A A A A A
Bible Book List

Judges 11-12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Jephthah the Ninth Judge

11 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a [a]valiant warrior, but he was the son of a harlot. And Gilead [b]was the father of Jephthah. 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, for you are the son of another woman.” So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob; and worthless fellows gathered themselves [c]about Jephthah, and they went out with him.

It came about after a while that the sons of Ammon fought against Israel. When the sons of Ammon fought against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob; and they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our chief that we may fight against the sons of Ammon.” Then Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me and drive me from my father’s house? So why have you come to me now when you are in trouble?” The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “For this reason we have now returned to you, that you may go with us and fight with the sons of Ammon and become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back to fight against the sons of Ammon and the Lord gives them up [d]to me, will I become your head?” 10 The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord is [e]witness between us; surely we will do [f]as you have said.” 11 Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and chief over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the Lord at Mizpah.

12 Now Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the sons of Ammon, saying, “What is between you and me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?” 13 The king of the sons of Ammon said to the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel took away my land when they came up from Egypt, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok and the Jordan; therefore, return them peaceably now.” 14 But Jephthah sent messengers again to the king of the sons of Ammon, 15 and they said to him, “Thus says Jephthah, ‘Israel did not take away the land of Moab nor the land of the sons of Ammon. 16 For when they came up from Egypt, and Israel went through the wilderness to the [g]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. And they also sent to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained at Kadesh. 18 Then they went through the wilderness and around the land of Edom and the land of Moab, and came to the east side of the land of Moab, and they camped beyond the Arnon; but they did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab. 19 And Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, the 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 all his people and camped in Jahaz and fought with Israel. 21 The Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they [h]defeated them; so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. 22 So they possessed all the territory of the Amorites, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok, and from the wilderness as far as the Jordan. 23 Since now the Lord, the God of Israel, drove out the Amorites from before His people Israel, are you then to possess it? 24 Do you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the Lord our God has driven out before us, we will possess it. 25 Now are you any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive with Israel, or did he ever fight against them? 26 While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time? 27 I therefore have not sinned against you, but you are doing me wrong by making war against me; may the Lord, the Judge, judge today between the sons of Israel and the sons of Ammon.’” 28 But the king of the sons of Ammon [i]disregarded the message which Jephthah sent him.

Jephthah’s Tragic Vow

29 Now the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, so that he passed through Gilead and Manasseh; then he passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he went on to the sons of Ammon. 30 Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, 31 then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” 32 So Jephthah crossed over to the sons of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord gave them into his hand. 33 He struck them with a very great slaughter from Aroer [j]to the entrance of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim. So the sons of Ammon were subdued before the sons of Israel.

34 When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only child; besides her he had no son or daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are among those who trouble me; for I have [k]given my word to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.” 36 So she said to him, “My father, you have [l]given your word to the Lord; do to me [m]as you have said, since the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of Ammon.” 37 She said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may [n]go to the mountains and weep because of my virginity, I and my companions.” 38 Then he said, “Go.” So he sent her away for two months; and she left with her companions, and wept on the mountains because of her virginity. 39 At the end of two months she returned to her father, who did to her according to the vow which he had made; and she [o]had no relations with a man. Thus it became a custom in Israel, 40 that the daughters of Israel went yearly to [p]commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year.

Jephthah and His Successors

12 Then the men of Ephraim were summoned, and they crossed [q]to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the sons of Ammon without calling us to go with you? We will burn your house down on you.” Jephthah said to them, “I and my people were at great strife with the sons of Ammon; when I called you, you did not deliver me from their hand. When I saw that you would not deliver me, I [r]took my life in my hands and crossed over against the sons of Ammon, and the Lord gave them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?” Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought Ephraim; and the men of Gilead [s]defeated Ephraim, because they said, “You are fugitives of Ephraim, O Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim and in the midst of Manasseh.” The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan opposite Ephraim. And it happened when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead would say to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,” then they would say to him, “Say now, ‘Shibboleth.’” But he said, “Sibboleth,” for he could not [t]pronounce it correctly. Then they seized him and slew him at the fords of the Jordan. Thus there fell at that time 42,000 of Ephraim.

Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.

Now Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel after him. He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters whom he [u]gave in marriage outside the family, and he brought in thirty daughters from outside for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died and was buried in Bethlehem.

11 Now Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel after him; and he judged Israel ten years. 12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.

13 Now Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel after him. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys; and he judged Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.

Footnotes:

  1. Judges 11:1 Or mighty man of valor
  2. Judges 11:1 Lit begat
  3. Judges 11:3 Lit to
  4. Judges 11:9 Lit before
  5. Judges 11:10 Lit hearer
  6. Judges 11:10 Lit according to your word
  7. Judges 11:16 Lit Sea of Reeds
  8. Judges 11:21 Lit smote
  9. Judges 11:28 Lit did not listen to the words
  10. Judges 11:33 Lit even until you are coming to
  11. Judges 11:35 Lit opened my mouth
  12. Judges 11:36 Lit opened your mouth
  13. Judges 11:36 Lit according to what has proceeded from your mouth
  14. Judges 11:37 Lit go and go down on
  15. Judges 11:39 Lit knew no man
  16. Judges 11:40 Lit recount; ancient versions, lament
  17. Judges 12:1 Or northward
  18. Judges 12:3 Lit put my soul in my palm
  19. Judges 12:4 Lit smote
  20. Judges 12:6 Lit speak so
  21. Judges 12:9 Lit sent outside
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Judges 11-12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jephthah

11 Now Jephthah the Gileadite, the son of a prostitute, was a mighty warrior. Gilead was the father of Jephthah. Gilead’s wife also bore him sons; and when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah away, saying to him, “You shall not inherit anything in our father’s house; for you are the son of another woman.” Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Outlaws collected around Jephthah and went raiding with him.

After a time the Ammonites made war against Israel. And when the Ammonites made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to bring Jephthah from the land of Tob. They said to Jephthah, “Come and be our commander, so that we may fight with the Ammonites.” But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Are you not the very ones who rejected me and drove me out of my father’s house? So why do you come to me now when you are in trouble?” The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “Nevertheless, we have now turned back to you, so that you may go with us and fight with the Ammonites, and become head over us, over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you bring me home again to fight with the Ammonites, and the Lord gives them over to me, I will be your head.” 10 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord will be witness between us; we will surely do as you say.” 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the Lord at Mizpah.

12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites and said, “What is there between you and me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?” 13 The king of the Ammonites answered the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel, on coming from Egypt, took away my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok and to the Jordan; now therefore restore it peaceably.” 14 Once again Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites 15 and said to him: “Thus says Jephthah: Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites, 16 but when they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea[a] and came to Kadesh. 17 Israel then sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Let us pass through your land’; but the king of Edom would not listen. They also sent to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained at Kadesh. 18 Then they journeyed through the wilderness, went around the land of Edom and the land of Moab, arrived on the east side of the land of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon. They did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the boundary of Moab. 19 Israel then sent messengers to King Sihon of the Amorites, king of Heshbon; and Israel said to him, ‘Let us pass through your land to our country.’ 20 But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory; so Sihon gathered all his people together, and encamped at Jahaz, and fought with Israel. 21 Then the Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them; so Israel occupied all the land of the Amorites, who inhabited that country. 22 They occupied all the territory of the Amorites from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan. 23 So now the Lord, the God of Israel, has conquered the Amorites for the benefit of his people Israel. Do you intend to take their place? 24 Should you not possess what your god Chemosh gives you to possess? And should we not be the ones to possess everything that the Lord our God has conquered for our benefit? 25 Now are you any better than King Balak son of Zippor of Moab? Did he ever enter into conflict with Israel, or did he ever go to war with them? 26 While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the towns that are along the Arnon, three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time? 27 It is not I who have sinned against you, but you are the one who does me wrong by making war on me. Let the Lord, who is judge, decide today for the Israelites or for the Ammonites.” 28 But the king of the Ammonites did not heed the message that Jephthah sent him.

