Chapter 10- Tola is a judge over the people for 23 years, then Jair for 22 years. Then the people worship other gods again, so God gives them over to oppression by the Philistines for 18 years. The people beg God to help them; He says no. They beg some more; He says “Oh, alright.” The people gather to fight the Ammonites, but don’t have a leader.
God and the Israelites are like that Taylor Swift song about not getting back together after a messy break up. They just need to break up, and stay that way! No more of this fighting, leaving, begging to get back together again, reconciling, fighting… ad nauseam.
“Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.” (13,14) Why don’t you go cry to your new boyfriend? Maybe he’ll put up with your drama, but I’m sick of it! We are never, ever, ever getting back together!
Chapter 11- Jephthah, son of a harlot, gets thrown out by his half-siblings and became head of a raiding party in the wilderness. When Israel needed a leader against the Ammonites, they selected Jephthah. He hems and haws a bit, but finally agrees to do it. The king of Ammon says he is only fighting this war to regain the land that was stolen from him by the Israelites. Jephthah rationalizes away that accusation by saying that the Israelites didn’t steal the land; they were given it by God. Jephthah promises God that if He helps him win this fight, he will sacrifice whatever comes out to greet him when he returns home. God does help him win, and Jephthah’s daughter is the one who greets him. She spends 2 months in the desert, lamenting the fact that she will die a virgin, then returns home and Jephthah sacrifices her as promised.
What a stupid promise to make. Maybe he was just expecting his dog to run to greet him or something…but, geeze. What a stupid fucking promise.
As far as this business about sacrificing a virgin daughter to God, well, that sounds awfully pagan to me. I seem to recall God telling the the people not to offer child sacrifices like the heathens in the world around them, so why does He hold Jephthah to this promise? (Although, the more I think about it, there was also the whole Abraham/ Isaac thing. God has a mixed track record on child sacrifice.) And why so much stinking emphasis on the fact that she was a virgin? Non-virgin women have worth as human beings too, dammit.
Chapter 12- The Ephramites again get upset that they didn’t get asked to help fight, and threaten to burn down Jephthah’s house. Jephthah says he did ask, but the Ephramites refused to help. The two tribes to battle, and Jephthah and his Gileadites kill a whole buch of Ephramites. The Jephthah judges Israel for 6 years. The next judges are Ibzan for 7 year, Elon for 10 years, and Abdon for 8 years.
I’m confused as to who the Gileadites are. I guess they are Israelites of some sort, although Gilead is not one of the main tribes. I make this assumption since Jephthah gets to be a judge over Israel…although the way he slaughtered the crap out of the Ephramites makes me question that assumption.
I am happy to see some actual judges happening in the book of Judges. Strange that it took until chapters 10 and 12, but better late than never I suppose.