Shofetim 11

1 1 Now Yiftach the Gileadi was a gibbor chayil, and he was the ben of an isha zonah; and Gil‘ad fathered Yiftach.
2 And Gil’ad’s isha bore him banim; and the bnei haisha grew up, and they thrust out Yiftach, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our bais avi; for thou art the ben isha acheret.
3 Then Yiftach fled from his achim, and dwelt in Eretz Tov; and there were gathered anashim reikim (outlaws) around Yiftach, and went out with him.
4 And it came to pass in process of time, that the Bnei Ammon made war against Yisroel.
5 And it was so, that when the Bnei Ammon made war against Yisroel, the ziknei Gil‘ad went to fetch Yiftach out of Eretz Tov;
6 And they said unto Yiftach, Come, and be our katzin (leader), that we may fight with the Bnei Ammon.
7 And Yiftach said unto the ziknei Gil‘ad, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my bais avi? And why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?
8 And the ziknei Gil‘ad said unto Yiftach, Nevertheless, we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the Bnei Ammon, and be our rosh over all the inhabitants of Gil‘ad.
9 And Yiftach said unto the ziknei Gil‘ad, If ye bring me home again to fight against the Bnei Ammon, and Hashem deliver them before me, shall I be your rosh?
10 And the ziknei Gil‘ad said unto Yiftach, Hashem be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words.
11 Then Yiftach went with the ziknei Gil‘ad, and the people made him rosh and katzin over them; and Yiftach uttered all his words before Hashem in Mitzpah.
12 And Yiftach sent malachim unto the melech Bnei Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land?
13 And the melech Bnei Ammon answered unto the malachim of Yiftach, Because Yisroel took away my land, when they came up out of Mitzrayim, from Arnon even unto Yabbok, and unto Yarden; now therefore give back those lands again b’shalom (peaceably).
14 And Yiftach sent malachim again unto the melech Bnei Ammon;
15 And said unto him, Thus saith Yiftach, Yisroel took not away Eretz Moav, nor the Eretz Bnei Ammon;
16 But when Yisroel came up from Mitzrayim, and walked through the midbar until Yam Suf, and came to Kadesh;
17 Then Yisroel sent malachim unto the melech Edom, saying, Let me, now, pass through thy land; but the melech Edom would not pay heed thereto. In like manner they sent unto the melech Moav; but he would not consent; Yisroel abode in Kadesh.
18 Then they went along through the midbar, skirted the Eretz Edom, and Eretz Moav, and came by the east side of Eretz Moav, encamped on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the territory of Moav; for the Arnon was the boundary of Moav.
19 And Yisroel sent malachim unto Sichon melech HaEmori, the melech Cheshbon; and Yisroel said unto him, Let us pass, now, through thy land into my makom.
20 But Sichon trusted not Yisroel to pass through his territory; but Sichon gathered all his people together, and encamped in Yahatz, and fought against Yisroel.
21 And Hashem Elohei Yisroel delivered Sichon and all his people into the yad Yisroel, and they struck them down; so Yisroel possessed all the Eretz HaEmori, the inhabitants of that country.
22 And they possessed all the territory HaEmori, from Arnon even unto Yabbok, and from the midbar even unto Yarden.
23 So now Hashem Elohei Yisroel hath dispossessed HaEmori from before His people Yisroel, and shouldest thou possess it?
24 Wilt not thou possess that which Kemosh eloheicha giveth thee to possess? So whatever Hashem Eloheinu shall take possession of before us, that will we possess.
25 And now art thou anything better than Balak ben Tzippor, melech Moav? Did he ever strive against Yisroel, or did he ever fight against them,
26 While Yisroel dwelt in Cheshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her settlements, and in all the towns that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred shanah? Why therefore did ye not recover them within that time?
27 Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me; Hashem HaShofet be judge this day between the Bnei Yisroel and the Bnei Ammon.
28 Howbeit the melech Bnei Ammon paid heed not unto the words of Yiftach which he sent him.
29 Then the Ruach Hashem came upon Yiftach, and he passed over Gil‘ad, and Menasheh, passed over Mitzpeh of Gil‘ad, and from Mitzpeh of Gil‘ad he passed over unto the Bnei Ammon.
30 And Yiftach vowed a neder unto Hashem, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the Bnei Ammon into mine hands,
31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the delet of my bais to meet me, when I return b’shalom from the Bnei Ammon, shall surely be Hashem’s, and I will offer it up for an olah.
32 So Yiftach passed over unto the Bnei Ammon to fight against them; and Hashem delivered them into his hands.
33 And he struck them down from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnit, even 20 towns, unto Avel-Kramim, with a very great slaughter. Thus the Bnei Ammon were subdued before the Bnei Yisroel.
34 And Yiftach came to Mitzpah unto his bais, hinei, his bat came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances; she was his yechidah (only one); beside her he had neither ben nor bat.
35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, Alas, my bat! Thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me; for I have opened my mouth unto Hashem, and I cannot go back.
36 And she said unto him, Avi, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto Hashem, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as Hashem hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the Bnei Ammon.
37 She said unto her av, Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two chodashim, that I may go up and down upon the hills, and bewail betulai (my virginity), I and my friends.
38 And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two chodashim; and she went with her companions, and bewailed her betulim (virginity) upon the hills.
39 And it came to pass at the end of two chodashim, that she returned unto her av, who did with her according to his neder which he had vowed; and she knew no man. And it was a chok in Yisroel,
40 That the banot Yisroel went yearly to lament the bat Yiftach the Gileadi arba’at yamim bashanah.