Jephthah’s Vow

29 Then the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh. He passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord’s, to be offered up by me as a burnt offering.” 32 So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them; and the Lord gave them into his hand. 33 He inflicted a massive defeat on them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty towns, and as far as Abel-keramim. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel.

Jephthah’s Daughter

34 Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and there was his daughter coming out to meet him with timbrels and with dancing. She was his only child; he had no son or daughter except her. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low; you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.” 36 She said to him, “My father, if you have opened your mouth to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, now that the Lord has given you vengeance against your enemies, the Ammonites.” 37 And she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: Grant me two months, so that I may go and wander[b] on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, my companions and I.” 38 “Go,” he said and sent her away for two months. So she departed, she and her companions, and bewailed her virginity on the mountains. 39 At the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to the vow he had made. She had never slept with a man. So there arose an Israelite custom that 40 for four days every year the daughters of Israel would go out to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

Intertribal Dissension

12 The men of Ephraim were called to arms, and they crossed to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the Ammonites, and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house down over you!” Jephthah said to them, “My people and I were engaged in conflict with the Ammonites who oppressed us[c] severely. But when I called you, you did not deliver me from their hand. When I saw that you would not deliver me, I took my life in my hand, and crossed over against the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day, to fight against me?” Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought with Ephraim; and the men of Gilead defeated Ephraim, because they said, “You are fugitives from Ephraim, you Gileadites—in the heart of Ephraim and Manasseh.”[d] Then the Gileadites took the fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites. Whenever one of the fugitives of Ephraim said, “Let me go over,” the men of Gilead would say to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” When he said, “No,” they said to him, “Then say Shibboleth,” and he said, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it right. Then they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand of the Ephraimites fell at that time.

Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died, and was buried in his town in Gilead.[e]

Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon

After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons. He gave his thirty daughters in marriage outside his clan and brought in thirty young women from outside for his sons. He judged Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died, and was buried at Bethlehem.

11 After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten years. 12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died, and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.

13 After him Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys; he judged Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.

Footnotes:

  1. Judges 11:16 Or Sea of Reeds
  2. Judges 11:37 Cn: Heb go down
  3. Judges 12:2 Gk OL, Syr H: Heb lacks who oppressed us
  4. Judges 12:4 Meaning of Heb uncertain: Gk omits because . . . Manasseh
  5. Judges 12:7 Gk: Heb in the towns of Gilead
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Judges 11-12 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

11 There was at that time Jephte the Galaadite, a most valiant man and a warrior, the son of a woman that was a harlot, and his father was Galaad.

Now Galaad had a wife of whom he had sons: who after they were grown up, thrust out Jephte, saying: Thou canst not inherit in the house of our father, because thou art born of another mother.

Then he fled and avoided them and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered to him needy men, and robbers, and they followed him as their prince.

In those days the children of Ammon made war against Israel.

And as they pressed hard upon them, the ancients of Galaad went to fetch Jephte out of the land of Tob to help them:

And they said to him: Come thou and be our prince, and fight against the children of Ammon.

And he answered them: Are not you the men that hated me, and cast me out of my father's house, and now you are come to me constrained by necessity?

And the princes of Galaad said to Jephte: For this cause we are now come to thee, that thou mayst go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be head over all the inhabitants of Galaad.

Jephte also said to them: If you be come to me sincerely, that I should fight for you against the children of Ammon, and the Lord shall deliver them into my band, shall I be your prince?

10 They answered him: The Lord who heareth these things, he himself is mediator and witness that we will do as we have promised.

11 Jephte therefore went with the princes of Galaad, and all the people made him their prince. And Jephte spoke all his words before the Lord in Maspha.

12 And he sent messengers to the king of the children of Ammon, to say in his name, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me, to waste my land?

