Natan’s Commentary on Jephthah and Samson

Judges 11

Jephthah—A Man of Faith From “the Other Side of the Tracks”

Judges 11:1–2, Was the son of a harlot. YHVH can raise up anyone to accomplish his purposes—even men of low degree. YHVH does not judge a man by his outward appearances, but by the condition of his heart (1 Sam 16:7). In YHVH’s eyes, what was Jephthah? (See verse 1.) Are there specters from your past that still haunt you and hold you back, or have you overcome them by the blood of the Lamb and assumed your new identity as more than a conqueror who is seated in heavenly places with Yeshua? (Read Phil 4:13; Rom 8:37; Rev 12:11; Col 2:12; Eph 2:6; for your inspiration and edification; also read Zec 4:6 and 1 Cor 1:27.) YHVH can take any vessel, no matter how average it may be, and elevate it for his purposes providing the vessel has faith and willingness to be used. In this way, YHVH and not man gets the glory. Will you be such a vessel in YHVH’s hands?

Judges 11:12, Jephthah sent messengers unto the king. Before going to war with the people of Ammon, Jephthah made every effort to diplomatically resolve Israel’s differences with that hostile nation. Armed conflict was still the result, and YHVH gave Israel the victory.

What can we learn from this? Yeshua instructs us to make every attempt to create peace with our enemies before resorting to legal (or in Jephtha’s case, lethal) means (Matt 5:25–26). When all else fails, if one is walking in the paths of righteousness, know that YHVH will back you when, as a last resort, you come to blows with your enemies.

In Scripture, there exists no prohibition against self defense. Some will use Yeshua’s admonition to turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39) as justification not to defend oneself against an aggressor, and that somehow doing so will be a witness to one’s enemy of the love of Yeshua. Not defending oneself may accomplish this noble goal, but more likely the aggressor will view it as a sign of weakness to justify increased aggression against you and your loved ones. 

When Yeshua said to turn the other cheek what did he really mean? Was Yeshua justifying pacifism in place of self defense? According to Hebrew scholars, David Biven and Roy Blizzard, pacifism has never been part of Hebrew thought or culture. It is permissible to kill in order to defend oneself. The authors point out that some of Yeshua’s disciples were armed (Luke 22:38, 50), and that once Yeshua even suggested that his disciples purchase swords (Luke 22:35–37). When instructing his disciples to turn the other cheek, Yeshua was not talking about how to deal with violent aggressors such as rapists, robbers, or murderers, or when facing an enemy in battle. Rather he was talking about the fundamentals of brotherly relationship—how to relate to our neighbors. In other words, if a friend embarrasses us by slapping us in the face, we are not to slap him back, but instead to offer him the other cheek. This has nothing to do with a battlefield situation or when dealing with a violent aggressor. (Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus, pp. 68–71). In other words, when it comes to offensive words or actions from brother in the faith, we need to let offences simply roll off our back, for love covers a multitude of sin (1 Pet 4:8).

Judges 11:29, Then the Spirit of YHVH came upon Jephthah. There are those who claim that the power and gifts of YHVH’s Spirit were unknown in biblical times prior to the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two. This is not altogether true when one considers this passage concerning Jephthah. What are some other examples of YHVH’s Spirit coming upon Israelites in the prior to the Pentecost? (See Num 11:26–27; 24:2; Judg 3:10; 6:34; 13:25; 14:6,19; 15:14; 1 Sam 10:11; 11:6; 19:20–24; 1 Chron 12:18; 2 Chron 24:20.)

Judges 11:30–31, For a burnt offering (KJV); or as a burnt offering (NAS, NIV, NKJV); or as an elevation offering (ASET). This doesn’t mean that Jephthah literally made a human sacrifice of his daughter, for this would not only have violated the Torah, but would have been subscribing to the most heinous and vile of heathen practices, that of human sacrifice to their gods. Not only that, the Torah made provisions for one who made a rash and illegal vow. It was considered a sin to so, and atonement could be made for it by making the required sin offering (Lev 5:4–6).

