Page images

5 And Jair died, and was buried in Camon, the place where he

dwelt. We read of another Jair, Numb. xxxii. 41, 6 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the

LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the Lord, and served not him. Strange conduct! It looked as if their trade had been to import gods from other countries ; they were resolded to go with the multitude ; they liked their worship ; their dancings and merriment, and impure rites, suited their wicked taste. And the anger of the LORD was hot againt Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of

Ammon; he gave them up to the power of two of those nations 8 whose gods they served. And that year they vexed and op

pressed the children of Israel, crushed them as between two millstones, as the original is, (the Philistines on the west, and the Amorites on the east,) eighteen years, all the children of

Israel that were] on the other side Jordan in the land of the 9 Amorites, which [is] in Gilead. Moreover, the children of

Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim ; they began with those who lay next their own country, and by degrees

passed over Jordan ; so that Israel was sore distressed. 10 And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, not by way

of complaint, but with great earnestness and penitence, saying,

We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken 11 our God, and also served Baalim. And the LORD said unto

the children of Israel, f whether by an angel, or prophet, or the high priest is uncertain) [Did] not [I deliver you] from the

Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Am12 mon, and from the Philistines? The Zidonians also, and the

Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you ;* and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand : deliverances not

mentioned before ; he had shown them more favours than were 13 recorded. Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods :

wherefore I will deliver you no more, in this remarkable man. 14 ner, except ye repent. Go and cry unto the gods which ye

have chosen ; let them deliver you in the time of your tribų. lation ; see what they will do for all the sacrifices you have offered, and all the trouble and charge you dre at about them ; they are the gods you have chosen, let them save you. A very

cutting but just reflection on their folly, and the impotency of 15 their gods. And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, 3. We have sinned ; do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good

* The Maonites were danaanites who inhabited the wilderness of Maon, 1 Sam. xxiii. 24. and 2 Chron. Xxvi. 7.

unto thee ; chastise us with thine own hand as much as thou wilt, but deliver us not into the hands of these cruel men ; de

liver us, only, we pray thee, this day, and try us once more. 16 And they put away the strange gods from among them, which

showed true humiliation at this time ; it was an open proof of repentance, and attended with very happy effects, for we read no more of their idolatry for a long time after ; and they served the Lord; and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel, he showed them great pity and tenderness, dealt with them in

such a way, as men do when they are so affected. 17 Then the children of Ammon were gathered together,

and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh. This is introductory to the story in the next chapter ; the children of Ammon raised forces in Gilead, which they now called their own

and Israel encamped in Mizpeh, but afterward went to their own 18 land to raise more forces. And the people, [and] princes of

Gilead, that is, the princes and elders, held a consultation who shoull be their general and judge, and said one to another, What man [is he] that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon ? he shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead ; but they found none to undertake it, till they sent to Jephthah, as we read in the next chapter.

REFLECTIONS. 1. M OD remembers all his kind interpositions for us, and the

U many deliverances he has afforded us. He reminded Israel of these ; for they were ready to forget them, though so remarkable. This should engage us to take notice of such things, namely, that God sets them down in his book of remembrange, charges them, as it were, to our account ; and if we forget them, great will be our shame and misery. May he not expostulate with us ; “ Did I not deliver thee from the Spaniards, and the French, and the rebels, again and again ?" Let us keep in memory God's wonderful works, and give him the glory of all.

2. Here is a good model for penitents ; that is, persons affected with a sense of sin, and humbled under God's hand. It becomes them to see the vanity of those things which they were so fond of, and which they trusted in, to the neglect of God ; and their insufficiency to help in times of distress. Many make a god of their belly, many of their riches, many love pleasure more than God. But can these deliver us in times of trouble ? Can these soften our bed of sickness, or compose the tumult of our spirits ? Can these save us in a dying hour ? Let this then be our language, What have I to do any more with idols ? Les those who are under God's rebukes, not only acknowledge the insufficiency of creatures, but his justice and righteousness. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him. God is not umrighteous when he taketh vengeance. When, as a nation, we expect calamities at home or abroad, and are praying for deliverances, let us remember to acknowledge our folly and guilt, and prepare to meet God in the way of his judgments, saying, We have sinned, do thou unto us as seemeth good in thy sight.

3. Let us with pleasure and astonishment contemplate this wonderful instance of divine compassion to a sinful and oppressed people, v. 16. He delighteth not in our afflictions ; judgment is his strange work; he is glad to see the marks of repentance. He Tepresents himself as deeply affected when his children rebel, and he sees it necessary to chasten them; as parents are, when their chiklren are afflicted, or they are obliged to correct them. What encouragement is this to turn to him, to put away iniquity, to implore his mercy, and beseech him to remove every calamity we labour under. But let us remember, that all his declarations of mercy are made only to those who repent and put away sin, and return to his service. To those he will revoke his sentence, and show mercy. Come, then, let us return to the Lord, for he hath torn, and he will heal us, he hath smitten, and he will bind us.

