1Jephthah was a mighty warrior. He was from the land of Gilead. His father’s name was Gilead. Jephthah’s mother was a prostitute.2Gilead’s wife also had sons by him. When they had grown up, they drove Jephthah away. ‘You aren’t going to get any share of our family’s property,’ they said. ‘You are the son of another woman.’3So Jephthah ran away from his brothers. He made his home in the land of Tob. A group of men who weren’t good for anything gathered around him there. And they followed him.4Some time later, the Ammonites were fighting against Israel.5So the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob.6‘Come with us,’ they said. ‘Be our commander. Then we can fight against the Ammonites.’7Jephthah said to them, ‘Didn’t you hate me? Didn’t you drive me away from my father’s house? Why are you coming to me only when you are in trouble?’8The elders of Gilead replied to him. ‘You are right,’ they said. ‘That’s why we’re turning to you now. Come with us and fight against the Ammonites. Then you will rule over all of us who live in Gilead.’9Jephthah said, ‘Suppose you take me back to fight against the Ammonites. And suppose the LORD gives me victory over them. Then will I really be your leader?’10The elders of Gilead replied, ‘The LORD is our witness. We’ll certainly do as you say.’11So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead. And the people made him their leader and commander. He went to Mizpah. There he repeated to the LORD everything he had said.12Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of Ammon. They asked, ‘What do you have against me? Why have you attacked my country?’13The king of Ammon answered Jephthah’s messengers. He said, ‘Israel came up out of Egypt. At that time they took my land away. They took all the land between the River Arnon and the River Jabbok. It reached all the way to the River Jordan. Now give it back. Then there will be peace.’14Jephthah sent messengers back to the king of Ammon.15They said, ‘Here is what Jephthah says to you. Israel didn’t take the land of Moab. They didn’t take the land of Ammon.16When Israel came up out of Egypt, they went through the desert to the Red Sea. From there they went on to Kadesh.17Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom. They said, “Please let us go through your country.” But the king of Edom wouldn’t listen to them. They sent the same message to the king of Moab. But he refused too. So Israel stayed at Kadesh.18‘Next, they travelled through the desert. They travelled along the borders of the lands of Edom and Moab. They passed along the east side of the country of Moab. They camped on the other side of the River Arnon. They didn’t enter the territory of Moab. The River Arnon was Moab’s border.19‘Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon. He was the king of the Amorites. He ruled in Heshbon. They said to him, “Let us pass through your country to our own land.”20But Sihon didn’t trust Israel to pass through his territory. Instead, he gathered all his troops together. They camped at Jahaz. And they fought against Israel.21‘Then the LORD, the God of Israel, handed Sihon and his whole army over to Israel. Israel won the battle over them. Amorites were living in the country at that time. And Israel took over all their land.22Israel captured all the land between the River Arnon and the River Jabbok. It reached from the desert all the way to the River Jordan.23‘The LORD, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out to make room for his people. So what right do you have to take it over?24You will take what your god Chemosh gives you, won’t you? In the same way, we will take over what the LORD our God has given us.25Are you any better than Balak, the son of Zippor? Balak was the king of Moab. Did he ever argue with Israel? Did he ever fight against them?26For 300 years Israel has been living in Heshbon and Aroer. They have been living in the settlements around those cities. They have also been living in all the towns along the River Arnon. Why didn’t you take those places back during that time?27I haven’t done anything wrong to you. But you are doing something wrong to me. You have gone to war against me. The LORD is the Judge. So let him decide our case today. Let him settle matters between the Israelites and the Ammonites.’28But the king of Ammon didn’t pay any attention to the message Jephthah sent him.29Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jephthah. He went across the territories of Gilead and Manasseh. He passed through Mizpah in the land of Gilead. From there he attacked the people of Ammon.30Jephthah made a promise to the LORD. Jephthah said, ‘Hand the Ammonites over to me.31If you do, here’s what I’ll do when I come back from winning the battle. Anything that comes out the door of my house to meet me will belong to the LORD. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.’32Then Jephthah went over to fight against the Ammonites. The LORD handed them over to him.33Jephthah destroyed 20 towns between Aroer and the area of Minnith. He destroyed them all the way to Abel Keramim. So Israel brought Ammon under their control.34Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah. And guess who came out to meet him. It was his daughter! She was dancing to the beat of tambourines. She was his only child. He didn’t have any other sons or daughters.35When Jephthah saw her, he was so upset that he tore his clothes. He cried out, ‘Oh no, my daughter! You have filled me with trouble and sorrow. I’ve made a promise to the LORD. And I can’t break it.’36‘My father’, she replied, ‘you have given your word to the LORD. So do to me just what you promised to do. The Ammonites were your enemies. And the LORD has paid them back for what they did to you.37But please do one thing for me,’ she continued. ‘Give me two months to wander around in the hills. Let me weep there with my friends. I want to do that because I’ll never get married.’38‘You may go,’ he said. He let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills. They were filled with sadness because she would never get married.39After the two months were over, she returned to her father. He did to her just what he had promised to do. And she was a virgin. So that became a practice in Israel.40Each year the young women of Israel go away for four days. They do it in honour of the daughter of Jephthah. He was from the land of Gilead.
