Monday, July 14, 2014


Cropped from a painting from WikiCommons.
Full painting in tomorrow's blog.

Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour,

The first lesson in our VBS book for 5th and 6th grade girls is about Jephthah. In this first mention of him in the book of Judges, he’s given a title of respect – a might man of valour! How he came to be recognized as such is a bit longer story.

The story of Jephthah reminds me of divided families today. Sibling rivalry can be difficult for all involved. Jephthah's situation was that of an outsider - his father had not married his mother, and also had sons with his wife.

and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah. And Gilead's wife bare him sons;

The stage is set for conflict:

and his wife's sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father's house; for thou art the son of a strange woman. (Judges 11:1-2 KJV)

Now, I’m going to leave Jephthah’s story for a bit and take a look at God’s plan for parents. 

First given in Genesis 2:24, repeated by Jesus in Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:7, then reaffirmed by Paul in Ephesians 5:31, God designed a man and woman to be together as one. Jesus repeated the verse when he was asked about divorce:

. . . .  The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. (Matthew 19:2b-8 KJV)

Now, this doesn’t guarantee that siblings will get along – look at Abel and Cain! But in Jephthah’s case, and some of the sibling rivalry between King David’s children, there wouldn’t have been multiple mothers’ to increase their rivalry.

A child of divorce has no say in the matter. They don’t get to choose their parents any more than Jephthah did. They, too, may be forced out of a home they’ve known all their lives and have to make their way under some very poor circumstances. Jephthah became recognized as a mighty warrior by the brothers who eventually needed him to provide their security:

And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. (Judges 11:8 KJV)

Can we have the strength to be a protector to those who have rejected us in the past? Can we offer them the security of God’s love and see them grow past us?

Tomorrow we’ll take another look at Jephthah, who made a tragic mistake.

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