itself in the time of Gideon in such a way that nothing but the moderation of that judge averted open hostilities. And now that the tribes on the east of the Jordan had conquered the Ammonites under the command of Jephthah without the co-operation of the Ephraimites, Ephraim thought it necessary to assert its claim to take the lead in Israel in a very forcible manner. The Ephraimites gathered themselves together, and went over צפונה. This is generally regarded as an appellative noun (northward); but in all probability it is a proper name, "to Zaphon," the city of the Gadites in the Jordan valley, which is mentioned in Joshua 13:27 along with Succoth, that is to say, according to a statement of the Gemara, though of a very uncertain character no doubt, Ἀμαθοῦς (Joseph. Ant. xiii. 13, 5, xiv. 5, 4; Bell. Judg. i. 4, 2, Reland, Pal. pp. 308 and 559-60), the modern ruins of Amata on the Wady Rajb or Ajlun, the situation of which would suit this passage very well. They then threatened Jephthah, because he had made war upon the Ammonites without them, and said, "We will burn thy house over thee with fire." Their arrogance and threat Jephthah opposed most energetically. He replied (Judges 12:2, Judges 12:3), "A man of strife have I been, I and my people on the one hand, and the children of Ammon on the other, very greatly," i.e., I and my people had a severe conflict with the Ammonites. "Then I called you, but ye did not deliver me out of their hand; and when I saw that thou (Ephraim) didst not help me, I put my life in my hand" (i.e., I risked my own life: see 1 Samuel 19:5; 1 Samuel 28:21; Job 13:14. The Kethibh אישׂמה comes from ישׂם: cf. Genesis 24:33), "and I went against the Ammonites, and Jehovah gave them into my hand." Jephthah's appeal to the Ephraimites to fight against the Ammonites it not mentioned in Judges 11, probably for no other reason than because it was without effect. The Ephraimites, however, had very likely refused their co-operation simply because the Gileadites had appointed Jephthah as commander without consulting them. Consequently the Ephraimites had no ground whatever for rising up against Jephthah and the Gileadites in this haughty and hostile manner; and Jephthah had a perfect right not only to ask them, "Wherefore are ye come up against me now (lit. 'this day'), to fight against me?" but to resist such conduct with the sword.
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