1Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute.2Gilead’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.’3So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him.4Some time later, when the Ammonites were fighting against Israel,5the 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.’7Jephthah 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?’8The 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.’9Jephthah answered, ‘Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me – will I really be your head?’10The elders of Gilead replied, ‘The Lord is our witness; we will certainly do as you say.’11So 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.12Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: ‘What do you have against me that you have attacked my country?’13The 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.’14Jephthah sent back messengers to the Ammonite king,15saying: ‘This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites.16But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and on to Kadesh.17Then 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 travelled 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.”20Sihon, however, did not trust Israel 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,22capturing 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?24Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the Lord our God has given us, we will possess.25Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them?26For 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?27I 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.’28The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.29Then 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.30And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: ‘If you give the Ammonites into my hands,31whatever 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.’32Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands.33He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.34When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter.35When 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.37But 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.39After 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 tradition40that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.
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.