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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries
Judges 12

 

 

Verses 1-7

EXPOSITION

12:1

Northward, or, otherwise rendered, to Zaphon, a city of the Gadites mentioned in Joshua 13:27 together with Succoth, and thought to be the modern, Amateh on the Wady Rajlb (see Vanderveld's map). It is difficult to say with certainty which rendering is right, but on the whole the latter seems most probable. Although Gilead does lie north-east of Ephraim, it hardly seems a natural description of the Ephraimite movement to say they "went northwards;" whereas if they marched to Zaphon the phrase would be precise. The previous phrase, gathered themselves together, means mustered for battle, as in 7:23, 7:24. We will burn thine house, etc.—the same savage threat as the Philistine youths made use of to induce Samson's wife to discover and reveal his riddle ( 14:15), and as the Philistines actually put in practice upon her and her father in revenge for the destruction of their corn ( 15:6). Passedst thou over, as in 11:29, 11:32; 12:3.

12:2

When I called you. This incident is not mentioned in the previous narrative. Probably Jephthah asked the help of Ephraim when he was first made chief of the Gileadites, and they refused partly because they thought the attempt desperate, and partly because they were offended at Jephthah's leadership.

12:4, 12:5

The English version of these somewhat obscure verses is obviously wrong, and devoid of sense. The obscurity arises partly from 12:5 and 12:6 being merely an amplification, i.e. a narrative in detail of what is more briefly related in 12:4; and from the insertion of the explanatory words, "Gilead lies in the midst of Ephraim and in the midst of Manasseh," in verse 4. The literal translation of the two verses is as follows:—And the men of Gilead smote Ephraim (at the fords of Jordan), for, said they, ye are fugitives of Ephraim. (Gilead lies in the midst of Ephraim and in the midst of Manasseh, i.e. between Manasseh and Ephraim, so that in coming from Manasseh, where they had taken refuge, to return to Ephraim they were obliged to pass through Gilead, and the Gileadites had taken the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites; and it was so, that when the fugitives of Ephraim said, Let me pass over, that the men of Gilead said, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay, then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth, etc; i.e. they put him to the test of pronunciation; and if they found by his pronunciation of the word Shibboleth, viz; Sibboleth, that he was an Ephraimite, in spite of his denial, then they took him and slew him (killed him in cold blood) at the passages of Jordan. ) And there fell at that time, etc. The direct narrative goes on here from verse 4. Omitting the long explanatory parenthesis from the latter part of verse 4 to the latter part of verse 6, the narrative runs (verse 4), And the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, for, said they, ye are fugitives of Ephraim; and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand. The parenthesis explains why the Ephraimites had to pass through Gilead, and how the Gileadites ascertained in each case whether a man was an Ephraimite or not.

12:6

Say now Shibboleth, etc. We have thus, as it were, accidentally preserved to us a curious dialectical difference between the Ephraimites and the inhabitants of Gilead. A similar difference exists at the present day between the pronunciation of the inhabitants of different parts of Germany. What the Hanoverians call stein, a stone, the other Germans call shtein. Shibboleth means both an ear of corn and a stream. Forty and two thousand. It is possible that the war between Jephthah and the Ephraimites may have lasted a considerable time, though only the single incident of the slaughter at the fords of Jordan is mentioned, so that the large number of 42,000 men may be less improbable than it seems at first sight. There is, however, always some doubt as to the correctness of numbers (see 1 Samuel 6:19).

12:7

Six years. Perhaps his sorrow for his daughter shortened his life. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite. Better, And Jephthah the Gileadite died. In one of the cities. His exact burial-place was perhaps unknown, and therefore the general phrase in the cities of Judah was used, as in Genesis 13:12. Lot is said to have dwelt in the cities of the plain, and in Nehemiah 6:2 San-ballat asked Nehemiah to meet him in the villages of the plain. Still the phrase is not what you would expect here, and it seems unlikely that Jephthah's burial-place should be unknown. The Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic versions read, "in his city Gilead," as if Gilead had been the name of Jephthah's paternal city. Another conjecture is that there might have been an Ar of Gilead as well as the well-known Ar of Moab, or there might have been a collection of towns called Arey- Gilead (the towns of Gilead), after the analogy of Havoth-jair ( 10:4), but there is no evidence in support of these conjectures.

HOMILETICS

12:1-7

The envy of the small great at the great deeds of the small.