13 And he answered them: I Because Israel took away my land when he came up out of Egypt, from the confines of the Arnon unto the Jaboc and the Jordan: now therefore restore the same peaceably to me.

14 And Jephte again sent word by them, and commanded them to say to the king of Ammon:

15 Thus saith Jephte: Israel did not take away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon:

16 But when they came up out of Egypt, he walked through the desert to the Red Sea and came into Cades.

17 And he sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying: Suffer me to pass through thy land. But he would not condescend to his request. He sent also to the king of Moab, who likewise refused to give him passage. He abode therefore in Cades,

18 And went round the land of Edom at the side, and the land of Moab: and came over against the east coast of the land of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon: and he would not enter the bounds of Moab.

19 So Israel sent messengers to Sehon king of the Amorrhites, who dwelt in Hesebon, and they said to him: Suffer me to pass through thy land to the river.

20 But he also despising the words of Israel, suffered him not to pass through his borders: but gathering an infinite multitude, went out against him to Jasa, and made strong opposition.

21 And the Lord delivered him with all his army into the hands of Israel, and he slew him, and possessed all the land of the Amorrhite the inhabitant of that country,

22 And all the coasts thereof from the Arnon to the Jaboc, and from the wilderness to the Jordan.

23 So the Lord the God of Israel destroyed the Amorrhite, his people of Israel fighting against him, and wilt thou now possess this land?

24 Are not those things which thy god Chamos possesseth, due to thee by right? But what the Lord our God hath obtained by conquest, shall be our possession:

25 Unless perhaps thou art better than Balac the son of Sephor king of Moab: or canst shew that he strove against Israel and fought against him,

26 Whereas he hath dwelt in Hesebon, and the villages thereof, and in Aroer, and its villages, and in all the cities near the Jordan, for three hundred years. Why have you for so long a time attempted nothing about this claim?

27 Therefore I do not trespass against thee, but thou wrongest me by declaring an unjust war against me. The Lord be judge and decide this day between Israel and the children of Ammon.

28 And the king of the children of Ammon would not hearken to the words of Jephte, which he sent him by the messengers.

29 Therefore the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephte, and going round Galaad, and Manasses, and Maspha of Galaad, and passing over from thence to the children of Ammon,

30 He made a vow to the Lord, saying: If thou wilt deliver the children of Ammon into my hands,

31 Whosoever shall first come forth out of the doors of my house, and shall meet me when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, the same will I offer a holocaust to the Lord.

32 And Jephte passed over to the children of Ammon, to fight against them: and the Lord delivered them into his hands.

33 And he smote them from Aroer till you come to Mennith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel, which is set with vineyards, with a very great slaughter: and the children of Ammon were humbled by the children of Israel.

34 And when Jephte returned into Maspha to his house, his only daughter met him with timbrels and with dances: for he had no other children.

35 And when he saw her, he rent his garments, and said: Alas! my daughter, thou hast deceived me, and thou thyself art deceived: for I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I can do no other thing.

36 And she answered him: My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth to the Lord, do unto me whatsoever thou hast promised, since the victory hath been granted to thee, and revenge of thy enemies.

37 And she said to her father: Grant me only this which I desire: Let me go, that I may go about the mountains for two months, and may bewail my virginity with my companions.

38 And he answered her: Go. And he sent her away for two months. And when she was gone with her comrades and companions, she mourned her virginity in the mountains.

39 And the two months being expired, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed, and she knew no man. From thence came a fashion in Israel, and a custom has been kept:

40 That from year to year the daughters of Israel assemble together, and lament the daughter of Jephte the Galaadite for four days.

12 But behold there arose a sedition in Ephraim. And passing towards the north, they said to Jephte: When thou wentest to fight against the children of Ammon, why wouldst thou not call us, that we might go with thee? Therefore we will burn thy house.

And he answered them: I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon: and I called you to assist me, and you would not do it.

