After the time of Abimelech a man of Issachar, Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo, rose to save Israel. He lived in Shamir, in the hill country of Ephraim.
He led Israel twenty-three years; then he died, and was buried in Shamir.
He was followed by Jair of Gilead, who led Israel twenty-two years.
He had thirty sons, who rode thirty donkeys. They controlled thirty towns in Gilead, which to this day are called Havvoth Jair.
When Jair died, he was buried in Kamon.
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD. They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines. And because the Israelites forsook the LORD and no longer served him,
he became angry with them. He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites,
who that year shattered and crushed them. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead, the land of the Amorites.
The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah, Benjamin and the house of Ephraim; and Israel was in great distress.
Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD, "We have sinned against you, forsaking our God and serving the Baals."
The LORD replied, "When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines,
the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands?
But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you.
Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!"
But the Israelites said to the LORD, "We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now."
Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the LORD. And he could bear Israel's misery no longer.
When the Ammonites were called to arms and camped in Gilead, the Israelites assembled and camped at Mizpah.
The leaders of the people of Gilead said to each other, "Whoever will launch the attack against the Ammonites will be the head of all those living in Gilead."
We have heard with our ears, O God; our fathers have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago.
With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our fathers; you crushed the peoples and made our fathers flourish.
It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.
You are my King and my God, who decrees victories for Jacob.
Through you we push back our enemies; through your name we trample our foes.
I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame.
In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever. "Selah"
But now you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies.
You made us retreat before the enemy, and our adversaries have plundered us.
You gave us up to be devoured like sheep and have scattered us among the nations.
You sold your people for a pittance, gaining nothing from their sale.
You have made us a reproach to our neighbors, the scorn and derision of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations; the peoples shake their heads at us.
My disgrace is before me all day long, and my face is covered with shame
at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me, because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.
All this happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant.
Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path.
But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals and covered us over with deep darkness.
If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?
Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself ! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?
We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love.
Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute.
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, where a group of adventurers gathered around him and followed him.
Some time later, when the Ammonites made war on 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? 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 our head over all 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?"
The elders of Gilead replied, "The LORD is our witness; we will certainly do as you say."
So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated all his words before the LORD in Mizpah.
Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: "What do you have against us that you have attacked our country?"
The king of the Ammonites answered Jephthah's messengers, "When Israel came up out of Egypt, they took away my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, all the way to the Jordan. Now give it back peaceably."
Jephthah sent back messengers to the Ammonite king,
saying: "This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites.
But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the desert to the Red Sea and on to Kadesh.
Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, 'Give us permission to go through your country,' but the king of Edom would not listen. They sent also to the king of Moab, and he refused. So Israel stayed at Kadesh.
"Next they traveled through the desert, skirted the lands of Edom and Moab, passed along the eastern side of the country of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon. They did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was its border.
"Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, 'Let us pass through your country to our own place.'
Sihon, however, did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. He mustered all his men and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel.
"Then the LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his men into Israel's hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country,
capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.
"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?
Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the LORD our God has given us, we will possess.
Are you better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them?
For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn't you retake them during that time?
I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the LORD, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites."
The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites.
And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: "If you give the Ammonites into my hands,
whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering."
Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands.
He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.
When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter.
When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, "Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break."
"My father," she replied, "you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites.
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."
"You may go," he said. And he let her go for two months. She and the girls went into the hills and wept because she would never marry.
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 custom
that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.