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11 Now Yiftach the Gileadi was a gibbor chayil, and he was the ben of an isha zonah; and Gil‘ad fathered Yiftach.

And Gil’ad’s isha bore him banim; and the bnei haisha grew up, and they thrust out Yiftach, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our bais avi; for thou art the ben isha acheret.

Then Yiftach fled from his achim, and dwelt in Eretz Tov; and there were gathered anashim reikim (outlaws) around Yiftach, and went out with him.

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

And it was so, that when the Bnei Ammon made war against Yisroel, the ziknei Gil‘ad went to fetch Yiftach out of Eretz Tov;

And they said unto Yiftach, Come, and be our katzin (leader), that we may fight with the Bnei Ammon.

And Yiftach said unto the ziknei Gil‘ad, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my bais avi? And why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?

And the ziknei Gil‘ad said unto Yiftach, Nevertheless, we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the Bnei Ammon, and be our rosh over all the inhabitants of Gil‘ad.

And Yiftach said unto the ziknei Gil‘ad, If ye bring me home again to fight against the Bnei Ammon, and Hashem deliver them before me, shall I be your rosh?

10 And the ziknei Gil‘ad said unto Yiftach, Hashem be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words.

11 Then Yiftach went with the ziknei Gil‘ad, and the people made him rosh and katzin over them; and Yiftach uttered all his words before Hashem in Mitzpah.

12 And Yiftach sent malachim unto the melech Bnei Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land?

13 And the melech Bnei Ammon answered unto the malachim of Yiftach, Because Yisroel took away my land, when they came up out of Mitzrayim, from Arnon even unto Yabbok, and unto Yarden; now therefore give back those lands again b’shalom (peaceably).

14 And Yiftach sent malachim again unto the melech Bnei Ammon;

15 And said unto him, Thus saith Yiftach, Yisroel took not away Eretz Moav, nor the Eretz Bnei Ammon;

16 But when Yisroel came up from Mitzrayim, and walked through the midbar until Yam Suf, and came to Kadesh;

17 Then Yisroel sent malachim unto the melech Edom, saying, Let me, now, pass through thy land; but the melech Edom would not pay heed thereto. In like manner they sent unto the melech Moav; but he would not consent; Yisroel abode in Kadesh.

18 Then they went along through the midbar, skirted the Eretz Edom, and Eretz Moav, and came by the east side of Eretz Moav, encamped on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the territory of Moav; for the Arnon was the boundary of Moav.

19 And Yisroel sent malachim unto Sichon melech HaEmori, the melech Cheshbon; and Yisroel said unto him, Let us pass, now, through thy land into my makom.

20 But Sichon trusted not Yisroel to pass through his territory; but Sichon gathered all his people together, and encamped in Yahatz, and fought against Yisroel.

21 And Hashem Elohei Yisroel delivered Sichon and all his people into the yad Yisroel, and they struck them down; so Yisroel possessed all the Eretz HaEmori, the inhabitants of that country.

22 And they possessed all the territory HaEmori, from Arnon even unto Yabbok, and from the midbar even unto Yarden.

23 So now Hashem Elohei Yisroel hath dispossessed HaEmori from before His people Yisroel, and shouldest thou possess it?

24 Wilt not thou possess that which Kemosh eloheicha giveth thee to possess? So whatever Hashem Eloheinu shall take possession of before us, that will we possess.

25 And now art thou anything better than Balak ben Tzippor, melech Moav? Did he ever strive against Yisroel, or did he ever fight against them,

26 While Yisroel dwelt in Cheshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her settlements, and in all the towns that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred shanah? 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; Hashem HaShofet be judge this day between the Bnei Yisroel and the Bnei Ammon.

28 Howbeit the melech Bnei Ammon paid heed not unto the words of Yiftach which he sent him.

29 Then the Ruach Hashem came upon Yiftach, and he passed over Gil‘ad, and Menasheh, passed over Mitzpeh of Gil‘ad, and from Mitzpeh of Gil‘ad he passed over unto the Bnei Ammon.

30 And Yiftach vowed a neder unto Hashem, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the Bnei Ammon into mine hands,

31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the delet of my bais to meet me, when I return b’shalom from the Bnei Ammon, shall surely be Hashem’s, and I will offer it up for an olah.

32 So Yiftach passed over unto the Bnei Ammon to fight against them; and Hashem delivered them into his hands.

33 And he struck them down from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnit, even 20 towns, unto Avel-Kramim, with a very great slaughter. Thus the Bnei Ammon were subdued before the Bnei Yisroel.

34 And Yiftach came to Mitzpah unto his bais, hinei, his bat came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances; she was his yechidah (only one); beside her he had neither ben nor bat.

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

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

37 She said unto her av, Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two chodashim, that I may go up and down upon the hills, and bewail betulai (my virginity), I and my friends.

38 And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two chodashim; and she went with her companions, and bewailed her betulim (virginity) upon the hills.

39 And it came to pass at the end of two chodashim, that she returned unto her av, who did with her according to his neder which he had vowed; and she knew no man. And it was a chok in Yisroel,

40 That the banot Yisroel went yearly to lament the bat Yiftach the Gileadi arba’at yamim bashanah.

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.


  1. Judges 11:16 Or the Sea of Reeds
  2. Judges 11:20 Or however, would not make an agreement for Israel

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