Holman Christian Standard Bible
Jephthah Becomes Israel’s Leader
11 Jephthah(A) the Gileadite was a great warrior,(B) but he was the son of a prostitute, and Gilead was his father. 2 Gilead’s wife bore him sons, and when they grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You will have no inheritance in our father’s house, because you are the son of another woman.” 3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob.(C) Then some lawless men joined Jephthah and traveled with him.
4 Some time later, the Ammonites fought against Israel. 5 When the Ammonites made war with Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 They said to him, “Come, be our commander, and let’s fight against the Ammonites.”
7 Jephthah replied to the elders of Gilead, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house? Why then have you come to me now when you’re in trouble?”
8 They answered Jephthah, “Since that’s true, we now turn to you. Come with us, fight the Ammonites, and you will become leader of all the inhabitants of Gilead.”
9 So Jephthah said to them, “If you are bringing me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me, I will be your leader.”
10 The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord is our witness if we don’t do as you say.” 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead. The people put him over themselves as leader and commander, and Jephthah repeated all his terms in the presence of the Lord at Mizpah.
Jephthah Rejects Ammonite Claims
12 Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites, saying, “What do you have against me that you have come to fight against me in my land?”
13 The king of the Ammonites said to Jephthah’s messengers, “When Israel came from Egypt, they seized my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok(D) and the Jordan. Now restore it peaceably.”
14 Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites 15 to tell him, “This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites. 16 But when they came from Egypt, Israel traveled through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. 17 Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Please let us travel through your land,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. They also sent messengers to the king of Moab, but he refused. So Israel stayed in Kadesh.
18 “Then they traveled through the wilderness and around the lands of Edom and Moab. They came to the east side of the land of Moab and camped on the other side of the Arnon but did not enter into the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the boundary of Moab.
19 “Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon.(E) Israel said to him, ‘Please let us travel through your land to our country,’ 20 but Sihon would not trust Israel to pass through his territory. Instead, Sihon gathered all his people, camped at Jahaz, and fought with Israel. 21 Then the Lord God of Israel handed over Sihon and all his people to Israel, and they defeated them. So Israel took possession(F) of the entire land of the Amorites who lived in that country. 22 They took possession of all the territory of the Amorites from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan.
23 “The Lord God of Israel has now driven out the Amorites before His people Israel, and will you now force us out? 24 Isn’t it true that you may possess whatever your god Chemosh drives out for you, and we may possess everything the Lord our God drives out before us? 25 Now are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever contend with Israel or fight against them? 26 While Israel lived 300 years in Heshbon and its villages, in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, why didn’t you take them back at that time? 27 I have not sinned against you, but you have wronged me by fighting against me. Let the Lord who is the Judge(G) decide today between the Israelites and the Ammonites.” 28 But the king of the Ammonites would not listen to Jephthah’s message that he sent him.
Jephthah’s Vow and Sacrifice
29 The Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah, who traveled through Gilead and Manasseh, and then through Mizpah of Gilead. He crossed over to the Ammonites from Mizpah of Gilead. 30 Jephthah made this vow(H) to the Lord: “If You will hand over the Ammonites to me, 31 whatever comes out of the doors of my house to greet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites will belong to the Lord, and I will offer it as a burnt offering.”(I)
32 Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the Lord handed them over(J) to him. 33 He defeated 20 of their cities with a great slaughter from Aroer all the way to the entrance of Minnith and to Abel-keramim. So the Ammonites were subdued(K) before the Israelites.
34 When Jephthah went to his home in Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with tambourines and dancing!(L) She was his only child; he had no other son or daughter besides her. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “No! Not my daughter! You have devastated me! You have brought great misery on me.[a] I have given my word to the Lord and cannot take it back.”
36 Then she said to him, “My father, you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me as you have said, for the Lord brought vengeance on your enemies, the Ammonites.” 37 She also said to her father, “Let me do this one thing: Let me wander two months through the mountains with my friends and mourn my virginity.”
38 “Go,” he said. And he sent her away two months. So she left with her friends and mourned her virginity as she wandered through the mountains. 39 At the end of two months, she returned to her father, and he kept the vow he had made about her. And she had never been intimate with a man. Now it became a custom in Israel 40 that four days each year the young women of Israel would commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.
- Judges 11:35 Lit have been among those who trouble me
New International Version
11 Jephthah(A) the Gileadite was a mighty warrior.(B) His father was Gilead;(C) his mother was a prostitute.(D) 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,(E) where a gang of scoundrels(F) gathered around him and followed him.
4 Some time later, when the Ammonites(G) 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?(H) 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(I) 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;(J) we will certainly do as you say.” 11 So Jephthah went with the elders(K) of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated(L) all his words before the Lord in Mizpah.(M)
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(N) to the Jabbok,(O) 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(P) or the land of the Ammonites.(Q) 16 But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea[a](R) and on to Kadesh.(S) 17 Then Israel sent messengers(T) to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Give us permission to go through your country,’(U) but the king of Edom would not listen. They sent also to the king of Moab,(V) and he refused.(W) So Israel stayed at Kadesh.
18 “Next they traveled through the wilderness, skirted the lands of Edom(X) and Moab, passed along the eastern side(Y) of the country of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon.(Z) They did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was its border.
19 “Then Israel sent messengers(AA) to Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon,(AB) and said to him, ‘Let us pass through your country to our own place.’(AC) 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.(AD)
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.(AE)
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(AF) gives you? Likewise, whatever the Lord our God has given us,(AG) we will possess. 25 Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor,(AH) king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them?(AI) 26 For three hundred years Israel occupied(AJ) Heshbon, Aroer,(AK) 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,(AL) decide(AM) the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.(AN)”
28 The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.
29 Then the Spirit(AO) of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah(AP) of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites.(AQ) 30 And Jephthah made a vow(AR) 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(AS) from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.(AT)”
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,(AU) 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(AV) to the sound of timbrels!(AW) She was an only child.(AX) Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes(AY) 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.(AZ)”
36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised,(BA) now that the Lord has avenged you(BB) of your enemies,(BC) 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.