The detection of faults of character is useful to those who wish to correct and perfect their own, and for this reason the observation of the tendency of particular positions to produce particular faults is very valuable. The particular vice of the human mind which the shameful and unpatriotic arrogance of the Ephraimites towards the deliverer of their country brings to light, is the tendency on the part of those in high places to resent and envy the great deeds and successes of those whom they look upon as very inferior to themselves. Ephraim was the largest and most powerful of the tribes of Israel. The great leader, Joshua, was of that tribe, and they seem to have thought that they had an hereditary primacy among the tribes. We have already seen this spirit breaking out fiercely in their strife with Gideon ( 8:1-3), and now again in their hostile attack upon Jephthah. Nay, even in Joshua's time something of the same arrogance drew down upon them the rebuke of their great captain (Joshua 17:14-16). They seen, to have thought that, being the chief tribe, they were entitled to be considered first in everything; that their advice was always to be sought, their wishes always to be consulted; and that the maintenance of their dignity ought to be the first consideration of all the other tribes. And yet we do not find them maintaining their claims by pre-eminent zeal for the public service, by a spirit of self-sacrifice for the public good, nor by furnishing the most eminent men to take the lead in civil or military affairs. They were not the first to risk life and limb against the Midianite hosts; they were not the first to repel the invasion of the children of Ammon. Their own dignity, and not their country's good, was their chief concern. Hence, when an unknown Gideon, of one of the inferior houses of Manasseh, or a half-caste Jephthah on the other side Jordan, rose to the first rank as saviours of their country, the envy of Ephraim burst out into a flame. What business had such as they to do great things? It was an invasion of the prerogative of the "great people." It was presumption; it was a slight put upon Ephraim. No punishment was too bad for such insolence. "We will burn thine house upon thee with fire." This history then illustrates the pride of caste. It shows us men, having a great opinion of themselves, not influenced by that good opinion to do as much as possible for others, but only to exact as much as possible for themselves. It shows us how an overweening estimate of themselves induces men to envy others, whom they think inferior, if they distinguish themselves, and rise superior to them in public estimation. It was very much the same spirit which showed itself in the Pharisees when our Lord's fame as a teacher drew such multitudes to hear him. They thought they had the monopoly of teaching, that no doctrine which did not emanate from their schools ought to be listened to, that knowledge could proceed from no mouth but that of a Rabbi. And so when the carpenter's Son opened his mouth and poured forth Iris lessons of exquisite wisdom and power, and enchained the attention of the multitudes, and was acknowledged as a prophet, their envy was excited. Instead of rejoicing that God had sent them a teacher mighty in word and deed, they only plotted how they might silence the eloquent tongue. Instead of sitting at his feet and learning at his mouth the true will of God and the way of life, they were only roused to hatred, and persuaded the multitude to say, Let him be crucified. The same spirit is common in our own days in every profession. The small great envy the great deeds of the small. But God's gifts are not confined to any caste or class; and they only are truly great who rejoice in great qualities wherever they are found, and view without envy the career of those who outstrip them in the race of doing good and advancing the glory of God.

HOMILIES BY A.F. MUIR

12:1-3

Ingratitude the frequent reward of benefactors.

The triumph of Jephthah is marred by another incident. Ephraim, most powerful tribe west of the Jordan, confronts him in hostile array. His experience must have been bitter and hard to comprehend. But he is not alone in the results which his good deeds brought upon him. Benefactors in every age have met with a like reception.

I. THEIR GOOD DEEDS ARE THEMSELVES AN OFFENCE. This has its root and ground in the incapacity of the natural mind to perceive and appreciate spiritual motives; but it seldom takes the form of direct, simple objection to the good deed. Other forms of excuse for opposition are easily discovered.

1. The spirit in which they are wrought is misunderstood or misinterpreted. The key to our judgments of others is in ourselves. If then we are evil, our judgments will be perverted. All through the history of God's Church this influence is apparent, from the old ill-natured query, '"Does Job serve God for nought?" to the culminating wickedness described in the gospel: "The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not ... He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not" (John 1:5, John 1:10, John 1:11). "To the pure, all things are pure," and vice versa.

