In Judges 11:1-2, we are introduced to a guy named Jephthah the Gileadite. He was a mighty warrior who later became a judge of Israel. His father was Gilead. His mother was a prostitute. From the way his half-brothers treated him, it is likely that his mother was out of his life. Verse 2 reads:
Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away. “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said, “because you are the son of another woman.”
Because they did not share the same mother, Jephthah’s half-brothers hated on him. Their hate made him run away from the family and recruit his own gang of scoundrels who followed him everywhere. Later, however, when the tribe of Gilead was in trouble, the elders asked Jephthah to return and help them fight their enemies. He did so, and led Israel for six years. Even though he did not know his mother and was disliked by his half-brothers, things turned out okay for Jephthah – except for the incident with his daughter, which you can read about here.
1. Gilead’s wife and Jephthah’s mother did not give birth to an illegitimate child. When children are born out-of-wedlock, they have often wrongly been called illegitimate. It is not the child, however, that should be labeled as illegitimate, but the parents. It is not the child who should bear the shame of the manner in which he or she was born, but the parents. After Jephthah was born, it is likely that his mother did not take any part in his life. He was raised by his father, around a step-mother and step-brothers who didn’t like having him around. Even with the unfortunate situation he was born into, Jephthah came to realize like the Psalmist, “though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” Jephthah found love, strength, comfort, and victory throughout his life by depending on God.
We can only hope that Jephthah’s mother found the same as her son. Abandoned by her lover and without her child, we can only hope that she too found love, comfort, hope, and strength in the Lord like fellow female Hagar did when she was driven out into the wilderness. Just as Jephthah came to realize that God does not reject the illegitimately born, we can hope that Jephthah’s mother came to realize that neither does God reject those who illegitimately give birth. God loves women who are pure and women who are prostitutes alike. Anyone who believes in Him and loves Him back are no longer illegitimate children, but beloved children of the heavenly family of God.