Judges 11The Voice (VOICE)
11 Now Jephthah of Gilead was the son of a prostitute but a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead, 2 but Gilead’s wife bore other sons who grew up and drove Jephthah away because they did not want the son of another woman other than Gilead’s wife to inherit anything from their father. 3 So he ran away to the land of Tob, where he became the leader of a gang of bandits who followed him.
4-6 When the Ammonites attacked Israel, the leaders of Gilead asked Jephthah to return from Tob to be their commander and lead them against the Ammonite invaders.
7 Jephthah replied.
Jephthah: Ha! Aren’t you the same people who hated me so much that you drove me from my father’s house? And you come to me now and ask me for help?
8 The leaders responded to Jephthah.
Leaders of Gilead: You’re right. All the same we need your help. Come lead us against the Ammonites, and we will make you leader over us and all who live in Gilead.
9 Jephthah asked the leaders of Gilead a question.
Jephthah: Let me make sure I understand this—if I come back with you to fight the Ammonites and the Eternal allows me to be victorious, you will really make me your leader?
Leaders of Gilead: 10 May the Eternal be our witness. We will do as you say.
11 So Jephthah returned with the leaders of Gilead; the people made him their leader and commander, and Jephthah repeated his words before the Eternal at Mizpah.
12 Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites.
Jephthah’s Message: What do you have against me? Why are you attacking my people in my land?
13 This king of the Ammonites answered Jephthah’s messengers.
King of the Ammonites: Israel, when it traveled out of Egypt, took away my land from the Arnon River to the Jabbok and from the Jabbok all the way to the Jordan. Give it back, and we will be at peace.
14 Jephthah once again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites.
Jephthah’s Message: 15 Here is my response to your claim: Israel did not take away the land of the Ammonites or the Moabites. 16 When my people came up out of Egypt, Israel passed through the desert to the Red Sea and on to Kadesh. 17 At that time, Israel sent a messenger to the king of Edom, asking for permission to travel through his country. But the king would not hear us. Israel also sent a request to the king of Moab, but he also refused. So Israel remained where they were, at Kadesh.
18 Then they traveled through the wilderness, passing around the lands of Edom and Moab; and on the eastern edge of Moab, they camped on the far bank of the Arnon, well outside the border of Moab. 19 Israel then sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, in Heshbon, asking, “Let us pass through your land to reach our own country.” 20 But Sihon, too, did not trust Israel. He gathered his armies at Jahaz and went to war with us. 21 Then the Eternal One, the True God of Israel, gave us victory over Sihon and all his people, and we defeated them utterly. That’s why Israel occupied the land of the Amorites, who had inhabited that territory, 22 all of the Amorite land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, from the wilderness to the Jordan. 23 The Eternal One, the True God of Israel, conquered the Amorites for the good of His people, Israel. Do you think you can replace them?
24 Are you unsatisfied with what your god, Chemosh, has given you? We will possess what the Eternal One, our True God has given us. 25 Are you a greater king than Balak, son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever have a conflict with Israel or go to war against us? 26 For 300 years we have occupied Heshbon and its surrounding villages, Aroer and its villages, and all the towns along the Arnon. Why haven’t you ever attempted to recover them until now?
27 I have not done any wrong to you, but you have wronged me by going to war against me and my people. So let the Eternal, the Judge over us all, decide today who will triumph in this conflict between Israel and Ammon.
28 The king of the Ammonites ignored the message Jephthah sent him.
29 Then the Spirit of the Eternal descended on Jephthah, and he traveled through Gilead and Manasseh, through Mizpah of Gilead to confront the Ammonite army.
30 Jephthah made a vow to the Eternal One.
Jephthah: If you will give me victory over the Ammonites, 31 then I will make a burnt offering of the first thing that comes out of my door to meet me when I return in victory.
32 Jephthah went to battle, and the Eternal gave him victory over the Ammonites. 33 His army conquered 20 towns, from Aroer to near Minnith all the way to Abel-keramim, and Israel defeated Ammon decisively.
34 But when Jephthah came home in triumph to Mizpah, who should rush out to meet him but his daughter, dancing and playing a tambourine? She was his only child; he had no other sons or daughters. 35 When Jephthah saw her, he tore his clothes in grief.
Jephthah: O, my daughter, no! You have just made me miserable; you have brought me to my knees! I have made a vow to the Eternal, and I cannot break it.
Daughter: 36 My father, the Eternal God has given you victory over your enemies the Ammonites. If you have made a vow to Him, then do what you have promised to do to me.
37 But please give me two months to go and weep in the highlands with my friends, since I will never love a man and raise a family.
Jephthah: 38 You may go.
She and her friends went away and wailed upon the mountains because she would never know the love of a man; 39 then when two months had passed, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. Since she had never slept with a man, a custom arose in Israel 40 that every year the young women in Israel would go out for four days to lament the fate of the daughter of Jephthah of Gilead.
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