2. They present an unwelcome contrast to the conduct of others. Every good deed is as a light which brings to view things of like kind, and inspires similar behaviour; but also reveals the hideousness and hatefulness of the ordinary life of man. This is an offence against the amour propre of the sinner, and therefore unpardonable; it is also an exposure of hypocrisy, and sadly inconvenient. It makes the heart of good men ache to see this, and to cry, "When will goodness not be the exception, but the rule?"

3. The honor they acquire for their authors is coveted. To minds not actuated by the spirit of goodness, the only thing that can be desired in good works is the outward fame and advantage they bring. The exclusion from this is keenly resented. Hundreds are eager to share the crown of the righteous who are far from breathing his spirit or emulating his example.

II. HOW HARD IS IT FOR EVEN GOOD MEN TO UNDERSTAND THIS! Jephthah argues his case, and asks, "Wherefore are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?" The law of Moses promised temporal advantages to those who fulfilled it. Occasionally these were not enjoyed, and there was a consequent perplexity. But we are not to suppose that this wonder and mental trouble were confined to that dispensation; they are deeply human characteristics. Our Saviour himself experienced them when he asked, "Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? (John 10:32); and again, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me" (Matthew 26:55). The key to this mystery is furnished by the beatitude of the persecuted for righteousness' sake (Matthew 5:11, Matthew 5:12), and realised in the spirit of Christ's sacrifice.—M.

12:4

The reproach of the righteous.

"Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites."

I. THOSE WHO ARE OPPOSED TO TRUTH AND GOODNESS OFTEN OBJECT TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN LIFE AND THE CHARACTER OF THOSE WHO ARE REPUTED TO DO GREAT WORKS IN GOD'S SERVICE. "Fugitives" is a term of social reproach. It suggests vile reasons which made it convenient for them to leave their own home. So it was said, "Is not this Joseph, the carpenter's son?" and, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" So John 9:24, John 9:29.

II. THIS OBJECTION IS INCONSEQUENT. It ignores the real authorship of goodness, and the method of his working, and character of his instrumentalities in all time. It is self-contradictory (John 9:31).—M.

12:5, 12:6

Shibboleth:-The importance of little defects, faults, etc.

This not absolute, but relative.

I. WHEREIN THIS IMPORTANCE CONSISTS.

1. In what they suggest or reveal. A slip in accidence, or a blunder in the statement of matter of fact, may discredit the pretended scholar. A difference in tone or manner may mean indifference or enmity or hypocrisy. Temporary neglect of a child may prove want of real parental affection. Neglect of private or public prayer may be little in itself, but it may spring from the alienation of the soul from God. The glib utterance of a "white lie" may make us doubt the whole moral character of the speaker. Grave diseases often declare themselves by comparatively slight symptoms, as leprosy, paralytic ataxia, etc.

2. We see it in the order of life as a whole. In the vegetable and animal world the law of the:' survival of the fittest" often works through comparatively slight organic adaptations. In human life the advantage and ultimate success of men often depends upon their slight superiority to other competitors. A little ignorance, extravagance, carelessness, etc. may work ruin. "A stitch in time saves nine." "Ready, aye ready," is a noble motto. Great discoveries have been made by men who were just a little in advance of their fellows.

3. A critical occasion may give a trifle an unlooked-for importance. The cackling of geese saved Rome, according to the myth. Peter's uncouth accent occasioned the observation of the maid, and his emphatic denial of Christ. Vessels have been wrecked because of a little carelessness in taking observations when mists have suddenly arisen, or rocks were in the course. Souls have been lost through impressions produced by the inconsistencies of professing Christians.

II. OUR DUTY WITH RESPECT TO THEM. "Of course it is to correct them, to get rid of them," you say. Yes; but how? Sometimes they are so related to us that we cannot remove them. It is necessary then that we should do all in our power to compensate for them by cultivating other qualities, etc; or to neutralise their influence by timely explanations and clear proofs of our real intention, spirit, character, etc. Mere punctilio, or the scrupulosity of the martinet will not do. We must beware of the folly of those who "strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." Let the whole life be emphatic in contradiction, and let the spirit of Christ so shine through us that men will learn to know us in spite of those failings and defects which give us the lie. "Not far from the kingdom of heaven" may be worse than entire alienation from it.

