Jephthah is one of the lesser known judges of Israel. He judged for only 6 years, but God saw fit to give Him nearly two full chapters. Toward the end of the account of his rule, there is a dispute that breaks out among the people of Israel. The people of Ephraim come out against Jephthah and the people of Gilead, angered that they were not called to assist in the fight against the Ammonites. This dispute led to a battle that left thousands of Ephraimites dead.
This was not a happy time for the people of Israel. Civil war is never pretty and always destructive, and in this instance, it could have been solved with some patience and a lesson in overcoming jealousy. I think it’s easy to forget how quickly we can fall into the same things. When we take our eyes off Christ, we are capable of anything, even bitter, lasting feuds that tear our families apart.
This passage is a reminder to me that we need to learn to rejoice with those who rejoice. The people of Ephraim should have come out to celebrate with the Gileadites in their victory over their common enemies, but they became jealous and were destroyed because of it. But if we remember that we are all part of the Kingdom of God, and a victory for one is a victory for all, then we will live in peace with one another through Christ, who unites us in His Holy Spirit.