Shofetim 11 Commentary

Chapter 11

Jephtah and the Gileadites. (1-11) He attempts to make peace. (12-28) Jephthah's vow. He vanquishes the Ammonites. (29-40)

Verses 1-11 Men ought not to be blamed for their parentage, so long as they by their personal merits roll away any reproach. God had forgiven Israel, therefore Jephthah will forgive. He speaks not with confidence of his success, knowing how justly God might suffer the Ammonites to prevail for the further punishment of Israel. Nor does he speak with any confidence at all in himself. If he succeed, it is the Lord delivers them into his hand; he thereby reminds his countrymen to look up to God as the Giver of victory. The same question as here, in fact, is put to those who desire salvation by Christ. If he save you, will ye be willing that he shall rule you? On no other terms will he save you. If he make you happy, shall he make you holy? If he be your helper, shall he be your Head? Jephthah, to obtain a little worldly honour, was willing to expose his life: shall we be discouraged in our Christian warfare by the difficulties we may meet with, when Christ has promised a crown of life to him that overcometh?

Verses 12-28 One instance of the honour and respect we owe to God, as our God, is, rightly to employ what he gives us to possess. Receive it from him, use it for him, and part with it when he calls for it. The whole of this message shows that Jephthah was well acquainted with the books of Moses. His argument was clear, and his demand reasonable. Those who possess the most courageous faith, will be the most disposed for peace, and the readiest to make advances to obtain; but rapacity and ambition often cloak their designs under a plea of equity, and render peaceful endeavours of no avail.

Verses 29-40 Several important lessons are to be learned from Jephthah's vow. 1. There may be remainders of distrust and doubting, even in the hearts of true and great believers. 2. Our vows to God should not be as a purchase of the favour we desire, but to express gratitude to him. 3. We need to be very well-advised in making vows, lest we entangle ourselves. 4. What we have solemnly vowed to God, we must perform, if it be possible and lawful, though it be difficult and grievous to us. 5. It well becomes children, obediently and cheerfully to submit to their parents in the Lord. It is hard to say what Jephthah did in performance of his vow; but it is thought that he did not offer his daughter as a burnt-offering. Such a sacrifice would have been an abomination to the Lord; it is supposed she was obliged to remain unmarried, and apart from her family. Concerning this and some other such passages in the sacred history, about which learned men are divided and in doubt, we need not perplex ourselves; what is necessary to our salvation, thanks be to God, is plain enough. If the reader recollects the promise of Christ concerning the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and places himself under this heavenly Teacher, the Holy Ghost will guide to all truth in every passage, so far as it is needful to be understood.

Chapter Summary


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.

Shofetim 11 Commentaries

The Orthodox Jewish Bible fourth edition, OJB. Copyright 2002,2003,2008,2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International. All rights reserved.