Jephthah Delivers IsraelNow Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, but he was the son of a harlot. And Gilead became the father of Jephthah. 2 And 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.” 3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob; and worthless fellows gathered themselves about Jephthah, and they went out with him. 4 Now it happened after a while that the sons of Ammon fought against Israel. 5 So it happened that as the sons of Ammon fought against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob; 6 and they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our chief that we may fight against the sons of Ammon.” 7 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 distress?” 8 And 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.” 9 So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back to fight against the sons of Ammon and Yahweh gives them up to me, will I become your head?” 10 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “Yahweh is witness between us; surely we will do 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 Yahweh at Mizpah. 12 And 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 Then 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; so now, return them peaceably.” 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 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 was not willing. 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 toward the sunrise 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 believe Israel to allow them to pass through his territory; so Sihon gathered all his people and camped in Jahaz and fought with Israel. 21 Then Yahweh, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they struck them down; 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 So now Yahweh, the God of Israel, dispossessed 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 Yahweh our God has taken possession of before us, we will possess it. 25 So 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 towns and in Aroer and its towns and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, 300 years, why did you not deliver them for yourself within that time? 27 I therefore have not sinned against you, but you are doing me evil by making war against me; may Yahweh, the Judge, judge today between the sons of Israel and the sons of Ammon.’” 28 But the king of the sons of Ammon did not listen to the words which Jephthah sent him.
Jephthah Vows a Burnt Offering29 Now the Spirit of Yahweh 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 Then Jephthah made a vow to Yahweh 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 Yahweh’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 Yahweh gave them into his hand. 33 And he struck them with a very great slaughter from Aroer 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 Then Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah. And 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 So it happened that 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. But I have opened my mouth to vow to Yahweh, and I cannot take it back.” 36 So she said to him, “My father, you have opened your mouth to vow to Yahweh; do to me according to what has gone out from your mouth, since Yahweh has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of Ammon.” 37 Then she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may 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 went with her companions and wept on the mountains because of her virginity. 39 And it happened at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he did to her according to the vow which he had made; and she did not know a man. Thus it became a custom in Israel, 40 that the daughters of Israel went yearly to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year.