Tests: their good and evil. As a means of discovering the Ephraimite, the device was highly natural and ingenious. In the main and roughly it was successful. Some such method was evidently required. There was no time to enter into minute detail or examination. But, on the other hand, it was quite possible that some who were not Ephraimites were slain by mistake. So in determining fitness for Church membership, office, or spiritual responsibility—

I. TESTS MAY BE NECESSARY. There are times when it is of the utmost importance for us to know who are God's people and who are not. We are to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." From the unholy, disorderly, unbelieving we are commanded to withdraw ourselves. But this injunction were impossible of fulfilment were the distinction between saints and sinners not capable of being made. Christ has happily supplied a test—"By their fruits ye shall know them." The confession of the lips is another element, but it must not be dissociated from the former. So in the life of every day we require to know men, and accordingly have to form our opinions and judgments of them. This is so vital and necessary to safety and happiness, that we do it almost automatically, unconsciously. The honest and the dishonest, the true and the false, the friend and the enemy, we learn to distinguish by actions and words, and the course of their conduct It is foolish, therefore, for persons to object to tests—they are necessary throughout the whole range of life, temporal and spiritual. But—

II. THEY MAY MISLEAD. In the nature of things they must be superficial, local, accidental, etc. They are observed and interpreted by fallible men. Trifling differences may acquire factitious importance. A man is not to be condemned for a word; a careful study should be made of the whole conduct and character of the man. The Christian life has many "notes," and where one is not forthcoming another may be present. The Epistles have, therefore, a variety of points upon which Christians may test themselves and others. God alone knoweth the heart, and in Christ he will judge the world by infallible judgment. It is better to err on the side of leniency to offenders than on that of severity. It matters not how we may commend ourselves to men, our condition in the sight of God is of chief account.—M.

12:1-6

Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself.

This was not the first time of such offence on the part of Ephraim. Gideon had to bear with their unreasonableness, and was gracious enough to permit their co-operation in securing the results of his victory. But now the "cup of their iniquity is full." Not for Ammon's destruction alone is Jephthah raised up; he has a punishment to mete out to Ephraim. They knew it not, but this pride of theirs was on the verge of its fall. They presumed on former exemption from evil consequences, and blindly rushed upon their chastisement. We see here—

I. PRIDE IN ITS DEVELOPMENT AND CAREER. Past kindness and consideration only hardened and strengthened it. Past achievements and the prestige acquired through them are relied upon instead of present obedience to God, etc. Ephraim cared more for its own position and advantage than to serve the commonwealth. By its inaction in the past and its hostile attitude to Jephthah on the present occasion it plays the traitor. It despised its brethren, and refused to recognise the leader God had chosen, and now it threatened to overthrow the advantage acquired by the Ammonite victory. It became a public nuisance and a political danger.

II. PRIDE IN ITS DIVINE CHASTISEMENT, In the various details of its punishment it is hard to repress a certain measure of sympathy for it. There is something always in the humiliation of a proud nature that commands our sympathy. And yet it was necessary and right that Ephraim should be taught a terrible lesson.

1. That very tribe, membership with which had been their boast, they would now fain deny.

2. The taunt of being "fugitives,' which they had used against the Gileadites, is now turned against themselves.

3. The martial strength upon which they had relied is now effectually and suddenly reduced. So will it be with all who set themselves against Christ and his kingdom. "Upon whomsoever this stone shall fall, it will grind him to powder." If God is against us, or, what is the same thing, we are against God, we may expect patient forbearance, and at first gentle chidings; but, if we persist, a terrible retribution. Sin is pride; it refuses to bow to God's will, or to accept the methods of his salvation.—M.

HOMILIES BY W.F. ADENEY

12:1

Jealousy.

The men of Ephraim are angry with Jephthah because lie has repulsed the Ammonites without their aid.

I. GREAT MEN ARE COMMONLY ASSAILED BY THE JEALOUSY OF THEIR RIVALS.

1. This is no proof of any failing on the part of those who are thus attacked. While some of the noblest of men have brought trouble upon their own heads through want of consideration for the petty weaknesses of their inferiors, the best and most conciliatory of men have not been able to avoid the envy and misjudgment of meaner natures. It is impossible to please all classes in doing a work of any magnitude and value. They are not always the worthiest men who have the fewest enemies. Christ had more foes than friends.

2. This is no proof of the claims of the rivals of great men. People who cannot improve a work can criticise it.

II. THEY WHO ARE BACKWARD IN ENCOUNTERING THE DANGER OF BATTLE ARE EAGER IN COVETING THE HONOUR OF VICTORY. There is no reason to believe that the men of Ephraim showed any willingness to join with Jephthah till after his great success. Weak and selfish people who will not enter into any enterprise until they see it has succeeded are plentiful enough, but they are worthless. The true men are they who will advocate the right cause when it is at a low ebb, when it is unpopular, when it seems doomed to failure, when the service of it involves risk and loss.

