Judges Chapter 11  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Commentary on Judg 11
Jephthah Delivers Israel

1Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a valiant warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute. And Gilead was the father of Jephthah.
  2And Gilead’s wife bore him sons, but when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You will not have an inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.”
  3So Jephthah fled from the face of his brothers and lived in the land of Tob, and empty men gathered themselves around Jephthah, and they went out with him on raids.

4And came to pass after a while that the children of Ammon made war against Israel.
  5And it was that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah out of the land of Tob;
  6and they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our commander, so that we can fight against the children of Ammon.”

7And Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Is it not you who hated me and drove me out of my father’s house? So why have you come to me now when you are in distress?”

8The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That being so, we have returned to you now so that you will go with us and fight against the children of Ammon, and you will become our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”

9And Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you bring me back to fight against the children of Ammon, and Yahweh gives them over to me, I will be your head.”

10And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “Yahweh will be a witness between us if we do not do in accordance with your word.”
  11So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead and the people made him head and commander over them, and Jephthah spoke all his words before Yahweh in Mizpah.

12Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the children of Ammon, saying, “What is there between me and you, that you have come to me to fight against my land?”

13The king of the children of Ammon answered the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel took away my land when he came up out of Egypt, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok and to the Jordan. So now return those lands peaceably.”

14And Jephthah sent messengers again to the king of the children of Ammon,
  15and he said to him, “This is what Jephthah says: ‘Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the children of Ammon,
  16for when they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh.
  17Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please let me pass through your land.” But the king of Edom would not listen. And they also sent to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel stayed in Kadesh.

18“‘Then they went through the wilderness and circled around the land of Edom and the land of Moab, and came to the east side of the land of Moab, and they camped on the other side of 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 my place.”
  20But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory, so Sihon gathered all his people together and encamped at Jahaz and fought against Israel.
  21And Yahweh, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel and they struck them down. So Israel took possession of all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that land.
  22They took possession of 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 has dispossessed the Amorites from before his people, Israel, and you, would you take possession of it?
  24Will you not take possession of whatever Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever Yahweh our God has dispossessed from before us, that we will possess.
  25And now are you better, yes better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he contend, yes contend against Israel, or did he fight, yes, fight against them?
  26While Israel lived in Heshbon and its daughter-towns, and in Aroer and its daughter-towns, and in all the cities that are along the banks of the Arnon, 300 years, why didn’t you rescue them during that time?
  27As for me, I have not sinned against you, but you are doing me wrong by making war against me. May Yahweh the Judge, judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.’”
  28But the king of the children of Ammon would not listen to the words of Jephthah that he sent to him.

Jephthah’s Vow and Sacrifice

29Then the spirit of Yahweh came on Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, then he passed on to Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed on to the children of Ammon.
  30And Jephthah vowed a vow to Yahweh and said, “If you will give, yes, give the children of Ammon into my hand,
  31then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, it will be Yahweh’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”

32So Jephthah passed over to the children of Ammon to fight against them, and Yahweh gave them into his hand.
  33And he struck them from Aroer as far as where you come to Minnith, even 20 cities, and as far as Abel-keramim, with a very great slaughter. So the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

34And Jephthah came to Mizpah to his house, and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing, and she was his only child, besides her he had neither son nor daughter.
  35And it came to pass when he saw her that he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought, yes, brought me down and have become among those who trouble me, for I myself have opened my mouth to Yahweh and I cannot go back.”

36And she said to him, “My father, you have opened your mouth to Yahweh. Do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, since Yahweh has taken vengeance for you on your enemies, on the children of Ammon.”
  37And she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may depart and go down on the mountains and weep over my virginity; I and my friends.”

38And he said, “Go.” And he sent her away for two months and she departed, she and her friends, and wept over her virginity on the mountains.
  39And it came to pass at the end of two months that she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow that he had vowed, and she never knew any man sexually. And it became a custom in Israel
  40that the daughters of Israel would go each year to retell the story to the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite, four days in a year.

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