Jepthah entertains contention with Ephraim. Ephraim is upset because they were not contacted by Jephthah to help fight and defeat the people of Ammon. Ephraim is so offended at this that they claim they will burn Jephthah’s people in their homes.
So all the people of Gilead fought Ephraim and destroyed them, ridding the land of a self-seeking faction. Note the interesting method of identifying an Ephraimite with the pronunciation of “Shibboleth.” 42,000 of them died due to foolish pride.
Jephthah dies and is buried. After him comes Ibzan, Elon and Abdon. These last three were attended by years of calm, indicating peace and blessings. Given the choice, man would rather live in times of peace than in times of turmoil.
Think about the pride of Ephraim that would have caused the aggression at the start of the chapter. They were offended because they were not invited to help fight. In their minds, Jepthah’s people saw Ephraim as too weak to fight, or their strength was not worth an invitation. Ephraim was very wrong to think this way. Their pride clouded their ability to see what was most important: Ammon was defeated. From verse 2, Jephthah indicates that Ephraim was called, but they did not deliver.
How many relationships have you seen tainted with pride? Has an erroneous assumption led you to disagreements and arguments that really were unnecessary? Sometimes when we are the one holding pride and acting on behalf of it, it is very hard to see and even harder to admit our role as the wrongful instigator. The justification for such things is often far too easy and convenient.
The remedy is to work for peace. Be a peacekeeper. If I sacrifice my desire for praise, my desire for the spotlight and my desire to be right, I can mend infinite fences, I can be the answer instead of the problem.
Also, sometimes God will bless us with the praise and the spotlight if we act with humility, but never if the praise or the spotlight is our goal.