English Standard Version
Jephthah Delivers Israel
1Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute. Gilead was the father of Jephthah. (Jud 6:12; 2Ki 5:1; Heb 11:32)2And Gilead’s wife also 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.”3Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob, and worthless fellows collected around Jephthah and went out with him. (Jud 9:4; 1Sa 22:2; 2Sa 10:6; 2Sa 10:8)4After a time the Ammonites made war against Israel.5And when the Ammonites made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to bring Jephthah from the land of Tob. (Jud 11:3)6And they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our leader, that we may fight against the Ammonites.”7But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me and drive me out of my father’s house? Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?”8And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That is why we have turned to you now, that you may go with us and fight against the Ammonites and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” (Jud 10:18)9Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you bring me home again to fight against the Ammonites, and the Lord gives them over to me, I will be your head.”10And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord will be witness between us, if we do not do as you say.” (Jer 42:5)11So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and leader over them. And Jephthah spoke all his words before the Lord at Mizpah. (Jud 10:17; Jud 10:18; Jud 11:6; Jud 11:8; Jud 20:1; 1Sa 10:17; 1Sa 10:19; 1Sa 10:25; 1Sa 11:15; 1Sa 12:7)12Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites and said, “What do you have against me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?”13And the king of the Ammonites answered the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel on coming up from Egypt took away my land, from the Arnon to the Jabbok and to the Jordan; now therefore restore it peaceably.” (Ge 32:22; Nu 21:13; Nu 21:24)14Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites15and said to him, “Thus says Jephthah: Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites, (De 2:9; De 2:19)16but when they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. (Nu 13:26; Nu 14:25; De 1:40)17Israel then 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 sent also to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained at Kadesh. (Nu 20:1; Nu 20:14; Nu 20:18; De 1:46)18“Then they journeyed through the wilderness and went around the land of Edom and the land of Moab and arrived on the east side of the land of Moab and camped on the other side of the Arnon. But they did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the boundary of Moab. (Nu 21:4; Nu 21:11; Nu 21:13; Nu 22:36; De 2:1)19Israel then 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 country,’ (Nu 21:21; De 2:26)20but 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.21And 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, who inhabited that country.22And they took possession of all the territory of the Amorites from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan.23So then the Lord, the God of Israel, dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel; and are you to take possession of them?24Will you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? And all that the Lord our God has dispossessed before us, we will possess. (Nu 21:29; De 9:5; De 18:12; Jos 3:10; 1Ki 11:7)25Now are you any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever contend against Israel, or did he ever go to war with them? (Nu 22:2; Jos 24:9; Mic 6:5)26While 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, 300 years, why did you not deliver them within that time? (Nu 21:25; De 2:36)27I therefore have not sinned against you, and you do me wrong by making war on me. The Lord, the Judge, decide this day between the people of Israel and the people of Ammon.” (Ge 16:5; Ge 18:25; Ge 31:53; 1Sa 24:12; 1Sa 24:15)28But the king of the Ammonites did not listen to the words of Jephthah that he sent to him.
Jephthah’s Tragic Vow
29Then the Spirit of the Lord was upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh and passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. (Jud 3:10)30And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, (Ge 28:20; 1Sa 1:11)31then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” (Le 27:2; 1Sa 1:28; Ps 66:13)32So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the Lord gave them into his hand.33And he struck them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim, with a great blow. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel. (Eze 27:17)34Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. (Ex 15:20; Jud 10:17; Jud 11:11; 1Sa 18:6; Ps 68:25; Jer 31:4)35And as soon as he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and 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.” (Nu 30:2; Ec 5:4)36And she said to him, “My father, 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 avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites.”37So she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: leave me alone two months, that I may go up and down on the mountains and weep for my virginity, I and my companions.”38So he said, “Go.” Then he sent her away for two months, and she departed, she and her companions, and wept for her virginity on the mountains.39And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow that he had made. She had never known a man, and it became a custom in Israel (Jud 11:31)40that the daughters of Israel went year by year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year.