[ocr errors][merged small]

In which we have Jephthah's vow ; an account of his successful

war with the An.inonites ; and the trouble he was brought into on account of his vow. I N OW Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of

IV valour, a man of strength and courage, and he (was] 2 the son of an harlot : and Gilead begat Jephthah. And Gil

ead's wife bare him sons ; 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 3 strange woman. Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and

dwelt in the land of Tob, the northern part of the lot of Manasseh : and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him ; men of narrow fortunes, who were glad to enlist under such a brave leader ; and they assisted him in his inroads upon the Ammonites, and other neighbouring countries,

who were ravaging the Canaanites, and lived on the booty they 4 got. And it came to pass in process of time, that the chil.

dren of Ammon made war against Israel; they had often made 'inroads upon them, but came then with a much larger force to

5 attack them. And it was so, that when the children of Ammon 'made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to

fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob ; knowing him to be a G. brave man, used to the sword, and fit to be a commander. And

they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we 7 may fight with the children of Ammon. And Jephthah said

unto the children of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and, as mägis. trates, assist my brethren to expel me out of my father's house:

and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress ? $ Can ye expect that I should come and help you? And the el.

ders 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 ; we repent of what we have done, and are come now to make thee amends, by offering thee the post of honour and authority, by putting ourselves under thy protection,

and making thee head over all the tribes on this side Jordan. 9 And Jephthalt 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 ? Will

you fulfil these engagements, thus reward my services, and place lo me in a station of honour and usefulness among you ? And the

elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, the LORD be witness 11 between us, if we do not so according to thy words. Then

Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them : and Jephthah uttered all his words before the Lord in Mizpeh ; he repeated before the assembly at Mizpeh the agreement between them ; and it was

confirmed solemnly on both sides, as in God's presence. 12 And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the chil

dren of Ammon, as Moses commanded in such cases, (see Deut. xx. 10, 11.) saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land ? What jus!

cause hast thou to invade my country ? A wise and prudent con13 duct. And the king of the children of Ammon answered

unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even

unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan ;* now therefore restore those 14 [larıds] again peaceably. And Jephthah sent messengers

again unto the king of the children of Ammon, pleading not 13 guilty, and denying the charge : And they said unto him, Thus

saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon ; they had express orders to the contrary, and found the land in the possession of another prince 16 and people : But when Israel came up from Egypt, and

* The Israelites had taken it from Sihon and Og, who it seems had taken it from the Ammonites, Foshua xiii. 29. Probably the Moabites were now gathered under this king, for Chemosh is called His goch. He tells them they must not expect poace unless the Imigred his camery.

walked through the wilderness unto the Red sea, and came to 17 Kadesh ; Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of

Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land : but the king of Edom would not hearken (thereto.] And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab : but he would not [consent :) and Israel abode in Kadesh, remained some time

there in a peaceable manner, and then chose a tedious, trouble18 some journey round about, rather than give any offence. Then

they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of

Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab : for Arnon 19 [was) the border of Moab. And Israel sent messengers unto

Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel

said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land 20 into my place. But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through

his coast : but Sihon gathered all his people together, and pitched in Jahaz, and fought against Israel; he not only re

fused their request, but made war against them; he was the 21 aggressor, they only acted on the defence. And the Lord God

of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of

Israel, and they smote them : so Israel possessed all the land 22 of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. And they

possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even 23 unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness even unto Jordan. So

now the Lord God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites

from before his people Israel, and shouldst thou possess it? 24 God hath given it us, and why should we give it thee? Wilt

not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess, to whose assistance thou ascribest al thy victories ? So whomsoever the LORD our God shall drive out from before

us, them will we possess ; an argument on their own principles, 25 which they could not gainsay. And now (art] thou any thing

better than Balak the son of Zippor king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them?

your predecessors never claimed it, never disputed our title, or 26 took up arms against us for the restitution of those lands? While

Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that [be] along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years ? why therefore did ye not recover (them) within that time ? Being forced to go three hun. dred years back for the shadow of an argument, Jephthah there

fore concludes that the king had no right to make war, nor claim 27 the lands. Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but

thou doest me wrong to war against me : the LORD the Judge i be judge this day between the children of Israel and the chil

dren of Ammon; we commit our cause to him, and may ke give

« PreviousContinue »