Judges 11Amplified Bible (AMP)
Jephthah the Ninth Judge
11 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a brave warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute. Gilead was the father of Jephthah. 2 Gilead’s wife bore him sons, and when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You shall not have an inheritance in our father’s house, because you are the son of another woman.” 3 Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob; and worthless and unprincipled men gathered around Jephthah, and went out [on raids] with him.
4 Now it happened after a while that the Ammonites fought against Israel. 5 When the Ammonites fought against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob; 6 and they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our leader, so that we may fight against the Ammonites.” 7 But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me and drive me from the house of my father? Why have you come to me now when you are in trouble?” 8 The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “This is why we have turned to you now: that you may go with us and fight the Ammonites and become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” 9 So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back [home] to fight against the Ammonites and the Lord gives them over to me, will I [really] become your head?” 10 The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord is [a]the witness between us; be assured that we will do as you have said.” 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and leader over them. And Jephthah [b]repeated everything that he had promised before the Lord at Mizpah.
12 Now Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites, saying, “What is [the problem] between you and me, that you have come against me to fight in my land?” 13 The Ammonites’ king replied to the messengers of Jephthah, “It is because Israel took away [c]my land when they came up from Egypt, from the [river] Arnon as far as the Jabbok and [east of] the Jordan; so now, return those lands peaceably.” 14 But Jephthah sent messengers again to the king of the Ammonites, 15 and they said to him, “This is what Jephthah says: ‘Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites. 16 For when they came up from Egypt, Israel walked through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh; 17 then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please let us pass through your land,” but the king of Edom would not listen. Also they sent word to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel stayed at Kadesh. 18 Then they went through the wilderness and went around the land of Edom and the land of Moab, and came to the east side of the land of Moab, and they camped on the other side of the [river] Arnon; but they did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the [northern] boundary of Moab. 19 Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon, and Israel said to him, “Please let us pass through your land to our place.” 20 But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory; so Sihon gathered together all his people and camped at Jahaz and fought against Israel. 21 The Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them; so Israel took possession of all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. 22 They took possession of all the territory of the Amorites, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok, and from the wilderness [westward] as far as the Jordan. 23 [d]And now the Lord God of Israel has dispossessed and driven out the Amorites from before His people Israel, so [why] should you possess it? 24 Do you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? And everything that the Lord our God dispossessed before us, we will possess. 25 Now are you any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever go to war against them? 26 While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities along the banks of the Arnon for three hundred years, why did you not recover your lost lands during that time? 27 So I have not sinned against you, but you are doing me wrong by making war against me; may the Lord, the [righteous] Judge, judge this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.’” 28 But the king of the Ammonites disregarded the message of Jephthah, which he sent to him.
Jephthah’s Tragic Vow
29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. 30 Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If You will indeed give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” 32 Then Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight with them; and the Lord gave them into his hand. 33 And from Aroer to the entrance of Minnith he struck them, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim (brook by the vineyard), with a very great defeat. So the Ammonites were subdued and humbled before the Israelites.
34 Then Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, and this is what he saw: his daughter coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. And she was his only child; except for her he had no son or daughter. 35 And when he saw her, he tore his clothes [in grief] and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me great disaster, and you are the cause of ruin to me; for I have [e]made a vow to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.” 36 And she said to him, “My father, you have made a vow to the Lord; do to me as you have vowed, since the Lord has taken vengeance for you on your enemies, the Ammonites.” 37 And she said to her father, “Let this one thing be done for me; let me alone for two months, so that I may go to the mountains and weep over my [f]virginity, I and my companions.” 38 And he said, “Go.” So he sent her away for two months; and she left with her companions, and wept over her virginity on the mountains. 39 At the end of two months she returned to her father, who did to her as he had vowed; and she had no relations with a man. It became a custom in Israel, 40 that the daughters of Israel went yearly to tell the story of the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year.
Judges 11New International Version (NIV)
11 Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute. 2 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.” 3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him.
4 Some time later, when the Ammonites were fighting against Israel, 5 the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 “Come,” they said, “be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.”
7 Jephthah said to them, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now, when you’re in trouble?”
8 The elders of Gilead said to him, “Nevertheless, we are turning to you now; come with us to fight the Ammonites, and you will be head over all of us who live in Gilead.”
9 Jephthah answered, “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me—will I really be your head?”
10 The elders of Gilead replied, “The Lord is our witness; we will certainly do as you say.” 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated all his words before the Lord in Mizpah.
12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: “What do you have against me that you have attacked my country?”
13 The king of the Ammonites answered Jephthah’s messengers, “When Israel came up out of Egypt, they took away my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, all the way to the Jordan. Now give it back peaceably.”
14 Jephthah sent back messengers to the Ammonite king, 15 saying:
“This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites. 16 But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea[a] and on to Kadesh. 17 Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Give us permission to go through your country,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. They sent also to the king of Moab, and he refused. So Israel stayed at Kadesh.
18 “Next they traveled through the wilderness, skirted the lands of Edom and Moab, passed along the eastern side of the country of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon. They did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was its border.
19 “Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, ‘Let us pass through your country to our own place.’ 20 Sihon, however, did not trust Israel[b] to pass through his territory. He mustered all his troops and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel.
21 “Then the Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and his whole army into Israel’s hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country, 22 capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.
23 “Now since the Lord, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out before his people Israel, what right have you to take it over? 24 Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the Lord our God has given us, we will possess. 25 Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them? 26 For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn’t you retake them during that time? 27 I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the Lord, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”
28 The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.
29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands. 33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.
34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the Lord that I cannot break.”
36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”
38 “You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 39 After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.
From this comes the Israelite tradition 40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.