Judges 11:1 MEANING

Judges 11:1
(1) The son of an harlot.--The words are so rendered in all the versions, and can hardly have any other meaning. If an inferior wife had been meant, the word used would not have been zonah, but pilgesh, as in Judges 8:31. The word may, however, be used in the harsh sense of the brethren of Jephthah, without being strictly accurate. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 2:26.)

Gilead begat Jephthah.--We are here met by the same questions as those which concern Tola and Jair. That Gilead is a proper name, not the name of the country mythically personified, may be regarded as certain. But is this Gilead the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, or some later Gilead? or does "begat" mean "was the ancestor of?" The answer to these questions depends mainly upon the insoluble problem of the chronology; but we may note (1) that since no other Gilead is mentioned, we should naturally infer that this is the grandson of Manasseh; and (2) that the fact referred to in the obscure genealogy of 1 Chronicles 7:14-17 seems to show that the family of Manasseh had Syrian (Aramean) connections, and Jephthah's mother may have been an Aramitess from the district of Tob. The name Jephthah means "he opens" (the womb).

Verse 1. - Jephthah the Gileadite. Gilead has two meanings: it is the name of the country so called (Judges 10:8, note), and it is the name of the son or descendant of Machir the son of Manasseh (1 Chronicles 7:14, 17; Numbers 26:29, 30). Gileadite also may be explained in two ways: it may mean an inhabitant of Gilead (Judges 10:18), or it may mean a member of the family of the Gileadites, either an actual son or a more remote descendant of Gilead (Numbers 26:29) - two meanings which would usually coincide. Gilead begat Jephthah. Here Gilead must mean the person so called, i.e. the son or descendant of Machir, from whom the family, including Jephthah, were called Gileadites; but whether son or descendant cannot positively be affirmed. All that is certain is that he was that one of Maehir's descendants who was the head of that division of the Manassites who were called Gileadites. Again, when it is said Gilead begat Jephthah, we cannot be certain whether it is meant that Gilead was Jephthah's father, or merely his ancestor (see Judges 10:3, note).

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?Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour,.... Jephthah had his name of Gileadite either from his father, whose name was Gilead, or from the city and country in which he was born, which is most likely, and so was of the same country with the preceding judge; and he was a man of great strength and valour, and which perhaps became known by his successful excursions on parties of the enemies of Israel, the Ammonites, being at the head of a band of men, who lived by the booty they got from them:

and he was the son of an harlot; the Targum says, an innkeeper; and, according to Kimchi, she was a concubine, which some reckoned no better than an harlot, but such are not usually called so; some Jewish writers will have her to be one of another tribe his father ought not to have married; and others, that she was of another nation, a Gentile, so Josephus (c): and, according to Patricides (d), he was the son of a Saracen woman; but neither of these are sufficient to denominate her a harlot:

and Gilead begat Jephthah; he was his son; this was a descendant of Gilead the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, called after the name of his great ancestor.

(c) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 7. sect. 7. (d) Apud Selden. de Success. ad leg. Ebr. c. 3. p. 32.

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