Judges 11:12-40

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.
16 But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea[a] and on to Kadesh.
17 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.
18 “Next they traveled through the wilderness, 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.
19 “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.’
20 Sihon, however, did not trust Israel[b] to pass through his territory. He mustered all his troops and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel.
21 “Then the LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and his whole army into Israel’s hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country,
22 capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.
23 “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?
24 Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the LORD our God has given us, we will possess.
25 Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them?
26 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?
27 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.”
28 The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.
29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites.
30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands,
31 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.”
32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands.
33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.
34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter.
35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.”
36 “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.
37 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.”
38 “You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry.
39 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 tradition
40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

Judges 11:12-40 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 11:12-40 In-Context

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.
16 But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and on to Kadesh.
17 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.
18 “Next they traveled through the wilderness, 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.
19 “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.’
20 Sihon, however, did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. He mustered all his troops and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel.
21 “Then the LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and his whole army into Israel’s hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country,
22 capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.
23 “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?
24 Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the LORD our God has given us, we will possess.
25 Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them?
26 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?
27 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.”
28 The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.
29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites.
30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands,
31 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.”
32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands.
33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.
34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter.
35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.”
36 “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.
37 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.”
38 “You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry.
39 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 tradition
40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

Cross References 42

  • 1. S Numbers 21:13
  • 2. Genesis 32:22; S Numbers 21:24
  • 3. Deuteronomy 2:9
  • 4. Deuteronomy 2:19
  • 5. Numbers 14:25; S Deuteronomy 1:40
  • 6. S Genesis 14:7; Numbers 20:1
  • 7. ver 19; S Genesis 32:3; Numbers 20:14
  • 8. S Numbers 20:17; Numbers 20:18,21
  • 9. Jeremiah 48:1
  • 10. S Joshua 24:9
  • 11. S Numbers 20:21; Numbers 21:4
  • 12. Deuteronomy 2:8
  • 13. S Numbers 21:13
  • 14. S ver 17
  • 15. S Joshua 12:2
  • 16. Numbers 21:21-22; Deuteronomy 2:26-27
  • 17. Numbers 21:23; Deuteronomy 2:32
  • 18. Numbers 21:21-26; S Deuteronomy 2:26; Deuteronomy 2:36
  • 19. S Numbers 21:29; S Joshua 3:10; 1 Kings 11:7
  • 20. Deuteronomy 2:36
  • 21. Numbers 22:2
  • 22. S Joshua 24:9
  • 23. Numbers 21:25
  • 24. S Numbers 32:34; S Joshua 13:9
  • 25. S Genesis 18:25
  • 26. S Genesis 16:5; Genesis 31:53; 1 Samuel 24:12,15
  • 27. 2 Chronicles 20:12
  • 28. Numbers 11:25; S Judges 3:10; Judges 6:34; Judges 14:6,19; Judges 15:14; 1 Samuel 11:6; 1 Samuel 16:13; Isaiah 11:2
  • 29. S Genesis 31:49
  • 30. S Judges 10:17
  • 31. S Genesis 28:20; Numbers 30:10; 1 Samuel 1:11; Proverbs 31:2
  • 32. Genesis 28:21
  • 33. S Genesis 8:20; Leviticus 1:3; Judges 13:16
  • 34. Ezekiel 27:17
  • 35. S Exodus 15:20
  • 36. S Genesis 31:27; S Exodus 15:20; Jeremiah 31:4
  • 37. Zechariah 12:10
  • 38. S Numbers 14:6
  • 39. Numbers 30:2; S Deuteronomy 23:21; Ecc 5:2,4,5
  • 40. Luke 1:38
  • 41. S Numbers 31:3
  • 42. 2 Samuel 18:19

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or "the Sea of Reeds"
  • [b]. Or "however, would not make an agreement for Israel"