More realistically, Jephthah consecrated his daughter to YHVH for the rest of her life (like a Nazarite) to remain in a virginal state (which is why she bewailed her virginity and Jephthah had no descendants — a terrible price to pay for a rash vow, yet to Jephthah’s credit for keeping his vow to Elohim even to his own hurt —a mark of a righteous man (Ps 15:4; Heb 11:32). Perhaps Yeshua had this incident in mind when he instructed his disciples to not swear an oath at all, but to give one’s word only by saying “yes” and “no” (Matt 5:34–37).

Judges 11:30, Jephthah vowed a vow. Rash words (or vows) spoken may come back to haunt a person. Be careful with the mouth. Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words there lacks not sin, but he that refrains his lips is wise.” Not only that, was Jephthah attempting to negotiate with YHVH? If so, was this a wise move? Does YHVH really need or want anything that we could possible give him in order to curry his favor? There is only one thing that he wants from us. What is that? (Read Hos 6:6; 1 Sam 15:22; Mic 6:8; Isa 66:2.) The heart of man is always the issue with YHVH! (See 1 Sam 16:7; 1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22.)

Judges 13

The Birth of Samson—A Mighty Man on the Outside, But Weak on the Inside

Ever since the death of Joshua and during the time of the judges the spiritual and moral state of Israel slowly declined until the time of Samson. As The ArtScroll Rubin Edition Joshua/Judges Commentary points out, ­Samson was a new kind of judge. “Up to this point, Israel’s sins would lead to foreign domination, followed by repentance and the emergence of a judge who would lead the people to defeat and expel the enemy. In this new period, the people’s descent was so serious that they did not merit a complete salvation of the sort that had been achieved by such judges as Deborah and Gideon.” Nevertheless, it was not in YHVH’s overall plan to let Israel’s enemies go completely unchecked so that the sublimation and eventual destruction of Israel would be complete. He used Samson to check the Philistines’ quest to totally subjugate the nation of Israel and to punish the former, while at the same time YHVH extended grace to Israel by relieving them of some pressure from their enemies (p. 195).

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Natan’s Commentary on Judges 4 and 5

Judges 4

Judges 4:4, Deborah the prophetess. Deborah is but one of a number of women prophets or, more correctly, prophetesses that are mentioned in the Bible. Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron was the first prophetess mentioned (Exod 15:20). Huldah the prophetess ministered in the time of righteous King Josiah (2 Kgs 22:14; 2 Chron 34:22). The wife of Isaiah the prophet was also a prophetess making them a prophetic team (Isa 8:3). Noadiah the prophetess ministered in the time of Nehemiah (Neh 6:14). She must have been notable, since other prophets, presumably male, are listed along with her, but she is the only one whose name is mentioned. There was also Anna the prophetess who ministered near the temple and recognized the young Yeshua to be the Messiah (Luke 2:36). Philip the evangelist had four daughters who also prophesied (Acts 21:9). Beyond that, Joel the prophet predicted that a time would come when both men and women would prophecy (Joel 2:28). Peter recognized that this prophecy was, at least, in part fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17). Joel’s prophecy was also likely fulfilled in the church at Corinth where everyone was allowed to prophecy, presumably both men and women, for the purpose of edifying the brethren (1 Cor 14:29–33), and Paul refers to them all as “prophets” (1 Cor 14:29, 32).

The wife of Lapidoth (KJV). The ArtScroll Tanach has translated this phrase as “a fiery woman” since the Hebrew word lapid means torch. This implies that Deborah was energetic and decisive. The Jewish sages teach that Lapidoth is but another name for Barak since both names connote flashes of lightning, and therefore are used interchangeably (The ArtScroll Rubin Edition Joshua/Judges Commentary, p. 137). If the sages are correct, then Deborah was assisting her husband, Barak. He was the military leader of Israel, while she was the spiritual leader. Does this shake your paradigm about the role of women in biblical societies? Many times fiery women are labeled and branded as persona non grata. Is this a fair thing to do if they are women who walk in and uphold biblical standards of righteousness, and who honor and defer to male headship, if there is righteous male headship worthy of honor?

