Jephthah’s father is Gilead. His mother is a prostitute. The Bible doesn’t even bother to give her name. So begins the life of Jephthah. When he is older, his half brothers, sons of his father’s wife, chase Jephthah away. They don’t want him sharing in their inheritance. He leaves, carrying with him the stigma of his bastard birth.
We can only wonder if Jephthah’s mother has an ongoing relationship with his dad or if Jephthah’s conception is the result of a single night of unrestrained lust. Scripture doesn’t say if Jephthah’s mother has other children or if she ever pulls herself out of a lifestyle of selling her body.
We don’t know if Jephthah’s mother is part of his life after he is born or if she retreats with him when he leaves town. Does Jephthah even know who his mom is? Scripture doesn’t tell us anything about her life or what forced her into prostitution. We only know that she has a son named Jephthah.
However, we do find out what happens to her son. When the townspeople need help, they know who to turn to. They retrieve Jephthah from exile and elevate him to commander over their army. God’s spirit fills Jephthah. He is empowered. Jephthah leads the army into battle and scores a mighty victory, not only for the townspeople but for the entire nation of Israel. Jephthah is a hero, and he leads the people for the rest of his life.
Like Jephthah’s mother, we may not be living the life we want. We may not even be able to rise above our situation, but our reality doesn’t need to form our children’s future. With God’s spirit they can rise above their circumstances and succeed. May it be so.
What can we do to help the next generation have a better future?
[Discover more about Jephthah’s mom in Judges 11:1–33.]
Read about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and numerous books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.