Bible stories: Rahab Gideon Jephthah
Rahab hiding the spies
Upon arriving before Jericho, which was the first city taken by the Israelites in the conquest of Canaan, Joshua sent two spies into the city to ascertain its condition and strength. These spies were received into the house of " Rahab, the harlot," whose dwelling stood on one of the massive walls of the city, and who had become convinced that it was the purpose of Jehovah to give the land to the Israelites, since she believed him to be the true God. In this faith she hid the spies, misdirected the officers of the king who came in search of them, and sent them out of the city in fruitless pursuit; and then let down the spies from a window of her house over the city wall, after they had sworn to save her family in the destruction of the city. For this act she and her family were alone saved out of all the population of Jericho ; and she became the ancestress of David and Jesus Christ.
During the period of the Judges, Israel frequently relapsed into the grossest idolatry, and the worship of Baal was openly practised. Their punish merit followed swiftly upon their sin. The Midianites and Amalekites overran the land, plundered the Israelites and reduced them to a shameful slavery. Gideon, a valiant and distinguished man of the tribe of Manasseh, was called by the Lord to deliver Israel from their slavery and to restore the worship of Jehovah. He overthrew the altar of Baal, destroyed the idols of the people, and became the recognized leader of the little army of Israel in the conflict with the Midianites and Amalekites which ensued. He took position on Mount Gilboa, overlooking the great plain of Esdraelon, in which the host of the enemy lay. Before the conflict, Gideon prayed for a sign that God would save Israel by his hand. He spread a fleece of wool on his threshing-floor, and asked that it might be wet with dew while the earth around was dry, and in the morning he wrung a bowl full of water from the fleece. He prayed again for a sign. Heavy dews are common in the highlands of Palestine, and water has been wrung out of clothes which have been exposed during the entire night. This time, however, the fleece remained dry, while the earth around was wet. In accordance with his promise, the Lord gave Gideon a signal triumph over his enemies, but it was one that was not won by the valor of Israel, but by the power of Jehovah. (Judg. vii.)
JEPHTHAH met by his daughters
Jephthah, one of the most famous of the Judges of Israel, was the son of Gilead by a concubine of the lowest class. He entirely destroyed the power of the Ammonites, and reduced them to a . state of subjection which lasted until the reign of Saul. At the outset of his campaign, he made that rash vow which has ever since-been associated with his name, devoting to Jehovah, as a burnt-offering, whatsoever should come forth out of his door to meet him, if he returned in peace a victor over the Ammonites. Upon his triumphal return to his home, the first person to meet him was his daughter. In his anguish he told her of his vow. The maiden submitted, asking only a respite of two months, during which time she and her companions wandered over the mountains of Gilead bewailing her sad fate, and especially that which, to a Hebrew woman, was the worst part of her doom, the loss of the hope of offspring, and so of the possible honor of being the mother of the Messiah. At the end of the two months she returned to her father, "who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed,'' words which can leave no possible doubt as to her fate.
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From: The Devotional and Practical Pictorial Family Bible, Copyright, by J. R. Jones, 1879.
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