Summary: Jephthah's foolish vow and its consequences

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TITLE: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

TEXT: Judges 11:1-11

INTRO: An evangelist found himself in an embarrassing situation when he forgot the name of the pastor for whom he was preaching a revival. He thought that he had come up with a clever way to solve the problem when he asked the pastor, “Brother, how do you spell your first name?” With a quizzical look on his face, the pastor said, “B-O-B.”

As we continue in the book of Judges, we will look at one of its forgotten men. You will seldom hear a sermon on Jephthah, but he was one of the many unlikely heroes who fought to deliver Israel from the continuing oppression of the Canaanites.


A. Rejected by His Family (vs. 1-2)

1. His Mother was a Harlot

2. Brothers cast him out as illegitimate

3. Remember, there is no such thing as an "illegitimate child"

only "illegitimate parents"

B. He Became a "Robinhood" (v.3)

1. Fled from his family as an outcast

2. Attracted a band of "worthless men"

-One commentator (Clarke) says this "may mean...poor persons, without property, and without employment."

3. Many years later, David would lead a band of outlaws

C. From Outcast to Commander (vs.4-11)

1. Israel in trouble again - attacked by the Ammonites

2. Desperate circumstances require desperate measures

# In America in the days of the western frontier, when there

was trouble they would send for the gunslingers.

3. The amazing providence of God results in some unlikely choices:

-Rahab was a prostitute

-Deborah was a woman

-Barak was fearful

-Gideon was uncertain

(1 Cor.1:26-29) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.


A. He Parlayed with the King of Ammon

1. Asked the reason for the attack on Israel (vs.12-13)

2. Reminded Ammonites of past history (vs.14-27)

3. They would not listen to reason (v.28)

B. God's Spirit Came Upon Him to Lead in Battle (v.29)

-So far, so good, but then

C. Jephthah Made a Foolish Vow (vs.30-31)

1. Gideon's asking for a sign and Jephthah's

vow reflect the weakness of the flesh

2. We should never try to bargain with God

(Mat. 5:33-37 HCSB) "Again, you have heard that it was said to our ancestors, You must not break your oath, but you must keep your oaths to the Lord. But I tell you, don't take an oath at all: either by heaven, because it is God's throne; or by the earth, because it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. Neither should you swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. But let your word 'yes' be 'yes,' and your 'no' be 'no.' Anything more than this is from the evil one."

3. God does not want promises for the future,

but obedience for today!

D. The Enemy Delivered into His Hands (vs.32-33)

1. God can use the greatest or the least

2. Remember, He used Jael to "nail Sisera"

3. The victory comes from and the glory belongs to God


A. He Made a Vow and Had to Keep it in Some Way

B. What Did He Do?

1. The story is deliberately vague at this point

2.There are many who believe that Jephthah did NOT

slay his daughter

C. Seven Reasons Why He Would Not:

1. God would not have given Jephthah and the Israelites victory in battle following an immoral vow.

2. Jephthah vowed to sacrifice whatsoever" came out the door. Not whosoever. The word used here for house is bahyith and can mean court (where animals were often kept).

3. Human sacrifice was strictly forbidden by the law of Moses and was repugnant to God (Deu.18:10).

4. People set apart to God in a vow were not required to be sacrificed (as animals were), but were redeemed by silver given to the tabernacle according to a priest's evaluation of their worth (Lev.27).

5. There were women who were set apart for the tabernacle service. They were called the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting

6. Jephthah's daughter and her friends bewailed the fact that she would have to live her whole life without husband and children, performing service to the Lord (Jdg 11:37- 38) .

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