Often Barak is viewed as a reluctant, even cowardly military leader. Is this a fair assessment? Didn’t he display great faith when he heeded the Word of Elohim through Deborah, and furthermore abandoned the strategic high ground when attacking the enemy on the plain where the enemy’s chariots would be most advantageous? If Barak and Deborah were husband and wife, what does this story teach us about husbands and wives not only respecting, but heeding each other’s counsel, and then working together as a team? Who knows, YHVH may be using your wife or husband to speak to you right now!

Judging Israel at that time. Not only was Deborah a prophetess, but she acted as a judge—a de facto head leadership position in Israel at that time when there was not central leadership or government.

Judges 4:11, 17, The children of Hobab. This is another name for Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, the priest of Midian, who was a righteous man and a descendant of Abraham. Thus, the children of Hobab and the Israelites were blood related cousins and possibly fellow believers in the Elohim of Abraham. Perhaps this is why Jael was willing to kill Sisera, the heathen enemy of Israel. Because of family and, possibly, spiritual ties, despite her people being at peace with Israel’s enemies, who was will to kill Sisera out of family loyalty and devotion to Elohim.

Judges 4:14, Deborah said to Barak. Deborah, on the instructions of Elohim, commissioned Barak to go up with his army to fight Sisera with his 900 chariots of iron. This required great faith and human boldness on Barak’s part, for this would be like lightly armed infantry soldiers in our day going up against tanks. Yet armed with a prophetic word from Elohim and faith, Barak obeyed. Had Barak been a sexist, he would have dismissed the prophetesses words and not secured the victory for Israel. If Barak was the wife of Deborah (see notes at verse 4), then the lesson here is that men should listen to their godly wives. If they were not married, then men still need to listen to the counsel of godly and Spirit-led women.

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Natan’s Commentary on Judges 1–3

Judges 1

Judges 1:2, Judah shall go up. Elohim has traditionally used the tribe of Judah (from which come the Jews) as the leader of the other eleven tribes of Israel. For example, when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, Judah was the first of the twelve tribes to break camp and lead the way to the next camp (Num 2:9; 10:14). At times, YHVH instructed Judah to lead the way into battle (e.g., Judg 20:18). From Judah came the kings of Israel including the Messiah,who is the Lion (or King) of the Tribe of Judah (Gen 48:8–12; Ps 78:68–72; Heb 7:14; Rev 5:5). Jerusalem, the capital of Israel was located in the area of Judah. In the regathering of the tribes of Israel back to the Promised Land as numerous Bible prophecies predict will occur in the end times and on into the millennial reign of Yeshua, the Jews will be the first to return to the land of Israel as we have seen occurring in recent history in the rebirth of what is currently known as “the (Jewish) State of Israel.”

Judges 1:28–7, Jerusalem. The Jews temporarily took possession of Jerusalem, but quickly lost it to the Canaanites (v. 21). David eventually retook it and  made it the capital of Israel several hundred years later. By this time, the Canaanites had fortified the city to such an extent that it could not easily be taken by a frontal attack.

Judges 1:12, Caleb. Caleb, the native Canaanite, was grafted into the tribe of Judah. (See notes at Num 13:16.) 

Judges 1:20, Sons of Anak. The Anakim were the remnants of the satanic nephilim of Genesis 6:2–4, or the giants that inhabited the Promised Land, and which YHVH instructed the Israelites to annihilate.

Judges 1:21, The Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem. After quickly taking Jerusalem from the Canaanites (v. 8), the Israelites promptly lost it again. The Israelites were generally overwhelmingly victorious in the their battles against the Canaanites while taking possession of the Promised Land, but not always. In this case, the took and then quickly lost Jerusalem. This teaches us that, even with Elohim on our side, sometimes our battles against our enemies is not always immediately conclusive. We have to struggle a while before we eventually come out on top. Our enemies could be financial, marital, human relationship, health, familial or other issues.