And when I saw this, I put my life in my own hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the Lord delivered them into my hands. What have I deserved, that you should rise up to fight against me?

Then calling to him all the men of Galaad, he fought against Ephraim: and the men of Galaad defeated Ephraim, because he had said: Galaad is a fugitive of Ephraim, and dwelleth in the midst of Ephraim and Manasses.

And the Galaadites secured the fords of the Jordan, by which Ephraim was to return. And when any one of the number of Ephraim came thither in the flight, and said: I beseech you let me pass: the Galaadites said to him: Art thou not an Ephraimite? If he said: I am not:

They asked him: Say then, Scibboleth, which is interpreted, An ear of corn. But he answered, Sibboleth, not being able to express an ear of corn by the same letter. Then presently they took him and killed him in the very passage of the Jordan. And there fell at that time of Ephraim two and forty thousand.

And Jephte the Galaadite judged Israel six years: and he died, and was buried in his city of Galaad.

After him Abesan of Bethlehem judged Israel:

He had thirty sons, and as many daughters, whom he sent abroad, and gave to husbands, and took wives for his sons of the same number, bringing them into his house. And he judged Israel seven years:

10 And he died, and was buried in Bethlehem.

11 To him succeeded Ahialon a Zabulonite: and he judged Israel ten years:

12 And he died, and was buried in Zabulon.

13 After him Abdon, the son of Illel, a Pharathonite, judged Israel:

14 And he had forty sons, and of them thirty grandsons, mounted upon seventy ass colts, and he judged Israel eight years:

15 And he died, and was buried in Pharathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of Amalech.

Judges 11-12 The Message (MSG)

11 1-3 Jephthah the Gileadite was one tough warrior. He was the son of a whore, but Gilead was his father. Meanwhile Gilead’s legal wife had given him other sons, and when they grew up, his wife’s sons threw Jephthah out. They told him: “You’re not getting any of our family inheritance—you’re the son of another woman.” So Jephthah fled from his brothers and went to live in the land of Tob. Some riffraff joined him and went around with him.

4-6 Some time passed. And then the Ammonites started fighting Israel. With the Ammonites at war with them, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. They said to Jephthah: “Come. Be our general and we’ll fight the Ammonites.”

But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead: “But you hate me. You kicked me out of my family home. So why are you coming to me now? Because you are in trouble. Right?”

The elders of Gilead replied, “That’s it exactly. We’ve come to you to get you to go with us and fight the Ammonites. You’ll be the head of all of us, all the Gileadites.”

Jephthah addressed the elders of Gilead, “So if you bring me back home to fight the Ammonites and God gives them to me, I’ll be your head—is that right?”

10-11 They said, “God is witness between us; whatever you say, we’ll do.” Jephthah went along with the elders of Gilead. The people made him their top man and general. And Jephthah repeated what he had said before God at Mizpah.

12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites with a message: “What’s going on here that you have come into my country picking a fight?”

13 The king of the Ammonites told Jephthah’s messengers: “Because Israel took my land when they came up out of Egypt—from the Arnon all the way to the Jabbok and to the Jordan. Give it back peaceably and I’ll go.”

14-27 Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites with the message: “Jephthah’s word: Israel took no Moabite land and no Ammonite land. When they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the desert as far as the Red Sea, arriving at Kadesh. There Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom saying, ‘Let us pass through your land, please.’ But the king of Edom wouldn’t let them. Israel also requested permission from the king of Moab, but he wouldn’t let them cross either. They were stopped in their tracks at Kadesh. So they traveled across the desert and circled around the lands of Edom and Moab. They came out east of the land of Moab and set camp on the other side of the Arnon—they didn’t set foot in Moabite territory, for Arnon was the Moabite border. Israel then sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites at Heshbon the capital. Israel asked, ‘Let us pass, please, through your land on the way to our country.’ But Sihon didn’t trust Israel to cut across his land; he got his entire army together, set up camp at Jahaz, and fought Israel. But God, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his troops to Israel. Israel defeated them. Israel took all the Amorite land, all Amorite land from Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan. It was God, the God of Israel, who pushed out the Amorites in favor of Israel; so who do you think you are to try to take it over? Why don’t you just be satisfied with what your god Chemosh gives you and we’ll settle for what God, our God, gives us? Do you think you’re going to come off better than Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab? Did he get anywhere in opposing Israel? Did he risk war? All this time—it’s been three hundred years now!—that Israel has lived in Heshbon and its villages, in Aroer and its villages, and in all the towns along the Arnon, why didn’t you try to snatch them away then? No, I haven’t wronged you. But this is an evil thing that you are doing to me by starting a fight. Today God the Judge will decide between the People of Israel and the people of Ammon.”