III. THE TASK FROM WHICH MEN SHRINK BEFOREHAND LOOKS EASY AFTER IT HAS BEEN SUCCESSFULLY PERFORMED. Now that Jephthah has defeated the Ammonites, the men of Ephraim think his work was only a safe road to honour in which they would gladly have accompanied him. When we see the master of some art working with deft skill and unerring accuracy, nothing looks more easy than to do as he does. His very triumph destroys the appearance of the difficulties which lie in its way. Thus the honours of the artist and the orator, and, in religious matters, of the martyr and the missionary, inspire jealousy in men who think they are cheaply won just on account of that very excellency which conceals the necessary sacrifice, suffering, or toil by the perfect conquest of it.

IV. SELFISH PEOPLE ARE MORE CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR OWN SHARE IN THE HONOUR OF A GREAT ENTERPRISE THAN ABOUT THE SUCCESS OF IT. The men of Ephraim do nothing to encourage Jephthah; they are only anxious to share his honour. We see in public life personal ambition overcoming public spirit, in Christian work the honour of the agent exalted above the success of the work. But the patriot should be supremely anxious for the welfare of his country, no matter by whom this is secured, and the Christian should be simply desirous of the triumph of Christ and the extension of Christianity, though he may not share the honours of victory. The jealousy which would hinder the good work of others because we have no share in it is treason to Christ. It is unworthy for the Christian to covet or to hold a post which he knows another will occupy better than himself—A.

12:6

Shibboleth.

I. IF A MAN'S PROFESSION IS FALSE TO HIS CHARACTER, THIS WILL BE MADE MANIFEST BY THE HABITS OF HIS LIFE. The Ephraimite who denied his tribal relation was betrayed by his dialectic pronunciation. Thus Peter was convicted of falsehood (Matthew 26:73). It matters little what we say if our conduct belies our words. No man can ultimately conceal his character; it will come out in his countenance, it will colour his speech, it will shape his action. If a man would completely suppress his character, he must destroy it, because while it exists it must obey its nature, which is to be the source of all conduct. You cannot quench a volcano by building over its crater, nor stay the flow of a stream by walling it in. Our true nature, whether it be good or bad, must reveal itself

II. SHALL SUPERFICIAL SIGNS MAY INDICATE GREAT FUNDAMENTAL DISTINCTIONS. The test of the "Shibboleth" has been much misunderstood, as though it were an instance of the importance which is sometimes unduly given to mere trivial distinctions. The test was simply a means of discovering the tribal relations of men. The Gileadites cared nothing for the difference of pronunciation in itself. They simply used it as a means for determining a really important point—the truth or falsehood of the profession of those who said they were not men of Ephraim. The same mistake was involved in Gibbon's famous sneer about the great division of Christendom on the question of a diphthong. It was not a diphthong, but the fundamental truth of the perfect Divinity of Christ that Athanasius and his friends were contending with the Arians about, and the use of the diphthong was simply a convenient form in which to bring the question to a definite point. So the recent controversies about vestments have been ridiculed as though they were questions of "ecclesiastical millinery," while both parties know quite well that these outside and apparently trivial differences are the signs of fundamental questions concerning priestly authority and sacramental grace.

1. We must beware of judging of the magnitude of a question by the comparative insignificance of its external indications.

2. We must, nevertheless, be careful not to assume that trivial external distinctions are signs of deep and important differences until we have proved the fact. We may erect the test of a "Shibboleth" to separate people who have no such fundamental distinctions as those of the men who had been true to Jephthah and the men who had enviously opposed him. The danger is that we should thus magnify the importance of the "Shibboleth" itself, and so become narrow and sectarian.—A.


Verses 8-15

EXPOSITION

12:8

Ibzan of Bethlehem. It is uncertain whether Bethlehem of Judah is meant, or Bethlehem in the tribe of Zebu-lun, mentioned in Joshua 19:15. Josephus says that Ibzan was of the tribe of Judah, and of the city of Bethlehem, and some have supposed a connection between the names of Boaz and Ibzan. ' But as Bethlehem of the tribe of Judah is generally called Bethlehem of Judah, or Bethlehem-Ephratah, and as Elon and Abdon were judges in North-East Israel, it is perhaps more probable that Bethlehem of Zebulun is meant. Dr. Robinson has identified it with a village—a "very miserable one"—called Beit Lahm, six miles west of Nazareth.

