There was a man who lived in the land of Tob. Good beginning to the story, right? (grin) It, however, was not his place of birth. He was there due to circumstances beyond his control. This man's name was Jephthah. He was the son of an unwed mother and a prominent man in a nearby land, by the name of Gilead. According to Josephus, the historian, Jephthah's father was a decent and honorable man, however, there was a problem. It was not due to Jephthah’s parents, but with his siblings. His father had a wife and he had several children with her.
Gilead’s other offspring rejected Jephthah and treated him very badly. They even made a public spectacle of their behavior in front of the community causing Jephthah to became an outcast. Their words according to Judges 11:2 were, “You will not get any of our father’s property, because you are the son of another woman.” He was not wanted and they forced him out. Rather than stay and take the abuse and rejection, Jephthah left. Like many times in this type of situation today, it was all about the money and property. Jephthah decided to move to the land of Tob.
At his new home, Jephthah was able to restart his life. He appeared to be a devout and decent man as his father, despite his turbulent beginning. Just as we see today, when people have little to no family or rejected by those that should love them, they often find somewhere else to belong and to be accepted. This is what Jephthah did. We all have a desire to be loved and accepted. When it cannot be found where we are, we search elsewhere.
According to the scriptures Jephthah built an army. He attracted what some would call "worthless fellows", but they may not have been as bad as everyone thought. They were probably men of kindred spirit. Meaning, Jephthah more than likely attracted men like himself, having similar circumstances and needed a place to belong.
This group became quite formidable. Jephthah had grown to be a powerful leader among his men. They went out among the enemies of Israel and fought them. During this era, things were unstable. Israel had no national leader like Moses or Joshua. The people had forgotten God and began worshiping foreign gods. As a result, the armies of Ammon approached them for a battle and harassed the people. (Judges 10:6-7) The Ammonites were the descendants of Lot. At one time God told Israel not to harass or provoke them when they were on their journey out of Egypt. The land they possessed was given to them by God. (Deuteronomy 2:19) They could possess the land, but they could never become a part of Israel. These are the people that hired Balaam the prophet to prophesy against Israel and curse them. (Deuteronomy 23:3-4)
Stay tuned for Part 2.