28 But the king of the Ammonites refused to listen to a word that Jephthah had sent him.

29-31 God’s Spirit came upon Jephthah. He went across Gilead and Manasseh, went through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there approached the Ammonites. Jephthah made a vow before God: “If you give me a clear victory over the Ammonites, then I’ll give to God whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in one piece from among the Ammonites—I’ll offer it up in a sacrificial burnt offering.”

32-33 Then Jephthah was off to fight the Ammonites. And God gave them to him. He beat them soundly, all the way from Aroer to the area around Minnith as far as Abel Keramim—twenty cities! A massacre! Ammonites brought to their knees by the People of Israel.

34-35 Jephthah came home to Mizpah. His daughter ran from the house to welcome him home—dancing to tambourines! She was his only child. He had no son or daughter except her. When he realized who it was, he ripped his clothes, saying, “Ah, dearest daughter—I’m dirt. I’m despicable. My heart is torn to shreds. I made a vow to God and I can’t take it back!”

36 She said, “Dear father, if you made a vow to God, do to me what you vowed; God did his part and saved you from your Ammonite enemies.”

37 And then she said to her father, “But let this one thing be done for me. Give me two months to wander through the hills and lament my virginity since I will never marry, I and my dear friends.”

38-39 “Oh yes, go,” he said. He sent her off for two months. She and her dear girlfriends went among the hills, lamenting that she would never marry. At the end of the two months, she came back to her father. He fulfilled the vow with her that he had made. She had never slept with a man.

39-40 It became a custom in Israel that for four days every year the young women of Israel went out to mourn for the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

12 The men of Ephraim mustered their troops, crossed to Zaphon, and said to Jephthah, “Why did you go out to fight the Ammonites without letting us go with you? We’re going to burn your house down on you!”

2-3 Jephthah said, “I and my people had our hands full negotiating with the Ammonites. And I did call to you for help but you ignored me. When I saw that you weren’t coming, I took my life in my hands and confronted the Ammonites myself. And God gave them to me! So why did you show up here today? Are you spoiling for a fight with me?”

So Jephthah got his Gilead troops together and fought Ephraim. And the men of Gilead hit them hard because they were saying, “Gileadites are nothing but half breeds and rejects from Ephraim and Manasseh.”

5-6 Gilead captured the fords of the Jordan at the crossing to Ephraim. If an Ephraimite fugitive said, “Let me cross,” the men of Gilead would ask, “Are you an Ephraimite?” and he would say, “No.” And they would say, “Say, ‘Shibboleth.’” But he would always say, “Sibboleth”—he couldn’t say it right. Then they would grab him and kill him there at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two Ephraimite divisions were killed on that occasion.

Jephthah judged Israel six years. Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in his city, Mizpah of Gilead.

Ibzan

8-9 After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He gave his daughters in marriage outside his clan and brought in thirty daughters-in-law from the outside for his sons.

10 He judged Israel seven years. Ibzan died and was buried in Bethlehem.

Elon

11-12 After him, Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel. He judged Israel ten years. Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.

Abdon

13-15 After him, Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys. He judged Israel eight years. Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim in the Amalekite hill country.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Viewing of
Cross references
Footnotes