So Jephthah is the son of a prostitute who is rejected by his half-siblings. He is then called on to lead the Israelites against the Ammonites. He had been something of a ruffian with a group of “adventurers” gathered around him. It makes you think of the bands in the hills in old western movies. He succeeds in his battle, but foolishly he vowed to God to sacrifice the first person he met when returning home, which is his daughter, his only child. He did give a nice little historical account of how Israel came to hold the land that the Ammonites wanted back. After this he gets into a conflict with another tribe, and all those who said “shibboleth” with an “s” in stead of an “sh” sound were slain. (Jd 12:1-7)
Nice guy. You have to wonder why it is that this man, who only gets half of the meaning of his history right, is filled with the spirit to lead the people.(Jd 11:29) Then we compare him to Samson who had issues with his girlfriend, and Gideon who had personal family problems. In fact, none of the judges are great and good at the same time.
One message seems to be that then the general moral climate is degraded, you can only find degraded leaders. Jephthah seems to be a relfection of his own people – who sort of follow and sort of make it up as they go.
In general the Lord uses flawed people, because they are the only ones available. By the time we come to the New Testament, there is a higher standard for leadership in the churches – which assumes that there is a depth of spiritual talent to draw from.
It is hard to rise above the tide.