“They did WHAT??”
He whipped around and bellowed, infuriated.
The servant drew back and stammered, “Well, they…they threatened to burn down your house, sir.” He flinched, swallowed and continued, “they, um, want to know why you didn’t invite them to the battle.”
“Didn’t invite them to the battle?? I just SAVED the nation and they’re mad that I didn’t invite them to the BATTLE??
We have been struggling with Ammon for months! Did they come to our aid then? NO! I risked my neck to take care of this mess for everyone’s sake and now Ephraim wants to know why they weren’t INVITED??”
He was screaming now, pacing, gesturing wildly with his sword.
The servant reached back for the door, “I’ll leave you to decide on a reply, sir,” he breathed weakly.
“No,” Jepthah steadied himself on the table and exhaled. He turned to his servant, slowly, menacingly, his speech now cool and even,
“Send a runner to ask them why they have come to fight me."
"I can go to them sir, I..."
"No! You gather the men of Gilead. We'll take the fords of the Jordan before they arrive and kill anyone with that slimy accent who tries to pass.
This ends now. ”
...and 42,000 Ephraimites fell that day.
Ephraim picked the fight. They did it when Gideon was judge over Israel, too. But the difference between Gideon and Jepthah’s response is striking.
Gideon: What is my victory compared to yours? Then tempers cooled.
Jepthah: Why do you want to fight me? Then battle ensued.
If Ephraim really wanted to destroy Jepthah, they probably would have just burned down his house instead of threatening. I think this was an issue of honor. Gideon saw their offense and responded gently; Jepthah saw his own and went to war.
At that point, 42,000 men were dead.
Did it really matter who was right?
From Beka's Journal: