Jephthah the Gileadite the tenth Judge of Israel, Judges 11:16-40 & 12:1-7


Level3 Featured Image NOT SET


11:15b ‘Israel didn’t seize the land of Moab nor the land of the Ammonites. 16 Here’s what happened:g When Israel came up from Egypt, passed through the desert to the Redh Sea, and arrived at Kadesh, 17 Israel sent a delegation to the king of Edom and asked him, “Please let us pass through your territory.”

‘But the king of Edom wouldn’t listen. So they also sent word to the king of Moab, but he wouldn’t consent, either. So Israel stayed at Kadesh. 18 Then they went through the desert, circumventing the territory belonging to Edom and Moab. They encamped on the other side of the Arnon River, but never entered the territory of Moab because the Arnon River is the border of Moab.

19 ‘Then Israel sent a delegation to Sihon, king of the Amorites and king of Heshbon. Israel requested of him, “Please let us pass through your territory to our place.” 20 But Sihon didn’t trust Israel to pass through his territory, so he assembled his entire army, encamped in Jahaz, and fought against Israel. 21 The LORD God of Israel handed Sihon and his entire army into the control of Israel, and defeated them. As a result, Israel took control over the entire land of the Amorites, who were living in that country. 22 They took possession of the entire territory of the Amorites from the Arnon River as far as the Jabbok River and from the desert as far as the Jordan River.

23 ‘Now then, since the LORD God of Israel expelled the Amorites right in front of his people Israel, are you going to control their territory? 24 Don’t you control what your god Chemosh gives you? In the same way, we’ll take control of whomever the LORD our God has driven out in front of us. 25 Also ask yourselves: do you have a better case than Zippor’s son Balak, king of Moab? Did he ever have a quarrel with Israel or ever win a fight against them? 26 When Israel was living in Heshbon and its surrounding villages, in Aroer and its surrounding villages, and in all the cities that line the banks of the Arnon River these past three hundred years, why didn’t you retake them during that time? 27 I haven’t sinned against you, but you are acting wrongly against me by declaring war on me. May the LORD, the Judge, sit in judgment today between the Israelis and the Ammonites.’”

28 But the king of the Ammonites wouldn’t heed the message that Jephthah had sent to him.

Jephthah’s Vow
29 The Spirit of the LORD camel on Jephthah, so he swept through Gilead and the territory of Manasseh, then swept through Mizpah in Gilead, and from Mizpah in Gilead he proceeded toward where the Ammonites were encamped. 30 Jephthah made this solemn vow to the LORD: “If you truly give the Ammonites into my control, 31 then if I return from the Ammonites without incident, whatever comes out the doors of my house to meet me will become the LORD’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”

32 Then Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites and attacked them. The LORD gave them into his control. 33 He attacked them from Aroer to the entrance of Minnith—twenty cities in all —even as far as Abel-keramim. As a result, the Ammonites were subdued right in front of the Israelis. 34 When Jephthah arrived at his home in Mizpah—surprise!—it was his daughter who came out to meet him, playing tambourines and dancing. She was his one and only child. Except for her, he had no other son or daughter. 35 When he saw her, he ripped his clothes and cried out, “Oh no! My daughter! You have terribly burdened me! You’ve joined those who are causing me trouble, because I’ve given my word to the LORD, and I cannot go back on it.

36 She told him, “My father, you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me according to what has come out of your own mouth, considering that the LORD has paid back your enemies, the Ammonites.” 37 Then she continued talking with her father, “Do this for me: leave me alone by myself for two months. I’ll go up to the mountains and cry there because I’ll never marry. My friends and I will go.”

38 So he said, “Go!” He sent her away for two months. She left with her friends and cried there on the mountains because she would never marry. 39 Later, after the two months were concluded, she returned to her father, and he fulfilled what he had solemnly vowed—and she never married. That’s how the custom arose in Israel 40 that for four days out of every year the Israeli women would go to mourn the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite in commemoration.

Jephthah’s Dispute with the Tribe of Ephraim
12:1 A little while later, the army of Ephraim was mustered, and they crossed to Zaphon. They confronted Jephthah and asked, “Why did you cross over to fight the Ammonites without calling us to accompany you? We’re going to burn your house down around you!”

2 But Jephthah replied to them, “My army and I were engaged in a serious fight with the Ammonites. I called for you, but you didn’t deliver me from their control. 3 When I saw that you wouldn’t be delivering me, I took my own life in my hands, crossed over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into my control. So why have you come here today to fight me?” 4 Then Jephthah mustered all the men of Gilead, fought the tribe of Ephraim, and defeated them, because they had been claiming, “You descendants of Gilead are fugitives in the midst of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.”

Shibboleth vs. Sibboleth
5 The descendants of Gilead seized control of the Jordan River’s fords along the border of Ephraim’s territory. Later on, when any fugitive from Ephraim asked them, “Let me cross over,” the men from Gilead would ask him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said “No,” 6 they would order him, “Pronounce the word ‘Shibboleth’ right now.” If he said “Sibboleth,” not being able to pronounce it correctly, they would seize him and slaughter him there at the fords of the Jordan River. During those days 42,000 descendants of Ephraim died that way. 7 Jephthah governed Israel for six years. Then Jephthah died and was buried somewhere in the cities of Gilead.
Judges 11:15-12:7

If you want to read to the story look it up in a Bible.


Other modules in this unit: