Judges 11:1-11

1 Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute.
2 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.”
3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him.
4 Some time later, when the Ammonites were fighting against Israel,
5 the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob.
6 “Come,” they said, “be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.”
7 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?”
8 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 head over all of us who live in Gilead.”
9 Jephthah answered, “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the LORD gives them to me—will I really be your head?”
10 The elders of Gilead replied, “The LORD is our witness; we will certainly do as you say.”
11 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.

Judges 11:1-11 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO JUDGES 11

This chapter gives an account of another judge of Israel, Jephthah, of his descent and character, Jud 11:1-3 of the call the elders of Gilead gave him to be their captain general, and lead out their forces against the Ammonites, and the agreement he made with them, Jud 11:4-11 of the message he sent to the children of Ammon, which brought on a dispute between him and them about the land Israel possessed on that side Jordan the Ammonites claimed; Israel's right to which Jephthah defended, and made it clearly to appear, hoping thereby to put an end to the quarrel without shedding of blood, Jud 11:12-27 but the children of Ammon not attending to what he said, he prepared to give them battle, and previous to it he made a vow, and then set forward and fought them, and got the victory over them, Jud 11:28-33 and the chapter concludes with the difficulties Jephthah was embarrassed with upon his return home, on account of his vow, and the performance of it, Jud 11:34-40.

Judges 11:1-11 In-Context

1 Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute.
2 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.”
3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him.
4 Some time later, when the Ammonites were fighting against Israel,
5 the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob.
6 “Come,” they said, “be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.”
7 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?”
8 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 head over all of us who live in Gilead.”
9 Jephthah answered, “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the LORD gives them to me—will I really be your head?”
10 The elders of Gilead replied, “The LORD is our witness; we will certainly do as you say.”
11 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.
12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: “What do you have against me that you have attacked my country?”
13 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.”
14 Jephthah sent back messengers to the Ammonite king,
15 saying: “This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites.

Cross References 13

  • 1. Judges 12:1; 1 Samuel 12:11; Hebrews 11:32
  • 2. Judges 6:12
  • 3. Numbers 26:29
  • 4. S Genesis 38:15
  • 5. ver 5; 2 Samuel 10:6,8
  • 6. S Judges 9:4
  • 7. S Judges 10:9
  • 8. S Genesis 26:16; Genesis 26:27
  • 9. S Judges 10:18
  • 10. S Genesis 31:50; S Isaiah 1:2; Jeremiah 42:5
  • 11. 1 Samuel 8:4; 2 Samuel 3:17
  • 12. Exodus 19:9; 1 Samuel 8:21
  • 13. S Joshua 11:3; Judges 10:17; Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 10:17
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