1. Jephthah the Gileadite was a valiant warrior. His mother was a prostitute, and his father was Gilead.
2. But Gilead's wife also bore him sons, and when they grew up, they drove Jephthah out saying, "You shall not share or inherit anything in the household of our father, for you are the son of another woman."
3. Jephthah fled from his brothers and went to the region of Tob. There he joined a band of mercenaries who made their raids with him.
4. The time came when the Ammonites declared war on Israel.
5. So the elders of Gilead went to Jephthah in the land of Tob
6. and said to him, "Come and lead our men in fighting the Ammonites."
7. Jephthah answered the elders of Gilead, "Didn't you drive me out of my father's house because you hated me? Why do you come to me now in your distress?"
8. The elders answered him, "We come asking you to join us in fighting the Ammonites; we want you to be head of the whole of Gilead."
9. Jephthah answered them, "If you ask me to return to fight the Ammonites and Yahweh grants me victory, I will be your head."
10. And they said to him, "May Yahweh listen to us! Woe to us if we do not carry out what we have just said!"
11. So Jephthah returned with the elders of Gilead and the people made him their head and general, and Jephthah repeated all his conditions before Yahweh in Mizpah.
12. Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites to say to him, "What happened between us that you come and attack me in my own country?"
13. The king answered the messengers, "When Israel went up out of Egypt, they seized my country from the Arnon to the Yabbok and to the Jordan. So give it back willingly."
14. Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites,
15. saying "This is what Jephthah says: Israel has not seized the land of the Ammonites.
16. When they came up from Egypt, Israel went through the desert to the Sea of Reeds and came to Kadesh.
17. Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom and said to him, 'Let us pass through your country.' But the king of Edom did not listen. They also sent to the king of Moab, and he, too, refused. So Israel remained at Kadesh.
18. Then journeying through the desert, they went around the country of Edom and Moab, and came to the east of the land of Moab. They encamped on the other side of the Arnon, for the Arnon was the boundary of Moab.
19. Israel then sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, 'Let us pass through your country and go to our place.'
20. But Sihon did not trust Israel enough to let them pass through; he gathered all his men and encamped at Jahaz and attacked Israel.
21. Yahweh the God of Israel gave Sihon and all his people into the hands of Israel. Israel defeated them and conquered all the land of the Amorites who lived there.
22. So they conquered the whole territory of the Amorites from the Arnon to the Yabbok, and from the desert to the Jordan.
23. Since Yahweh the God of Israel has taken this land from the Amorites for his people Israel, can you now take it away from us?
24. Do you not hold all that your god Chemosh has given you? In the same way, we hold all that Yahweh, our God, has given us.
25. Will you do better than Balak, son of Zippor, the king of Moab? Was he able to attack Israel?
26. For three hundred years, Israel has lived in Heshbon and the cities that depend on it. They have also lived in Aroer and in its villages and in all the cities on both sides of the Jordan. Why didn't you recover these within that time?
27. I have not offended you, but you are treating me badly by attacking me. Let Yahweh, the Judge, decide today between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon."
28. But the king of the Ammonites did not pay attention to Jephthah's message.
29. The Spirit of Yahweh came upon Jephthah. He went through Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and then entered the territory of the Ammonites.
30. Jephthah made a vow to Yahweh: "If you make me victorious,
31. I shall sacrifice to you whoever first comes out of my house to meet me when I return from battle. He shall be for Yahweh and I shall offer him up through the fire."
32. Jephthah crossed the territory of the Ammonites to fight against them, and Yahweh gave him victory.
33. He pursued them from the city of Aroer to the entrance of Minnith and Abel Keramim, seizing twenty towns. So he defeated the Ammonites.
34. When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter came out to meet him. She was so happy to see her father that she danced to the sound of her tambourine. She was an only child; besides her he had no other daughter or son.
35. When Jephthah saw her, he tore his clothes and cried out, "My daughter, you have shattered me; you have brought me misfortune. For I have made a foolish vow to Yahweh, and now I cannot take it back."
36. She answered him, "Father, even if you have made such a foolish vow, you have to do to me just as you promised, for Yahweh has avenged you and crushed your enemies.
37. I only beg of you to give me two months to live with my companions in the mountains. There I shall lament because I will never marry."
38. Jephthah said to her, "Go then." And he sent her away for two months. She and her companions went to the mountains and wept because she would never marry.
39. At the end of two months, she returned to her father and he fulfilled the vow he had made. The young girl had never known a man. From this comes the Israelite custom
40. that the daughters of Israel go out for four days annually to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.