Once again the LORD raises up an insignificant outcast. Jephthah was cast out by his brothers because he was also the son of a prostitute. Of course they neglect to mention that it was their father who impregnated her because he failed his own daughter. I believe that the LORD raised up Jephthah to shame them. The elders accepted that the LORD had witnessed their desire for this castaway. The choosing of Jephthah by the people highlights what was their chief concern – one who proved himself militarily. However, Jephthah may have also been far more attuned spiritually than them as well, and hence the secret of his victories, for he vows to dedicate whatever would come out of his house to the LORD if he returned in victory, and he honoured this vow (30-31). He did not sacrifice his daughter as some suppose, but he dedicated her to the LORD’s service alone. Hence the reason why she would mourn her virginity, and not her death. We must also commend his daughter as well, for she agreed (39).
Only someone deeply immersed in the word, and in particular the history of the LORD’s deliverance of his people as they sought to possess the land, would have been able to recite the history which Jephthah recites. He is like the LORD’s prosecuting attorney against them, prior to their just defeat. They did not heed his words, words consonant with the scriptural testimony, and so they suffered for it (28). After the defeat of the foreign intruders Ephraim once again pipes up that they should have been enlisted in this battle, but this was only so that they could take credit away from the LORD, unlike Jephthah. Sadly, Jephthah’s reign was only for 6 years, but he was a blessed man, as was his daughter. He was not pure of course. It could be said that Jephthah was being rebuked by the LORD for his own desire to be their supreme ruler, for his only offspring would be consigned to virginity. Once again we see the ever increasing desire of the people to reject the LORD as their true King.