11 Jephthah(A) the Gileadite was a mighty warrior.(B) His father was Gilead;(C) his mother was a prostitute.(D) 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.” 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.

Some time later, when the Ammonites(G) were fighting against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. “Come,” they said, “be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.”

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?”

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.”

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.

Footnotes

  1. Judges 11:16 Or the Sea of Reeds
  2. Judges 11:20 Or however, would not make an agreement for Israel
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

11 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah.

And Gilead's wife bare him sons; and his wife's sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father's house; for thou art the son of a strange woman.

Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him.

And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel.

And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob:

And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.

And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father's house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?

And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.

And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the Lord deliver them before me, shall I be your head?

10 And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The Lord be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words.

11 Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the Lord in Mizpeh.

12 And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land?

13 And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably.

14 And Jephthah sent messengers again unto the king of the children of Ammon:

15 And said unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon:

16 But when Israel came up from Egypt, and walked through the wilderness unto the Red sea, and came to Kadesh;

17 Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land: but the king of Edom would not hearken thereto. And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab: but he would not consent: and Israel abode in Kadesh.

18 Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon was the border of Moab.

19 And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land into my place.

20 But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through his coast: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and pitched in Jahaz, and fought against Israel.

21 And the Lord God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country.

22 And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness even unto Jordan.

23 So now the Lord God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and shouldest thou possess it?

24 Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the Lord our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess.

25 And now art thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them,

26 While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover them within that time?

27 Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the Lord the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.

28 Howbeit the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent him.

29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.

30 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,

31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.

32 So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord delivered them into his hands.

33 And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.

35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back.

36 And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the Lord hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.

37 And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.

38 And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.

39 And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,

40 That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

Jephthah

11 Now (A)Jephthah the Gileadite was (B)a mighty man of valor, but he was the son of a harlot; and Gilead begot Jephthah. Gilead’s wife bore sons; and when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out, and said to him, “You shall have (C)no inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.” Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and dwelt in the land of (D)Tob; and (E)worthless men banded together with Jephthah and went out raiding with him.

It came to pass after a time that the (F)people of Ammon made war against Israel. And so it was, when the people of Ammon made war against Israel, that the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. Then they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our commander, that we may fight against the people of Ammon.”

So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, (G)“Did you not hate me, and expel me from my father’s house? Why have you come to me now when you are in [a]distress?”

(H)And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That is why we have (I)turned[b] again to you now, that you may go with us and fight against the people of Ammon, and be (J)our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”

So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back home to fight against the people of Ammon, and the Lord delivers them to me, shall I be your head?”

10 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, (K)“The Lord will be a witness between us, if we do not do according to your words.” 11 Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him (L)head and commander over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words (M)before the Lord in Mizpah.

12 Now Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the people of Ammon, saying, (N)“What do you have against me, that you have come to fight against me in my land?”

13 And the king of the people of Ammon answered the messengers of Jephthah, (O)“Because Israel took away my land when they came up out of Egypt, from (P)the Arnon as far as (Q)the Jabbok, and to the Jordan. Now therefore, restore those lands peaceably.”

14 So Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the people of Ammon, 15 and said to him, “Thus says Jephthah: (R)‘Israel did not take away the land of Moab, nor the land of the people of Ammon; 16 for when Israel came up from Egypt, they walked through the wilderness as far as the Red Sea and (S)came to Kadesh. 17 Then (T)Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please let me pass through your land.” (U)But the king of Edom would not heed. And in like manner they sent to the (V)king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel (W)remained in Kadesh. 18 And they (X)went along through the wilderness and (Y)bypassed the land of Edom and the land of Moab, came to the east side of the land of Moab, and encamped on the other side of the Arnon. But they did not enter the border of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab. 19 Then (Z)Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon; and Israel said to him, “Please (AA)let us pass through your land into our place.” 20 (AB)But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. So Sihon gathered all his people together, encamped in Jahaz, and fought against Israel. 21 And the Lord God of Israel (AC)delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they (AD)defeated[c] them. Thus Israel gained possession of all the land of the Amorites, who inhabited that country. 22 They took possession of (AE)all the territory of the Amorites, from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan.

23 ‘And now the Lord God of Israel has [d]dispossessed the Amorites from before His people Israel; should you then possess it? 24 Will you not possess whatever (AF)Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever (AG)the Lord our God takes possession of before us, we will possess. 25 And now, are you any better than (AH)Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive against Israel? Did he ever fight against them? 26 While Israel dwelt in (AI)Heshbon and its villages, in (AJ)Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities along the banks of the Arnon, for three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time? 27 Therefore I have not sinned against you, but you wronged me by fighting against me. May the Lord, (AK)the Judge, (AL)render judgment this day between the children of Israel and the people of Ammon.’ ” 28 However, the king of the people of Ammon did not heed the words which Jephthah sent him.

Jephthah’s Vow and Victory

29 Then (AM)the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed through Mizpah of Gilead; and from Mizpah of Gilead he advanced toward the people of Ammon. 30 And Jephthah (AN)made a vow to the Lord, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, 31 then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, (AO)shall surely be the Lord’s, (AP)and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”

32 So Jephthah advanced toward the people of Ammon to fight against them, and the Lord delivered them into his hands. 33 And he [e]defeated them from Aroer as far as (AQ)Minnith—twenty cities—and to [f]Abel Keramim, with a very great slaughter. Thus the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

Jephthah’s Daughter

34 When Jephthah came to his house at (AR)Mizpah, there was (AS)his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he (AT)tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I (AU)have [g]given my word to the Lord, and (AV)I cannot [h]go back on it.”

36 So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word to the Lord, (AW)do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because (AX)the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.” 37 Then she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone for two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains and [i]bewail my virginity, my [j]friends and I.”

38 So he said, “Go.” And he sent her away for two months; and she went with her friends, and bewailed her virginity on the mountains. 39 And it was so at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he (AY)carried out his vow with her which he had vowed. She [k]knew no man.

And it became a custom in Israel 40 that the daughters of Israel went four days each year to [l]lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

Footnotes

  1. Judges 11:7 trouble
  2. Judges 11:8 returned
  3. Judges 11:21 Lit. struck
  4. Judges 11:23 driven out
  5. Judges 11:33 Lit. struck
  6. Judges 11:33 Lit. Plain of Vineyards
  7. Judges 11:35 Lit. opened my mouth
  8. Judges 11:35 Lit. take it back
  9. Judges 11:37 lament
  10. Judges 11:37 companions
  11. Judges 11:39 Remained a virgin
  12. Judges 11:40 commemorate
New King James Version (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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