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all their enemies on every side," and acting ungratefully to the house of Gideon.
Q. What was the consequence of this apostacy?
A. The Ammonites, laying claim to the lands on the east of Jordan,* attacked and subdued the Israelites in that region, and oppressed them severely eighteen years.t Meanwhile Abimelech, one of the sons of Gideon, taking advantage of the prevailing anarchy, conspired against his brethren, and slew them all upon one stone, except Jotham, who escaped by concealment. He was then made king by the Shechemites, and reigned over part of the land for three years.
Q. How did Abimelech's reign terminate ?
A. Quarrelling with the Shechemites, he warred against them and defeated them; but approaching the gate of the tower of Thebez to set it on fire, a woman threw a piece of a milstone upon his head and brake his skull. A. M. 2855. Q. Who succeeded him ? B. C. 1149. A. Tola. A. M. 2870. Q. What occurred in the sixteenth year B, C. 1134. of Tola's administration ?
A. The Ammonites, who had already oppressed the Reubenites, Gadites, and Manassites, eighteen years, crossed the Jordan to attack Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraimn.
* Judg. xi. 13. + x. 8.
ix. 23, 24. Fancying it disgraceful to be slain by a woman, he requested his armour-bearer to thrust him through with his sword.
Judg. x. 8, 9.
Q. What did the Israelites do in this extremity ?
A. They cried earnestly to God for help ; put away their strange gods ; and then, assembling an army, invited Jephthah to the command, with a promise that he should be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.*
Q. Were the Israelites united on this occasion ?
A. No : the Ephraimites, the most powerful tribet in Israel, remained neutral. I
Q. Did Jephthah accept the command ?
4. Yes : he accepted the government of Gilead, and immediately sent a remonstrance to the king of Ammon, but in vain.
Q. What was the consequence ?
A. The Spirit of the Lord coming upon Jephthah, he led his army against the Ammonites; vowing, that if the Lord delivered them into his hand, he would offer for a burnt offering, whatsoever came out of the door of his house to meet him.
Q. What was the result of the battle ?
* Judg. x. 18. xi. 8.
+ The Ephraimites being by far the most powerful of the tribes, in process of time gave their name to the other ten, -Psl. Ixxviii. 67. Isa. ix. 9. 21. xi. 13. and several places in Hosea, and elsewhere. They were very warlike, and hence the expression, Psl. lxxviii. 9. #Judg. xii. 2. 3.
From this remonstrance it is evident that Israel, before the Ammonitish invasion, had possessed the lands eastward of Jordan three hundred years.---Judg. xi, 26.
of the Israelites, who routed them with great slaughter, and smote twenty of their cities. A. M. 2870. Q. Did this victory complete the deB. C. 1134. liverance of Israel ?
A. No: the Philistines subdued the south-western parts of Israel, and subjected the people to great privations and oppression,* for forty years.
Judges x. 7, 8.-xiii. 1. Among the various attempts made to illustrate this most difficult epocha of sacred history, that which seems to do least violence to the record, is the scheme of Dr. Caverhill, in his Exposition of the seventy weeks, for which see Chron. Tab. No. 3. According to Sir John Mar. sham and Dr. Hales, the servitude under the Ammonites did not commence till after the reign and administrations of Abimelech, Tola, and Jair,-a period of forty-eight years, making with the administration of Gideon, eighty-eight years : whereas the rest following his victory is expressly limited to forty years, Judg. viii. 28. And unless that expression defines the period of the rest, it will not be an easy matter to know what it means, or why it is used. Sir John Marsham synchronizes the oppressions of the Amnonites and Philistines; but Dr. Hales, in his Analysis of Scripture Chronology, interposes between them the government of Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon,-a period of thirty-one years : whereas the sacred historian, Judges x. 6, 7, 8. having observed that the Lord sold the Israelites into the hands of the Philistines and Ammonites, takes care to make this distinction--that in that year, when this double servitude commenced on the west of Jordan, the Ammonites had already oppressed the Gileadites eighteen years; but now, intending to enlarge their conquests, they passed over Jordan to attack Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim, v. 9. These observations will be corroborated by considering the position of the respective countries. Jeplıthah delivered his own country, eastern Israel, which was contiguons to Ammon,
Q. How was Jephthah received on his return home?
A. His daughter, an only child, with her companions, met him with timbrels and with dances; and when he saw her, he rent his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low :—for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back. And she said unto him, My father,--do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies.-Let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my
fellows." Q. Was this respite given?
and became head over the Gileadites only,Judg.x. 17, 18.-xi. 911. and was followed in that government by other judges; for the Gileadites seem to have preserved a distinet polity even in the days of Sau), 1 Chron. v. 9, 10, 18–22. The countries of Judah and Dan, were in the immediate vicinity of the Phi. listines, by whom they were subdued ; and from Dan the Lord raised up a deliverer in the person of Samson, Judg. xiii. 2— 25. The subject, however, is confessedly embarrassing; and, amid a variety of schemes devised to clear up difficulties, every one will, of course, chuse that which, to him, appears most agreeable to truth. Dr. A. Clarke, in the preface to the book of Judges in his Commentary, after giving the schemes of Archbishop Ussher, Sir John Marsbam, and Dr. Hales, observes, “ I have my doubts whether the author of this book ever designed to produce the subject in a strict chronological series. The book appears to have been composed of historical memoranda, having very little relation to each other, or among themselves.”_See Notes to Chron. Tab. No. 3.
A. Yes : and “at the end of two months she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow.'
Q. How was this circumstance commemorated ?
A. “The daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year."+
Q. Was Jephthah's victory a cause of gratulation to all Israel ?
A. No : the Ephraimites, envying Jephthah the distinction he had obtained for himself and the Gileadites, attacked him with a strong army. This he defeated ; and, having secured the fords of Jordan which they had to pass in their way home, slew of them forty-two thousand men. A. M. 2875. Q. How long did Jephthah judge Gilead? B. C. 1129. A. Six years.
Q. Who succeeded him?
A. Ibzan, of Bethlehem : he had thirty sons and thirty danghters.
Q. How long did Tola judge Israel?
* See Appendix L.
+ See Appendix F. + This is mentioned to the honour of Ibzan ; a numerous family being considered, in ancient times, as a very signal blessing, Gen. xv. 5.-xvii. 20.—xxviii. 3.—xlviii. 16, 19, 20, Deut. i. 11. 1 Chron. xxv. 5.-xxvi. 5. Psalm cxxvii. 3-5. -cxxviii: and a failure of posterity, as a curse, Ruth i. 19-21. Psalm xxxvii. 28.