11 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a brave warrior. His mother was a prostitute, but Gilead was his father. 1 2 Gilead’s wife also gave 2 him sons. When his wife’s sons grew up, they made Jephthah leave and said to him, “You are not going to inherit any of our father’s wealth, 3 because you are another woman’s son.” 3 So Jephthah left 4 his half-brothers 5 and lived in the land of Tob. Lawless men joined Jephthah’s gang and traveled with him. 6
4 It was some time after this when the Ammonites fought with Israel. 5 When the Ammonites attacked, 7 the leaders 8 of Gilead asked Jephthah to come back 9 from the land of Tob. 6 They said, 10 “Come, be our commander, so we can fight with the Ammonites.” 7 Jephthah said to the leaders of Gilead, “But you hated me and made me leave 11 my father’s house. Why do you come to me now, when you are in trouble?” 8 The leaders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That may be true, 12 but now we pledge to you our loyalty. 13 Come with us and fight with the Ammonites. Then you will become the leader 14 of all who live in Gilead.” 15 9 Jephthah said to the leaders of Gilead, “All right! 16 If you take me back to fight with the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me, 17 I will be your leader.” 18 10 The leaders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord will judge any grievance you have against us, 19 if we do not do as you say.” 20 11 So Jephthah went with the leaders of Gilead. The people made him their leader and commander. Jephthah repeated the terms of the agreement 21 before the Lord in Mizpah.
12 Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king, saying, “Why have 22 you come against me to attack my land?” 13 The Ammonite king said to Jephthah’s messengers, “Because Israel stole 23 my land when they 24 came up from Egypt – from the Arnon River in the south to the Jabbok River in the north, and as far west as the Jordan. 25 Now return it 26 peaceably!”
14 Jephthah sent messengers back to the Ammonite king 15 and said to him, “This is what Jephthah says, ‘Israel did not steal 27 the land of Moab and the land of the Ammonites. 16 When they left 28 Egypt, Israel traveled 29 through the desert as far as the Red Sea and then came to Kadesh. 17 Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please allow us 30 to pass through your land.” But the king of Edom rejected the request. 31 Israel sent the same request to the king of Moab, but he was unwilling to cooperate. 32 So Israel stayed at Kadesh. 18 Then Israel 33 went through the desert and bypassed the land of Edom and the land of Moab. They traveled east of the land of Moab and camped on the other side of the Arnon River; 34 they did not go through Moabite territory (the Arnon was Moab’s border). 19 Israel sent messengers to King Sihon, the Amorite king who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, “Please allow us to pass through your land to our land.” 35 20 But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. He 36 assembled his whole army, 37 camped in Jahaz, and fought with Israel. 21 The Lord God of Israel handed Sihon and his whole army over to Israel and they defeated them. Israel took 38 all the land of the Amorites who lived in that land. 22 They took all the Amorite territory from the Arnon River on the south to the Jabbok River on the north, from the desert in the east to the Jordan in the west. 39 23 Since 40 the Lord God of Israel has driven out 41 the Amorites before his people Israel, do you think you can just take it from them? 42 24 You have the right to take what Chemosh your god gives you, but we will take the land of all whom the Lord our God has driven out before us. 43 25 Are you really better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he dare to quarrel with Israel? Did he dare to fight with them? 44 26 Israel has been living in Heshbon and its nearby towns, in Aroer and its nearby towns, and in all the cities along the Arnon for three hundred years! Why did you not reclaim them during that time? 27 I have not done you wrong, 45 but you are doing wrong 46 by attacking me. May the Lord, the Judge, judge this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites!’” 28 But the Ammonite king disregarded 47 the message sent by Jephthah. 48
29 The Lord’s spirit empowered 49 Jephthah. He passed through Gilead and Manasseh and went 50 to Mizpah in Gilead. From there he approached the Ammonites. 51 30 Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, saying, “If you really do hand the Ammonites over to me, 31 then whoever is the first to come through 52 the doors of my house to meet me when I return safely from fighting the Ammonites – he 53 will belong to the Lord and 54 I will offer him up as a burnt sacrifice.” 32 Jephthah approached 55 the Ammonites to fight with them, and the Lord handed them over to him. 33 He defeated them from Aroer all the way to Minnith – twenty cities in all, even as far as Abel Keramim! He wiped them out! 56 The Israelites humiliated the Ammonites. 57
34 When Jephthah came home to Mizpah, there was his daughter hurrying out 58 to meet him, dancing to the rhythm of tambourines. 59 She was his only child; except for her he had no son or daughter. 35 When he saw her, he ripped his clothes and said, “Oh no! My daughter! You have completely ruined me! 60 You have brought me disaster! 61 I made an oath to the Lord, and I cannot break it.” 62 36 She said to him, “My father, since 63 you made an oath to the Lord, do to me as you promised. 64 After all, the Lord vindicated you before 65 your enemies, the Ammonites.” 37 She then said to her father, “Please grant me this one wish. 66 For two months allow me to walk through the hills with my friends and mourn my virginity.” 67 38 He said, “You may go.” He permitted her to leave 68 for two months. She went with her friends and mourned her virginity as she walked through the hills. 69 39 After two months she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. She died a virgin. 70 Her tragic death gave rise to a custom in Israel. 71 40 Every year 72 Israelite women commemorate 73 the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite for four days. 74