12:9

He had thirty sons, etc. From no record of Ibzan's judgeship being preserved, except this domestic incident, we may infer, as in the ease of Jair, that no important events took place in his time.

12:10

Then died, etc. Render, And Ibzan died.

12:12

In Aijalon. Not Aijalon in the tribe of Dan, mentioned Joshua 10:12; Joshua 19:42, but another city, only spoken of here, whose name is probably preserved in the ruins of Jalun, four hours east of Akka. It is remarkable that the two names Elon and Aijalon are identical in Hebrew as far as the consonants are concerned. It looks as if Aijalon, which is not mentioned among the Zebulonite cities in Joshua 19:10-16, was named from Elon, its possessor.

12:13

A Pirathonite, i.e. an inhabitant of Pirathon in the tribe of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites ( 12:15), afterwards famous as the birthplace of Benaiah, one of David's mighty men (2 Samuel 23:30). The Pharathon which is mentioned in 1 Macc. 9:50, and by Josephus, following its authority, as fortified by Jonathan the brother of Judas may have been the same, though its collocation between Titans and Tekoah rather suggests a more southern position; and the Ferata found by Robinson between two and three hours from Samaria, south-south-west, on the way to Jerusalem, seems certainly to represent Pirathon.

12:14

Nephews. Rather, grandsons. Hebrew, son's son. The number of his family, and their being all mounted on asses, are indications of his wealth and state (see above, 8:30; 10:4), and perhaps also of peaceful and prosperous times.

12:15

The mount of the Amalekites. This name points to some incident of which the memory is lost, though, with the usual tenacity of names, the name which once recorded it survives. It may have been some ancient settlement of the Amalekites, who were a very wandering, wide-spread race, which gave the name; or it may have been some great defeat and slaughter which they suffered from the Israelites, whose land they invaded ( 6:3, 6:33), just as the rock Oreb and the wine-press of Zeeb ( 7:25) commemorated the victory over those princes.

HOMILETICS

12:8-15

The calm after the storm.

Jephthah's day of life had been a stormy one indeed. The strife with his own brethren; the strife with the children of Ammon; the strife between nature and superstition, and the throbbings of a distracted heart; the strife with the tribe of Ephraim, and the strife with a premature death under which he sunk, marked him as a "man of strife" ( 12:2 in the Hebrew, and Jeremiah 15:10) all his days, both him and "his people." But now there came quiet, uneventful days both for Israel and his rulers. There is no mention of foreign foe or of domestic discord. Scenes of family life take the place of the martial muster and the bloody fight. There is nothing to record save how long the judges judged, when they died, and where they were buried. We infer, indeed, from the fact that there were judges the continual care of God for his people, and from the absence of invasion and servitude we infer that the people did not forsake God. But more than this we do not know, nor over how great a part of Israel these judgeships did extend. But the reflection cannot but arise that it is not good for a people to be in continual strife. Struggles for supremacy over enemies without, and conflict for the settlement of government at home, should have their term, and give way to enjoyment of prosperity and peace. The happiest times in a nation's life are not always those that shine the brightest on the page of history. And so in the life of the individual. Though the surface of his life be not ruffled, nor its tenor varied by any startling changes, there may be a hidden work of God going on in the soul more momentous than the gain or loss of fortunes, or any vicissitudes of sickness and of health. Faith may be waxing stronger, and love may be burning brighter; patience may be perfecting her work, and the spirit of meekness may be steadily gaining ground over the spirit of wrath and intolerance; the knowledge of Jesus Christ may be filling the field of the soul's vision, and the kingdom of heaven may be drawing nearer to the soul's embrace, and yet the outward life may be monotonous and uneventful. Anyhow let us use the calm and untempestuous moments of our life to make undisturbed progress in the great business of our salvation; and in the assurance of God's unwearied love let us pursue our own quiet round of meditation, and prayer, and praise. Great events and mighty deeds figure on the page of history, but the soul's progress in holiness is worthy to be recorded by an angel's pen.

12:8-15

Cf. on 10:1-5.—M.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Judges 12:4". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/judges-12.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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