Judges 1:27–36, [Did not] drive out. As we move in to the Promised Land of our spiritual inheritance, even with Elohim on our side, our battles against the world, the flesh and devil are not always immediately conclusive. Sometimes the immediate victory that should be ours eludes us. For example, sometimes saints die before their time due to sickness, but the will achieve the ultimate victory when they receive their glorified body and full spiritual inheritance at the resurrection of the righteous dead and the second coming of Yeshua.

Judges 2

Judges 2:1, 4, Angel of YHVH. Yeshua is speaking to us to day through his word and Spirit to make no alliances with the world, tear down the pagan altars in our lives all in preparation to be his bride.

Judges 2:2, Make no covenant. Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. This can only lead to one to spiritual compromise and accommodation with the world, the flesh and the devil and lead one away from YHVH. This includes business partners, marriage partners and other voluntary close relationships where a saint is not in complete control of a situation and is thus potential subject to the influence of those who do not follow biblical standards.

Tear down their altars. We cannot go out into the world and tear its altars, but we can tear down the altars to pagan gods in our churches and our lives today.

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New Video: The West Is Past Repentance & Is Pre-Judgment

The Bible is a book of historical lessons. History repeats itself because human nature has never changed. From the Book of Judges, we can learn some important lessons pertaining to the end times. For example, the Western nations including America have lost their way morally and spiritually. They have lost their conscience and are past the ability to repent. This is because they don’t even know what repentance is or what to repent of! Only YHVH’s judgments unto repentance remain to awaken these so-called Christian nations spiritually as this video reveals.


Deborah Was a Fiery Woman of YHVH

Haftorah Reading—Judges 4:4-5:31

The Torah and Haftorah portions for this week bear many similarities. In both pericopes, Israel was languishing under oppressive foreign powers, YHVH sent them a savior to deliver them and through miracles and against overwhelming odds, Israel defeated its oppressors and the nation was brought to a new spiritual level. Prophets were instrumental in both cases, and women were used of YHVH in the deliverance of his people. And finally, both scenarios climax in the production of a psalm of praise to YHVH for his mighty hand in setting his people free.

The beautiful gothic girl holds a sword in a hand

1 The story of Deborah often brings up the question concerning the role of women among YHVH’s people. Proponents of women in leadership roles point to Deborah as a champion to their cause. Those who decry any sort of women leadership blush when the example of Deborah is brought up and are often quick to add that she was a one-time exception to this rule. What is the truth as presented by Scripture? Please note the role of women in Scripture by reviewing the following examples as Batya Wootten points out in Continue reading


Offense Is the Best Defense…Keeping Your Spiritual Sword Sharp

Judges 3:2, Taught to war. Among other reasons, YHVH allowed some of the Canaanites to remain in the land of Israel not only as a spiritual test to the Israelites to see if they would  remain faithful to YHVH in the face of worldly pressures (Judg 3:4), but so that they wouldn’t forget how to wage warfare.


Once a person or a people have received their inheritance, it’s easy to become soft, lazy and complacent. If they don’t fight to hang on to their inheritance, they will usually end up losing it. This often happens to those who become the beneficiaries of sudden wealth (e.g., through inheritance or the lottery). They have never learned how to appreciate and to manage properly their resources because they never had to work hard to earn it, so they don’t value it as much as someone who started with nothing from scratch.

Each new generation must learn to maintain what has been given to them and then fight to hold on to it.

Likewise, each new disciple of Yeshua must also learn the principles of spiritual warfare and how to resist the enemy, so they don’t lose the precious spiritual gifts YHVH has given them through Yeshua the Messiah. If they take their spiritual inheritance for granted and become complacent, YHVH will allow their enemies to rise up and to test them.

Some disciples who have drifted away from YHVH will pass the test and defeat the enemies and return to YHVH. Others will continue down the slippery slope of drifting away from YHVH and will slowly “intermarry” with the enemy. This is what happened to the majority of Israelites during the time of the judges as we see in verse six of this chapter.