12 The Ephraimites assembled 1 and crossed over to Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, “Why did you go and fight 2 with the Ammonites without asking 3 us to go with you? We will burn your house down right over you!” 4
2 Jephthah said to them, “My people and I were entangled in controversy with the Ammonites. 5 I asked for your help, but you did not deliver me from their power. 6 3 When I saw that you were not going to help, 7 I risked my life 8 and advanced against 9 the Ammonites, and the Lord handed them over to me. Why have you come up 10 to fight with me today?” 4 Jephthah assembled all the men of Gilead and they fought with Ephraim. The men of Gilead defeated Ephraim, because the Ephraimites insulted them, saying, 11 “You Gileadites are refugees in Ephraim, living within Ephraim’s and Manasseh’s territory.” 12 5 The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan River 13 opposite Ephraim. 14 Whenever an Ephraimite fugitive 15 said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead asked 16 him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,” 6 then they said to him, “Say ‘Shibboleth!’” 17 If he said, “Sibboleth” (and could not pronounce the word 18 correctly), they grabbed him and executed him right there at the fords of the Jordan. On that day forty-two thousand Ephraimites fell dead. 7 Jephthah led 19 Israel for six years; then he 20 died and was buried in his city in Gilead. 21
8 After him Ibzan of Bethlehem 22 led 23 Israel. 9 He had thirty sons. He arranged for thirty of his daughters to be married outside his extended family, 24 and he arranged for thirty young women to be brought from outside as wives for his sons. 25 Ibzan 26 led 27 Israel for seven years; 10 then he 28 died and was buried in Bethlehem.
11 After him Elon the Zebulunite led 29 Israel for ten years. 30 12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried in Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.
13 After him Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite led 31 Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys. He led Israel for eight years. 15 Then Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.
13 The Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight, 1 so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines for forty years.
2 There was a man named Manoah from Zorah, from the Danite tribe. His wife was infertile and childless. 2 3 The Lord’s angelic 3 messenger appeared to the woman and said to her, “You 4 are infertile and childless, 5 but you will conceive and have a son. 4 Now be careful! Do not drink wine or beer, and do not eat any food that will make you ritually unclean. 6 5 Look, you will conceive and have a son. 7 You must never cut his hair, 8 for the child will be dedicated to God 9 from birth. He will begin to deliver Israel from the power 10 of the Philistines.”
6 The woman went and said to her husband, “A man sent from God 11 came to me! He looked like God’s angelic messenger – he was very awesome. 12 I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not tell me his name. 7 He said to me, ‘Look, you will conceive and have a son. 13 So now, do not drink wine or beer and do not eat any food that will make you ritually unclean. 14 For the child will be dedicated 15 to God from birth till the day he dies.’”
8 Manoah prayed to the Lord, 16 “Please, Lord, allow the man sent from God 17 to visit 18 us again, so he can teach 19 us how we should raise 20 the child who will be born.” 9 God answered Manoah’s prayer. 21 God’s angelic messenger visited 22 the woman again while she was sitting in the field. But her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 The woman ran at once and told her husband, 23 “Come quickly, 24 the man who visited 25 me the other day has appeared to me!” 11 So Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he met 26 the man, he said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to my wife?” 27 He said, “Yes.” 28 12 Manoah said, “Now, when your announcement comes true, 29 how should the child be raised and what should he do?” 30 13 The Lord’s messenger told 31 Manoah, “Your wife should pay attention to everything I told her. 32 14 She should not drink 33 anything that the grapevine produces. She must not drink wine or beer, and she must not eat any food that will make her ritually unclean. 34 She should obey everything I commanded her to do.” 15 Manoah said to the Lord’s messenger, “Please stay here awhile, 35 so we can prepare a young goat for you to eat.” 36 16 The Lord’s messenger said to Manoah, “If I stay, 37 I will not eat your food. But if you want to make a burnt sacrifice to the Lord, you should offer it.” (He said this because Manoah did not know that he was the Lord’s messenger.) 38 17 Manoah said to the Lord’s messenger, “Tell us your name, so we can honor you when your announcement comes true.” 39 18 The Lord’s messenger said to him, “You should not ask me my name, because you cannot comprehend it.” 40 19 Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered them on a rock to the Lord. The Lord’s messenger did an amazing thing as Manoah and his wife watched. 41 20 As the flame went up from the altar toward the sky, the Lord’s messenger went up in it 42 while Manoah and his wife watched. They fell facedown 43 to the ground.
21 The Lord’s messenger did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. After all this happened Manoah realized that the visitor had been the Lord’s messenger. 44 22 Manoah said to his wife, “We will certainly die, because we have seen a supernatural being!” 45 23 But his wife said to him, “If the Lord wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted the burnt offering and the grain offering from us. 46 He would not have shown us all these things, or have spoken to us like this just now.”
24 Manoah’s wife 47 gave birth to a son and named him Samson. 48 The child grew and the Lord empowered 49 him. 25 The Lord’s spirit began to control him 50 in Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.